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Applications for Conservation Corps accepted through Dec 3rd

Are you (or do you know someone) between the ages of 18-25 who loves to work outdoors in all weather conditions, enjoys challenging terrain, works well on a team and who has an interest in community work?

The Conservation Corps help many groups like ours with restoration planning and they may have a great opportunity for you. Learn more & apply online by December 3rd, 2014.

Applications accepted until all positions are filled

RNeighbors benefit OAKtoberfest on Oct 3rd

Come be a part of OAKtoberfest on Friday, October 3rd from 6:00pm - 9:00pm at the Canadian Honker Events at the Ramada 1517 16th Street SW, Rochester.

Proceeds will support RNeighbors and allow the organization to continue supporting community building projects such as boulevard tree plantings, street mural paintings, and new neighborhood associations.

A plethora of German food will be served, and each attendee will have their choice of one free tap Oktoberfest Beer, German Wine or mixed drink. Cash bar will be available. In addition to the creative cuisine, attendees will be treated to toe-tapping music, including some polkas.

Tickets are available online or by contacting RNeighbors for $30 in advance or $35 at the door.

For more information visit the RNeighbors OAKtoberfest web page.

Meeting on Sunday, Sept 7th, 4:00pm in IHP Parking Lot with City Officials

We have experienced an increase of activity in Indian Heights Park this past year. Unfortunately, some of this has been problematic—park vandalism, late night partying, vagrancy, illicit camping, and the like. This also includes increased vandalism to Crenlo, Inc., such as miscreants throwing objects (e.g., rocks, bottles, etc.) into their parking lot from the popular eastern overlook (which is Crenlo property).

On Sunday, September 7th, 4:00 PM, we are having a meeting in the Indian Heights Park parking lot (Terracewood Drive NW) to share and discuss our concerns. We have invited Mr. Mark Hickey, 5th Ward City Council Member, Mr. Larry Mortensen, 5th Ward Park Board Commissioner, and Lt. Scott Davis, Special Enforcement, of the new NW precinct, to attend. This will afford us the opportunity to voice our concerns, problem-solve and brainstorm solutions, and obtain their expertise.

In the meantime, we are asking everyone to be vigilant to suspicious persons and activities, and to vigorously report all of your suspicions to the Rochester Police Department. Their non-emergency phone # is: 507-328-6800. Obviously, for an emergency dial 9-1-1.

Officer patrols are based, in part, on the volume of call traffic; thus, to generate increased patrols in our neighborhoods we need to actively report all concerns.

Note: The Indian Heights Park hours are posted as “dawn to dusk,” and authorized public access is through the main trail to the south of the parking lot on Terracewood Drive NW.
If people are parking in your neighborhood and accessing the park via unauthorized trails on private property, report this to your neighbor and to the police department.
If people are parking in their cars for inordinate periods of time in your neighborhood—and particularly if you do not recognize the vehicle as belonging to your neighbors’—report this to the police department.

Also, consider joining your neighbors and initiating other efforts on your street and neighborhood, include the Rochester Police Department's:

National Night Out Pot Luck on Tuesday, Aug 5th @ 5:30pm!

The Indian Heights Neighborhood invites you and your family to join us at Barb Hudson's house/yard at 302 19th Street NW for this year's National Night Out Pot Luck from 5:30pm to 8:00pm.

Bring a dish to share from your cultural background and a family custom to share/explain. Water, sodas, plates and utensils will be provided.

Please RSVP by August 2nd by calling Barb at 507 282-6154 (leave message) or by email at See you there!

Thank you to Care Fest 2014!

On Saturday, June 14th, volunteers from Care Fest visited Indian Heights Park to help remove Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard and Canary Reed Grass.

Several teams worked most of the day to prevent the park from being taken over by these invasive species. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make the park more enjoyable for everyone!

Laetiporus sulphureus (aka Chicken of the Woods) making a living at IHP

Spotted on a downed tree trunk on the north side of Indian Heights, September 2013. photo by Ann Bolin

Prescribed Grazing presentation Feb 2nd at Library

GoatsJoin us for discussion about using goats to eliminate buckthorn on Sunday, February 2nd at the Rochester Public Library Auditorium at 2:00pm.

Farmers and land managers have long understood that grazing animals impact the plant community upon which they graze. Additionally, it is well understood that managed grazing (i.e. altering stocking rate, type of livestock, timing and duration of grazing, and return interval) can be used to achieve specific ecological results.

