Radio interview with Dan “The Oak Man” Keiser
Dan Keiser, The Oak Man by Brigitta Greene
The Mendota Dakota tribal community honored arborist Dan Keiser [pictured] at their annual pow wow in September of 2019. Keiser goes by “Oak Man,” a nickname he acquired during the years-long standoff over the construction of Highway 55 in the late 90s. The protest pitted environmental activists and native communities against MnDOT. A central symbol of the fight were four bur oak trees, well over 100 years old, that native communities believed to be sacred, and highway officials said needed to be cleared. The highway ultimately won out, and – 20 years ago this December – the trees came down. But behind the scenes, Keiser took cuttings from the oaks and brought them to an expert who was able to graft them onto new saplings. Keiser then transplanted the grafted trees on the historic grounds of St. Peter’s church in Mendota, and still cares for them today.
Message from Dan:
If you have about 10 minutes, check out this piece that KFAI radio aired
just last night! The whole show is an hour long, skip over most of it
(like 50 minutes), but tune into the interview from point 12:00 to 21:40.