Nothing irks some white people like accurate history

The usual suspects have gotten their feelings hurt — again — because the Minnesota Historical Society has pointed out that Minnesota history didn’t begin with them.

KSTP reports that the latest “controversy” is over signs that went up at Fort Snelling historic site that say “Historic Fort Snelling at Bdote.” The old signs said only “Historic Fort Snelling.” Bdote is the Dakota word meaning the point at which two waters meet.

See pearls. Clutch pearls.

“Without any public input that I am aware of, the Historical Society has changed the name of historic Fort Snelling, which is a military installation, to historic Fort Snelling at Bdote,” Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

He said he’s also heard from veterans who are upset by the signs, and consider it “revisionist” history.

“I think it’s a rewriting of our history and I’m not in favor of it,” he said.

Nobody is rewriting anything, of course. Nothing was removed from the original sign. Fort Snelling is still there. It’s just that additional information has been added.

“And some people don’t like that because they like what we were told in kindergarten or first grade or fifth grade what our history is about. And our history isn’t exactly what our history was about,” said Sen. John Marty.

The Minnesota Historical Society says the name hasn’t been changed. The Society is simply expanding the stories it’s telling.

“Lots of history has happened there over many generations,” said the director of government regulations for the organization. “We want to tell all of those stories, and by telling those stories we absolutely are not diminishing military history or the contributions of veterans.”

A $30 million revitalization project is underway at the fort. The lawmakers are supporting a bill to cut the Historical Society’s budget. Officials with the Society say up to 80 people could be laid off.

“I want the Historical Society to come to the table and talk to us,” Newman said. “And be willing to listen to what our concerns are and act on those concerns. And to date, in my estimation, they have not.”

Nothing irks some EuroMinnesotans like accurate history.

And nothing is too small for the daily dose of outrage.

Just look at WCCO’s Jason DeRusha, who posted an innocuous photo of a beautiful sunrise over Bde Maka Ska this week and found, as he described it, “a surprising amount of rage” in the accompanying comments. That shouldn’t have surprised anyone, actually.

What a wake-up from Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis from photographer Joel Thurston! Tell us where else we should visit:…

Posted by WCCO This Morning on Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Bde Maka Ska, of course, was previously Lake Calhoun, in honor of John C. Calhoun, who tried his best to keep slavery alive in the nation. The lake’s name was restored to its previous name in January 2018 in recognition that an accurate historical name is more important than honoring someone who described slavery as a positive good.

  • Mike Worcester

    When you look at that sign, the word “Bdote” is not even the biggest lettering or most discernible font. It’s simply a recognition of a place name; an accurate place name. And then Sen. Newman and others drag out that “revisionist” malarkey. Apparently ensuring accuracy is revisionist when they don’t like the result?

    (Full disclosure — I am a seasonal employee of MNHS).

  • Jay Sieling

    I wonder if Sen. Newman was similarly upset at the U of Mn when they changed the hockey rink to “3M Arena at Mariucci”

    • Guest

      YES, many were

    • RBHolb

      Are you joking? That honors a corporation! Why would that bother him?

      • fritzdahmus

        an honor they paid for. They used to be called sponsors. Now they are called a “corporation”…ish.

    • fritzdahmus

      why should he be….seriously.

  • MrE85

    “He said he’s also heard from veterans who are upset by the signs…”

    If you are looking for upset veterans, Senator, look no further.

    • The subtext of the canonization of “veterans” in every political argument is tiresome. Some veterans are upset? I’ll bet some veterans aren’t. Veterans are funny like that.

      • MrE85

        I doubt if he even realizes that Native Americans serve in the military at a greater rate per capita than any other ethnic group in America. I served with them everyplace I was posted.

        • debbie

          This would have been my comment although not as articulately made. WHICH veterans were upset? WHICH veterans did he survey?

          • The veterans who were posted there in the 1820’s of course.

          • theoko

            I think he was referring to white supremacist veterans.

      • Jerry

        And when they think of veterans, they only think of white veterans. Kind of like when politicians like that talk about the working class, they mean white working class.

        • Jack

          And only the men in said working class.

      • Nancy Davis-Ortiz

        You are correct. Some Veterans are not upset. This one isn’t! Correcting history, living our truth, is always the best path. Dakota is the language of the original Indigenous people of this land. This change makes my heart happy!

      • jon

        I blame freedom for veterans having differing opinions.
        Though I also blame veterans for freedom.
        It’s sort of a chicken and the egg thing.

        • That’s part of the canonization, too. The equation of freedom and veterans and it’s true, of course, that veterans are a part of securing freedom, but so are public defenders and teachers. They get completely cut out, though, of recognition for defending freedom.

          That’s its own revision of history.

          • Jack

            Might I also add the folks in Americorps, Vista, and Peace Corps? They all served the USA in a volunteer capacity. They are heroes as well – especially Peace Corps which is using volunteering to enhance the lives of others around the world.

