Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Delegation takes Blueway effort to Sisseton, SD

Recognizing that a significant portion of the Minnesota River basin lies outside Minnesota, a delegation from the Blueway nomination project headed upstream Aug. 26. They were warmly welcomed by hosts in Sisseton, SD, and toured what some consider the true source of the Minnesota River.

In Sica Hollow State Park west of Sisseton, a little network of creeks tumble from the densely-wooded flanks of the prairie couteau, Buffalo Ridge. The rain and spring-fed streams form the Little Minnesota River, which accounts for about 90 percent of the inflow to Big Stone Lake – claimed to be the source of the Minnesota River.

The purpose of the delegation's visit was to engage support in South Dakota for the Minnesota River Blueway nomination. The visit opened with a lunch meeting at the Joseph Nicollet Tower Museum. The hosts learned about the Blueway project; the visitors learned about Dakota Indian history and the exploration of the area by Joseph Nicollet.

At Sica (pronounced 'See-cha') Hollow State Park, the group hiked the trails along the creeks, and heard more description of the area. "This is a spiritual place for the Dakota people," says Darlene Pipeboy, an educator and elder with the Sisseton-Wahpeton-Oyate Dakota community. "A combination of values brought the Dakota people here," she says. Woods, water, game, herbal medicines, the land, were all part of the native ecosystem. "Take care of nature, and nature will take care of you," Darlene says.

After a short stop at the historic Stavig House Museum in Sisseton, the delegation moved to the Sisseton City Hall for an open house gathering and potluck. Local guests and visitors heard a short overview of the Blueway project, and stayed for food and informal conversation with the visitors from Minnesota.

During a pause in the Blueway program at the federal level, the Minnesota Blueway project continues to develop support, particularly among state and federal elected officials from all four states claiming portions of the Minnesota River basin. Organizers remain optimistic that eventually the Minnesota River will become the second in the U.S. to be recognized as a national Blueway. For more information about the project visit the website at