Become a Member of the Hiawatha Circle

Becoming a member of the Hiawatha Circle gives you exclusive benefits that allow for a more intimate and engaging Museum experience. Membership grants you access to exclusive Hiawatha Circle only events, behind the scenes tours involving the Museum Archivist and/or Collections Manager and Curator, and a gift household membership to share. In addition, you will be recognized on a sign in the entrance of the Museum while being personally informed of upcoming events and exhibit openings. To learn more about the benefits of being a Hiawatha Circle member, contact our Executive Director John Crippen at

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Hiawatha Circle Members 2019

Barbara Grahn • Bruce Bruemmer • Bruce Lindell • Cara Letofsky & Jim Davnie • Carole J. Larson • Caroline Christian Dunn • Charles Ballentine • Charles Test • Courtney Grimsrud • David & Rosemary Good • Deane Manolis • Elam Baer & Janis Clay • Elizabeth DeBaut & David Hartwell • Frank Parisi • Gar Hargens & Missy Thompson • Jacqueline deVries • Jennifer Lundblad & Eric Emmette • Karen Cooper & Bruce Schneier • Kim Jeppesen & Jeff Strand • Kristen Perry & Colin Hall • Layne M. Johnson • Mari Yomota & Aaron S. Kurland • Bullis Insurance • Miriam & Erwin Kelen • Rebecca Planer • Rebecca Timm • Richard & Nancy Nicholson • Russell Cowles • Ruth Drolsum • Shawn Hartfeldt • William & Cheryl Hogle

About Hiawatha the Lion

In 1876, a man named Robert Jones moved from New York to look for opportunities out west, and settled in Minneapolis. Missing the fresh fish so easily found on the east coast, he established his own fish market. To his chagrin, he soon gained the moniker “Fish” Jones.

Jones was an eccentric man, who wore a silk top hat, a Prince Albert suit, high heeled shoes that masked his short stature, and sported a pointed beard with a curled mustache. The name “Fish” rather suited him, as it was his lifelong love of animals of all kinds which led him to create Longfellow Gardens, the largest collection of exotic animals in the United States at the time. The gardens hosted a wide variety of animals; cats, bears, wolves, camels, elephants, monkeys, antelopes, porcupines, storks, cranes, flamingoes, falcons, peacocks, ostriches, parrots, and owls.

Fish Jones greatly admired the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, modeling his home after Longfellow’s own, and even taking names for quite a few of his animals from “The Song of Hiawatha.” Notably, the names included several of his sea lions; Minnehaha, Hiawatha, Paupukeewis, Mudgekeewis, and Nokomis.

Hiawatha was the premier lion of Longfellow Gardens, and so treasured by Fish, that when the lion passed away in the late 1920s, Fish took him to a taxidermist so Hiawatha could be preserved. Hiawatha the Lion now lives in the collection at Hennepin History Museum.