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Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary at Lower Phalen Creek

The Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary is a 29-acre park along the Mississippi River, just east of downtown St. Paul. This land is considered a sacred place: signs of the first human activity here date back to over two millennia. The 106 Group facilitated the transformation of this culturally significant place while sensitively navigating complex relationships among government agencies, tribes, and the public.

The 106 Group worked in partnership with the City of St. Paul, the National Park Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), tribal representatives, state agencies, and the local community in the planning and restoration of land at Lower Phalen Creek in St. Paul.  This project consisted of trail construction, as well as restoration of vegetation and wetlands. Archaeological, historic, and cultural resources representing many centuries of human activity were in this area. Significant sites include the 19th-century North Star Brewery and Wakan Tipi, a cave of great significance to American Indians.  The 106 Group assisted the city and federal agencies through all their historic preservation needs, including drafting the Programmatic Agreement, conducting extensive archaeological studies, and of particular note, facilitating consultation among the Dakota, Ojibwe, City of St. Paul, local community, state, and federal agencies.

As part of the celebration of the public acquisition for this property, 106 Group CEO and Services Director Anne Ketz was interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio. The National Park Service historian (and current Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Superintendent) described the 106 Group’s work on the project as “wonderful.” The EPA project manager also had compliments: “Thanks for your very clear update about the progress of this project… I also want to suggest that this project may be a good illustration to others with such undertakings (i.e., parks projects and brownfields projects) of the appropriate way to work with tribes on National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) issues. I’ve heard very positive feedback from the tribes about how this has been conducted.”

For more information about the cultural and natural history of Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, check out an in-depth article from the National Park Service, presentation slides from a public talk about the sanctuary by the 106 Group, and a paper presented by Anne Ketz for the Mdote Series 2003: The Importance of Place.


“The 106 Group, a Minnesota-based cultural resources management and planning company, facilitated the transformation of Wakan Tipi while sensitively navigating the complex relationships between government agencies, tribes and the public. The 106 Group seeks to integrate preservation planning into community-wide planning efforts to have the greatest impact. They have worked with hundreds of communities across the country to rally around their shared past and preserve cultural landscapes as well as structures … In 2005, the 27-acre Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary was opened, the latest colonial name for the home of Wakan Tipi cave.” –Roxanne Gould and Jim Rock, Wakan Tipi and Indian Mounds Park: Reclaiming an Indigenous feminine sacred site, Alternative (2016)


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