Coldwater Spring/Pike Island

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Location: Mendota, Minnesota, USA (between Minneapolis and St. Paul)

Who Considers it Sacred? Native Americans (Dakota, Ojibwe, Potowatamie, Sauk and Fox [Mesquaki] tribes)

Significance: It is considered the birthplace of the Dakota people. Native American religious and spiritual ceremonies traditionally took place at Coldwater Spring, located between Minnehaha Falls and Pike Island. Moreover, a 9000-year-old buffalo spearhead was found at Mendota nearby.

The first white settlers of Minnesota were the soldiers of Fort Snelling, above Coldwater Spring; this fort attracted the settlers who founded St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Furthermore, Dred Scott, the famed African-American who sued the Supreme Court for his freedom in 1857, walked here.

The Threat: Commercial development

Preservation Status: The top of the hill known to the Native Americans as Taku Wakan Tipi (“dwelling place of the gods”) was bulldozed to make room for an airport. Moreover, a highway in Minnehaha Park has disrupted the flow of water to the falls. The local Metropolitan Airports Commission also intends to buy 27.3 acres behind Coldwater, for use as an airport employee parking lot. The Metropolitan Airports Commission’s actions at Mother Lake were expected to cause much ground water contamination through pesticides, PCBs, jet fuel and deicing chemicals.

For More Information: Coldwater Spring Site Updates; Site Saver Newsletter Volume XI, Number 1, Fall 2000; Site Saver Newsletter Volume XI, Number 2, Winter 2001; Sacred Sites Newsletter Volume XI, Number 3, Spring 2001; Sacred Sites Newsletter Volume XII, Number 3, Spring/Summer 2002; Sacred Sites Newsletter XIII, Number 1, Fall 2002; Sacred Sites Newsletter Volume XIII, Number 2, Winter 2003; Sacred Sites Newsletter Volume XIV, Number 1, Fall 2003; Sacred Sites Newsletter Volume XX, Numbers 1 & 2, Fall 2008/Winter 2009

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