Nomination for National Register for Historic Places

White and Woolworth also decided to nominate Oheyawahi for the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places. To be eligible for listing on the National Register, a property must meet at least one of four possible criteria. Pilot Knob was nominated as meeting Criterion A: “Property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.” It is important to note that the word “our” in Criterion A has been interpreted to mean various American communities for whom the property has “traditional cultural significance”-- in this case, the Dakota people-- and need not be demonstrably significant to the national history generally. Furthermore, “history” includes not only written history, but also oral history.1

On the nomination, White and Woolworth described the significance of Oheyawahi:

"Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob is a traditional cultural property associated with Dakota Indian people as a landmark, a gathering place, a burial place, and an important Medicine or Wakan Ceremony grounds. It is also associated with European-American history as a geographic feature included in the physical and cultural landscape of Fort Snelling, the earliest American military post built in the region."2  

National Register guidelines also specify that the site need not offer physical evidence of historical importance to be eligible. Documentary and oral evidence suffice, making Oheyawahi eligible. Moreover, the National Register Bulletin 38 specifies:

"A property may retain its traditional cultural significance even though it has been substantially modified... Cultural values are dynamic, and can sometimes accommodate a good deal of change... [T]he integrity of a possible traditional cultural property must be considered with reference to the views of traditional practitioners; if its integrity has not been lost in their eyes, it probably has sufficient integrity to justify further evaluation."3

Therefore, despite the claims by proponents of development that Oheyawahi had lost integrity because of Highway 55 nearby, other buildings on the bluff, and so forth, so long as the Dakota community consider integrity intact, theirs is the only perspective given highest consideration by the National Register. This warrants a discussion of multiple, and often conflicting conceptions of “integrity.”

"In many traditional societies, including most American Indian societies, the clear distinction made by Euroamerican society between religion and the rest of culture does not exist."-National Register Bulletin 38

Finally, there could be a question as to whether the site is culturally significant or only religiously significant. Religious properties are not usually eligible for listing on the National Register. It is important to understand, then, how eligibility for the National Register distinguishes between a “traditional cultural property” and property “used for religious purposes.” Properties that are used for religious purposes that are also of historical significance may be eligible.  This is clarified in  National Register Bulletin 38: 

“A ‘religious property’...requires additional justification (for nomination) because of the necessity to avoid any appearance of judgment by government about the merit of any religion or belief... Conversely, it is necessary to be careful not to allow a similar judgment to serve as the basis for determining a property to be ineligible for inclusion in the Register. Application of this criteria consideration to traditional cultural properties is fraught with the potential for ethnocentrism and discrimination. In many traditional societies, including most American Indian societies, the clear distinction made by Euroamerican society between religion and the rest of culture does not exist...Some traditional cultural properties are used for purposes that are definable as religious in Euroamerican terms, and this use is intrinsic to their cultural significance... Applying the ‘religious exclusion’ without careful and sympathetic consideration to properties of significance to a traditional cultural group can result in discriminating against the group by effectively denying the legitimacy of its history and culture."4  

  1. National Park Service. "National Register Bulletin 38: Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Traditional Cultural Properties." National Park Service. Accessed June 21, 2015.

  1. Alan Woolworth. "Oheyawahi/ Pilot Knob: A Hill of State and National Significance in Dakota County [Minnesota]." Over the Years: Magazine of the Dakota County Historical Society. June, 2004]

  1. National Park Service. "National Register Bulletin 38.

  1. National Park Service. "National Register Bulletin 38.