          • merry_rose

            Bob, Jim Wright, essayist of Stonekettle Station and retired naval chief warrant officer, calls it “the fetishizing of the military”.

  • Rob

    Gods bless Sen. Newman. Such a fine example of American Ignorance — I mean, American Exceptionalism.

    Not only is Bde Maka Ska a cooler, more mellifluous name than Lake Calhoun, four out of five resident geese, ducks, loons, turtles and frogs who were surveyed, approved of the name change. : )

  • Jerry

    Racists gonna be racist

    • Jerry

      One of the stupidest (and most disingenuous) reasons I’ve heard for not wanting to use Bde Maka Ska is that it is hard to pronounce. The Dakota language is written phonetically, it sounds like it is written. And if you can handle the name Bjorn, you can handle the word Bde.

      • jon

        Watch people from out of town struggle with “Minnehaha” or “Hiawatha” or even “Chaska”.
        Of course if we changed the names of any place bearing those names we’d be changing history etc…

        • kevins

          I always have trouble with “Chisago”….

          • Dave Draeger

            “Wayzata” was the one that tripped up my New Englander wife and her Philly-area roomie when they relocated here after college.

          • Hell, I heard Mike Rowe call Mankato “Mahn-kaato” on air…

            Don’t even get me started with “Medina”…

          • Alex

            Every time I hear somebody verify my work address by asking if I’m located in “Muh-DEE-nuh”, I die a little inside.

          • Yet that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to be pronounced.

            me·di·na
            /məˈdēnə/
            noun
            the old Arab or non-European quarter of a North African town.

            😀

          • Alex

            Oh, yeah. And the city is literally named for the city in Saudi Arabia, too.

          • Rob

            Arab Quarter, MN. I like it!

          • Jack

            Actually Mankato isn’t pronounced the proper way either by its “new” inhabitants. It should be pronounced the way that the first people do.

            🙂

          • Agreed.

            The name Blue Earth is a translation of the Dakota Indian word “Mahkato,” meaning “Greenish blue earth.” The name of the city of Mankato would be “Mahkato” if a spelling mistake made when the name was chosen had not changed the “h” to “n”. The name has remained Mankato ever since.

            https://www.blueearthcountymn.gov/164/History

            /Prepare for more outrage.

          • Jack

            Actually the kids were taught the correct pronunciation during the field trip to the Hubbard House which was the Blue Earth County Historical Society location.

          • merry_rose

            And that was mispronounced by white settlers back in the day. It was supposed to be Wazyata, but they put the Y in the wrong place. Hence, we have Wayzata. 😉

          • ironkitten

            Kind of like Favre?

          • Rob

            Chisago, Chisago, that toddlin’ town…

          • kevins

            Hah!!!

        • Jerry

          Why can’t it be a nice sensibly pronounced English word like, umm, Gloucester.

          • Guest

            🙂

          • Mike Worcester

            It’s painful some days, those English names… 🙂

          • Rob

            Cool comment. Gotta go – need to stop at the store for some Worchestershire sauce…

        • badphairy

          But have no problem with Tchaikovsky, or Jurgensdottir.

        • slycivilian

          The SMM has an exhibit on Native heritage in MN, and it includes videos of the actual pronunciation of many of our landmarks. It’s informative.

      • Terrie_S

        In my experience, most people can handle Bjorn, but Sven or Knut makes them twitch. And if you really want to see someone have a melt down, tell them how to pronounce New Prague.

        • Jerry

          That’s easy, it’s pronounced prah-gyoo

      • MN Mom

        Heh, I added an “n” to Grand Marais once. Hubby still ribs me about that.

  • BReynolds33

    “changed the name of historic Fort Snelling, which is a military installation”

    No it isn’t, Senator. It was decommissioned in 1946. It hasn’t been a military installation in 53 years. Now, there are still several military functions taking place there, but it is not a military installation by any definition of that phrase.

    • merry_rose

      Those pesky facts!

  • kevins

    Great place to visit, and adding the Dakota word for the geographical site enhances the greatness.

    I had the pleaure of taking my 97 year-old, WWII vet dad and most of my children there three summers ago. Dad lives in west Tennessee where the Mississippi River means a great deal, so his joy at standing on that high land an looking at the tremendous view of the Mississippi, was, well, priceless. He took pics back to show the good old boys during morning coffee at the cafe, and of course they were impressed!

    BTW, Dad would truly appreciate the integration of Dakota and early US military cultures…it makes everything a bit richer.

  • Al

    I appreciate the name change, and wish I WOULD’VE learned more pre-1776 history in K-12. (Or, come to think of it, post-1776 history that wasn’t just about Europeans.)

    • Jerry

      I wish these legislators had learned that as well.

