Indian Mounds Regional Park

About Indian Mounds Regional Park

Indian Mounds Regional Park is home to six Native American burial mounds high atop 450 million-year-old limestone and sandstone bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River and downtown Saint Paul.

Amenities

Biking Trail, Hiking Trail, Picnic Areas with Shelters, BBQ Grills, Benches, Overlooks, Playground, Public Art, and Restroom Facilities

Maps

Projects

Reservation Information

Please call the Park Permit Office at 651-632-5111image for more information or to make a reservation. Office hours are 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The possession of alcohol is prohibited in the park.

Large Shelter

Small Shelter

History

Indian Mounds Regional Park has six remaining Native American burial mounds high atop 450 million-year-old limestone and sandstone bluffs overlooking downtown Saint Paul. At least sixteen burial mounds originally existed on the bluff top. Nineteen more were located further down the bluff above Wakan Tipi, also known as Carver's Cave.

The mounds serve as a reminder of Minnesota's history for future generations and remain sacred to the Dakota Tribe today. It is thought that the mounds were created approximately 1500-2,000 years ago. In the mid-1800s, several scientists with an interest in Minnesota's history -- Edward Duffield Neill in 1856, and later the Minnesota Historical Society under the leadership of Colonel DA Robertson examined the contents of the remaining mounds. T.H. Lewis, however, contributed most of the information on his later series of excavations. Unfortunately, the mounds were excavated at various times by parties interested in Minnesota’s history. While the methods employed at that time were the usual manner of exploring, they were not sensitive. We do have information from those excavations.

Several types of burials were found in both Indian Mounds Regional Park and in the surrounding area known as the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood. Most common were simple interments frequently accompanied by mussel shells and occasionally a projectile point. Small bundle burials were found in the upper parts of several mounds -- these were placed there by later peoples. Log tombs were found at the base of at least 3 mounds. A pit burial was found in one mound. Two burial mounds had eight stone cists which were approximately 7 inches high and made of thin limestone slabs set upright. Human bones were found in each cist and were accompanied by grave offerings, including shells, perforated bear teeth, copper ornaments, and a piece of hammered sheet copper, as well as the usual number of projectile points.

Among the more startling discoveries was a skull covered with red clay producing the image of the original face. Nothing similar to this "death mask" had ever been found by archeologists in mounds or ancient graves. Sadly, the mask was removed intact during that excavation.

Please Respect the Mounds

The Indian Burial Mounds are Saint Paul's great treasure of the past, and serve as a monument to one of the earliest organized civilizations dating back to a time where there were pharaohs in Egypt and great dynasties in China. The distinctive landscape of these ancestral graves is a reminder of the sacredness of this land today. They are the ancestral graves of people who still have ceremonies in this space.  Do not access them or use them for observation decks or playgrounds.