This history documents the transformation of the Minnehaha Creek from the signing of the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota in the 1850s, which enabled the settlement of the Minnehaha Creek by American settler-colonists and the statehood of Minnesota, to the visit of President Lyndon Baines Johnson to the Minnehaha Falls in 1964. Located along the southern edge of Minneapolis, Minnesota and its south and western suburbs, the Minnehaha Creek is a twenty-two-mile-long waterway connecting Lake Minnetonka and the Mississippi River. Central in this history is confronting uncritical appraisals of the Minnehaha Creek’s naturalness and uncovering the role technology and culture has played in the transformation of the waterway. Because the Minnehaha’s waterfall has been a tourist attraction for more than one-hundred and seventy years, it has been regarded as being one of Minneapolis’s great “natural” treasures. However, this history of the Minnehaha Creek complicates uncritical appraisals of the Minnehaha Creek’s naturalness, or its “natural mythology,” by showing that the Minnehaha, first through the installation of gristmills, then through the construction of a dam at its headwaters, and last through the creation of parklands, has been transformed into an envirotechnical system. That is, a system where nature, culture, and the artifacts of humanity have melded together to form a system that can no longer be explained by one of these forces alone. By uncovering the technology and ideology embedded in the Minnehaha, and how the Minnehaha itself has been turned into a technology, this history presents itself as a case study about how technology is used to express values and priorities on environments and the mythologies we develop to legitimate and rationalize the new environments we create.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. May 2019. Major: History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Advisor: Mark Borrello. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 106 pages.
Making the Minnehaha: The Reengineering of a Creek and the Creation of an Envirotechincal System.
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