Minneapolis Seeks Sites Significant to City’s Native American Communities

I-35W near Franklin Avenue: Built around 1960, the highway construction cut through a neighborhood popular among the Native American community near 4th Avenue South and East Franklin Avenue
I-35W near Franklin Avenue: Built in 1960, I-35W cut through a neighborhood popular among the Native American community near 4th Avenue South and East Franklin Avenue.

Researchers hired by the city of Minneapolis are posing this question to members of Native American communities: If there is one spot within the city limits that you could preserve from development because of its historic, spiritual or community significance, what place would that be?

Would it be connected with schools created to preserve Native languages and cultures or a Native-owned business that you loved? Would it be connected to the start of the American Indian Movement (AIM) or the Upper Midwest American Indian Center?

Here’s the background: The City of Minneapolis is wrapping up research on sacred places, important spaces, and the untold stories of the American Indian peoples who lived here prior to white settlement and who continue to live here today. One possible upshot of the research is to identify sites for possible protection against future development.

The researches have some specific questions:

  • Does anyone know the house where people met for the initial meeting to create the Upper Midwest American Indian Center or the church where people met to create AIM?
  • Does anyone have a copy of the directory of Native-owned businesses published in 1968/69?

Healing Minnesota Stories has written about this project in an earlier blog, and it has not been without its controversy. At the well attended kick-off meeting at All My Relations Gallery in March, people expressed appreciation for the city’s effort to tell these stories. But some participants also voiced anger over the fact that Dakota and other Native peoples were not leading the research.

A draft of the final report will be released online for public review Tuesday June 21, and a public comment meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 28.

Consultants held their third and final meeting to get public comments on research ideas Saturday, May 21, at the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s Urban Office. Only a few individuals attended, but the conversation was rich.

One participant talked about the Native American community that lived around Fourth Avenue and Franklin Avenue that was eliminated when I-35W was built. (It was similar to what happened to the Rondo Community in St. Paul, but less well known.) Also mentioned was the Indian Day parade once held on Franklin Avenue which included the naming of Miss Franklin Avenue.

You can still provide your reflections and special places to the conversation. You can submit comments through the end of the month. Email them to: Two Pines Resource Group and/or to  Christine McDonald, Native American Community Specialist for the city of Minneapolis.

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