Port of Minneapolis
Review and History

The Port of Minneapolis is the northernmost port on the Mississippi River System. Located near the convergence of the Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers, the Port of Minneapolis is about 17 nautical miles upriver (20 kilometers or 12 miles northwest by air) of its sister city, St. Paul. Seat of Hennepin County, Minnesota, the Port of Minneapolis and St. Paul form the "Twin Cities" conurbation. The 2010 US Census reported a population of almost 382.6 thousand, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area was home to over 3.2 million.

The Port of Minneapolis is an important mid-west center for commerce, transportation, healthcare, finance, industry, and the distribution of goods. The Port of Minneapolis is home to a diverse manufacturing community that produces metal products, computer equipment and electronics, plastics, precision instruments, medical devices, auto parts, and agricultural products. Other important industries in the Port of Minneapolis include high-tech, graphic arts, publishing, insurance, milling, and food processing. The Port of Minneapolis is home to a major international airport, and it is also a center for rail and trucking. Within the city limits of the Port of Minneapolis are about 170 parks and 22 lakes and lagoons. The Port of Minneapolis' waterfront has been part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area since 1988.

Port History

The indigenous Dakota (or Lakota) Sioux inhabited the area that would become the Port of Minneapolis when Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Du Luth and Father Louis Hennepin arrived there in the 1680s. By the end of the 18th Century, the Mdewakanton Dakota inhabited the area along the lower Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.

A Mdewakanton Dakota village on the west shore of what would become Lake Calhoun in the heart of today's Port of Minneapolis was led by Cloud Man, or Man-of-the-Sky, in 1829. Cloud Man agreed for the band to learn to farm with the help of Philander Prescott, a government farmer, and missionaries Samuel and Gideon Pond. Samuel Pond then compiled a dictionary, writing the Dakota language down on paper for the first time.

From 1805 to 1852, there were several other Mdewakanton Dakota villages in the area that would eventually become Southern Minnesota. In 1838, Dakota chiefs agreed to open their lands east of the Mississippi to white settlers. The next year, the non-indigenous population reached 500.

By 1846, the Mdewakanton Dakota tribe consisted of about 2150 members, and major changes were taking place in the region. Forests were being logged, and the plains were being converted into farm land. Buffalo herds had disappeared, and the populations of bear, deer, and other animals important to the Mdewakanton band were greatly reduced. An epidemic of whooping cough killed many of Mdewakanton Dakota. Alcoholism and debt to American traders increased rapidly. Although property ownership was unknown to them, they were dependent on the white men's stores and needed money. To get money from the US government, the Mdewakanton Dakota ceded their rights to their ancestral lands.

In 1851, the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux sold the Dakota lands west of the Mississippi, and the area was opened for settlement in 1852. Most of the trust fund and cash payments they received for their lands went drained to pay debts to traders. The Dakota, living on a strip ten miles on either side of the Minnesota River, tried to farm and hunt. After a decade, it was apparent that the people would starve. However, the United States Government was deep in the American Civil War, and their payments to the Dakota were forgotten. The Dakota were hungry, and they were angry at the government's failure to fulfill promises. They began to move back to their ancestral lands where white settlers now lived and worked. Conflict became inevitable.

In August 1862, violence erupted in which the Dakota, the US military, and settlers all participated. After several weeks, about 500 whites had been killed, and more than 300 Dakota warriors were arrested and held at Mankato or Fort Snelling. Those at Mankato were held responsible for the deaths of the settlers and were condemned. President Lincoln pardoned all but the 38 Dakota at Mankato who were hanged on one of America's darkest days. The remaining convicted warriors were moved to Davenport, Iowa, and the Dakota who were left were moved to Crow Creek in today's South Dakota.

