Coldwater Journal is a record of personal observations and reflections from visits to the Coldwater campus.

Please feel free to submit your thoughts and reflections about Coldwater for posting here on the FRIENDS of COLDWATER site via email.
Coldwater Journal is chronologically reversed. The newest postings are first.
(click for 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2008 | 2009 journal)
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Monday 11.20.07
The Department of the Interior will soon decide what government agency will "own" Coldwater Spring.

(Coldwater) Please join Friends of Coldwater in advocating for:

COLDWATER PARK: A 50-Acre Green Museum

Support the 50-acre park proposal for the Coldwater property including:

-A 50-acre National Park Service urban wilderness called Coldwater Park, running south along the Mississippi bluff from Minnehaha Regional Park to Fort Snelling State Park. The federal level offers recognition to Native Americans and best available environmental protections.

-Park designation as a Green Museum where 10,000-year-old Coldwater Spring is preserved and protected and the land is the museum.

Please email Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Department of the Interior at or or phone 202-208-7351 (email preferred).

And please consider calling or copying your email to:

Congressman Keith Ellison at 612-522-1212 or online.

Senator Amy Klobuchar at 612-727-5220 or online.

Senator Norm Coleman at 651-645-0323 or online.

(More background)
Friends of Coldwater letter to Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne. Regarding: Decision about ownership of the former Bureau of Mines at Coldwater Spring

November 2007

Dear Secretary Kempthorne:

Coldwater Spring is a 10,000-year old spring located just upstream of the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers in Minneapolis. Flowing at about 90,000 gallons per day, Coldwater is the last natural spring of size in the Twin Cities, birthplace of the state of Minnesota (where the soldiers lived who built Fort Snelling), and before white settlement, a traditional sacred site for Dakota, Anishinabe, Ho Chunk, Iowa, Sauk and Fox peoples.

A decision about ownership of this Mississippi blufftop 27-acre property, just 1.3-miles south of historic Minnehaha Falls, is due from the Department of the Interior soon. Friends of Coldwater urges the DOI to mandate ownership of the Coldwater property to the National Park Service and to link Coldwater's 27-acres with a 2-block, 23-acre Veterans Administration parcel to form a 50-acre blufftop park.

Currently the VA land, between Minnehaha Park and Coldwater, is undeveloped, fenced and used as a temporary dump site for construction dirt and downed trees. Paul Labovitz, Superintendent of NPS/Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, suggested the VA property might be transferred to the NPS within the DOI without an exchange of funds.

Only federal ownership of this Mississippi blufftop parkland can protect and preserve the land from future road-building. Despite Minnesota Department of Transportation promises of "no adverse impact" and a 2001 state law mandating no loss of "flow to or from the spring," Coldwater Spring has suffered a 27,500 gallon-per-day loss since reconstruction of nearby Highway 55. The roadway is scheduled to be rebuilt in less than 20 years.

Coldwater is your basic everything site:
-451 million years of geologic history from the spring, 120-feet down the Mississippi bluff to NPS Island 108-01
-9,000 years of Native American history
-Traditional Native American sacred site
-Birthplace of Minnesota, the water that sustained the meeting place where Native, European and African people came together
-Dred Scott based his 1858 case for freedom in part on his residency at Fort Snelling (between 1836-40). Coldwater furnished water to the fort 1820-1920.
-Last natural spring of size (90,000 gallons per day) in Hennepin County
-The proposed 50-acre Coldwater Park completes the Mississippi gorge 8.5-mile blufftop greenway along the west bank, from the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, upstream to the Falls of St. Anthony. This proposal makes so much sense that the focus shifts to ownership.

Who best can protect and preserve the Coldwater landscape? At this time the National Park Service offers the strongest environmental and cultural protections, including federal recognition for Native Americans.

