Wakan Tipi Center Updates

Thank you for your input on the future Wakan Tipi Center - 612 surveys were completed, wow! Download your copy of the report to see what the community said.

How You Can Help!

Learn more about how you can get involved in creating Wakan Tipi Center and encourage your state senator and representative to support House File 494 and Senate File 573, requesting $3M in State of Minnesota funds for our community. 

The Lower Phalen Creek Project is requesting bonding funds to develop and construct Wakan Tipi Center. The state legislature will soon consider our request for bonding money to build the Wakan Tipi Center. It is a critical time, and we have a strategy to garner majority legislative support. One important part of that strategy is your help in writing to our legislators and urging them to support the request. Your voices, as leaders in the community, will make an impact! Please also forward this to your connections in the community to ask them to write as well – the more people who write, the better.

House and Senate Capital Investment Committee members’ email addresses:

MN House

MN Senate

Please write to as many of the legislators as you can, but especially write to any legislators you may know personally or who represent your community. Also send copies of any communications to our local legislators who are sponsoring this request (House File 494 and Senate File 573) and thank them for their leadership and support of this request. They are: Representative Sheldon Johnson at rep.sheldon.johnson@house.mn and Senator Foung Hawj at sen.foung.hawj@senate.mn.

write a letter or email:

  • Please support an appropriation of $3 million for a grant to the City of Saint Paul for Wakan Tipi Center at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
  • The Lower Phalen Creek Project will match funds from the State of Minnesota with an additional $3.7 million from non-state and primarily private sources.
  • The Lower Phalen Creek Project and the City of Saint Paul have entered into a formal development agreement.
  • It is our intention to build and operate Wakan Tipi Center with three primary objectives: 1. To honor, accurately interpret and educate the community about the rich and diverse cultural and natural history and features of the site and the Lower Phalen Creek corridor. 2. To honor the significance of Wakan Tipi Cave as a Dakota sacred site. 3. To create a gathering place and visitor facility for the community and visitors from far and wide.
  • Funding for this project was given serious consideration in the last bonding bill, and we very nearly received it.
  • This year is the 250th anniversary of the first visit to Wakan Tipi Cave, a Dakota Sacred Site, by a European explorer. It would be most appropriate to honor the cultural and historic significance of this site this year by approving funding for its ongoing protection and interpretation.
  • This year is also the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, which has been a strong advocate and partner in the protection of this site within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Dan McGuiness at dan@dmcguiness.com or (651) 260-6260 or Melanie Kleiss, Executive Director at mkleiss@lowerphalencreek.org or (612) 581-8636.
  • Sincerely, [your name] [your city/town] [your group affiliation, profession, and/or other info about you]

Thank you very much for your support – we can do this!


DESIGN COMPETITION

The United States Green Building Council-Minnesota Natural Talent Design Competition provides an applied learning experience in the principles of integrated design, sustainability, innovation and social consciousness. The purpose of the competition is to empower current students and young professionals to become leaders within the green building movement and to help facilitate a green building collaboration between aspiring architects and designers with the USGBC-Minnesota Chapter as well as the professional community. All participants benefit greatly from this competition as they will gain valuable project experience and recognition within the design and construction industry.

The 2015 project was to design the Wakan Tipi Center, the visitor and interpretive center at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. Teams will not only needed to create an environmentally efficient design and resourceful layout, but also address the history of the site as well as community engagement issues.

The following images are a summary of each of the eight entries. The overall winner of the design competition is first, followed by the two runner up winners. The design schemes and details will help inform the development of Wakan Tipi Center. The Lower Phalen Creek Project Board of Directors greatly appreciates the opportunity to partner with USGBC as well as each of the participants.


Building on 20 years of work on the sanctuary, the Lower Phalen Creek Project will be the designated developer of Wakan Tipi Center, as a living community interpretive center, under a formal development agreement with the City. We have entered an agreement with the City, completed initial community engagement, and will begin implementation in 2018.

Project Goals:

The short term and intermediate term goals of the Wakan Tipi Center project are:

(1) Create a set of community visions for Wakan Tipi Center as a place where we can all gather and share our stories, strengthen our connections and find the unity that lies hidden in our diversity. We will do this by exhaustively recruiting and engaging organizations and individuals in the community who will provide significant and sustained involvement and support in the design and development of Wakan Tipi Center.

(2) Manifest these visions through our daily operations as we design and plan for the center. We will do this by establishing a core group of Community Advisors and such committees as may be useful, to guide and actively participate in the planning for the ongoing exhibits, programs and operations of Wakan Tipi Center.

(3) Maintain resilience, kindness and renewal in the face of change. We will do this by learning from the environmental lessons that nature teaches us and the cultural lessons our community teaches us. We will do this also by continual refreshment of our thinking and our work, by maintaining a spirit of hospitality - keeping the door always open to new ideas and new faces. In particular, we will design the center and landscapes to welcome, enable and encourage our elders to come here to share their wisdom, beauty and strength with the community.

(4) Help ourselves and others by sharing our successes and failures, lessons and outcomes. We will do this by exploring and implementing methods by which we can spread our impact beyond our immediate neighborhoods to the region and beyond. 

Project Objectives:

The way we plan for the center will lay the foundation for how we operate the center. Our objectives and strategies will guide who we serve, what we do and how we operate.

Objective 1. Who We Serve: Wakan Tipi Center will serve and involve people and organizations from every ethnic group, all economic strata and all ages. As directed by the community during strategic planning engagement in 2016 and Wakan Tipi Center engagement in 2017, our primary priority will be to serve and involve the Dakota people. This is because the Center will be on ancestral Dakota lands and near a significant Dakota sacred site. Our primary geographic areas for community engagement efforts will the Dayton's Bluff (District 4), Payne-Phalen (District 5) geographic areas. Our third priority will be to serve as a national example, sharing our story with others who are working on similar projects and issues.

Objective 2. What We Do: Wakan Tipi Center will (a) Honor, accurately interpret, engage and educate the community about the rich cultural and natural history and features of the Lower Phalen Creek Corridor and the surrounding community. (b) Honor the significance of Wakan Tipi Cave (on the sanctuary property) as a Dakota sacred site. (c) Create and operate a gathering place and visitor facility for the community and visitors from far and wide.

Objective 3. How We Do It: At Wakan Tipi Center our process is part of our product. As we transform this ancestral Dakota land and recent industrial site into a community gathering place, we will also transform how we interact as members of our community. 

We will build upon the work of many community members and volunteers to expand our efforts to engage (as paid staff, consultants and volunteers) a much broader base of support and involvement among people and groups of Dakota, Hmong, African, Latino and European origin.

LPCP as Developer