      • kaystiel

        The new interpretation at the site was all gone over a few years ago in the Legislature when money was requested for the revitalization of the site for the 200th anniversary in 2020., who knows why it’s coming up now? Just an excuse to cut funding.

    • ironkitten

      You still can.

  • Nothing improves historical perspective like taking a long view, and in this case it includes the language of our first peoples. It’s overdue, accurate, and informative for visitors.

  • Jeff C.

    I wonder if Sen. Newman was similarly upset when they changed the name from “Fort Snelling” to “Historic Fort Snelling”?

    • cornbear

      Historic Fort Snelling might also be a misnomer Nothing much ever happened at Fort Snelling. Probably the most historically significant event was that Dred Scott lived there for a short time in the 1830’s and that short residency formed part of his Supreme Court claim seeking freedom.

      • Jerry

        Hey now, it was also a concentration camp during the “Sioux Uprising”.

        • kaystiel

          The camp was below the Fort, and there is a memorial in the park below, run by the DNR.

      • ironkitten

        Uh, no. Plenty of important things happened at that location.

      • scarlettcarsen

        cornbear, Here’s something absolutely significant that happened at Fort Snelling. Franklin Steel made huge bank off the prisoners:

        “The bank that became the backbone of the financial empire of the northwestern United States could trace its initial capital to the inmates of the Fort Snelling prison camp.”

        https://healingmnstories.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/swindling-dakota-prisoners-franklin-steele-and-the-fort-snelling-concentration-camp/

      • kaystiel

        and it did host the Japanese Language School in World War Two, and the Buffalo Soldiers were stationed there for a number of years, and thousands passed through the gates during WW1.

  • Jeff C.

    “Fort Snelling at Minneapolis”? Nope – it isn’t in Minneapolis. “Fort Snelling at St. Paul”? Nope – it isn’t in St. Paul. “Fort Snelling at Bloomington”? Nope – it isn’t in Bloomington. Where is it in?

    • Their mailing address is St. Paul…

      🙂

      • so is Woodbury’s. But that doesn’t make it St. Paul.

        • True.

          Personally, I consider it part of Minneapolis due to it being just down the street from me (In Minneapolis), but your take on this is 100% correct.

      • RBHolb

        The “official” address is St. Paul, but it is actually in Hennepin County.

        I learned that when I had to fill out an affidavit of service for some divorce papers I served on someone working at the federal building.

        • There’s your trivia question:

          “What part of St. Paul is in Hennepin County?”

    • Leroy

      Thanks for the fascinating Wikipedia journey. I didn’t realize that we had any unorganized territories in Minnesota.

      • Jeff C.

        My understanding is that the surrounding towns take yearly turns responding to 911 calls from within the territory since it isn’t in any one town’s jurisdiction.

    • kaystiel

      It is still an ‘unorganized territory,’ so it’s difficult to order pizza.

  • Ben Chorn

    “Without any public input…”

    Is that how the MNHS is supposed to operate, or how they currently operate?

    • According to a statement made above by kristine handsart • 3 hours ago
      “In October and November 2014, with the assistance of Wilder Center for Communities, the MHS held nine community meetings to solicit public input on changes to the site. The events were free to attend and the event flyer stated: “”The Minnesota Historical Society is committed to transforming Historic Fort Snelling into a compelling international destination that reflects the many stories and perspectives so integral to its history. As a community member, your input is important during this early planning phase. We invite you to join the conversation!”

      So obviously “Without any public input…” is just a flat-out false statement.

      • Michelle Haack

        Well said!

  • Beatrix E Viatrix

    perhaps as an extension of our commentary here, we should also be contacting our representatives to support the budget of the Historical Society from the racist narrow views of the lawmakers wishing to lay off 80 people because they can’t handle the truth.

    • Jack

      Make a donation direct to the society at the same time.

      Long time member. By the way, make sure to check out the temporary exhibit on Somalis in Minnesota. It’s excellent!

      • That reminds me, I have to renew my MNHS membership.

        /The History Center is a wonderful pace to visit, too…

  • Michelle Haack

    Why wouldn’t you want to know all there is to know about our history? I like that we are learning more history of other races in the US because history is who we are and why we are the way we are. I don’t want to just learn about white history.

  • RBHolb

    Given Fort Snelling’s important place in the history of racism in America, even a small acknowledgement of the non-European history of the area is welcome.

  • Guest

    someone who described slavery as a positive good = = = Of COURSE it was a positive good, lotsa labor for the price……of course everyone knew it was no good for the person being whipped, but the distinction for WHO it was good was well known.

    🙂

  • Jack

    History is being enriched at Fort Snelling and I welcome that. Time to tell the whole story.

  • Guest

    When an explorer planted the flag of his country in a new land, all the non-natives in other countries knew he was claiming that land from THEM. Everybody knew you had to keep the other European countries at bay.

