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Indian Mounds Regional Park, St. Paul

10 Mounds Boulevard, Saint Paul, MN 55106, United States
651-266-6400
Admission: $0.00
The City reminds us,"please respect these burial mounds, sacred for over 2,000 years, to the first people of Minnesota."
Park Hours: Sunrise to 11:00 pm
Details:

Indian Mounds Regional Park is located on the scenic bluffs of the Mississippi River on the eastern side of downtown Saint Paul. It has family friendly amenities that include a playground, a picnic area and grills, trails for biking and hiking, public art and the historic burial mounds it is named for. There is also a shelter and restrooms.

Indian Mounds Regional Park Cultural Landscape Plan and Trail Project

Saint Paul Parks & Rec and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council are collaborating with Native Americans to insure continued protection, interpretation, stewardship, and determine possible improvements to this park. Two studies are currently underway at Indian Mounds Regional Park – a Cultural Landscape Plan and a Trail Reconstruction Project. You can learn more here.

Indian Mounds Regional Park Tree Trek

If you have a kid who is interested in botany or maybe just likes leaves, you can go on a self-guided Tree Trek through the park. Find a map here, and enjoy a mile hike around the park that leads you to 31 different types of trees. 

Watch for Goats at Indian Mounds Regional Park

The St. Paul goats are back for the summer of 2018! As with 2017, they will be rotated between Indian Mounds, Hidden Falls Regional Park and Crosby Regional Park to help control invasive buckthorn. Track the goats at the Great River Passage website. While, fighting off the buckthorn, St. Paul Natural Resources has also restored over 3.5 acres of native prairie at Indian Mounds Regional Park and Como Regional Park.

Birthday Parties at Indian Mounds ParkBirthday Parties at Indian Mounds Park

There are two shelters available for rental at this park. For more information about reserving a shelter, call the  Park Permit Office at 651-632-5111 between 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays.

Indian Mounds Regional Park Splash Pad - Not Happening.

The Indian Mounds Splash Pad Project has been scrapped. Funds have been re-allocated to the cultural resources project. It is possible this project could be revived at a later date, but there are no current plans.


Historic Significance of Indian Mounds Regional Park

The following information has been reprinted courtesy of MNopedia under a Creative Commons License and may be reprinted under the same license.

The six burial mounds at St. Paul’s Indian Mounds Park are among the oldest human-made structures in Minnesota. Along with mounds in Crow Wing, Itasca, and Beltrami Counties, they are some of the northernmost burial mounds on the Mississippi River. They represent the only ancient American Indian burial mounds still extant inside a major U.S. city.

It is estimated that there were once tens of thousands of ceremonial, effigy, and conical mounds in the eastern half of North America. About a third of these were built in what are now Wisconsin and Minnesota; perhaps two thousand of them stood in sight of the upper Mississippi River. Conical mounds were often used for burials. The six that remain in St. Paul’s Indian Mounds Park are some of the tallest, oldest, and most distinctive of these.

Archaeologists date the construction of the surviving mounds to between 200 BCE and 400 CE (a period called Middle Woodland) based on their similarity to mounds elsewhere in the Midwest. The tallest mound at the St. Paul site fits the pattern, observed elsewhere, of being the oldest.

The size, contents, and location of the mounds suggest that they held great religious or ceremonial importance for their builders. Archaeologists have concluded that they were American Indian people who shared some cultural characteristics with, or at least had contact with, the mound-building people of southern Ohio and western Illinois, and that the ideas and practices that motivated mound building moved north along the Mississippi. The cultural complex of these other mound builders bears the name Hopewell, from a farm in Ohio.

Certainly, the various peoples of North America maintained vast exchange networks: grave goods in the Upper Mississippi valley have included obsidian from Wyoming and shells from Florida. The mounds have been a sacred site for some modern and early modern Native people—particularly the Dakota—since before the mid-1700s.

The first person to map the St. Paul mounds, Theodore H. Lewis, began around 1880. He determined that there had once been fifty-eight mounds at the brow of what came to be known as Dayton’s Bluff, a promontory two hundred feet above the Mississippi River where it takes a turn south toward the Gulf of Mexico. At the top stood a group of eighteen, some of them tall and cone-shaped. The rest, most of them low, trailed along the bluff as it descended toward the north. Most of these were only a foot or two above the natural surface. When Lewis mapped them, only thirty nine remained.

Developers destroyed many of the small mounds in the late nineteenth century in order to build the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. The City of St. Paul razed seven more mounds in 1895 in the grading of Mounds Park Boulevard and the creation of Indian Mounds Park. It preserved the six tallest, which are also believed to be the oldest.

