MNHS to consider a new name for Historic Fort Snelling

Any final decision would be up to the state legislature.
Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 12.36.25 PM

The The Minnesota Historical Society is looking for public input as it considers a new name for Historic Fort Snelling in Minneapolis.

The MNHS announced Wednesday that it will launch a "statewide effort, now through Nov. 15, to gather public input on the name of Historic Fort Snelling, in light of the ongoing revitalization and the expanded stories of history being shared at the historic site."

To be clear, the name of the 4-acre, 1820s fort structure itself will remain as Fort Snelling, what is up for discussion is the wider 23-acre area that is currently known as Historic Fort Snelling.

"Following public input, the MNHS board will consider the findings and determine a course of action by early 2020," it added, noting that if the board recommends a name change, it would have to be approved by the Minnesota Legislature.

"MNHS is looking at whether the current name, Historic Fort Snelling, adequately reflects the experience visitors have at the site, engaging with the history of the many women and men who have crossed paths there. These stories are of soldiers, veterans and their families; enslaved and free African Americans; Japanese Americans; and Native Americans who have lived in the area for 10,000 years."

As part of its information gathering, the MNHS says it will reach out to military and veterans groups, Native American communities, as well as the broader public.

It comes after a 2017 change to the sign at Historic Fort Snelling so that it reads "Historic Fort Snelling at Bdote" led to "confusion" about whether the name had changed permanently.

Bdote is what the area is calling in the Dakota language, referring to the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers at Fort Snelling.

Fort Snelling

The changed sign led to consternation from some complaining of "historical revisionism," and the sign was at one point vandalized so "Bdote" was painted over. Similar complaints have been lodged against efforts to change Lake Calhoun's name back to the Dakota name of Bde Maka Ska.

Sign up: Subscribe to our daily newsletters

The MNHS notes that it has only been recognized in state law as Historic Fort Snelling since 1993. Its previous names include Fort Snelling State Historical Park and Old Fort Snelling Historic District.

Historic Fort Snelling is to undergo a major renovation starting in 2020, with the current visitor center to be replaced with a new one that includes 4,000-square-foot of exhibit space within a rehabbed 1904 cavalry barracks.

The $34.5 million project includes $19.5 million from the state, and $15 million in private funding.

You can have your say on the name here

Next Up