Oheyawhi/ Pilot Knob Pocket Guide
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is a place of cultural importance to the Dakota community and of significance in the history of Minnesota statehood.
Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob is protected by the City of Mendota Heights as an Open Space site.
Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob is located at 2100 Pilot Knob Road, Mendota Heights.
From I-494, take the Pilot Knob Road exit, then drive north until the road ends.
From State Highway 13, take the Acacia Blvd. exit west to Pilot Knob Road. Turn right. Park along the street.
Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob can be visited every day during daylight hours.
There are interpretive signs and trails; there are no other facilities.
Please take only pictures, leave only footprints.
Seth Eastman watercolor c. 1847, Minnesota Historical Society
A Place to Appreciate
This is the north slope of Oheyaw ahi, “a hill much visited,” also now known as Wotakuye Paha, “the hill of all the relatives,” a sacred place nam ed by Dakota people centuries ago. This hill has been a gathering place for Dakota, Ojibwe, and Iowa people, and a place for ceremonies and burials. Pilot Knob was the site of signing of the Treaty of 1851, w hich transferred 35 million acres of Dakota land to the United States. In the winter of 1862-63, 1300 Dakota men, women, and children w ere confined in a fenced camp on the opposite river bank, w here many died. Some w ere buried here.
Text from Pilot Knob historical markers; Dakota version courtesy of Glenn Wasicuna.
1700s Dakota and allied native peoples inhabit much of
Minnesota when French traders and missionaries
first enter the area.
1805 Lt. Zebulon Pike, first U.S. government official sent
to the area, reaches the mouth of the Minnesota River.
1820 The establishment of Fort Snelling brings an
American military presence.
1823 First steam boat arrives at Fort Snelling.
1834 Henry Hastings Sibley (later Minnesota’s first
elected governor) takes charge of the American
Fur Company post at Mendota
1848 Pilot Knob is proposed to be the site for the
Minnesota territorial capitol.
1851 In a treaty signed on Pilot Knob, the Dakota cede
most of the area now known as southeastern
Minnesota to the U.S. government.
1862-63 After the beginning of the U.S.-Dakota Conflict, non-combatant Dakota people are held for the winter
in a camp below Fort Snelling. Many died, and some were buried on Pilot Knob. Later, the U.S. government forcibly removes most Dakota people from Minnesota.
1870 Many Dakota people begin to return to their former homes, including Mendota, where some Dakota
had remained. The Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community continues today.
2004 Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob is determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Colby map from Minnesota Historical Society