Minnesota Marine Art Museum


Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm



The name "Wenona" means "first-born daughter" in Dakota language . It is an extremely feminine and prestigious name, and has particular meaning to Marilyn and me because we are from Winona on the Mississippi.

Wenona is the central figure in the Lover´s Leap Dakota legend concerning Maiden Rock on the Wisconsin side of Lake Pepin (a widening in the Upper Mississippi River). There are several variations of the story. Her father is generally said to be Chief Wapasha of a village identified as Keoxa, now known as Winona, Minnesota. Rather than marry a suitor she does not love, she chooses to leap from the cliff of Maiden Rock to her death. Who the suitor is depends on the version of the tale.

While the Upper Mississippi version of the legend is the most prominent, there are sites with variations on this legend. Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi writes: "There are fifty Lover´s Leaps along the Mississippi from whose summit disappointed Indian girls have jumped."