Morning at Minnehaha

It’s 6 o’clock and the air is filled with good things
The scent of eggs and coffee drifts upon the wind
Not far away the sacred fire burns
One sentry’s shift is over and another one begins

People gathered from the four directions
United by a love of life, pledged to stand or fall
It’s Wounded Knee and People’s Park united
Here will be born a homeland, not a highway to the mall

It’s morning at the Minnehaha Free State
A little strip of stolen native land
Along the banks of the Mississippi
Right here the Mendota make their stand

The Mendota people lived along this river
Fish among its waters and hunted on the plain
Now they are a people with no homeland
And they say here beside the river they’ll remain


And when the cops and dozers come
To carry off every face
Will you come to Minnehaha
Rise up, lock down and take their place?


“Morning at Minnehaha” appears on the CD, Live at Club Passim (2000).

Over the course of the 16-month occupation of houses and land in Minneapolis by a group of different folks in the late 1990’s who were trying to prevent the building of a new highway, I visited several times, and wrote this song. ¬†The police action to evict activists and burn the houses they were staying in (prior to their demolition to make room for the new highway) was the biggest police action in Minnesota history, involving over 800 cops — just to arrest 25 people! ¬†Including several who would now qualify as “old friends.”