A Sacred Place in Lake Minnetonka’s History

Breezy Point/Spirit Knob was a landmark of the Dakota tribe

Breezy Point/Spirit Knob was regarded by the Dakota Indians as the most important point on Lake Minnetonka. They believed that all of the power of the lake came from this point. Because of its great energy, Breezy Point/Spirit Knob became their primary worshiping grounds.

Spirit Knob means “little hill of the spirit” in the Dakota language. Located along the southern shore of Wayzata Bay, Breezy Point is in Woodland, which was settled in 1882. The point faces west and overlooks Spirit Island.

A 60-foot high mound of land once protruded from the shoreline on Breezy Point. The Indian trail that followed the shoreline around Lake Minnetonka ended at Spirit Knob. It is said that ceremonial dances to honor the Great Spirit Manitou, who championed peace, took place there.

Until the late 1870s, a large stone stood atop the mound of land. Dakota warriors would worship and place scalps there after battles.

Years later, the knob was excavated and the remaining mound of land was eroded by the water. Many artifacts have been found on Breezy Point/Spirit Knob, including a piece of the old knob that is now at the Smithsonian Museum.

Unfortunately, this sacred point has also seen tragedy. In 1885, a 35-foot boat named the Minnie Cook capsized off Spirit Knob during a storm with 8-10 foot waves. Ten people died, including former mayor of Minneapolis Alonzo Cooper Rand. He was also one of the founders of the Minneapolis Gas Light Company.

Today, there is no sign of the mound of land that was such an important part of the lake’s history. Yet, its spirit certainly remains.  

Stephanie Larsen grew up in Minnetonka and now lives on Lake Minnetonka with her husband and two children. She loves sharing information about the rich history of the Lake Minnetonka area with others. In 2009, Stephanie co-authored “Historic Lake Minnetonka,” which provides an overview of how Lake Minnetonka was discovered, developed, and settled.

Teresa Dushek September 19, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Just learned the history from Captain Troy.


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