Dan Keiser, The Oak ManÂ byÂ Brigitta Greene
TheÂ Mendota Dakota tribal communityÂ honored arborist Dan Keiser [pictured] at their annual pow wow in September of 2019. Keiser goes by â€œOak Man,â€ a nickname he acquired during theÂ years-long standoffÂ over the construction of Highway 55 in the late 90s. The protest pitted environmental activists and native communities againstÂ MnDOT. A central symbol of the fight were four burÂ 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 â€“ 20 years ago this December â€“ 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. Peterâ€™s church in Mendota, and still cares for them today.
Message from Dan:Â
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.