Georgia Fort reports:
A Native led non-profit is reclaiming and restoring a sacred Indigenous burial site in St. Paul. What’s known as Indian Mounds Park was converted into a park by the city in 1892. According to the city’s website the cultural significance of the site was not understood at the time.
“Even as an Native person I brought my kids here to play on the playground at the time,” said Maggie Lorenz, Executive Director of the Lower Phalen Creek Project. “I didn’t know that there were burial mounds all over this entire bluff and that literally everywhere up here underneath the ground, there are the remains of our ancestors.”
Lorenz says her organization is increasing awareness about the space through increased signage informing park goers that the space is a cemetery for Indigenous ancestors.
“The place you would want to bury your relatives is somewhere high where they can be close to the stars so they can find their way home on the Milky Way and so they can watch over you,” Lorenz explained. “This – being the highest point along the Mississippi River – was the ideal place for our people to be buried.”
Historic records show there were nearly two dozen burial mounds, some of which were destroyed when streets and homes were constructed. The historic records documented each time remains were excavated.
“For newly arrived colonizers this was the best view in the city so a lot of our burial sites were plowed over,” said Lorenz.
The city of Saint Paul is using the Indian Mounds Regional Park Cultural Landscape Study to build community understanding of the significance of the area and find common ground for its proper use and care.
Photo Credit: Georgia Fort
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