A two mile nature area located along the currently named "Rum" River in Cambridge, Minnesota was named Spirit River Nature Area, instead of Rum River Nature Area.

The following information is displayed on a Cambridge Campus of Anoka-Ramsey Community College website. Click website to view more information about this nature area.

"The Spirit River Nature Area is a system of more than two miles of paved and unpaved trails through undeveloped land on the west side of Cambridge. The project has been in development since 2001 as a cooperative effort of the City of Cambridge, Isanti County Active Living By Design and the Cambridge Campus of Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC). This year, an information kiosk and seven interpretive signs have been added to help trail explorers learn more about the wildlife and history of the area."

"The interpretive signs were created by a committee comprised of ARCC Biology Faculty members Phil Anderson, Mary Januschka and Brad Wold, ARCC English Faculty member Kim Lynch, and Active Living by Design's Bill Carlson. Located along the pathways they tell visitors about the plant and animal life, the ecosystems, the geology, and even some cultural history. Colorful photos and drawings help with wildlife identification."

"The Rum River was the super highway for the Isanti Indians," explains one sign. "To them, this important waterway was known as Wakpa Wakan, the Great Spirit River, until a white man's pun turned "spirit" into "rum."

To view a picture of the SPIRIT RIVER NATURE AREA sign click picture .


The following information as well as more information about the SPIRIT RIVER NATURE AREA can be found by clicking nature area .


You are invited to enjoy the exceptional variety of environments in the Spirit River Nature Area, appreciate the natural wonders that surround us, learn about the history of the land and walk for health and well-being. This is a cooperative effort of the city of Cambridge, the Cambridge Campus of Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Isanti County Active Living.

The Rum River was known to the native Dakota people as "Wakpa Wakan" or the Great Spirit River.

History of the land
As you walk about the Spirit River Nature Area, you are stepping on sands laid down by the outwash of rivers and lakes left from the melting of the last glacier to cover most of Isanti County about 11,000 years ago. Below these exposed sands are glacial tills from previous glaciations and below that is bedrock of Cambrian sandstone and shale.

The Isanti Indians used this river basin for at least a thousand years as a travel corridor to access bison hunting grounds, wild ricing areas, sacred sites ( such as St. Anthony Falls), villages of friends, relatives and allies from their major villages by their sacred lake: Mille Lacs. The trails are identified by the names of the 4 tribes of the Eastern Dakota (Isanti).

Daniel Greysolon Sieur Dulhut was the first European to visit the Isanti at their main villages in 1679 and was the first to record the name Isanti and later used the spelling Izatys. Father Louis Hennepin was taken unwillingly by a war party of 33 canoes of Isanti somewhere around Dubuque and taken to Mille Lacs in 1680. He published his adventures along with a map where the name is spelled "Issati." Isanti refers to the principal villages by Mille Lacs, now called Kathio, and also to the four tribes of the Eastern Dakota. Dulhut or Duluth returned to Minnesota in 1680- and negotiated the release of Hennepin and two companions. They all traveled on the Rum River.

The Ojibwa drove the Dakota out of their villages on and around Mille Lacs in 1745. The Rum River thereafter became a disputed area between the Indian Tribes.

A map of this nature area can be found by clicking MAP

Rum River Name Change Movement website

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