Editor’s note: Welcome to the December edition of our e-newsletter, “Treetop Views.” Please send feedback and ideas to Amy Gage, executive director, at email@example.com.
Honoring the ancestors at Indian Mounds Park
The six remaining mounds at Indian Mounds Regional Park in St. Paul are finally getting their due. In the ongoing effort to honor and acknowledge the public park as a sacred burial site — work set in motion some years ago in collaboration with Friends of the Mississippi River — the city has erected four historic signs along the bluff.
Messaging themes from the Cultural Landscape Study, completed in 2020, include:
- Respect and honoring: This is a place of burial. Over time, mounds have been destroyed through plowing, road construction, vandalism, greed and archaeology. Even though you cannot see many of the mounds anymore, this is sacred burial place has been here for thousands of years.
- Dakota land: Collective memory and stories can help to heal this ground and build understanding of this landscape as Dakota homeland over time.
According to Ellen Stewart, senior landscape architect with the city, the signs provide information about the burial mounds and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the federal law that ensures they are treated with care and respect.
Part of a two-and-a-half-year process that included extensive work with tribal historic preservation officers, the reclamation and revisioning of what, for now, is called Indian Mounds Park (a naming process is yet to come) includes restoring two acres of prairie. Among the signs is one delineating the “myths and truths” about the historic burial mounds, which decades back had no surrounding fences and were sometimes used as a vantage point from which to view fireworks.
“This will help people understand the place in a different way,” Stewart told Department of Parks and Recreation Director Andy Rodriguez in an email. “The signs provide good information for those who are not aware, and they’re a good reminder for those who have heard the information before.”
Vape pens equal hazardous waste
Friends of the Parks and Trails was part of an initial meeting in late November, convened by the Association for Nonsmokers–Minnesota, about the growing problem of vape waste in public parks. Calling the e-cigarettes or vape pens “hazardous waste,” a health risk to young people, a fire hazard and worse, attendees discussed ways for anti-smoking and environmental justice groups to work together.
The Tobacco-Free Alliance, the American Lung Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield, NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, the American Cancer Society and CURE (Clean Up the River Environment), a rural nonprofit organization, were among the groups represented.
State Senator John Marty (DFL–Roseville) also attended, saying he would like to see lawmakers consider immediate action because “a study could take three to five years.”
Nationally, people throw out 4.5 disposable vapes per second (likely many of those in public spaces).
- Ramsey County has information about e-cigarette and vape pen disposal on its website.
- The use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is prohibited in youth activity areas in St. Paul, including playing areas, athletic fields, spectator viewing areas and parent/supervisor resting areas.
Multi-use athletics at Victoria Park
Thanks to an inquiry from former Friends of the Parks and Trails board member Pete Regnier, we got up to speed on the plans for a multi-use athletic field at Victoria Park , 852 Hathaway Street, in St. Paul. The field will be at the corner of Adrian and Victoria Way, and it “will be programmed with soccer, youth baseball, flag football and lacrosse,” according to city landscape architect Mary Norton.
Bids for construction have been received, and the city is anticipating work to begin in spring 2024.
Other plans for the park, including a universally accessible play area whose planning originated with community meetings in 2013, are awaiting funding. “We’ve received state bonding money for the Universal Play Area, but are still looking for a match for construction,” Norton said. “These projects will advance further once additional funding is secured for final design and construction.”
Photo on homepage by Ellen Stewart, City of Saint Paul