Benjamin Franklin: "Use Rum" to "Extirpate These Savages"

by Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

On September 7, 2016, Indian Country Today Media Network, the world's largest Indian news source, published an article by Steven Newcomb, a world-renowned indigenous peoples' rights activist. The article is entitled Vicious Dogs and Coercion Unleashed on Original Free Nations. ICTMN posted one comment on the article. It is my comment. It reads:

Good article Mr. Newcomb! You wrote: "Franklin (Indians + Rum = Land)". In his autobiography 1706-1757 (Chapter 8) Benjamin Franklin wrote: "If it be the design of Providence to extirpate these Savages in order to make room for cultivators of the Earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means." I, Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer, am the co-founder and director of Rum River Name Change Organization. In a book published by the Minnesota Historical Society, a book entitled, Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origins and Historic Significances, its author Warren Upham wrote, when referring to the Sioux: "Their name of Mille Lacs, Mde Wakan, translated Spirit lake, was given to its river, but was changed by the white man to the most common spirituous liquor brought into the Northwest, rum, which brought misery and ruin to many of the Indians." Upham also wrote: [This] "badly named river", was given its current name by a "punning translation" of the sacred Sioux name for the river. The name Rum is "the white men's perversion of the ancient Sioux name Wakan." In the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community's letter of support for the effort to change this river's profane name, and also help protect this sacred Dakota/Sioux site, Jim Anderson wrote: "I believe that renaming the river 'Wakpa Wakan' or 'Spirit River' is a great stride in mending the circle that we share with all four colors of man. The Rum River Name Change Organization's website is located at

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