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 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.
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