Awards Focus: Indian Mounds Cultural Landscape Study

LAM is highlighting student and professional winners from the 2021 ASLA Awards by asking designers to share an outtake that tells an important part of their project’s narrative.

Indian Mounds Cultural Landscape Study and Messaging Plan

Quinn Evans and Ten x Ten

Analysis and Planning Honor Award

Image courtesy Quinn Evans.

“Critical to understanding the importance of the Indigenous burial ground that is currently called Indian Mounds Regional Park is recognizing the interconnectedness of all things—people, land, water, sky, animals, and plants. This Dakota concept, Mitákuye Owas’in, guided the project’s vision for acknowledgment, care, and use of the cemetery, but also extends into the larger landscape. The site is part of Mni Sota Makoce, the Dakota homeland, and Bdote, the area surrounding the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers that is significant to many Dakota people as a place of origination, where the Dakota emerged.”

—Brenda Williams, FASLA, Quinn Evans


About the Indian Mounds Cultural Landscape Study and Messaging Plan:

The Indian Mounds Regional Park in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is not a park in the traditional sense but an Indigenous burial ground—a sacred site for the Dakota people today and for the past thousand years. To help reestablish that association for the public, Quinn Evans worked with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department to carry out a cultural landscape study and messaging plan for the site, which has been used as a park since 1892. The cultural landscape study was informed by primary and secondary sources on the history of mound building and interviews with Indigenous people about the meaning of the site. The plan sought to remove recreational features from the site, expand native plant communities for both cultural relevance and climate resilience, and emphasize the significance of the space in American Indian heritage. In addition to documenting the historic development of the site and making recommendations for its long-term development, the project was also intended to build new practices for integrating Indigenous people into projects that affect their sacred places. Messages reinforcing the site’s purpose are incorporated into the landscape through signs, paving, plantings, furniture, and media.

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