From the blog

Photo of 3 Dakota men at Minnehaha Falls in 1857This is the ninth and last in a series of columns about the history of the Minnehaha Creek watershed.

As this is my last column commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD), I’d like to go all the way back to the beginning to discuss the first inhabitants of this area: the Dakota. The Dakota lived throughout what is now the MCWD around Lake Minnetonka, the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis, and along Minnehaha Creek. They tended to move seasonally, allowing the land to rest and rebound. Water was an important resource for the Dakota for travel, food, and gathering together. Lake Minnetonka held special significance, as it was considered a sacred place and served as a burial ground. About 50 burial mounds still remain around the lake today, protected by law.

The Dakota in the area around Lake Minnetonka interacted with fur traders, but did not tell them about the lake due to its spiritual importance. However, in 1822, Joseph Renshaw Brown and William Joseph Snelling traveled up Minnehaha Creek by canoe from Fort Snelling and eventually entered Lake Minnetonka. Despite the record of their trip, Lake Minnetonka was kept relatively secret until the early...

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