Updated: Aug 28, 2019
By Patricia Emerson @ Minn Historical Society
The new sign at Fort Snelling that prompted controversy earlier this month was found vandalized Wednesday morning.
The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) told BMTN that staff noticed the “Historic Fort Snelling at Bdote” sign had been damaged, with someone “painting over the words ‘at Bdote.'”
“Since then we have been able to remove the paint and the sign is back to normal,” a spokeswoman said. Most other such incidences of vandalism would be considered random, but the addition of “at Bdote” to the Fort Snelling sign has been a cause of consternation in some quarters recently.
Just last month, the Minnesota Senate passed a budget bill amendment that would cut MNHS funding by $4 million a year, potentially leading to up to 80 layoffs in a move apparently linked to the addition of “at Bdote” to the sign.
The amendment’s authors, among them Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R–Big Lake), called the change in the sign an example of “revisionist history.”
It’s unclear why this has become an issue now, given that the society added “at Bdote” –the Dakota word for the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers at Fort Snelling – to the sign in 2017.
MNHS is dedicated to telling richer, fuller history, including expanded military stories of soldiers and veterans, Native Americans, enslaved and free African Americans, and women―stories supported by strong historical documentation and research, which help us better understand our state’s past and the Minnesota we live in today. Our mission is to use the power of history to transform lives. Historic Fort Snelling is a place to provide context, to tell stories, to come together, and to talk about solutions. It’s a site that has relevance for today and for generations to come. MNHS has not changed the name of Historic Fort Snelling, but in 2017, we added the words “at Bdote” to signage to signify the location of the site and to add broader historical context to the multiple complex stories shared there. Bdote is the Dakota word for the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers and the area surrounding the fort.”