Nimuué is the name given to the skeleton of a young woman discovered on June 16, 1931, beneath what eventually would become U.S. Highway... Some Historians Believe She’s the Oldest Archeological Discovery in North America

spirit risingNimuué is the name given to the skeleton of a young woman discovered on June 16, 1931, beneath what eventually would become U.S. Highway 59, along the east side of Prairie Lake, north of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. University of Minnesota archaeologist Dr. A.E. Jenks, who was instrumental in the initial investigations of the skeleton, estimated the skeleton’s age to be around 20,000 years.

Analysis of the bones indicated they were mineralized and had turned into phosphate rocks, suggesting the ancient timeline. While there has been considerable disagreement as to the true age of the bones, it can be stated that Nimuué ranks among the oldest human remains ever found in North America.

From its discovery in 1931 until 1968, the skeleton was referred to as “Minnesota Man.” In 1976, the name was correctly changed to “Minnesota Woman.” Recently, members of the Glacial Minnesota Woman Organization bestowed upon her the name “Nimuué” — “Lady of the Lake.”

Following the 1931 excavation, her bones were taken to the University of Minnesota. They later were placed on display at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul for 10 years prior to being retired from view. In 1999, in response to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Minnesota Woman’s bones were repatriated by the Dakota tribe to an unknown site in South Dakota.

Minnesota Woman Sculpture ‘Sneak Peek’ Event

A “Sneak Peek” public viewing of a progressing clay sculpture of Nimuué, the Glacial Minnesota Woman, is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, March 19, at the Muddy Moose Restaurant in downtown Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. This is the first public showing of the sculpture, which will be cast in bronze for permanent display in Pelican Rapids.
Sculpted by Marcella Rose, a native of Ortonville, the 3.5-foot creation is titled Spirit Rising.  It portrays Rose’s perception of the prehistoric young woman whose remains were found in 1931 about a mile north of Pelican Rapids during construction of what is now U.S. Highway 59.  Nimuué is believed to have lived about 20,000 years ago and could represent the oldest archeological discovery in North America.
Spirit Rising shows the young woman creating music by blowing into a whelk.  She is in communion with a pelican, a bird whose fossil evidence dates back at least 30 million years.  Nimuué also carries a turtle carapace and other items and tools found with her remains.
Glacial Minnesota Woman Organization received a legacy grant from the Lake Region Arts Council to partially fund the creation of the sculpture, but contributions are still needed to complete the final casting process.

Staff Writer

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