The Nokomis community has a rich history that was heavily influenced by Native Americans and streetcar lines. While today is is home to nearly 38,000 residents, the Nokomis area was one of the later communities to be developed within the city of Minneapolis. It’s location in the southeast corner of the city meant that it had to wait longer than some of the other Minneapolis communities for infrastructure to be developed.
Prior to 1900, the community was a major American Indian Center, and until 1880 an American Indian Village was located between Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha, in the location of the current Nokomis Community Center. Therefore three of the four neighborhoods that make up Nokomis East have American Indian inspired names: Wenonah, Minnehaha and Keewaydin. The names of Minnehaha and Keewaydin are from Ojibwe and mean “laughing waters” and “northwest wind”.
In 1907, Lake Nokomis was purchased by the city of Minneapolis. While originally named Lake Amelia, it was changed after its purchase in honor of Nokomis, Hiawatha’s grandmother in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s legendary poem, The Song of Hiawatha. This acquisition of the lake led to the development and identification of the surrounding area as one of the 11 communities found within the city of Minneapolis.
Like many other communities found in Minneapolis, residential development was encouraged by the expansion of streetcar lines. As the streetcars made their way to the Nokomis region, numerous housing developments sprang up. The majority of the homes found in the area were built between 1920 and 1960. Today, many of these homes still stand where they were originally built. While the area has seen some new development, much of its current atmosphere was formed during the 1920-60 time period.