His statue now stands in Shakopee, but who was Chief Sakpe?

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community unveiled the statue of him Tuesday.
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The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community unveiled the statue of him Tuesday.

Shakopee's new statue is a nod to its roots.

A statue of Dakota Chief Sakpe was unveiled downtown Tuesday, after a song of praise was sung for the chief.

The city had been looking to buy a historic statue for its downtown redesign efforts. That's when the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community offered the Chief Sakpe piece they had in storage, the city said in a news release.

The community also gave the city a $50,000 grant to restore the statue, which was originally created in 2004 for display at Mystic Lake Casino. It was sculpted by artist Danny Heskew, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma. 

Chief Sakpe now watches over downtown near the new Shakopee sign at the Highway 101 entrance. 

"The new statue fits well with the city's overall goal of revisioning downtown as a place to gather and celebrate our heritage," city officials said in the release.

Watch as the statue is unveiled:

Who was Chief Sakpe?

According to the city of Shakopee, Chief Sakpe was the leader of a Mdewakanton Dakota village located along the river in the mid-1800s.

"Commonly called Tinta-otonwe (village of the prairie), the village near the banks of the Minnesota River was a place of summer bark lodges, winter tipis and plentiful cornfields with the river providing natural protection for its people," the city says.

He is a descendant of the second Chief Sakpe (there were three) for which the city of Shakopee is named.

“Sakpe” (pronounced “shock-pay”) is a Dakota word meaning the “number six," according to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community's website. The first Chief Sakpe was given the name when his wife gave birth to sextuplet boys.

The Minnesota Historical Society says the third Chief Sakpe – represented in the new statue – was a leader during the Dakota war of 1862. He was betrayed, drugged, kidnapped, and turned over to U.S. forces, and was executed at Fort Snelling on Nov. 11, 1865.

While he was held prisoner at Fort Snelling, Chief Sakpe was photographed in 1864. The Minnesota Historical Society has that photo here.

He is also the namesake of the Little Six Casino in Prior Lake.

The Chief Sakpe statue is half of a larger public art project planned for downtown Shakopee, the city says. A committee of local residents is fundraising to commission an artist to create a similar bronze statue of the missionary Samuel W. Pond for display on the River City Centre plaza. 

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