Now that it has an Indigenous Peoples Day, Minneapolis will focus some of its historic preservation efforts on better understanding its American Indian past.
The city's historic preservation staff will oversee the study of native people in the area both before and since white exploration and settlement. It plans to complete a background context study by the summer of 2016 that is expected to lead to the eventual local designation of historic districts and properties. The study will be used to identity areas, buildings, structures, objects, sites and cultural landscapes worthy of further research.
It's the city's first real look at native history within its borders from a preservation standpoint. The city is the birthplace of the American Indian Movement, and Lake Calhoun was the 19th century site for 10 years of a federally backed effort by Dakota people to intensify farming practices as a response to diminishing wild game.
The study is being funded by a $35,000 federal grant that will be evenly matched by city money. That funding will also support the evaluation for historic designation of several local areas and properties associated with black and Jewish history,
The areas to be study for potential nomination for historic designation are the Homewood subdivision of the Willard Hay neighborhood, and the area of Tilsenbilt Homes, an early non-segregated development of lots in the Bryant and Regina neighborhoods.
The properties to be studied are the Arthur and Edith Lee house in the Field neighborhood, the subject of massive white protest again a black homeowner in 1931, and the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in the Shingle Creek neighborhood, the anchor of a pioneering black community in the Camden area neighborhood. They are at 4600 Columbus Avenue S. and 5100 James Av. N. respectively.
Local historic designation gives a property significantly greater protection against demolition or alterations that would diminish their ability to communicate their historical significance, according to John Smoley, a city planner.
(American Indian Movement activists were among those demonstrating last year against the name of the Washington Redskins football club.)