Evidence of human life in Minnesota dates back 9000 years. Early hunters and gatherers followed large animals into our area in their quest for sustenance. They left archeological traces of copper and stone tools. Later the Dakota and Ojibway traversed the territory, hunting the animals and harvesting native rice and grains.
French fur traders and Europeans explored the state as early as the 17th century. The first European settlers arrived in the 19th century. Coming with their own methods of farming and styles of living, they drove out many of the native people. In 1819 the U.S. Army built Fort Snelling at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers to protect U.S. interests.
Before the area was developed, native people harvested wild rice and other grains from Rice Lake and followed Bridal Veil Creek to the Mississippi and across to their habitat around Bde Maka Ska.
The natural assets of our area drew settlers who availed themselves of the area’s rich plant, animal, and geological resources and altered the environment. Water was plentiful. The area we now call the Greater Twin Cities was home to a water network that flowed into the Mississippi River. The Bridal Veil Creek watershed along the East Bank of the Mississippi meandered through what is now Lauderdale, Falcon Heights, and St. Anthony Park before it flowed into Bridal Veil Creek and spilled into the Mississippi River at Bridal Veil Falls, just below the Franklin Avenue Bridge. This watershed covered 1177 acres.
The settlement and development of these areas with roads, buildings and railroads as well as industrial zones happened quickly. It is impossible to know the configuration of the land before the arrival of European settlers. Development demanded the rerouting and containment of Bridal Veil Creek in underground culverts and reduced the area of the watershed to its current 740 acres.