Oheyawhi/ Pilot Knob Pocket Guide

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Oheyawahi/ Pilot Knob


is a place of cultural importance to the Dakota community and of significance in the history of  Minnesota statehood.

Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob is protected by the City of Mendota Heights as an Open Space site.

Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob is located at 2100 Pilot  Knob Road, Mendota Heights.

From I-494, take the Pilot Knob Road exit, then drive north until the road ends.

From State Highway 13, take the Acacia Blvd. exit west to Pilot Knob Road. Turn right. Park along the street.

Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob can be visited every day during daylight hours.

There are interpretive signs and trails; there are no other facilities.


Please take only pictures, leave only footprints.


Seth Eastman watercolor c. 1847, Minnesota Historical Society


A Place to Appreciate

Dakota Heritage

This is the north slope of Oheyaw ahi, “a hill much visited,” also now  known as Wotakuye Paha, “the hill of all the relatives,” a sacred place nam ed by Dakota people centuries ago. This hill has been a gathering place for Dakota, Ojibwe, and Iowa people, and a place for ceremonies and burials. Pilot Knob was the site of signing of the Treaty of 1851, w hich transferred 35 million acres of Dakota land to the United States. In the winter of 1862-63, 1300 Dakota men, women, and children w ere confined in a fenced camp on the opposite river bank, w here many died. Some w ere buried here.

Text from Pilot Knob historical markers; Dakota version courtesy of Glenn Wasicuna.


A Place to Think about Early State History


1700s      Dakota and allied native peoples inhabit much of

Minnesota when French traders and missionaries

first enter the area.


1805        Lt. Zebulon Pike, first U.S. government official sent

to the area, reaches the mouth of the Minnesota River.


1820        The establishment of Fort Snelling brings an

American military presence.


1823        First steam boat arrives at Fort Snelling.


1834        Henry Hastings Sibley (later Minnesota’s first

elected governor) takes charge of the American

Fur Company post at Mendota


1848        Pilot Knob is proposed to be the site for the

Minnesota territorial capitol.


1851        In a treaty signed on Pilot Knob, the Dakota cede

most of the area now known as southeastern

Minnesota to the U.S. government.


1862-63   After the beginning of the U.S.-Dakota Conflict, non-combatant Dakota people are held for the winter

 in a camp below  Fort Snelling. Many died, and some were buried on Pilot Knob. Later, the U.S.  government forcibly removes most Dakota people from Minnesota.


1870        Many Dakota people begin to return to their former homes, including Mendota, where some Dakota

had remained. The Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community continues today.


2004        Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob is determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.


Colby map from Minnesota Historical Society