Forty-four Minnesota House Democrats sent a letter to the Minnesota Historical Society on Monday in support of adding the Dakota word “Bdote” to identify Historic Fort Snelling. Many Dakota people recognize Fort Snelling’s location as a place of origin for their people.
“All Minnesotans deserve to have their history, language and culture recognized,” Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, a New Brighton DFLer and descendant of the Standing Rock Lakota tribe, said in a statement. “The Historical Society’s efforts to identify sacred tribal land as ‘Bdote’ acknowledges the full history of the place we call Fort Snelling.”
The society held six hearings across the state in September and October to get public input on a possible name change. After the society’s board of directors reviews that information, they will make a recommendation to the Legislature, which would have to approve a name change.
Historic Fort Snelling is located in the Twin Cities at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, which the Dakota called “Bdote.” The Historical Society last year added the words “at Bdote” to signs welcoming visitors to the fort.
Some Republican lawmakers called that addition “revisionist history” and threatened to cut the society’s budget unless it was removed. But Gov. Tim Walz and the DFL-controlled House managed to maintain full funding.
While the name of the 1820s fort will remain Fort Snelling, the society asked the public what they think the 23-acre historic site should be called. Members of the public may submit suggestions through Nov. 15 on an on-line survey at www.mnhs.org/fortsnelling/naming.
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