The American Indian Cultural Corridor was inaugurated on April 30, 2010 with a ribbon cutting and community-walk. But the idea of creating an American Indian district on Franklin Avenue has been around for many years.
Franklin Avenue has long been a commercial corridor in the City of Minneapolis. Developed along railroad tracks, horsecar and streetcar lines, and near downtown Franklin has been a center of commerce for over a century. In the first half of the 20th century, Franklin was a thriving Jewish area with shops like Kaplan Brothers. Through the federal relocation period of the 1950’s and 60’s where the federal government encouraged thousands of American Indian people to leave their reservations and move to cities, Franklin Avenue became an important gathering place for Indian people. Franklin Avenue developed a national reputation as the heart of Minneapolis’ urban American Indian community. To this day, the area surrounding the Cultural Corridor is the densest concentration of urban American Indian people in the country. This important history has led to many “firsts” occurring around Franklin Avenue including the development of the first urban American Indian health clinic, the first American Indian preference housing project, and the location of one of the oldest American Indian Centers in the country. In addition, Franklin Avenue is the birthplace of the American Indian Movement, a national protest movement founded in the 1970’s for American Indian civil rights.
Franklin has had a colorful history with many ups and downs, but through the work of many organizations and individuals in both the neighborhood and the native community, a substantial transformation has occurred. Businesses are beginning to flourish and a district with a distinct American Indian identity is developing. This is an area that is welcoming the whole region to share in American Indian culture and commerce, as well as the other anchor businesses that are located in the Corridor.
Minneapolis and Franklin Avenue exist in the traditional homelands of the Dakota people. For more information on the Dakota history of the Twin Cities visit the Bdote Memory Map.
Franklin Avenue film by Elizabeth Day: