UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF
Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community Plaintiff
AFFIDAVIT OF CHRIS LEITH
I, Chris Leith, being duly sworn, upon oath make this Affidavit to support the claims
of' plaintiff in the dispute regarding areas in the vicinity of Fort Snelling, the proposed
Hiawatha corridor, the oak savannah, the four sacred trees and Camp Coldwater, oppose
the rerouting of Hiawatha Avenue through
or adjacent to areas sacred to the Indians.
1. I am a Native American person belonging to the Mdewakanton Dakota people
and residing at Prairie Island. For 30 years I have been Sun Dance chief, a chief spiritual
advisor, a healer and an interpreter for the Mdewakanton Nation. I am 63 years old. I am
a member the Golden Eagle Society, a group
of our elders.
2. I was born and raised at Prairie Island, which is inhabited by the Mdewakanton
Dakota people. I grew up hearing the story of the Mdewakanton Dakota people that
occupied the village and area near the present day Fort Shelling. I am a direct descendant
of the Mdewakanton people. I learned from my mother and my father and my grandparents
about life and death in the Indian village. It covered a large area, including the areas
disputed in this law suit. Indians lived in the village before Fort Snelling was built
...since the early 1400's. In 1862 there was a Sioux uprising at Birtch Coulea. The Indians
were held prisoner at Pike Island by the U.S. government. Lots of Dakota died -- men,
women (they were raped and killed), and children died. The males were interrogated to
find out who instigated the uprising. They could not understand the English language,
so they were shot, because they could not supply the information. Indian remains are
throughout all the areas disputed in this
lawsuit -- the entire area is sacred to the Indians.
3. Four very old oak trees planted in a diamond pattern (the four directions) have
been identified. These trees mark the graves of Indians and are, therefore, sacred. The
oak trees are simply large plants and, like plants, have medicinal. and spiritual powers.
Because there were Indians who lived historically in this area, there had to be burial
grounds -- all along the Minnesota river. The Indians placed bodily remains on scaffolds
in the crutches of the trees -- I can see in the branches of the four oaks where the bodies
of men, women and babies were. I visited this sacred site and performed a ceremony.
I, and other Indians present, sensed that the spirits of the dead Indians are still there.
I also know this from my dreams and visions, which are an important part of working
with the spirits.
4. At. Camp Coldwater there is a spring which is sacred to the Indian people.
Water is a giver of life and makes things grow. The people in the old village used the
Spring water for medicine, ceremonies, washing and purification. They prayed to keep
the water pure. Water which comes directly out of the ground is very pure. The water
nurtured the Indians who lived in the village; it was sacred. They used the water in their
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NOT
Subscribed and sworn to before me
this 9th day of October, 1998
Carrie L. FoxNotary Public.