Request to Preserve a Sacred Dakota Site: Afton Effigy Mound

We just received a last-minute request through the Showing Up for Racial Justice MN Facebook page to help preserve the Rattlesnake Effigy Mound in Afton, a sacred site to the Dakota People. The writers are asking people to contact the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and ask the state to delay construction of a holding pond and related tunnels that would affect the area. Emails need to be sent today. A sample letter is included below.

This is a verbatim reprint of the post, with the details:

There is a “very historic area of the lower St. Croix River, ‘the place where the fish lies.’ One of the most amazing and significant Dakota sites along that river is a rattlesnake effigy mound at Afton. It is located on the shore opposite the sandbar, Catfish Bar, which is the subject of Dakota legend. All of these places are connected, which is something that the cultural resource specialists in government agencies never seem to understand! For years the rattlesnake effigy mound was ignored, houses were built around it, and archaeologists, after a very cursory examination, announced several times that there was nothing left there, but secretly a few residents of Afton knew that there was plenty there and protected what they could. They knew that even if the mound was not visible on the surface it was still there under the ground. “Now, the city of Afton is carrying out a project to destroy what is left of the mound by building a holding pond and tunneling through the mound for a wastewater treatment facility. I [Bruce White] testified at a hearing of the Pollution Control Agency last June about the need to consult tribes about this mound and about what has happened to it and what the area still means to Dakota people. The PCA said it did not need to do that, but lo and behold now they are undertaking a Section 106 process with the least amount of consultation possible. 

“Bones were found there, but apparently that is still not enough…People were buried there because they were sacred places. The burials were a reflection of the sacredness that was already in the place and that is still there regardless of how many bones are still there. The question is, who will stand up for sacred places like this?”

“All I want is for the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and other Dakota people who care to be consulted on this project and given enough accurate information to know exactly what is happening to this important place.”

We have an opportunity today to stand with Bruce White and Marcie Rendon and the Dakota Peoples by contacting Corey Mathiesen ( at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and requesting that action to build a holding pond and related tunnels be delayed in order for the Pollution Control Agency to consult directly with all tribal representatives, given the history of the sacred site and the discovery of human bones there.

EMAILS MUST BE RECEIVED BY 11:59 PM ON DECEMBER 31. Can you take this action TODAY?

Here’s a sample email, if you’d like to use it:

Mr. Mathisen, 

I am contacting you today to request that you delay action to build a holding pond and related tunnels at the site of the Rattlesnake Effigy Mound in Afton. I believe that the Pollution Control Agency needs to directly consult with all tribal representatives, given the history of the sacred site and the discover of human bones there. Please do not rush into this process without proper consultation that respects the significance of this site to the Dakota Peoples. Thank you for your time.


[Your Name]


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