By the 1870s, few Dakota lived in Minnesota. Those who remained close to Minneapolis were at Oak Grove with Gideon Pond or at the remnants of a scout camp in Shakopee some 50 kilometers (30 miles) downriver from the future Port of Minneapolis. In 1886, the government set aside funds to help buy land for the Dakota at Prior Lake. Over the following years, Dakota people continued to settle in surrounding communities and nearby metropolitan areas. By the turn of the century, 70 Dakota lived in Hennepin County. The 1930 census identified 199. By 1970, Hennepin County was home to over 6700 Dakota people.

In 1969, the Skakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) received federal recognition as an Indian Tribe. Members of the Mdewakanton are direct descendants of the Mdewakanton that lived along the lower Minnesota River. Today, the SMSC owns over three thousand acres of land within or near the 250-acre 1880s reservation. The SMSC is a sovereign government that provides services to its members including health, education, environmental protection, land management, public works, and social services.

SMSC income comes from gaming and non-gaming enterprises that finance tribal infrastructure. Today, the SMSC is a huge part of local economies, particularly those of Scott County south of Minneapolis. Its businesses provide employment more than four thousand native and non-native workers, and its annual payroll is more than $154 million. Annual payments to vendors total $171.6 million, including $11.1 million to vendors in Scott County.

In 1680, Franciscan missionary Louis Hennepin came to the future Port of Minneapolis area. He gave the highest waterfall on the Mississippi the name of St. Anthony Falls, and a village soon developed on the falls' east side. St. Anthony Falls later powered a mill that ground floor for Fort Snelling, a fortification and outpost near the Port of Minneapolis. Seventeen sawmills were powered by the waters of St. Anthony Falls in the mid- to late-19th Century.

In 1849, white settlers started living on the US military's Fort Snelling lands. In 1856, the village of Minneapolis was incorporated after the US government gave patent rights to the illegal squatters. St. Anthony received a city charter in 1860, and Minneapolis received its city status in 1867. In 1872, the two cities merged under the name Minneapolis.

By the end of the 19th Century, railroads linked the Port of Minneapolis with Chicago and the southern mid-west region and to Sault Ste. Marie and the eastern mid-west. Lumbering reached a peak in the late 1800s, but flour milling displaced lumbering in the early 20th Century. The last lumber mill closed in 1919. Great Plains farmers shipped their grain harvests by rail to the Port of Minneapolis' 34 flour mills. General Mills and Pillsbury became processors for the grain. By the early 20th Century, the Port of Minneapolis was producing almost a tenth of all US flour and grist.

After the end of World War I, Great Lakes shipping offered lower freight costs for exporting flour, and much of the Port of Minneapolis' flour trade moved to Buffalo, New York. However, the Port of Minneapolis continued to be the headquarters for several large milling companies. The Port of Minneapolis was still an important US wheat market in the second half of the 20th Century, and the Port of Minneapolis Grain Exchange continues to be one of the world's biggest cash exchange markets.

In 2007, the Port of Minneapolis got unwanted international attention when the Interstate 35 West Bridge across the Mississippi River collapsed during rush hour. Almost 150 people were injured, and 13 were killed. When the National Transportation Safety Board identified a design flaw as the cause of the collapse, concern for the safety of the entire United States' infrastructure began to grow.

Today's Port of Minneapolis economy is supported largely by commerce, rail and trucking services, finance, health care, and manufacturing. Six Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the Port of Minneapolis: Target, XCel Energy, PepsiAmericas, US Bancorp, Ameriprise Financial, and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Several international companies have their US offices in the Port of Minneapolis: Coloplast, ING Group, and RBC.

In 2005, Popular Science named the Port of Minneapolis the Top Tech City in the United States. In 2006, Kiplinger's listed the Port of Minneapolis as the second best city in the United States. The Federal Reserve System's smallest regional bank, the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis, serves the region including North and South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and parts of Michigan and Wisconsin. Located on the waterfront, the 1881 Port of Minneapolis Grain Exchange is the only exchange for hard red spring wheat futures and options.

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