Lake Calhoun's native history explained through Breck student's research

Grant Two Bulls
Grant Two Bulls, a senior at the Breck School, photographed in the MPR building in St. Paul on March 23, 2015.
Tom Weber | MPR Photo

For people who live near Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, it might be hard to imagine what it was like in the 19th century when there was a Native American settlement along the bank. It was a Mdewakanton Dakota village that's commonly known as Cloud Man Village or Eatonville on the lake's southeastern shore.

Grant Two Bulls, a senior at Breck School, is helping to paint a better picture of that village through his award-winning work analyzing pollen samples.

Two Bulls collected a core sample of sediment from the bottom of Lake Calhoun, dated it and counted the pollen before and during Eatonville, which was 1830 to 1840.

"I did initial count of pollen and I found an extreme prevalence of oak pollen, but I also found ragweed and grass pollen," he said on MPR News with Tom Weber. "Then I kind of zoomed in on those three pollen types: Oak because it was the most prevalent pollen type and ragweed and grass because they are pollen types that are indicative of human disturbance in an area. So if an area is cleared of its natural vegetation, then ragweed tends to grow. If corn production increases, then grass pollen tends to increase as well."

His research indicates that significant amounts of land were cleared when this settlement existed. If you painted a picture, Two Bulls said you'd see dozens of housing structures along the lake, cattle and a lot of corn.