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Evans recalls discovery of Indian burial mounds

Dan Evans talks about the history of Diamond Point Park while revisiting the park this spring. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Dan Evans returned to Diamond Point Park in late May, strolling around the park in which he discovered American Indian burial mounds nearly two decades ago.

Evans, along with classmate Sandy Werner, was enrolled at Bemidji State University in 1990 when the pair was assigned to survey Diamond Point Park for a college class.

"It was the last piece of property in the city to have never been surveyed," recalled Evans, who now lives outside of the Bemidji city limits.

While working at the park, Evans and Werner encountered Indian burial grounds. "There were four of five them," he remembered recently.

The discovery inadvertently spoiled the city's plans at that time to replace the playground equipment as everything had to be put on hold to investigate their findings.

Evans has worked in economic development for tribes throughout the Midwest since the early 1980s. His first job was with the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin as its commissioner of development.

He had experience with Indian burial mounds when he noticed what he thought were mounds in Diamond Point.

After speaking with some tribe members who also looked at the sites, that was confirmed.

In another class, Evans began working on a written history of Diamond Point Park. This document, somehow, ended up archived at the Beltrami County History Center.

"Doing the research was interesting," Evans said, "Going through newspapers back to the 1900s."

He also interviewed Leonard Dickinson, who recounted earlier years at Diamond Point Park. The interview -- Evans still has the recording -- took place on May 9, 1990.

It was Dickinson who told Evans about how wagons and horses would literally walk through Lake Bemidji, off of the point at the park, to reach the other side.

"It was an easier journey than traveling around the lake with no road," Evans wrote in his history, attributing the information to Dickinson.

A park revisited

While walking through the revamped Diamond Point Park recently, Evans recalled his experiences at the park, from those involving daytime trips with his now-grown two children to his collegetime research.

Specifically, he remembered how the former layout of the park enabled visitors to drive right up to the point or a favorite picnic stop, making it possible to have a quick lunch.

"I used to take the kids out here all of the time and sit on the point," Evans said.

He also noted how the park has decreased in size throughout its history. Pointing out the American Indian Resource Center, he remembered the tennis courts that used to be in their place.

Seeing all the children and families using the park recently, Evans said the reconstruction was successful.

"The park is beautiful," he said. "They did a good job."