So Friends of Coldwater is asking for:
1) NPS ownership of a
2) 50-acre Coldwater Park featuring oak savanna re-vegetation
3) An urban wilderness designated as a Green Museum, a place where the land around this 10,000 year old spring is the museum.

Susu Jeffrey
for Friends of Coldwater, a Minnesota Not-for-Profit Organization
~What happens to the water happens to the people.~

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Monday 9.17.07
An Open Letter to the National Park Service
(Coldwater) Friends of Coldwater submitted the following letter to the National Park Service in response to plans by the Minnesota Historical Society to tear down and then build a new Visitor Center on the Mississippi bluff.

Friends of Coldwater does not support the Minnesota Historical Society's (MHS)  proposed redevelopment project at the Fort Snelling National Register Historic District. Friends of Coldwater favors removing the Visitor Center's and upgrading historic Building 17 or 18 for MHS use along with the installation of a Native American museum.

"Where's the American Indian museum?" I once asked the director of the newly restored Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis. The museum official caught her breath˜eureka! She "got" it. There's a Mill City Museum celebrating 50 years of European American flour milling and no special museum for the people who were here for more than 9,000 years.

Friends of Coldwater opposes new development on the Mississippi bluff. Construction plans call for a new building, closer to the edge of that ancient weathered limestone drop off. The gorge, from the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers about 9-miles upstream to the Falls of St. Anthony, is the only true river gorge on the entire 2,350 mile Mississippi River. Construction at this place is not conservation-thinking.

The proposed contemporary architecture appears antithetical to the mission of the MHS, "to draw strength and perspective from the past and find purpose for the future."

According to Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) guidelines for the Mississippi River Critical Area Corridor there are glaring conflicts with the MHS proposal at this National Historic Landmark:
--To protect and preserve a unique and valuable resource.
--To prevent and mitigate irreversible damage to this state, regional and national resource.
--To preserve and enhance its natural, aesthetic, cultural and historical value.
--To protect and preserve the river.
--To protect and preserve the biological and ecological functions of the river corridor.

Apparently declining attendance is a motivation for erecting a new visitor center at the historic fort. Perhaps military history is not so interesting to potential visitors at a time when U.S. military forces are losing a very expensive war. The emphasis on white people's military activity at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers is insulting to Native Americans and gives all visitors a skewed education about the land and the history of people who have lived here.

Friends of Coldwater is concerned to hear of tree removal for parking consolidation in the MHS plan especially after hearing major media news of tree damage at Fort Snelling from the August 28, 2007 storm.

Finally Friends of Coldwater notes three troubling conflicts:
--First is the political conflict of having MHS Director Nina Archabal, who is also the State Historic Preservation Officer, promote a plan that might directly and adversely affect the land and the history of people at the Fort Snelling site.
--Second is the conflict between the MHS proposal and the deed to the land which specified that the Society was to manage the property to protect, preserve and enhance its historic character.
--The third conflict is the fact that David Kelliher, MHS lobbyist, is the husband of Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Speaker of the Minnesota House. As a former lobbyist, I estimate there is little chance of the state legislature turning down a Kelliher plan. MHS is going to "sell" their plan as a $5-million savings without reference to the value of preserving and using an historic building.

How much of a savings is it when you sell your history?

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The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

--Wendell Berry
Courtesy of Friends of the Mississippi.

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Saturday 9.15.07
A Coldwater Wedding
(Minnehaha Falls) Natalia and Mike were married today. Water from Coldwater Spring was used to symbolize the flow and endurance of their love. More soon on this event...

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Thursday, 5.10.07
We Won! (sort of)
(United States Federal District Court, St. Paul, Minnesota) US Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan dismissed charges against three people who entered the Coldwater campus to collect spring water and pray, back in October 2005. The spring is a traditional sacred site for Dakota and other Upper Mississippi Indian nations and became the locale for Dakota legal rights granted under the 1805 Dakota-Pike Treaty.

