Open letter to the City Council of Ramsey, Minnesota

Dear Ramsey City Council,

Greetings from the small town of Wahkon, Minnesota, a town located on the south shore of Mille Lacs Lake.

I am spearheading the movement to change the faulty-translation and profane name of the Rum River. Because your city borders on the "Rum", I am especially hoping that your council will give its support for the effort to change this river's offensive name. My website is located at:

The staff of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission has a page on their web site titled May is American Indian Month in Minnesota. The statement there is intended to bear witness to the tragic side of Minnesota Statehood in 1858 and acknowledge the pain, loss and suffering of the Native American culture in Minnesota. (ref.)

Statement by the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission:

"Minnesotans pride themselves today on living in a state that is forward-thinking and compassionate. We have become a haven for refugees from countries where genocide still occurs. We recoil at the holocausts of World War I and II, and the more recent acts of savagery in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

"Yet we remain either unaware of or unable to look at our own history and acknowledge the painful wounds of ethnocide and genocide right here in Minnesota. We have a very hard time acknowledging that the pain remains and that it has affected much of our history thru to the present day."

"Minnesota is home to 11 Tribal Nations. Tribes from Canada, the Dakotas, and Nebraska and elsewhere, and tribal members here in Minnesota and others are coming together to participate in ceremonies of reconciliation, such as that in Winona in May during Statehood Week, thanks to the efforts of native peoples and non-native peoples working together for many years hosting such gatherings to bring about education and awareness.

A blog site guided by the Sesquicentennial Advisory Committee for Native American Partnering (SACNAP) is located at .

Griff Wigley, Project Leader, Sesquicentennial Advisory Committee for Native American Partnering (SACNAP) recently posted a comment of mine wherein I, in part, say:

"When we become aware of or able to look at our own history and acknowledge the painful wounds of ethnocide and genocide right here in Minnesota we will be inspired to go through a radical social, political and religious transformation. A peaceful cultural revolution will occur and we will be changed for the better."

My complete SACNAP web site comment can be viewed and read at:

In a December 2, 2007 Star Tribune article, guest editorialist Waziyatawin Angela Wilson wrote, in part:

"Once Gov. Alexander Ramsey made his infamous declaration on Sept. 9, 1862, that the Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state, his genocidal agenda was widely and wildly supported by white Minnesotans. His call was very clearly a demand for what we would today identify as ethnic cleansing. Everything that followed fit into this larger agenda, an extraordinarily successful genocidal effort from which Dakota people have never recovered."

"The hangings, the concentration camps and forced imprisonments, the forced gender segregation, the punitive campaigns into Dakota Territory to hunt down and terrorize those trying to flee, the bounties on Dakota scalps -- all are examples of how Ramsey's plan was successfully implemented. In addition, Dakota people suffered the consequences of similarly genocidal policies carried out nationally against all indigenous peoples. What this means is that genocide in Minnesota and the United States was systematic and that it was carried out and supported in different forms by regular people throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

"This also means that Minnesotans and other Americans have a painful legacy to address. In the context of Minnesota history, Dakota people paid a terrible price so that white Minnesotans could claim this beautiful and bountiful land. The first step in dealing with this past is public acknowledgement of the magnitude of harms perpetrated against Dakota people. Once this history of genocide is acknowledged, Minnesotans will have to ask themselves, What does recognition of genocide demand?" (ref.)

Waziyatawin Angela Wilson and I, as well as other activists believe that your city and other places named after the genocidal maniac Alexander Ramsey will have to be changed in order to show due respect for the Dakota people. It is what recognition of genocide demands.

You can listen to a radio broadcasted presentation of Waziyatawin Angela Wilson's position on this topic by going to .

Thank you for your time,

Thomas Dahlheimer
Director of Rum River Name Change Organization, Inc.

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