Louis George “Bud” Lawrence (1931–2017) was a strong community supporter who is revered for his work to bring about the reconciliation between the Dakota and the Mankato community, along with a number of other achievements.
Many of Bud’s traits and accomplishments had profound positive and significant effect on the lives of people from all cultures, religions, and walks of life.
For all his activities Bud is best known for his relationship with the Dakota Indian people. As a young boy, Bud became aware of the hanging of 38 Dakota Indians on December 26, 1862 in Mankato. Bud’s curiosity about this historical incident and the Indian people grew as he got older. He learned all he could about Indian culture.
In 1958 Bud befriended Dakota leader Amos Owens. Bud, Amos, and Jim Buckley worked on reconciliation between the Dakota people and the City of Mankato. Over the years Bud was involved with many efforts meant to foster a positive relationship between the two communities. One such effort was the Mahkato Wacipi Pow Wow, which began in 1972 and is still going strong today. Bud was also instrumental in establishing Reconciliation Park in downtown Mankato.
Bud was the advisor and inspiration for several Native American outreach efforts, including delivering Toys for Tots for 12 years to approximately 14,000 Native American youth from 13 remote Dakota/Lakota Indian reservations. He also helped “Santa” bring Toys for Tots to Mankato’s “Dakota 38” Unity Rider families and children on Christmas Day to ensure Native American youth did not feel forgotten.
Bud’s efforts led to numerous other Dakota honoring and tributes around Mankato and statewide, serving as inspiration behind both Minnesota Governor Perpich proclaiming 1987 “Year of Reconciliation” and South Dakota Governor Michelson’s similar proclamation in 1990, then more recently, Governor Dayton’s May 25, 2017 “Dakota Honoring Day” proclamation.
Bud never sought public acclaim for doing the things that he did. When asked about his activities, he tended to down-play them. However, Bud did receive many awards for his services to the community and humanity that are too numerous to list. For example, from the Dakota people, Bud received the Birch Bark (1965) and Star Blanket (1987) Awards. Bud’s most cherished honor was being adopted into the Dakota Tribe and being given the name “Red Heart.” Red stands for the Indian people. Bud had a heart for the Indian. He carried the Indian in his heart, speaking and advocating for the Indian.
Bud Lawrence’s legacy lives on as he continues to inspire community members to do great work for others.
This scholarship is made possible through the generous gifts of the Peters Family Foundation of Park City, UT. The Peters Family were longtime friends and business associates of Bud, and wanted to honor his commitment to the Mankato community by establishing the Bud Lawrence Native American Enrichment Scholarship.