Since March 2, 2006, lead attorney Larry Leventhal moved four times for dismissal of the charges of "failure to obey a legal order." Leventhal told defendants the order was not legal because the 1805 Dakota-Pike Treaty "promise" people of the Dakota Nation "the rights to pass, repass, hunt or make other uses of the said districts, as they have formerly done."

"If the Treaty were not valid," Leventhal said, "it would seem that the land would be considered Dakota land."

The United States Constitution (Article VI. Section 2.) states that "all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land."

Leventhal finessed a graceful exit from the case for Judge Boylan who made the unorthodox prima facie decision that the 1805 treaty is "invalid" (11/06). Instead of ruling again on the validity of the treaty, Boylan dismissed the petty misdemeanor charges finding that enforcement of the paper permit entry system to the spring was defective.

For Robyn Thorson, director of the 8-state midwest region of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the dismissal may have been a career-saving move. FWS is responsible for maintenance of the 27-acre federal Coldwater property during a multi-year process to determine future use of the former Bureau of Mines site along the Mississippi blufftop south of Minnehaha Park.

Thorson pushed for extremely limited access to the Coldwater site, one hour a week, after nine years of open public access for 30 hours a week. The FWS clampdown occurred after a series of brittle meetings between Coldwater supporters and the director who claimed the closure was for "safety" reasons.

The case ended abruptly after the prosecution rested, before the defense was presented. "The prosecution did not prove their case," said a legal aide. Thirty supporters clapped for the stunned defendants as the judge quickly exited the chambers, some said with a red face.

The defendants' Mendota Dakota attorney, Barbara Nimis, established sloppy police work through a series of questions about dates and whose authority was used to issue the violations.

During the struggle to stop the Highway 55 reroute through Minnehaha Park a number of charges were dismissed when police failed to show up for court appearances or failed to complete proper procedures. Supporters of Native rights and the environment always considered the police secret supporters when cases were dismissed.

This case is the latest ripple in the on-going citizen effort to protect the Coldwater property, considered to be sacred and historic. In addition to Native claims, Coldwater is the Birthplace of Minnesota, where the soldiers who built Fort Snelling lived. The spring furnished water to the fort from 1820-1920.

Since the Highway 55 construction there has been a loss of 27,500 gallons a day (almost 20 gallons a minute) from Coldwater Spring which still flows at about 100,000-gallons a day. Coldwater is the last natural spring of size in Minneapolis or St. Paul including all of Hennepin County.

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Wednesday 1.31.07
Clean Drinking Water
(Coldwater Spring) The United Nations has declared water a human right. Corporations are privatizing spring waters around the world. Human beings are about 70-percent water.

From: Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, Alliance for Democracy, Corporate Accountability International, Polaris Institute, and SANIPLAN

To: Steve Heare, Director
Drinking Water Protection Division, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington D.C. 20460

We are writing in reference to the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Listening Session on Exploring Bottled Water. We are adamantly opposed to weakening the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) by allowing bottled water to be substituted as a compliance option for potable water.All Americans have the right to safe and affordable drinking water from their taps. We are concerned about a possible shift in public policy, which seems to be an indication of EPA's declining support and capacity for finding long-term solutions to improve and maintain our public water systems.

Using bottled water for anything beyond a short-term temporary response to natural disaster also sends the message that privately packaged water is safer, cleaner and better than municipal water systems, undermining public confidence in these systems.

Bottled water is not a good substitute for clean tap water. Federal water regulations charge the EPA with protecting public drinking water supplies. Bottled water cannot be substituted in public water systems, because the EPA is not overseeing the production and distribution of bottled water.The FDA standards for bottled water are more lax than the stringent EPA standards for public drinking water and, in cases where bottled water does not cross state lines, the product is not regulated by the federal government at all.

Bottled water has been subject to numerous recalls. Unlike boil orders promptly issued by EPA-regulated utilities, the bottled water recalls have largely been voluntary and often trickle out over a matter of weeks while unsuspecting consumers continue to use contaminated water.

