Much of Indian Mounds Regional Park sits on the top of a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and downtown Saint Paul. This is a sacred place of burial that has deep significance to the Upper Sioux Community, Lower Sioux Community, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Prairie Island Indian Community, Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, and other descendants of those who are buried here.
Indian Mounds Regional Park was established in 1893 and is one of the oldest parks in the region. Situated atop Dayton's Bluff east of downtown St. Paul, it is a burial site for at least two American Indian cultures and is just upriver from where the first historic Kaposia village site was once located.
Anthropologists believe that an ancient people known as "Hopewell" created the earliest mounds, which were built between 1,500-2,000 years ago. Although there was much diversity in the mound-building customs, the typical Hopewell mound had a distinct internal structure. A low, circular platform of clay was constructed at the center of the mound. Ashes of the deceased were placed in the concave top of the platform, and sometimes fine pottery and stone tools were also included. This was covered by the conical mound, which consisted of alternating layers of sand and earth. The Hopewell capped the mound with a thick layer of gravel and pebbles.
In more recent times, the Dakota also used this site for their burials. Unlike the Hopewell, the Dakota wrapped the bones of their deceased in a bison skin before burying them. Valuable objects like knives, foods, pipes, or even horses or canoes were also placed within the mound. The Dakota may have used mounds constructed by the Hopewell or constructed their own on the same site.
At least thirty-seven mounds once stood along the bluffs of the Mounds Park area; only six remain today.
The park has paved trails that traverse the bluffs and link into other trails. There is an outstanding view of the Mississippi River and of the St. Paul skyline. Picnic tables and a large pavilion are also available for picnicking. Reservations for the picnic shelters are handled by the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department at the contact information below.
Hours, Directions, and Contact Information
Last updated: February 5, 2022