Medicine Wheel Park on the Campus of Valley City State University- Valley City, ND
Who would expect to take a walking tour of the solar system, see two solar calendars, be part of Native American history on the North Country Trail that starts in Crown Point, NY and ends at Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota all in the same place? It can happen at Medicine Wheel Park- a 30 acre park in Valley City, ND.
Medicine Wheel Park is the creation of Dr. Joe Stickler, retired professor from Valley City State University, and his cohorts. He started building the stone medicine wheel in 1992 with his Chemistry students from VCSU. It soon grew into a community/student project when Dr. Sticklers enticed local help after they enjoyed his Wheel celebrations at the vernal equinox and winter solstice. He knew the park was a success when people showed up for sunrise on December 21st with the temperature at 20 below zero!
The Medicine Wheel was refined over the years to become the icon it is today. A generation of students feel ownership in the project they helped build. Dr. Stickler and his volunteer help add new amenities every year. A walk through the solar system begins at the Sun at the middle of the Medicine Wheel with other planets (boulders marked with a plaque) placed proportionately along a path. With the help of grant writers he was able to create interpretive panels and place a concrete path for the solar walk.
Always creative, Dr. Stickler blended an unsightly electric pole into a park amenity by using the shadow to explain a meridian calendar. Evidence suggests the Native Americans used the meridian calendar (and the medicine wheel) to monitor the seasons. Native Americans are honored in the park with an interpretive panel describing the burial mound complex found there. There have been many Native American drumming and dancing ceremonies at the park giving visitors and residents a chance to participate and appreciate the beauty of their culture.
Blooming beauty graces the entrance of the park with the addition of flower gardens, Dr. Stickler’s joy now that he has retired. If you are lucky you will run into Doc Stickler when you visit-when he’s not traveling the world! For more information go to http://medicinewheel.vcsu.edu or www.hellovalley.com.