Jesse Bennett will provide a general overview of Rx grazing and detail how Driftless Land Stewardship LLC's goat herd has provided an additional resource for managing natural communities.

Poster for Event (PDF)

Presentation about Silver Creek Volunteers at Library on Jan 15th

On Wednesday, January 15th at 5:30pm at the Rochester Public Library, Claudia Swanton RN, CNP and Barb Timm RN, CNP will give a talk about the power to build strong relationships by providing sober activities for chronic alcoholic individiuals residing at Silver Creek Corner.

Claudia and Barb have brought Silver Creek Corner residents to help clear buckthorn at Indian Heights Park on several occasions.

Free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Event poster

Native American and Indian Heights Films at Library Nov 10 & 17

In celebration of Native American Month, the Greater Rochester Area Dakota Supporters (GRADS), the Celebrate Dakota! Mayo Employee Resource Group (MERG), the Diversity Foundation of Minnesota, the Friends of Indian Heights and the Rochester Public Library are collaborating to bring you three important local documentaries:

Sunday, November 10 at 2:00pm

Sunday, November 17 at 2:00pm

We invite you to join us in reminiscing about Rochester's past, considering Rochester's present, and looking forward to Rochester's Future. The films will be followed by facilitated discussion.

Volunteers needed for Buckthorn Removal on Nov 16th

Join us to help remove invasive buckthorn from the park on Saturday, November 16th. Gloves, tools, training and treats will be provided. Meet at the Indian Heights Park parking lot at 10:00am.

FOIH wins National Night Out Diversity Award

Diveristy Award 2013Friends of Indian Heights won it's second National Night Out Award in 2013 for Diversity.

The theme of NNO out was "A Tasty Blend of Cultures at all Friends of Indian Heights" which invited neighbors to bring foods that represented their own heritage. There were a wide ranges of dishes representing Native American, German, English and Asian Indian cultures to name a few. Thanks to everyone who attended and brought a dish to share!

National Night Out at Indian Heights Park - Tues, Aug 6th, 6:00pm

National Night Out 2012Date: Tues, Aug 6, 2013
Indian Heights Park entrance directions
A Tasty Blend of Cultures

Indian Heights Neighborhood Association invites all neighbors and friends to another potluck picnic to celebrate National Night Out. This year in our beautiful park!

Please bring a dish to pass, but not just any dish. Share your heritage with a recipe from your ethnic background. We will provide cards for you to describe your food and its ethnicity. Also, be prepared to share some stories of family celebration customs.

Picnic tables (16) will be on-site. We also have permission to use grills to cook food. Plates, napkins, plastic cups and utensils, ice, water and sodas will be provided. We will ask nearby neighbors to host restroom facilities.

Call or email Barb Hudson at to RSVP or if you have suggestions or questions (507) 282-6154

See you at National Night Out!

Printable version of invitation (PDF)

Greater Rochester Area Dakota Supporters and Celebrate Dakota! events continues in Indian Heights Park on Aug 7th, 6:00pm

The Greater Rochester Area Dakota Supporters (GRADS) and Celebrate Dakota! will be holding a series of lectures and events in Indian Heights Park.

The concluding event will be on Wednesday, August 7th at 6:00pm and will feature Dr. Clifford Canku. The event will take place near the park's parking lot rain or shine; please bring a lawn chair to sit on, and please no recording.

Additional information about this and previous events and lectures is available.

Volunteers help clear invasive Buckthorn and Garlic Mustard from the Park

This spring we have had several groups and volunteers come to help remove invasive species from Indian Heights Park.

Buckthorn Removal

Buckthorn clearers

In May, we had a group of gentlemen who helped us clear invasive buckthorne plants.

Garlic Mustard Removal

Volunteers Clearing Garlic Mustard

In June, we had two young neighborhood volunteers who helped us haul out 14 garbage bags full of invasive garlic mustard out of the park.

Thank you to all who have helped volunteer to help us keep the park free of invasive species.

Prairie Smoke Logo"Amazing Prairies of Rochester" Presentation on Tues, Feb 26th

prairieYou're invited to a free presentation about the "Prairies of Rochester" by City Forester Jacob Ryg at Quarry Hill Nature Center on Tuesday, February 26th at 7:00pm. Jacob will discuss:

Join us to learn more about our city's efforts to provide natural experiences for citizens.

Printable PDF of event

FOIH Receives Conservation Award

FOIH awardOn Thursday, January 24th, 2013 Friends of Indian Heights received a Conservation Award from RPU (Rochester Public Utilities) and the Olmsted County Environmental Commision.

