Our Vision is nothing less than a clean and healthy Lake Hiawatha supportive of a thriving ecosystem and community

Our Mission is to revive the health of Lake Hiawatha
by inspiring policy action and fostering community ownership

Get Updates Sign Our Petition

Friends of Lake Hiawatha

is dedicated to improving the quality of Lake Hiawatha through community engagement, educational outreach, and good governance through effective partnerships with other organizations and public officials.

Lake Hiawatha History

Prior to 1854, the land that encompasses present day Lake Hiawatha, the Chain of Lakes, and the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, was the spiritual center and home of the Dakota Sioux tribe. The community settled on the shores of Lake Calhoun and actively foraged, farmed, and hunted for survival. Plant species that they foraged include: blueberries, wild spikenard, wild turnips, spatterdock root, water lily, wild rice, acorns, and bittersweet vine.

They farmed very selectively using a no till, no drill method. Natural land cover was comprised of oak, elm, basswood, ash, and maple trees with oak openings and barrens. With European and French Canadian expansion into Minnesota the Dakota became involved in the fur trade, primarily harvesting muskrat and beaver pelts.

In 1854, the land was surveyed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management and the names of European landowners appear on the parcels adjacent to the Lake. The City of Minneapolis was established in 1856 and Minnesota became a State on May 11, 1858. The Dakota War took place in 1862 and in 1863 an act of the United States Congress expelled the Dakota from Minnesota. They were relocated in Nebraska and South Dakota.

By 1867, Minneapolis achieved final incorporation. As the City developed so did the need for land planning and a board of 12 park commissioners was appointed in 1883. Horace Cleveland, a landscape architect, is hired and proposes a vast park system that encompasses the Chain of Lakes including Minnehaha Creek and the Mississippi River. Lakes Calhoun, Harriet, and Isles are named. Present day Lakes Hiawatha and Nokomis were renamed from Rice Lake and Mother Lake. The name Hiawatha is a reference to the great Iroquois chief immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Song of Hiawatha”.

Although the shoreline of Lake Hiawatha has been altered over time Cleveland’s vision of a series of open green spaces connecting the urban areas of Minneapolis remains. Tiny vestiges of the open oak barren forest remain and the Dakota have made a return to heal the landscape.

Minneapolis’ diverse community of today has come together to create a clean Lake Hiawatha.

Storm Sewers Dump into Lake

The storm sewers from many miles of streets in South Minneapolis are draining pollution and trash directly into Lake Hiawatha. Please sign this petition to persuade the organizations involved to collaborate in creating an effective system of mitigation in order to clean up the pollutants before they enter the lake. Sign the petition here…

Pumping Water at Lake Hiawatha

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board had been pumping far more water out of stormwater ponds into the lake than allowed by its state permit allowing it to pump water to sprinkle the course. The Park Board now is working with the city and Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to explore options for the situation involving both continuing to pump and turning off the pumps. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources determines who may pump groundwater. If the Park Board stopped pumping, most of the former wetland that was dredged to make the golf course will flood at least periodically in substantial rains… Read more…

Trash accumulates

103 bags of garbage were cleaned from Lake Hiawatha in 2015. Items from a sample collection were identified, sorted and counted. The sample collection was removed from the entire circumference of the Lake. The artifacts were extracted from shallow water and the shore. Read more…

Minnehaha Creek Clean-Up

Celebrating 10 years of cleaning the creek with headquarters at Lake Hiawatha Park. Read more…

Research and Writing Credit: Annette Walby


Current News

Lake Hiawatha

1 hour 13 minutes ago

Lake Hiawatha shared Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's post.

The 2017 Minneapolis Arbor Day Celebration includes a spectacular slate of family-friendly activities, two food trucks, live music performances, a beer garden featuring eight breweries and, of course, new trees! You can help plant more than 300 new trees at Lake Hiawatha Park, Friday, April 28, 4-8 pm.

Details at: www.minneapolisparks.org/arborday

Lake Hiawatha

15 hours 6 minutes ago

Arbor Day Celebration at Lake Hiawatha this Friday. Be there!

Come celebrate Arbor Day with tree planting, 5k-run through Hiawatha golf course put on by @[271861839576580:274:Minnesota Brewery Running Series], delicious brews, and live music! Come climb a tree, adopt-a-tree, and have fun!

@[754058641328417:274:Brewing a Better Forest], @[161548840569338:274:People for Parks], and the @[124219134316634:274:Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board] together with other partners are putting together an awesome Arbor Day Celebration @[113598048653664:274:Lake Hiawatha]!

The folks from @[138995516171415:274:Pat's Tap] will be pouring brews from:
@[1564267443847162:274:Able Seedhouse & Brewery]
@[154511174644485:274:Dangerous Man Brewing Co]
@[216071085261331:274:Eastlake Craft Brewery]
@[153937381428358:274:Fair State Brewing Cooperative]
@[246647735376923:274:Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub]
@[467446643302077:274:Sociable Cider Werks]

Enjoy the deliciousness of food trucks @[246647735376923:274:Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub] and @[135777163128893:274:Parkway Pizza]

Check out how to support trees, our local water sources, and the awesomeness of our amazing city at our Outreach Area by chatting up:
@[754058641328417:274:Brewing a Better Forest]
@[1599352666959111:274:Friends of Lake Hiawatha]
@[114040348627111:274:Hennepin County Library - Minneapolis Central]
Master Water Stewards
@[195451112356:274:Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition]
@[8448903068:274:Minneapolis Institute of Art]
@[169334718347:274:Minnehaha Creek Watershed District]
@[229241280559148:274:Minnesota Tree Care Advocate]
@[161548840569338:274:People for Parks]
@[83185934512:274:Tree Trust]
University of Minnesota's Tree Ascension Group
USDA - Exotic Pest Outreach

Lake Hiawatha

2 days 19 hours ago

Cleaning the lake today! Someday stormwater will flow into a catchment pond and then into wetlands before entering the lake. Friends of Lake Hiawatha is advocating for this solution. The MPRB, City and MCWD are aware and considering scenarios that will address this issue as they work together to decide the future uses of the lake and land around it.

Lake Hiawatha

2 days 21 hours ago

Thank you Penny for setting up everyone for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Earth Day Cleanup today! 🌎💧🙌