Hiawatha and Minnehaha by Jacob Fjelde

Hiwatha and Minnehaha by Jacob FjeldeHiwatha and Minnehaha by Jacob FjeldeHiwatha and Minnehaha by Jacob FjeldeHiawatha and Minnehaha by Jacob FjeldeHiawatha and Minnehaha by Jacob FjeldeHiawatha and Minnehaha by Jacob Fjelde

Sculptor Jacob Fjelde created this sculpture of Hiawatha and Minnehaha from the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem The Song of Hiawatha. The sculpture stands on an isolated island in Minnehaha Creek just above the falls, and inscribed on the front is a line from Longfellow’s poem:

Over wide and rushing rivers / In his arms he bore the maiden”

A plaque near the sculpture indicates that it was erected in 1911 thanks to contributions of Mrs. L.P. Hunt of Mankato and local school children. The sculpture’s roots go back to 1892 when it was commissioned by the Minnesota Women’s Auxiliary Board after its exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair. Casting the sculpture in bronze was delayed by the Minneapolis Arts Board which rejected the statue on artistic grounds. After public outcry the commission reversed their decision.

If ever a sculpture’s location added to its artistic impact, this would be it. It’s nestled in the trees and grass on an island, easy to miss and hard to see up close. It adds to the intrigue and romance of Longfellow’s fictional tale.

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