FOIH was recognized because it has worked with numerous organizations to document the native plant species and wildlife habitat in the park, restore the oak savanna by removing invasive plant species, and develop educational materials and conduct tours on the ecological and historical features of the park.  

FOIH will soon work with the National Park Service to develop a community master plan to preserve the park’s natural environment.   

Pictured from Left:  Rene Lafflam, Executive Director RNeighbors;  Brian Lind, Dawn Littleton, and Barb Hudson of FOIH.

"Sacred Ground" print of Indian Heights Park now available

A print that commemorates the Native American heritage of Indian Heights Park is now available for sale at Nakoma Art Traditions and Crafts located in the Valhalla Shopping Center at 314 Elton Hills Drive NW, Rochester, phone (507) 361-1204 - a very short walk from Indian Heights Park!

A portion of the proceeds will go to help preserve Indian Heights Park. It is available unframed for $15.00 and framed for $45.00.

Local Native American artist Nakoma Volkman has made a print of his orginal hand-colored drawing called "Sacred Ground" portraying the history of the Dakota peoples who once visited what came to be known as Indian Heights Park.

Nakoma Traditions also sells other pieces of framed and unframed art, Native American jewelry, Dream Catchers and more.

Buckthorn and Honeysuckle clearing on November 17th

An amazing team of Silver Creek Corner residents, Augsburg College doctoral nursing students and Friends of Indian Heights members teamed up, and with the power of coffee, doughnuts and a beautiful day cut and stacked hundreds of square feet of invasive species. The stacks are waiting to be chipped by Park and Rec. The brush removal allows sunlight to meet the ground and the native plants to grow and the red-tailed hawks to catch their dinner.

Way to go Volunteers and Thank you!!! If you would like your group to help with care and maintenance at Indian Heights, please email us at

FOIH Receives National Night Out Award

National Night Out Award 2012Friends of Indian Heights received a National Night Out award this year.

Barb and Darrel photo

Barb Hudson, President of Friends of Indian Heights (FOIH) accepted the NNO Diversity (Native American) Award on behalf of FOIH from Darrel Hildebrandt who told the audience he is a pipe-carrying member of the Sisseton Sioux Tribe.

Darrel Hildebrandt, Advanced Crime Prevention/CPTED Specialist of the Rochester Police Department, Investigations Division, Intelligence - Crime Interdiction Unit presented the awards along with the Olmsted County Sherriff in the City Council Chambers at the Government Center in Rochester.

National Night Out Brings out the Neighborhood

The Friends of Indian Heights (FOIH) Neighborhood celebrated another successful National Night Out on Tuesday, August 7th.

We had grilled hot dogs and lots of great dishes brought by FOIH neighbors. We also had a food donation barrel for Channel One. Dozens of neighbors were able to join us on a beautiful night of companionship and conversation.


CareFest Volunteers clear Buckthorn in Indian Heights Park

CareFest 2012 volunteers

Thank you to the CareFest volunteers that helped clear out buckthorn from Indian Heights Park on June 16th. Thanks to their hard work, several large patches of buckthorn were removed from the park. This is the second year CareFest has helped beautify the park!

Friends of Indian Heights receives Rochester Heritage award

Barb Hudson and Mayor BredeOn Tuesday, May 15th, Friends of Indian Heights President Barb Hudson accepted an award from the Rochester Heritage Preservation Committee for FOIH's "dedication to the preservation and conservation of the park" at the Plummer House of the Arts.

Read more about the event (and some of the other honorees) in this Rochester Post Bulletin article.

Past Events 2012:

May 13th Mother's Day Park Tours at 1:00pm and 4:00pm

Take a Mother's Day walk on the "wild" side through Indian Heights Park on Crab Tree photoSunday, May 13th at 1:00pm and 4:00pm.

We'll see an 80-year young Prairie developing in a defunct quarry; walk
through remnant oak savanna openings, and woodlands. Spring ephemerals (e.g.
Trout Lilies, etc.) should be in bloom. Please note there are steep hills and bluff dropoffs.

Meet at the park entrance at 1800 Terracewood Dr. NW. Contact Dawn Littleton (507) 285-1517 or email

March 25th "Olmsted County's First Residents" lecture

On March 25, the Rochester Public Library hosted the first Wasi Oju lecture of 2012 entitled: "Olmsted County's First Residents: Archaeology Overview and Recent Survey Result".

