Heart of Earth
Every picture tells a story.
This is a story of nature, time, a clash of cultures, and the heart. This is one of the few remaining Indian burial mounds in St. Paul's Mounds Park. I was there one afternoon to learn about sacred sites in the Twin Cities from the Dakota perspective. As a photographer, I noticed the soft golden light. I saw the single crow in the tree. I was drawn to the curve of the hill, the lines in the shadows, the natural beauty before me. But my heart was drawn to the story of this place.
At one time there were perhaps hundreds of burial mounds in this area. They were removed in the 1800s to make way for development, excavated for archaeological study, desecrated, robbed of artifacts and bones. The six remaining mounds sit high above the river valley, where the view is breathtaking. Below the mounds at Bruce Vento Wildlife Sanctuary, there is a cave that the Dakota call Wakan Tipi. It is also known as Carver's Cave. There are ancient petroglyphs on the walls that you can still see, though the entrance is barricaded with a gate. A spring sacred to the Dakota flows from that cave and was visited by pregnant women. It represents birth. Up above at the mounds, we have the representation of death. If you consider the Dakota worldview that we come from the earth, our Mother, and are eventually returned to the earth when we die, you can see the cycle of life in this geographic location.
Knowing the story, I see more in this photograph. The mound looks to me like a pregnant belly. The shadows of branches are arteries. The earth is living, breathing, constantly growing and changing. I am reminded again that we are connected to each other and to everything around us. I ask myself what I can do to make those connections positive and meaningful. I can start by sharing the story.
For more on the Dakota history and perspective, see http://bdotememorymap.org