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 Involved 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 Bde Maka Ska (formerly known as 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 Minneapolis Park Board now is working with the city and Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to explore options for the now that it has been decided to turn off the pumps… 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

7 hours 7 minutes ago

Everyone Welcome to help us plan for 2018 to restore Lake Hiawatha!
Friends of Lake Hiawatha Action Planning
Monday Dec 4, 6:00pm to 8:30pm at
Bethel Lutheran Church, 4120 S 17th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Jen Kader with the Freshwater Society will lead our brainstorming with our volunteer action teams groups to develop our goals and fun actions we will do this year!
Friends of Lake Hiawatha Action Teams and Leaders
Lake Clean Ups Team - Penny F.
Pipe Mitigation Team – Sean C.
Watershed Friendly Yards & Streets Team - Roxanne
Community Visioning Team (following the Community Advisory Committee)
Candidate Education/Survey Team – Sean C.
Communication/ Membership Team – Sean G.

2 days 9 hours ago

Please pick up garbage in our streets before it goes to the lake, since we can't keep people from littering!

2 days 12 hours ago

Lake Hiawatha's park Commissioner Steffanie Musich has a great newsletter, the 5th District Dispatch. There is important information regarding water issues at Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park and Hiawatha Golf Course and announcement regarding the formation of the Community Advisory Committee for the golf course master planning.

Like her page so you can stay up-to-date.

6 days 13 hours ago

Hello Friends - we invite you to support the Friends of Lake Hiawatha today on Give to the Max Day! Let's acheive our vision of a clean and healthy Lake Hiawatha supporting a thriving eco-system and community
Help us distribute more Rescue our Lake lawn signs and grow our volunteer network https://givemn.org/project/friends-of-lake-hiawatha59fd596ab8352