The Upper Missouri Dakota & Nakoda Cultural Lifeway Center and Museum is a concept to re-unify Tribal members by restoring order and meaning to their lives. The Fort Peck Assiniboine (Nakoda) and Sioux (Dakota) Tribes want to take a more active and independent role in American society and it is their belief that this project is a step in that direction.
The civilization of North American Indians took thousands of years to develop; however its development has been dormant for over 100 years. The Fort Peck Tribes believe that with the awakening of traditional culture and spiritualism will come the systems of operation that once gave Dakota and Nakoda society order and tribal lifeways. The intent is to restore the traditional connection to nature by returning the symbols and objects that originally linked them together.
This study researched the feasibility of creating a facility which could house Dakota and Nakoda objects, reintroduce ceremonial items back into Fort Peck Tribal culture, and host a cultural renewal process. It also proposes an implementation plan that will invite the public to share and celebrate in the renewal of Dakota and Nakoda culture and thought.
The idea that sets this project apart from other museums and interpretive centers is the incorporation of an order called “the circle of life”. “Circle of life” is a traditional method of societal organization created by the Dakota and Nakoda people.
It gives a unique perspective, based upon a balance and order existing between humans and nature. It is believed that this approach will develop a strong sense of community within the Fort Peck Tribes and encourage better public understanding of native people and their way of life.