What Is Your Vision for Oȟéyawahe/ Historic Pilot Knob?


Historic Pilot Knob is the portion of Oheyawahe that is owned by the City of Mendota Heights and where trails are open to the public. Great River Greening is the contractor the city has hired to restore Historic Pilot Knob’s vegetation to oak savanna.With funding from the American Express Foundation, Great River Greening hired SRF Consulting to analyze the Historic Pilot Knob site and to design a plan to improve visitor experience and safety. The design includes proposals for new signage, new parking lot, a structure for gathering, a wheelchair accessible looped trail, and artwork by a Dakota artist.  Maintaining the sacred and historical nature of the site is most important in considering any changes.

The final draft is ready for your review and suggestions. Click here to view the plan.

Public comments will be considered before the final design plan is presented to the City of Mendota Heights, the owner of the property.  Fundraising for implementation of the plan would begin after that.

If you have questions or comments, leave them below or contact info@pilotknobpreservation.org or Deborah Karasov at dkarasov@greatrivergreening.org.


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3 Responses to What Is Your Vision for Oȟéyawahe/ Historic Pilot Knob?

  1. Shannon Livingston-Harris says:

    Thank you for posting the design plan, PKPA. I think these several recommendations are critical to include in the final design plan and implementation:

    1) A physical notice of the site’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places. I regularly visit Oheyawahe and have done so since 2013, and I was unaware that the site had earned this rightful recognition. Additionally, the site brochure has not been updated with this information;

    2) Uncompromising recognition regarding the site’s significance in the Treaty of 1851. Similar to my comment above, I was unaware that a marker plaque commemorating the treaty exists on a boulder at the approximate location of the former high point of the hill. Since Acacia Park Cemetery does not acknowledge the indigenous history and significance of Oheyawahe, it does not make sense that a visitor like myself would wander therein to seek more education regarding the sacred hill. While this history is mentioned in the site brochure, the presence of a marker plaque is not mentioned;

    3) Partnership with Acacia Park Cemetery. I have relatives who were/are likely buried on that portion of the hill, and yet there is no physical notice of their existence. This is deeply disturbing. Increased communication and partnership with Acacia will bolster opportunities to honor ALL the dead who are buried on the sacred hill;

    4) Acquisition of privately-owned parcels. This land is within the boundary of the area listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its acquisition will further heal a site and a people that continue to endure the ramifications of oppression and fragmentation. Additionally, it will provide further opportunities for education regarding the land and its profound significance;

    5) Addition of an entry sign monument. It should be similar in scale to the entry sign for Acacia Park Cemetery. When I first visited Oheyawahe, it was nearly impossible to recognize that the gravel parking lot — adjacent to the enormous signage for Acacia — was the point of entry for visiting my relatives and experiencing the sacred oak savanna prairie in its ongoing restoration.

  2. Evelyn Ashford says:

    As a dakota burial site , this area should not even be opened for public commentary. The only proper custodians of this land are the herefitary spiritual leaders of the dakhota people. Only they know the many layers of deep tradition required for caretaking a burial site.

  3. Leslie Pilgrim says:

    After reviewing the plan, I would like to make the following comments.

    1) Consider keeping pathways to a minimum. Should sacred ancestral ground be widely walked on? And, pathways disturb wildlife. As this site is within an Important Bird Area, and ground nesting birds desperately need habitat fragments such as this one, why not keep large swaths of land authentically wild so that this space is shared well with other life? And because dogs and ground nesting birds do not live well side-by-side (although we love our dogs!), signage should communicate to respectfully keep dogs (if they will be allowed on site) on leash and on path. Focus on enhancing existing pathways? Any additional pathways perhaps should be “in and out” to important points on the site (not looped or serpentine)–always with mindfulness to accessibility for those in need of that.

    2) Are the landmarks or stopping points that have been added necessary? Were ALL of these added stopping points based on feedback from native community members as being desired, significant, and important? (While noting that the 7 oaks area has been mentioned as quite important.) Are the existing landmarks sufficient and could these be enhanced based on feedback from voices who are familiar with their significance/interpretation? Are these additional stopping points compatible with the needs of wildlife? It seems worth keeping the entire east side of Pilot Knob wild (except for existing pathways/landmarks to be enhanced as per the new plan). I would very much be interested in knowing what Dakota input would be on this. (I am very much for enhanced paved access for those who need this to get to important points on the site). Lastly, have existing landmarks and features been critiqued/reviewed? Is there agreement these existing features all have cultural meaning (e.g., medicine wheel sites)?

    3) The raingarden seems very much out of sync with a historic native restoration. And, not necessary given that runoff will not truly be an issue on this site. A vegetated swale or vegetated depression to catch runoff from this very small parking space will do. As this entire site is a “pollinator garden” that is out of place, too. How about taking the expense of this costly raingarden and putting it to added vegetation instead? How about planting culturally significant vegetation in the parking lot depression /swale? Sage? Would need input from others as to what would be culturally appropriate to plant.

    4) Thank you for asking for input. I am not a Native American but am nonetheless very connected to this site, am grateful for it, respectful of its importance to both humans and wildlife and hope my suggestions may be helpful regardless of my background.

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