Indian Mounds Regional Park Cultural Landscape Study and Interpretive Plan

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Overview

Project Background:

The land we now call Indian Mounds Regional Park, located atop the bluffs of the Mississippi River on the eastern side of downtown Saint Paul, is rich in geological and cultural history and is sacred for the American Indian Tribes especially the Dakota Nations.  

The City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation staff has been working with representatives of the Tribal Nations to build partnership around the protection, interpretation, stewardship and potential improvements of the site.  A Cultural Landscape study and interpretive plan is an initial step to update the City’s practice for the preservation, awareness and understanding of the significance of this place.  The site is on the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by the Field Archeology Act (MN Statutes 138.40) and Private Cemetery Act (MN Statutes 307.08).

Project Description:

The IMRP Cultural Landscape Study is a collaborative planning process focused on the Dakota burial site (cemetery) that is known today as Indian Mounds Regional Park. The purpose is to establish respectful preservation of the burial site and an appropriate management of the surroundings. This process is intended to be guided by Dakota representatives (and the consensus of their communities) and presented to the public, neighbors and current park users to build understanding  and awareness of the significance of this place and find common ground for its proper use and care.  

The development of the final product, which will be created with input and partnership of a Project Advisory Team of both local and national parties, will build upon an understanding of the role of physical features and locations within the park, and verbal and written stories gathered from the American Indian community.  It also presents an important opportunity to recognize and support Indigenous community connections to the landscape. The study will document the historic landscape, evaluate the significance and integrity of the landscape, and provide a compelling 20-year vision and plan for landscape treatment and interpretation. The document is being prepared by cultural landscape specialists, landscape architects, and interpretation experts from Quinn Evans Architects, Ten x Ten Studio, and Allies, LLC.

The stakeholder engagement approach will serve as a model for future protocol and engagement process, both formal and informal,  within and near sacred and culturally sensitive sites in the City of Saint Paul. As a nationally significant site, informing the public and interpreting the multifaceted history of the site is especially important to the understanding of this land as part of a history that has not been appropriately represented. 

The boundaries for the Cultural Landscape Study and Interpretive plan are determined by the Indian Mounds Regional Park boundaries. The narrative will also reference the adjacent bluffs and caves, and the views of the Mississippi River.

UPDATES:

April 2, 2019

The process for this project is intended to be highly collaborative, and our team is committed to listening and responding to guidance from collaborators. We have learned that the state is working to designate the Dakota burial ground located in this area as a cemetery. In order to ensure that the Cultural Landscape Study is responsive to this designation, the schedule is being adjusted.

A draft of Part 1 of the Cultural Landscape Study, which documents historic and existing conditions, will be ready for us to share soon and will be posted on the website.

Thank you for your patience as we work to ensure that this project will address the landscape in an inclusive and respectful way.

 

Upcoming Project Advisory Team Meetings:

A Project Advisory Team (PAT) was created to collaborate with the City and Consultants to guide the project.  The PAT is comprised of community members, representatives of Dakota Nations , Tribal Communities, and other stakeholders.  There will be six facilitated PAT meetings throughout the project process, as well as six separate facilitated Community Engagement Events (CEE). 

PAT Meeting 4: Preliminary site use/visitor experience program, refined interpretive themes and preliminary concepts (Workshop). (TBD)

PAT Meeting 5: Development of Site Treatment and Interpretive Recommendations (Workshop) (TBD)

PAT Meeting 6: Final Presentation of Recommendations (TBD)

Past Meetings:

PAT Meeting 1:  PAT Introductions, Project Expectations and Issues, Cultural Connections to and concerns about the Landscape, Focus Group Topics, Group Site Visit and sharing.

PAT Meeting 2: Overview of preliminary findings of research, inventory, and analysis, discuss cultural connections to and concerns about the landscape, collaborate in working session to develop draft Vision, Goals, and Guiding Principles.

PAT Meeting 3: Finalize Vision, Goals, and Guiding Principles, preliminary interpretive themes. (Jan 17, 2019)

Upcoming Community Engagement Events (CEE):

CE Event 4: Preliminary site use program, interpretive themes and concepts  (TBD)

CE Event 5: Development of Site Treatment and Interpretive Recommendations (TBD))

CE Event 6: Final Presentation of Recommendations. (TBD)

Past Community Engagement Events:

CE Event 1: Introduction to the Project and Public Input to identify interest, concerns and connections to the landscape and expectations for the project (Open House). Nov. 08 2018 Meeting Notes

CE Event 2: Sharing and listening session about significance of the park. Facilitated discussion about project goals. Dec.06 2018 

Meeting Notes_2018_12_06.pdf

CE Event 3: Collaborative workshop to engage in activities and discussions about vision and goals for the project, types of activities appropriate in the landscape, themes for interpretation, and cultural connections to the place. Jan. 12 2019

 

Resources

Indian Mounds Master Plan
National Park Services - National Register of Historic Places Program
National Park Services - National Register of Historic Places Registration