Healing Minnesota Stories

The power of healing stories

Healing Minnesota Stories is an effort to create understanding and healing between Native American and non-Native people, particularly those in various faith communities. Native people have suffered deep trauma over many years, losing their land, language, and culture, and all who call Minnesota home are the lesser for it. While many people and institutions contributed to that trauma, it happened with the full participation of Christian churches. We all still need healing, healing is doable, and churches have a role to play in healing.

We believe in the power of healing stories. Stories heal because they make invisible pain visible. The listener and storyteller are both healed by their acts. Churches and all faith communities can play a key role in promoting and experiencing healing by opening ourselves to our own history and listening to the stories of Native people. Through the sharing and retelling of old traumatic stories, we can create new positive ones. This effort began in 2012 and continues to bring together Native and non-Native people to share stories and increase awareness of the value of American Indian language, culture, and our shared history.

Get Involved

Invite a Speaker to teach your faith community about Native American spirituality, local history, barriers to free practice of Native religions, controversial images in State Capitol art, or show films on the U.S.-Dakota War or the Doctrine of Discovery. Contact us at jimbear.jacobs@mnchurches.org.

Sacred Sites Tours

Tours are led by Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs (Mohican) and Kelly Sherman Conroy (Oglala Lakota). The tours offer an opportunity to learn about Minnesota history from a Native perspective through story-telling and experiencing the sites in silence / meditation / reflection.

All tours meet at Church of St. Peter, 1405 Sibley Memorial Highway, St. Paul, MN 55120.

Sacred Sites

We visit sites located around confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, what the Dakota refer to as Bdote, or “meeting place of rivers,” including:

  • Fort Snelling State Park
  • Dakota Internment Camp following the The Dakota-U.S. War
  • Pilot Knob Hill, a traditional burial ground


Tours are appropriate for adults and older youth. Tour groups meet at a location in Mendota near the sites and auto caravan to the sites. Carpooling usually occurs so those not preferring or unable to drive can ride with others. Address, directions, and map will be sent prior to tour. Dress for the weather with sturdy footwear rather than sandals. If weather is severe we will reschedule. Watch email if it’s questionable. We will do our best to accommodate the physical abilities of all attendees. Wheelchairs welcome as the places we go are on or very near trails. The whole tour can be accessible; contact us with specific questions. People who may have difficulty standing for storytelling may want to bring lawn chairs. Those walking should expect to be on some uneven surfaces and dirt/gravel paths. We allot four hours for tours though actual times may vary. Tours start at different times of day, depending on leader or group schedules, sundown, etc. While there is no time set aside for lunch during the tour, participants are welcome to bring lunch.

Register Now

There is no cost for the tour, but a free will offering is appreciated. Contributions for individuals are invited in the range of $50-$75. Donations support Healing Minnesota Stories programs and events. Space is limited to 50 people. To check on the availability of open sacred sites tours and register for one, check the form at the bottom of this page.

Custom Tour

If you have a group of 12 or more, we can schedule a separate date for your group. For cost information contact us at jimbear.jacobs@mnchurches.org with your interest or request. Programs/speakers/films can be recommended and arranged for groups before or after the tour to help prepare and encourage people to participate, or to reflect further on the experience.

About Jim Bear Jacobs

Born in St. Paul, he is a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation, an American Indian tribe located in central Wisconsin. He has degrees in Pastoral Studies and Christian Theology and has served various churches as youth minister, adult Christian educator, and director of Men’s Ministries. Presently he is parish associate at Church of All Nations Presbyterian Church. He is a cultural facilitator in the Twin Cities and works to raise the public’s awareness of American Indian causes and injustices. He is founder/convener of “Healing Minnesota Stories,” an initiative dedicated to creating events of dialogue, education, and healing, particularly within faith communities. He is currently the Director of Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches.

About Kelly Sherman Conroy

Kelly Sherman-Conroy; Mato Wašté Winyan (Good Bear Woman), has grounded her life in the Holy Spirit and the deep spiritual practices intertwined between her Lakota identity and Christian beliefs. As a proud member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, Kelly dedicates her time to social justice, racial reconciliation, trauma and healing, Indigenous leadership, and family ministry. Kelly has a Ph.D. from Luther Seminary, where her focus is in Lakota thought, philosophy and spirituality and how these forms inform Christianity and move Lakota people past trauma to healing.

Walking with people of all cultures, she actively provides ministry around the exploration of intersections of identity, personal narratives, and faith. Kelly has two decades of teaching and leading in family ministry and keeps busy by actively being involved in the Minnesota Council of Churches (Board of Directors); American Indian Alaska Native Lutheran Association Inc. (Executive Council); ELCA Youth Ministry Network (Board of Directors); ELCA Authentic Diversity Committee; Minister of Social Justice & Advocacy at Nativity Lutheran Church, Minneapolis; Convenor of the Twin Cities Interfaith Movement Chaplains.