ST PAUL, Minn. — St. Paul city officials have announced the names of four new parks at the Highland Bridge development along the Mississippi River. This area had been known as the "Ford Site," and was the former home of Ford Motor Companies Twin Cities Assembly Plant.
The area includes 122 acres of land along the Mississippi River, with the four new parks platted and designed in nine acres.
A call went out to the public for suggested names for the new parks, and then the finalists went to members of the Dakota community and the St. Paul Youth Commission for review, with a blessing from the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Commission.
“The chosen names for these public spaces reflect a myriad of our city’s histories - honoring our Native community to whom this land belongs, our Union sisters and brothers who labored on the site for a century, our city’s interconnectivity with the rest of the region, and a very popular coyote in our neighborhood," said said Ward 3 Councilmember Chris Tolbert.
The four park names are as follows:
- Gateway Park - A reference to the location of the park as an important entry point to the city and the Highland Bridge development
- Assembly Union Park - In recognition of the site’s industrial history and those who worked at Ford Motor Company, and specifically the importance of the workforce within the union labor movement and as contributing members of the surrounding communities
- Uŋči Makȟa Park - “Mother Earth” in Dakota, pronounced oon-CHEE Ma-KAH
- Míča Park - abbreviation for “coyote” in Dakota, pronounced MEE-cha
In a press release, the city council said St. Paul has made it a priority to include members of the Indigenous communities in the planning of the Highland Bridge development. A group of Dakota community members was formed for the review and feedback on these name selections.
“Projects like this that create place names that bring visibility, education, and interpretation of Dakota presence in our homelands are important, desired, and necessary to create a more equitable and just city. We also believe the city has more work to do and we look forward to continued collaborations on projects that help bring visibility to Indigenous communities in St. Paul,” said Maggie Lorenz, Executive Director of the Lower Phalen Creek Project and Wakan Tipi Center.
The city council said they regularly engage the St. Paul Youth Commission on policy matters and issues of equity, and especially wanted the group's input on the park names as they are the people who will enjoy these spaces for years to come.
Park construction is slated to begin next year. More information on the Highland Bridge Parks is available here.