    The native population had zero rights in the whole thing. It was all about European Countries battling among themselves……No need to ask natives if they wanted to be taken over 🙂

  • kristine handsart

    In October and November 2014, with the assistance of Wilder Center for Communities, the MHS held nine community meetings to solicit public input on changes to the site. The events were free to attend and the event flyer stated: “”The Minnesota Historical Society is committed to transforming Historic Fort Snelling into a compelling international destination that reflects the many stories and perspectives so integral to its history. As a community member, your input is important during this early planning phase. We invite you to join the conversation!”

    • stmosquito

      Sen. Newman must not have been paying attention. I guess he didn’t really care about the site until a few constituents complained.

  • AL287

    Some white folks don’t want to be reminded they are the interlopers and have been for the last 200 years.

    We invaded the Americas looking for riches, at the expense of the poorer, defenseless original inhabitants (think smallpox, venereal disease).

    Putting “bdote” on a sign hardly goes far enough as far as I’m concerned.

  • Erik Hare

    The sign at Pike Island has described it as the site of a “concentration camp” for Dakota after the uprising. That sign has been there for years.

    • Kat S.

      True. That’s part of the state park, however, rather than MNHS. But don’t worry, the Senate GOP wants to drastically cut their funding, too!

  • Francisco Gonzalez

    I wonder if the good Senator also disagrees with the name “Minnesota”, since it is not (gasp!) English and instead is in the Dakota language, just like Bdote….

  • Brian Simon

    “I think it’s a rewriting of our history and I’m not in favor of it,” he said.

    Seems to me we’re constantly rewriting history. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I think its a good thing to learn about different perspectives & put historical events in a new context.

  • Jeff

    Apparently Republican legislators are more worried about the Dakota hacking our signs than approving the money dedicated to prevent election hacking.

  • AmiSchwab

    i’m a vet and the only disturbing part of this story is the repug from hutch.

  • Jessica Hobson

    Expanding narratives and supporting the peoples of Minnesota – indigenous, veteran, indigenous and veteran, men, women, enslaved people – all of this work is important. By expanding narratives, you are not taking away from said narrative. The misnomer that MNHS acted alone to rename Fort Snelling at Bdote discounts all of the community members that have weighed in – Dakota and historians alike. Just because Senator Newman prefers not to engage in this work does not mean it was done without approval by those that matter. Not ALL veterans are upset. To weigh us down into the loud voice of the few instead of the steady voices of the many is to stifle Minnesotan heritage. Additionally, if 80 people lose their jobs – does MNHS quit interpreting or opening the site at all? Answer to your constituents who are no longer learning about any history, let alone important history. Let’s just shut down learning and dialogue about historical perspective instead…

  • David Anderson

    Of course, when the White Man arrived, there was no written language used by any of the Native Peoples in North America.
    So– a better solution would be to post a Dakota representative at the sign location to “tell the story” of his ancestors, and leave the printed, written sign as it was.

    • Terrie_S

      When Fort Snelling was built, cars did not exist, so no one should be able to drive past the sign and be offended by the change.

  • ironkitten

    Newsflash: Mendota is a corruption of the word Bdote. Every person in this state LITERALLY says a Dakota or Aniishinaabe word every day. These idiots need to get over themselves. How totally embarrassing.

  • Angelina Marie

    So, not shocked that a Republican uses the legislature to bully professionals who come to a conclusion with which his ignorant piss-ant ass does not agree.

  • Derek Francis

    Why do republicans ever wonder why people of color do not vote for them for the most part? This is the most fear-based, ridiculous proposal. It’s honestly shameful to be represented by these people.

  • kaystiel

    The Fort was originally named St. Anthony, and then was changed to Snelling, who knows what the future will name it? History is never fixed, in changes all the time.

  • Beth-Ann Bloom

    Is there a list of the Republicans supporting this measure in the Senate?

    • I’m guessing most of the ones with “R” next to their names.

  • fritzdahmus

    Are the sins of our white ancestors the only sins worth punishing? In this case the do-gooders say…..yes.

    This isn’t completely about getting history correct….nobody disagrees with that in it’s unambiguous sense. This is almost completely about apologizing to the Native American for the war we fought with them and the treaties we broke. Apologies that should be made…..but way too late….thus meaningless. It’s about making the apologists feel good. Almost nothing more. The Native Americans should….and are…..embracing their new and fleeting ally.

    But, what the fight should be is this. The Federal government owes various Native American tribes hundreds of millions of dollars. Stop the faux apology tour and pay up!

    Name Lake Calhoun what you want. Nobody asked anyone what they thought at the time they named it Calhoun.

    For all we know….some Native American tribe killed women and children to capture the lake back in 1478. Where is the apology for that? I’m sure it happened…probably have the dates wrong. 😉