Looters, investigators, and road workers dug into at least seventeen of the mounds. Inside, they found wood and stone burial chambers, copper and stone grave goods, sea shell beads, mussel shells, and the remains of approximately fifty people, including a few children. The most remarkable object removed, in 1882, was a small child’s skull bearing a clay mask. The known excavations began in 1856 and ended in 1895, but looters may have been active both before and after.

Some of the objects and remains taken from the mounds were destroyed in a fire at the state capitol in 1881. Others, held at Macalester College from 1887 until 1955, including a copper breastplate, were stolen by collectors. The Minnesota Historical Society holds the only known surviving artifacts from the St. Paul mounds: seventeen projectile points, a small earthenware vessel, a box of small shells, and a glass bottle of red ocher.

Archaeologists completed a survey and some testing of the site in 1981, but the mounds themselves were not entered. In 2013, archaeologists used modern methods (including radar and magnetic gradiometry) to examine the mound site, with scant results. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), which became law on November 16, 1990, regulates management of the remaining artifacts that had been acquired by museums and other public institutions.

Creator: Paul Nelson
Cite: Nelson, Paul. "Indian Mounds Park, St. Paul." MNopedia, Minnesota Historical Society. http://www.mnopedia.org/place/indian-mounds-park-st-paul (accessed August 3, 2017).

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The Family Fun Twin Cities Parks & Playgrounds Search directory is your one stop for the best Twin Cities Park Guide! We share some of the best playgrounds in the Twin Cities in this directory. We are so passionate about how awesome are parks are, that we don't want you to stop with 10 parks or even 150 parks! There are so many parks in the metro area, you could visit a new one every day for some free Twin Cities family fun and still not have seen them all in 5 years.

We've currently reviewed over 400 parks in this directory, but we would love to hear from you! What do YOU think are the best parks in the Twin Cities? How about the best parks in Minnesota? What parks did we completely miss? What is your favorite little unknown gem? We really want to share all your favorite indoor playgrounds and outdoor parks! Let us know and we'll add a review here.

Twin Cities parks are great for hiking, biking, rollerblading, kayaking, canoeing and other fun physical games. But, they are also just great for hanging out in a hammock and picnicking while the kids explore and enjoy some of the best playgrounds in Minnesota. Let's enjoy our parks:

Inside Parks and Indoor Waterparks

In Minnesota indoor playgrounds are a necessity! I know we think of outdoors when we think of parks, but with our long, dark and cold winters, some indoor active games are a must. You can even have indoor picnics at these parks. This such a great way to stretch the summer feeling into the winter! Check out some of the best indoor playgrounds in the Twin Cities this winter.

Outside Parks and Outdoor Waterparks

Minnesota has these, too! And during our short summer, we want to take advantage of them as much as possible! best In fact, the Minneapolis and St. Paul Parks are some of the best outdoor playgrounds twin cities - actually in the country. They win awards - every year! Look and See. Every. Single. Year. So get out to our area parks, make up some fun games to play.

Beaches

Some of the best beaches in the Twin Cities are hidden little gems. Anne has her favorite 20 Twin Cities Beaches, Parks & Playgrounds to Try This Summer. She revises the list every year to keep us in the know.

Shakespeare in the Park at Twin Cities Parks

One of my favorite ways to enjoy our parks is with a play or musical in a park. It doesn't really have to be Shakespeare, it can be the latest Disney princess musical or even a puppet wagon. In fact, sometimes Open Eye Figure Theatre's driveway tour has some park stops. Watch our Performing Arts page each summer to find these fun, free park events.

Music in the Parks - Minneapolis, St. Paul, Suburbs

Nothing says easy summertime fun like music in the parks! The best thing is, there is seriously a concert every night of the week from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Obviously, some get cancelled due to weather, but pick any nice night, take a look at the Family Fun Twin Cities calendar and you can find music in a park. No sign up, no tickets, no money, no commitment. Show up, bring a picnic, play at some of the best playgrounds in Minnesota and relax to great music.

Movies in the Parks at Twin Cities Parks

One thing I love about Movies in the Park is that they tend to screen at some of the best playgrounds in Minneapolis and the greater Twin Cities. I love to make it a full evening with a picnic and some fun outdoor kid games and Park Games for Kids. This is a good time to see newer kids movies that you didn't catch in the theater or to introduce your kids to your own childhood favorites without having to gamble on library DVD quality.

Tot Times

Active indoor games for preschoolers are something we are always on the search for when the weather is uncooperative. The parks have a lot to offer with their tot times and open gym slots. For instance, they often offer riding toys, hula hoops, games to play with preschoolers, balls of all kinds, climbing structures, fun games for toddlers, etc.

Looking for the Best Playgrounds and Parks Beyond the Twin Cities?

If you are traveling outside the metro, you'll want to check out some of our favorite day-trip parks. If you are going further than that, we have a list of great family-owned websites to direct you to the best parks around the country so you don't have to depend on national websites or random internet searches.

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