Senator Mary Kunesh Hails Senate Participation in Sovereignty Day as Important Step in Collaboration Between Legislators and Tribal Nations

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Monday, members of the Minnesota Senate participated in Sovereignty Day proceedings for the first time in the Senate’s history. Members of the Minnesota House and Senate gathered in the House Chambers to meet with tribal leaders of the 11 tribes in Minnesota, state agency tribal liaisons, Minnesota Indian Affairs Council members, Tribal State Relations Training staff, flag bearers, and other honored guests.

Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton) releases the following statement:

“As Minnesota’s only woman of Native descent to serve in the Senate, I am honored to lead the first ever, Senate Sovereignty Day at the Capitol! This is an opportunity for legislators from both sides of the aisle, from both bodies, to hear and learn from our tribal leaders about tribal government, culture, history, and traditions of Minnesota’s American Indian communities and current issues that face tribal governments and nations. Today’s gathering affirms the government-to-government relationship that the state of Minnesota has with the 11 tribal nations that share our boundaries,” said Senator Kunesh. “I’m so pleased to see my colleagues in the Senate participating in Sovereignty Day for the first time in an official capacity. Today was one opportunity of many for senators and staff who are not tribal members to build stronger relationships with our tribal leaders and communities. I look forward to continuing our efforts as a legislature to strengthen and improve relations between the state of Minnesota and the 11 sovereign nations in Minnesota.”

The Minnesota House has hosted Sovereignty Day since 2019 and held a two-day Tribal-State Relations Training for Minnesota House members in October 2021 at Bois Forte. Approximately 120,000 American Indians live within Minnesota’s borders, and the tribes in Minnesota are among the top 20 largest employers in the state. Tribal jurisdiction affects thousands of acres of land within and beyond reservation boundaries.


Mary K. Kunesh represents Senate District 39, which covers the communities of St. Anthony Village, New Brighton, Hilltop, Columbia Heights, Fridley, and a portion of Spring Lake Park.

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