MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Historical Society has decided to keep a sacred burial site located near International Falls closed to the general public, with limited access for Native Americans.

On Thursday, MNHS made the decision to keep the Grand Mound Historic Site closed following wishes of descendants of Native Americans who are buried at the sacred site.

“This site is first and foremost a burial ground with thousands of human remains still interred there,” Joe Horse Capture, director of Native American Initiatives at MNHS, said. “This decision honors Native ancestors and ensures respect for Native American culture and history.”

MNHS says it will continue to preserve the mounds while working toward “a long-range plan for the site’s future that includes the possible transfer of the site to a Native American tribe or tribes.”

“Grand Mound is part of an interconnected line of burial mounds that runs for 90 miles along the Canadian and U.S. sides of the Rainy River,” said Kent Whitworth, MNHS director and CEO. “The historical importance of this site cannot be understated, but we must protect it and provide education while also ensuring that Native people can care for the place where their ancestors lie.”

MNHS acquired Grand Mound Historic Site in 1970, opened a visitor center in 1976 and it was operated as a publicly accessible historic site until 2002 when budget cuts forced its closure.

The site is located 17 miles west of International Falls, and comprises five sacred burial mounds, as well as an ancient sturgeon fishing village that dates back more than 5,000 years.

The site became a National Historic Landmark in 2011.

For more information on the burial site and its history, click here.

  1. Vicki DeRider Stoner says:

    Great idea! Americans are often disrespectful of tradition, inconsiderate of the property of others, uncivilized in their behavior and not trustworthy when unsupervised!I am a 65 year old American of English, French and German descent. I also think that many American are more disrespectful of Native American traditions, culture and property than they are of others of non-Native American cultures and heritage.