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Feb 16, 2024

In a south St. Louis city park created in Victorian times, Indigenous culture, native plant ecology and 21st century engineering are newly united in a southwesterly flow. Tara Morton, Community Engagement Manager for this project's urban someplace, Tower Grove Park, shares the story of Nee Kee Nee, a riverine revival.


Named Nee Kee Nee, or “revived water” in the language of the Osage People who once inhabited the land, the East Stream captures stormwater from 43 Park acres and provides a naturalized play area for many of kinds of nature relatives, including humans young-to-old. 


East Stream’s headwaters are fed by a user-activated potable water source. Stormwater from intakes on adjacent Arsenal Street rejoin the stream 300 feet below the headwaters and flow through a system of weirs and rain gardens. Shunted underground for more than 100 years, East Stream is now a biodiverse, living partner in the Park's nature stewardship: a waterway working with human needs, designed to divert stormwater - up to 3.8 million gallons annually - from overloading the urban sewer system.

Nee Kee Nee is also reviving culture. Tower Grove Park staff worked with the Osage Nation’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office on design of the stream, the direction it flows and landscaping with pawpaw, arrowwood, and many other kinds of native plants. Physical and interpretive elements embody the Osage People's origin story and elements of Osage community life. 

Tower Grove Park is open daily, sunrise to sunset, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri.

THANKS to Jon Valley, KDHX Audio Production Pro

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