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St. Paul burial mounds listed on National Register of Historic Places

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American Indian burial mounds in St. Paul have officially been designated historic landmarks by the National Park Service.

The mounds along the Mississippi River are located in Indian Mounds Park, situated atop Dayton's Bluff, east of downtown St. Paul. They are at least 1,500-2,000 years old, according to the National Park Service website.

The mounds have been eligible for the National Register of Historic Places since the early 1980s, the Star Tribune reports.

“It’s really just a recognition of their historic significance, that they are worthy of preservation,” David Mather, who is the National Register archaeologist with the ­Minnesota Historical ­Society, told the newspaper.

Indian Mounds Park was established in 1893 and is one of the oldest parks in the region. It's home to the burial site for at least two American Indian cultures, including the Hopewell and later the Dakota Indians, the park service says. The park service notes the mounds are historically significant because they offer evidence of the northernmost examples of Hopewell-style earthworks along the Mississippi River.

Only six of the 18 original mounds remain within the Twin Cities, the park service says. The other mounds were destroyed before becoming part of the park, while thousands of other burial sites near the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers were destroyed during European settlement. Since 1976, burial mounds and cemeteries been protected by state law.

Jim Rock, a Dakota Indian who grew up near Indian Mounds Park, told the Star Tribune he hopes the new designation will help people appreciate what the mounds mean, the story behind them and how spiritual values of the descendants of the mound builders were pushed aside when the mounds were destroyed.

See more photos of the mounds here.

Being listed as a historic place is symbolic, but it also has its advantages. Being listed on the national register can make it easier to protect and preserve property. It’s the first step toward eligibility for National Parks Service-administered federal preservation tax credits, which have leveraged more than $45 billion in investments to preserve historic buildings, the National Parks Service says.

There are nearly 90,000 properties listed in the National Register, according to the National Parks Service, which runs the National Register of Historic Places. Of those, there are more than 1,500 Minnesota listings deemed worthy of preservation, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.

Other Minnesota landmarks were also recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The District No. 34 School in Denmark Township in Washington County (pictured to the left), a one-room school house that was built around 1852, is now eligible for money from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and other preservation funders, the Pioneer Press reports.

Also recently listed was the Bemidji Carnegie Library in Beltrami County; the United States Post Office and Custom House in Ramsey County; Lake Harriet Methodist Episcopal Church in Hennepin County; and Bringgold, Jacob A. and Mary Finn House in Goodhue County.

Read more about these historical places.

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