This presentation was based on this report entitled: 2010 Archaeological Reconnaissance Survey of Olmsted County, Minnesota.

Dr. Constance Arzigian, Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center senior researcher and associate lecturer in Sociology and Archaeology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, offered an overview of past cultures in our area, from big-game hunters at the end of the Ice Age to the first Native farmers and hunters who occupied the region prior to Euro-American contact.

She is the co-author of the book Minnesota's Indian Mounds and Burial Sites.

Past Events 2011:

Author Mary Wingerd and Park Tour on October 30th

Mary Wingerd spoke at Rochester Public Library on Sunday, October 30th at 2:00pm. Wingerd is the author of North Country: the Making of Minnesota and Claiming the City: Politics, Faith, and the Power of Place in St. Paul. She is associate professor of history at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

A tour of Indian Heights Park followed the presentation.

Boy Scouts and Master Naturalists Remove Invasive Species Oct 15th

Boy Scouts remove Buckthorn photo

Boy Scouts from troops 196, 296, and 39, led by Dr. Paulo Guimaeres, along with Master Naturalists, cut European Buckthorn and Honeysuckle on the south side of the Park on October 15th.

Barb Hudson receives Community Spirit Award Aug 31st

Barb Hudson and Darrel Hildebrant

Darrel Hildebrant from the Rochester Police Department Crime Prevention Unit presents Barb Hudson with the 2011 National Night Out Community Spirit Award. Barb Hudson serves as President of Friends of IndianHeights.

Trail Maintenance Volunteer Event Aug 16th


Thank you to the volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for working well into the dark to maintain the trail corridor at Indian Heights Park.

Successful National Night Out

National Night Out Aug 2, 2011The Friends Of Indian Heights Neighborhood celebrated again with a potluck/pizza supper at 302 19th St NW on Tuesday, August 2nd. (Segways from

Walking Tour with Bruce White

Bruce White walking tour photo

Jim Wilson (Native American Center), Barb Hudson (FOIH), Ann Regan, and Bruce White of the Pilot Knob Preservation Association on sacred burial grounds. Read the the entire report.

DNR Visits Indian Heights Park

DNR visits parkOn July 30th, Master Naturalists Don Morrison and Dr. Robert Merrill visited Inidian Heights park to consult with Karl Sames of the DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division on ecological classification and species identification in Indian Heights Park.

This visit was part of an ongoing plant inventory to catalog the native plant species and wildlife habitats in the park.

Photo: Dr. Robert Merrill and Dawn Littleton (both standing) with Karl Sames

Monarch Caterpillar making a living

Crenlo Point, August 13th - Monarch eating Whorled Milkweed

Thank you CareFest Volunteers!

On Saturday, June 18th volunteers helped to spread wood chips and remove invasive garlic mustard plants from the park (36 large bags!!). We thank them for their time and doing such a great job!

Successful "Celebrate Dakota Week" concludes

FOIH was a co-sponsor of the events that took place during "Celebrate Dakota Week" from May 16-21, 2011. We held several tours through the park and members of FOIH both attended and helped coordinate some of the other events through the week. Mayor Ardell Brede issued an official City of Rochester Proclamation to mark the event. Thanks to all involved for putting on informative and important programming all week long!

Celebrate Dakota Week 2011 - Tour of Indian Heights Park

FOIH 2010 Annual Report

posted 1/15/2011

After what initially started as a grass-roots effort by a few neighbors in May 2010, Friends of Indian Heights (FOIH) was officially formed in August 2010 to join together as an organized neighborhood to protect Indian Heights Park from further mountain bike trail development. Meeting with our Rochester Park Board representative, Larry Mortensen, we are working diligently to preserve this dry oak savanna; what the World Wildlife Fund calls one of “the world’s most endangered eco-systems. “ We have a sincere reverence for this natural and undeveloped park and seek to protect its rare heritage that includes documented sacred Native American burial grounds (hence the name “Indian Heights”) as well as Rochester pioneer historical sites. We also developed a vision and mission statement, a charter, by-laws, committees and elected representatives to represent the neighborhood, improve relationships with neighbors and preserve our special neighborhood in which we are proud to live.

