A metropolitan interlude in time and space
Minnehaha Park is on the banks of the Mississippi River, surrounding Minnehaha Creek, a tributary of the Mississippi, and Minnehaha Falls. The falls have long been an important site to the native Dakota people. Minnehaha means "falling water" in Dakota, not "laughing water" as it is often translated.
White settlers discovered the falls around 1820, not long after arriving in Minnesota. Minnehaha Falls are very close to the Mississippi River, and only a couple of miles from Fort Snelling, one of the first places inhabited by settlers in the region. A small mill was built on the falls in the 1850s, but Minnehaha Falls have considerably less power than the St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi and the mill was soon abandoned.
The falls were to become a tourist destination after the publication of the epic poem, "The Song of Hiawatha," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1855. Longfellow never visited the falls in person, but he was inspired by the works of scholars of Native American culture and images of the falls.
The city of Minneapolis purchased the land in 1889 to make the area into a city park. The park has been a popular attraction for locals and tourists ever since.
As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman;
Though she bends him, she obeys him,
Though she draws him, yet she follows;
Useless each without the other!"
Thus the youthful Hiawatha
Said within himself and pondered,
Much perplexed by various feelings,
Listless, longing, hoping, fearing,
Dreaming still of Minnehaha,
Of the lovely Laughing Water,
In the land of the Dacotahs.
Wed a maiden of your people.
Some lines from
"The Song of Hiawatha"
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow