The Port of St. Paul is almost the northernmost port on the Mississippi River System. The Port of St. Paul is just 17 nautical miles downriver (19 kilometers or 12 miles direct southeast) of the Port of Minneapolis. The Port of St. Paul is some 215 kilometers (134 miles) south-southwest of the Port of Duluth. Located where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet, the Port of St. Paul is one-half of the "Twin Cities" of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The 2010 US Census reported a population of over 285 thousand people in the Port of St. Paul and a population of almost 3.3 million in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area.
The Port of St. Paul is a center for healthcare, finance, education, government, and industry. Its diverse manufacturing community produces cars, computer products and software, chemicals, machinery, tools, and medical equipment. Other important businesses include oil refining, food processing, insurance, and high-tech industries. The Port of St. Paul is home to the headquarters of 3M, the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company. The Port of St. Paul is also an important trucking and rail center. The Port of St. Paul was home to the Twin Cities Assembly Plant of the Ford Motor Company. The plant began operating in 1924 and closed in December 2011.
The term "Hopewell Tradition" describes the commonalities between cultures of the indigenous people of north-central North America that flourished from 200 BC through 500 AD. Hopewell culture peoples had a shared and sophisticated network of trade routes that, at its height, ranged from what is now the Southeastern United States to the southeast shores of today's Lake Ontario in Canada and included the future Port of St. Paul. The best preserved Hopewell Tradition features are mounds, the purpose of which is not clearly understood. Mounds in the Port of St. Paul's Indian Mounds Park establish the presence of the Hopewell Tradition in the Port of St. Paul area.
Before Europeans came to the Americas, the future Port of St. Paul was inhabited by the indigenous Dakota (or Lakota) and their rivals, the Ojibwe, when Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Du Luth, and Father Louis Hennepin passed the site of the future Port of St. Paul in the 1680s. In 1766, explorer Jonathan Carver explored a cavern in the area. By the end of the 18th Century, the Mdewakanton Dakota inhabited the area along the lower Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers that included what would become the Port of St. Paul.
Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike led an exploratory expedition in the Mississippi River's headwaters in 1805. Although it was never ratified, Pike made a treaty with the local Dakota Sioux that ceded their ancestral lands, including the site of Fort Snelling, to the United States. From 1805 to 1852, several Mdewakanton Dakota villages dotted the area that would eventually become Southern Minnesota and the Port of St. Paul. In 1838, Dakota chiefs officially agreed to open their lands east of the Mississippi to white settlers. The next year, the non-indigenous population reached 500.
In 1838, tavern owner Pierre Parrant made the first land claim in the Port of St. Paul area, and the settlement that grew up there was called Pig's Eye Landing. In 1841, missionary Lucien Galtier built a chapel dedicated to the apostle Paul, and the settlement was renamed. In 1849, the Port of St. Paul was made capital of the Minnesota Territory. The Port of St. Paul became the state capital in 1858 when the territory was admitted into the Union.
By 1846, the Mdewakanton Dakota tribe consisted of about 2150 members. Major changes were taking place in their traditional homelands. Forests were logged, and plains were converted into farms. The buffalo herds were gone, and populations of bear, deer, and other animals that the Mdewakanton band depended on for their livelihood were greatly reduced in the Port of St. Paul area.
Whooping cough killed many Mdewakanton Dakota, and alcoholism and debts to American traders increased rapidly. The Dakota were not familiar with the concept of private but, by now, they were needed supplies and money from the settlers. To get money from the US government, the Mdewakanton Dakota ceded their rights to their ancestral lands to the US.
The 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux sold the Dakota lands west of the Mississippi. Most of the payments they received went to pay their debts to traders. The Dakota, living on a strip ten miles on either side of the Minnesota River, tried to farm and hunt but after ten years, it was clear that the people would starve. The United States Government was deep in the American Civil War at this time, and they forgot about their payments to the Dakota. The Dakota were hungry and angry that the government failed to fulfill its promises. Conflict became inevitable.
In August 1862, violence erupted in which the Dakota, the US military, and the settlers participated. After about five weeks, some 500 whites had been killed. Over 300 Dakota warriors were arrested and held at either Mankato or Fort Snelling. Those at Mankato were blamed for the deaths of the settlers and condemned. President Lincoln pardoned all but the 38 Dakota at Mankato who were hanged on one of America's darkest days. The rest of the convicted warriors were moved to Davenport, Iowa, and the remaining Dakota were moved to Crow Creek in today's South Dakota.
By the 1870s, few Dakota lived in Minnesota and the Port of St. Paul. In 1886, the government provided funds to help buy land for the Dakota at Prior Lake to the south of the Port of St. Paul. Over the following years, Dakota people continued to settle in surrounding communities and nearby metropolitan areas.
In 1969, the Skakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) received federal recognition as an Indian Tribe. Today, the SMSC owns over three thousand acres of land within or near the 250-acre 1880s reservation.
The Port of St. Paul was an early commercial center as the United States' Upper Midwest region developed. The first products exported from the Port of St. Paul were furs. In 1862, the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad opened its 16-kilometer (ten-mile) tracks. In 1883, the Port of St. Paul celebrated the completion of the Northern Pacific Railway that stretched from the Port of St. Paul to America's West Coast. A decade later, the Great Northern Railway was finished, and the Port of St. Paul was its eastern terminus. Today, these two railroads are part of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.
The railroads made the Port of St. Paul a major gateway to the Pacific Northwest, stimulating the city's growth. In 1886, the St. Paul Union Stockyards made the Port of St. Paul one of the world's biggest livestock markets. Meat packing plants thrived in the Port of St. Paul area through the 1970s when the market declined and most of the plants closed.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the Port of St. Paul gained a reputation as a refuge for Midwestern gangsters. In 1932, the Minnesota Legislature established the Port of St. Paul when the port authority assumed Barge Terminal 1 operations from the city.
Throughout the mid-20th Century, the Port of St. Paul's economic problems and movement of people to the suburbs contributed to the central city's decline. However, in the 1970s, the Port of St. Paul began big urban renewal projects that greatly improved downtown residential and business areas. By 1990, the population of the Port of St. Paul was increasing once more.
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