Our membership includes over 110 households throughout Rochester. We have been working closely with various Rochester and other community members. We gratefully appreciate and acknowledge the assistance from the staff of the Department of Natural Resources (Jaime Edwards), National Audubon Society members (especially Joel Dunnette), Prairie Enthusiasts, The Native American Center of South East Minnesota members, (especially Jim Wilson), Rochester’s Historical Preservation Committee (Tim Schmitt), the History Center of Olmsted County, Woodlake Battlefield (Tom Hosier), Herring Eco-Logistics (Kyle Herring), Rochester’s City Forester (Jacob Ryg), the Mississippi Valley Archeology Center (Dr. Constance Arzigian), Park Board member- Larry Mortensen, City Councilman- Bob Nowicki, and RNeighbors Director - Rene Lafflam.

FOIH has officially adopted both Indian Heights Park and Thompson Mill Race Park.

In just the past seven months, FOIH members have logged well over 1,250 volunteer hours related to park clean-up, seed-collection, education and communications.

FOIH has developed three on-line websites to provide up-to-date information/communication and easy access for interested parties. They are:

FOIH has established a bank account to assist with neighborhood and park expenses. We also had one fund raiser this year. FOIH developed a logo as well as a colorful and scenic Indian Heights Park brochure. And, finally, FOIH had a booth at the Native American Expo to meet with the public and promote the FOIH vision and mission.

Respectfully submitted by
Barbara Hudson
FOIH Neighborhood Association

Walk through with Archaeologist

On October 17, 2010, Dr. Constance Arzigian with the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center met with Dawn Littleton, Mitch Moore, Barb Hudson, Ann Bolin and other members of Friends of Indian Heights (FOIH), Jim Wilson and other members of the Native American Center of SE MN and Tim Schmitt and members of the Heritage Preservation Committee (HPC) to do a walking tour of Indian Heights Park.

Dr. Connie Arzigian started by showing some Indian artifacts that could be found. Various tribes have been in Olmsted County for about 12,000 years. Jim Wilson (chairman of the Native American Center of SE MN) spoke about Native American traditions and spirituality. Connie also spoke about what defines a historic site and what would define a sacred site. To be a sacred site, the Native Americans would have to advocate for the designation and should currently be using the site. Jim mentioned the Native Americans have not used Indian Heights Park in the past since it may be difficult to secure the area if a structure was built and have the public respect a private Native American ceremony.

After Jim Wilson led the group in sacred Native American prayer and all in attendance participated in the ceremonial tobacco offering of thanks, and for support and guidance, the group walked through the park. Mitch Moore talked about the oak savannah restoration along the south side of the park. Minn Conservation Corp may be involved with that. The park was surveyed for plant and animal life when it was purchased back in 1972 (with Ron Bastian serving as an intern). The biodiversity is about the same as then, with the exception of the now invasive Buckthorn.

Connie talked about the landscape survey, and noted it would be helpful to note areas of thin soil. This would show areas of erosion, which would be unlikely to contain intact archeological sites. She also mentioned LIDAR to create a high-resolution topographical map to show potential burial mounds. Some sites may be better than originally thought, because construction did not cut into or extend all the way to the top of the hills.

Some areas of the park yielded some good results. There is a foundation from a building dating back over 50 years (more likely 100 years); this could be an excellent dig site for pioneer artifacts. Also observed is a man-made mound about six feet tall and thirty-five feet diameter. It is not clear if it was created by whites or natives, but it seemed unrelated to the quarry operations and was sited in a manner consistent with Indian burials. A fairly non-invasive survey could be done to the mound to see if it was created by white settlers or if it is a burial mound.

After the meeting, Connie talked to Scott Anfinson (State Archeologist) who indicated that, because there had been no officially reported burial sites discovered in the park, the state laws governing burial sites do not apply now. However, there should be sensitivity to Native peoples concerns about the desecration of historical burial sites of their ancestors. Because of the numerous documented historical references to the burial of Native Americans there, and because the park was acquired with federal funds, laws commonly known as Section 106 will apply. These laws require an archaeological survey be conducted before construction of any type of facilities (including prepared trails) begins.

To pay for these surveys, grants are needed. Grants would not usually be given to comply with Section 106 requirements. However research grants could be pursued prior to doing any construction. The old building foundation site up there would be a good potential candidate for a research grant, as it could provide information on the pioneer use of the area, and would have opportunities for public involvement in both the excavation and interpretation of that area. The grant cycle has passed for 2010. The next chance to apply for a grant is after the first of the year.

The Native American Center of SE MN will be hosting an expo November 13 and 14 at the 4-H building on the fairgrounds, and FOIH will have a booth.

Barb Hudson
FOIH Neighborhood Association