EPA abrogates its federal mandate to protect the public water supply if it approves the use of bottled water to meet safe drinking water standards.Moreover, the bottled water industry harms the environment. Over-pumping depletes water sources, damages habitats, devastates ecosystems, and drains aquifers. Beyond the damage from water mining is the waste stream created by bottled water.

Two thirds of beverage containers in the U.S. end up in a landfill, are incinerated or are littered-only one in three are recycled. Hundreds of thousands of tons of non-recycled plastic water bottles sit in landfills worldwide. Plastics are now the fastest growing sector of the waste stream and presently take up more than 25 percent of the volume of material sent to landfills every year. In addition, transporting bottled water requires a tremendous amount of fuel. Don't buy bottled water.
(Note: letter above was edited. S.J.)

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Monday 1.5.07
(Coldwater Spring Full Moon Walk) The flow at Coldwater is changing again. Less water is exiting at the main outflow and much, much more water is pouring into the reservoir from the south end, where a creek has formed behind the warehouse (Building 4).

Water used to trickle from behind this empty building-now it's a creek. Of course the whole area oozes water but the large warehouse Building 11), west, behind and above the reservoir, appears to be eroding the hillside with stormwater runoff.

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John Fields
61, died in January of the effects of Agent Orange. John was a veteran for peace, a Coldwater supporter, and a friend to so many it was standing-room-only at his funeral. Our sympathy to his widow, Cher, son Jesse and daughters Sunny and Jenny.

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Monday 1.3.07
Wolf Moon Walk
(Coldwater Spring Full Moon Walk) Coyotes, but no wolves roam at Coldwater. But they used to.

At the first Coldwater area Full Moon Walk of 2007 the moon was high in the sky behind a diorama of cirrus clouds. Cirrus clouds are visible descriptions of wind shear aloft. They are dancing ice crystals, clouds whose bodies are net costumes. On the ground it was warm!-windproof, fall-jacket weather.

In 1849, the government of the newly established Minnesota Territory issued a bounty on wolves. A pelt was worth $3. In 1863, after the Dakota-US War, the bounty on Native American scalps began at $25. Little Crow's death fetched $75. The Indian bounty went as high as $200.

By 1900 wolves were exterminated from the continental US including Minnesota except in the Boundary Waters where about 750 wolves lived. Indian people were confined to reservations or assimilation.

In 1924 Native Americans were recognized as US citizens. In 1965 the wolf bounty was suspended from a high of $35 per pelt. Nine years later the federal Endangered Species Act of 1974 initiated protection for wolves.

In 1978 the Native American Religious Freedom Act reversed the 1890 law prohibiting freedom of religion for Indian people. So 187 years after Euro-Americans were granted freedom of religion, First Nations people got that same right. There are about 60,000 Indian people in Minnesota today out of a total population of 5.1-million.

About 3,000 wolves live in Minnesota now, according to Gustave Axelson writing in the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, (MN Dept. of Natural Resources, Jan-Feb 2007, pp. 18-25). Wolves live in the top third of the state, the lakes and forest topography, excluding the northwest Red River farm area. Axelson reported that a 2003-04 wolf survey "showed that individual pack territories shrank."

As the human population expands into wolf range, wolves seem to be adapting to less territory. What is keeping wolves out of the rest of the state is roads. Beyond road-kill and illegal shooting, roads break up the habitat. Axelson muses over the possibility of lone wolves returning north with lessons about mortality after venturing into increasingly populated human areas.

Wolf taught men to hunt, cooperatively, and to eat what they kill. Wolves are pack animals, community members, they sing together. No sport killing or catch-&-release for the wolves. Indian people never left, they simply became invisible because it was illegal to be Indian. It was open season on wolves and Indian people.

With the threat of Global Heating in this warmest year on record Native Americans and wolves may have some survival lessons for us.


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