The summit will focus on bringing together spiritual and environmental understandings in order to protect the water commons.

 Sunday, April 17, 2016      12:30 to 3 pm
Fort Snelling State Park Visitor Center at Bdote, the meeting of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. (Twin Cities, Minnesota)

Worldwide we are at crisis level for drinkable water, even here in the state named Mi-ni, water.

The summit will focus on bringing together spiritual and environmental understandings in order to protect the water commons.

Locally we want to take action on a new threat to Coldwater Springs (Mi-ni Owe Sni), a sacred and historic site, and identify steps to preserve this 10,000-year old spring. Coldwater is the last major natural spring in Hennepin County.


Photo: Friends of Coldwater

We will begin with a traditional Dakota water ceremony.

The summit will convene tribal leaders; water, environmental and legal advocates; youth; and spiritual and civic allies to protect Coldwater Springs.

Directions: From St. Paul exit Hwy 5 at Post Road. From Minneapolis take the airport exit off Hwy 55 onto Hwy 5 and exit at Post Road. Turn east into Fort Snelling State Park. The Visitor Center is 2-miles from the park entrance, drive to the end of the road near the Bdote, the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. No entrance fee, just show this flyer or get a copy of this flyer in the park office.

Hosted by the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community. Convenor Sharon Lennartson, Chairwoman MMDTC. Information: or 612-913-1903.

Free. Everyone welcome.

Owasin cantewasteya upo! (Come with a good heart!)



Coldwater Journal is a record of personal observations and reflections from visits to the Coldwater campus.

Please feel free to submit your thoughts and reflections about Coldwater for posting here on the FRIENDS site via email.

Before it was a historic site,
Coldwater was a sacred site.

PROJECT WATER: Saving Coldwater

Coldwater Journal
Wednesday, 03.23.16

(Coldwater) Saving the flow of groundwater to Coldwater Springs is proving difficult for Metropolitan Council engineers planning a sewer replacement. The new sewer, called an “improvement” project, is located just north of Minnehaha Park and is a mile and a-half north of Coldwater. The location threatens a main underground bedrock fault that delivers an unknown amount of groundwater to Coldwater Springs.

The first Met Council sewer plan was “scrapped in favor of a less intrusive project.” Recall that the original Highway 55 reroute plan from MnDOT was to dynamite the road bed and pipe-in city water.

The second MnDOT Hiawatha plan resulted in the daily loss of 46,000 gallons. After construction, court-ordered monitoring documented a 35 percent loss of flow—down from 130,000 gpd (gallons per day) to 84,000 gpd.

Coldwater is the last major natural spring in Hennepin County. “Camp” Coldwater was the Birthplace of Minnesota, the first Euro-American settlement in the state. Before the Louisiana Purchase and European expansion across North America, Coldwater was a traditional gathering and ceremonial site for Dakota, Anishinabe, Ho Chunk, Iowa, Sauk and Fox nations.

Currently 10,000-year-old Coldwater Springs is an acknowledged Dakota sacred site recognized by the National Park Service which claims to “own” Coldwater. In any culture the landscape around Coldwater would be considered sacred. For the Dakota, it is the location of their place of emergence as a people.

Consider the awesome geography of the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers beneath towering cliffs carved by glacial melt waters. Just upstream on the Mississippi, Coldwater Creek outflows, then Minnehaha Creek and nine miles upstream, the great falls now called St. Anthony.

Like the Biblical Garden of Eden, the Dakota place of genesis is a spring in a garden which parts into major rivers. It is not a dot on the map but a region that provided food, shelter and all the good things of life.

Coldwater is in danger of being cut and cut by development and “improvements.” First it was the Hiawatha/Hwy 55 reroute and light rail transit (1999-2002). In 2013 it was a utility right-of-way project slicing the west edge of Coldwater park for a gas pipeline. Now a sewer project is threatening the flow to the spring. And in the near future Highway 55 will be rebuilt.

For 10,000-years plants and animals and humans have depended on Coldwater for water so pure watercress grows in its flow today. Consider the next 10,000 years.

—Susu Jeffrey

COLDWATER SPRINGS: Talk Versus Truth, A History of Deception

Coldwater Journal
March 2016

“The proposed reroute of Hiawatha Avenue will not impact the Camp Coldwater historic property of Coldwater Spring…”
—Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg, April 29, 1999, MnDOT news conference

“The project has been designed to avoid impacting the flow of groundwater to the spring. MnDOT will monitor both water quantity and quality during construction to insure that the spring is not impacted.” MnDOT “Fact and Myth” sheet mailed to thousands of local residents in 1998.

“MnDOT is confident that the construction of T.H. 55 will have no effect on the flow of Camp Coldwater Spring.” G. Joseph Hudak, MnDOT Chief Archaeologist to Dennis Gimmestad, SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) Government Programs and Compliance Officer, April 28, 1999.

“We stress the importance of taking the utmost care during the construction process to avoid disruption of the natural water source to this spring. You have addressed this issue with a redesign of a portion of the project, and, with your assurance that the water will continue to flow, the project should not affect the historical characteristics of this property. We understand that the Federal Highway Administration will also review the project design to ensure that effective measures are being taken to protect the natural flow of the spring.” Britta Bloomberg, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, to G. Joseph Hudak, May 25, 1999.
These comments were made in writing, in letters between MnDOT and SHPO. The letters were part of the official correspondence between the two agencies as part of the fulfillment of the Memorandum of Agreement for the Highway 55 reroute and the 55/62 interchange.

The Lower Minnesota River Watershed District approved the 55/62 interchange project on November 15, 2000. The approval included the following assurance: “MnDOT stated that they guaranteed there would be no adverse impact and if there were any, at any time in the future, MnDOT would make whatever changes are necessary to eliminate that impact.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 15, 2001
“It is clear that MnDOT has chosen to fight the [Minnehaha Creek] watershed district where it might have found a compromise….It continues to blame the watershed district for delays that are partly its own fault. And having promised to mitigate any damage it does to the spring, MnDOT is trying to modify the [Coldwater protection] law to ease its obligations.”

In an 11/16/01 letter to MnDOT’s commissioner, the FHWA [Federal Highway Administration] called for more tests to determine the amount of groundwater flowing from the 55/62 interchange area to Coldwater Springs. Dye tests traced 30-percent of Coldwater’s flow through the interchange.

Before Highway 55 construction Coldwater’s flow measured about 130,000 gpd (gallons per day). Post construction court-ordered monitoring documented a 35-percent loss of flow down to 84,000 gpd. 27,500 is pumped away from the 55/62 interchange, at the south end of groundwater charging Coldwater, and another 18,500 is simply gone.

By Published On: April 4th, 2016Comments Off on BDOTE DAKOTA WATER SUMMIT

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