In 1992 at Valley City State University, Professor Joe Stickler and his students began work on Medicine Wheel Park. The project soon expanded beyond the walls of the classroom to involve the community. The Park features two solar calendars: A horizon calendar (the medicine wheel) and a meridian or noontime calendar. Other aspects of this unique 30-acre Park include Native American burial mounds, solar system model, the North Country National Scenic Trail and other woodland nature trials, several scenic overlooks of the Sheyenne River valley and Valley City, and a 3000 square foot perennial flower garden.
The Medicine Wheel
Early cultures throughout the world built rock structures which joined the landscape to the sky, some serving as calendars. Stonehenge in England is an example. Over 100 Medicine Wheels constructed by Native Americans have been found in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains of the United States and Canada. Their complete story is lost in the vastness of time.
The Medicine Wheel’s large circle measures 213 feet around. The 28 spokes radiating from its center represent the number of days in the lunar cycle. Six spokes extending well beyond the Wheel are aligned to the horizon positions of sunrises and sunsets on the first days of the four seasons.
The design of this rock sculpture was inspired by the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming and reflects the beauty of the Earth’s journey around the Sun and the grand cycle of the seasons. The Park’s Medicine Wheel is a multicultural symbol celebrating the calendar discovery process by our intelligent human ancestors around the globe and honoring the presence of the Native American burial mounds in the center of the Park.
Native American Burial Mounds
The twelve burial mounds existing within the borders of the Park are part of a larger group first charted by T. H. Lewis on October 29, 1883. These mounds are typical of the complex cemeteries used for hundreds of years by the Plains Woodland Indians during periods dating from the 500 to 2000 years ago.
A Walking Tour of the Solar System
The Solar System model stretches from the Sun (in the center of the Medicine Wheel) to Pluto, one third of a mile away near Regional Technology Center. Boulders representing the planets are spaced in exact proportion to their distances from the Sun (1 foot = 3 million miles).
A Meridian Calendar
The utility pole nearest to the Medicine Wheel serves as a reminder of another ancient method of keeping track of the seasons. This type of calendar uses the length of the shadow cast by an object at local apparent noon. Three large rocks located north of the pole mark the top of the pole’s shadow at the beginning of each season.
North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT)
The NCT is a 4,600 mile across seven northern states linking North Dakota to New York. A segment of this trail winds through the wooded hillside of the Park and along a concrete path marking the planets of the Solar System
Power Point Tour of Medicine Wheel Park
Visitors are encouraged to download the power point which contains dramatic views of the Park features and history. An explanatory script accompanying this presentation can be found in the power point.