Changing Derogatory Geographic Site Names

By Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

I am an indigenous peoples' rights activist and Minnesota Representative Mike Jaros has introduce a bill that I drafted to change fourteen of Minnesota's derogatory geographic site names. And when I asked Representative Jaros if he would also like to introduce a resolution to apologize for the exploitation of Natives, he said: "Yes, great idea". He has introduced the resolution and there will soon be hearings on the apology resolution.

I am spearheading a local, national and international movement to change the derogatory and profane name of the "Rum" River. The ancestral/traditional homeland of the Dakota people is located on the headwaters of the badly named "Rum River", or on the shore of Mille Lacs Lake next to the mouth of the "Rum River". The Dakota or "Sioux" call the river by their name for Mille Lacs Lake (Wakan), translated as (Great) Spirit Lake. According to a book published by the Minnesota Historical Society, the Rum River name is the white men's "punning translation" name, a name that perverted the ancient Sioux name Wakan, and that the Rum River name is also inappropriate because "rum brought misery and ruin to many of the Indians".

The Mendota Mdewkanton Dakota Community has expressed that they would like the name of the Rum River changed to Wakan River. There is a bay on Mille Lacs Lake named Wahkon as well as a small town located on its south shore. Mille Lacs Lake's Spirit Island is the English translation name for the Dakota's name for the Island (Wakan/Wahkon). The badly named "Rum" River runs through Anoka County as well as Anoka, Minnesota and Anoka is a Dakota name that means on both sides of the river. It seems to me that naming the river with a Dakota language name would go good with the name Anoka.

The badly named "Rum" River also runs through Isanti County, Isanti is a Dakota language name and there is a nature area in Isanti County named Spirit River Nature Area. It is designed to honor the Isanti or Dakota people. There is an interpretive sign in the nature area that informs its readers that the Dakota name for the badly named "Rum" River is (Watpa Wakan). I believe that Isanti County residents would like the river's name changed to Spirit River or to its Dakota name (Wakan). And according to a book published by the Minnesota Historical Society it was the Dakota people's name for the river (Watpa Wakan) that was desecrated by the white man's "Rum" River name. These are some of the reasons why I would like the name of the "Rum River" changed to Wakan.

I have been corresponding with some of the Bishops of Minnesota's different denominations as well as with the Executive Directors of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Minnesota Lutheran Conference and the Minnesota Council of Churches. I have requested that they write apology letters to go along with the name-changing bill and apology resolution.

In my correspondence with our state's Christian Bishops and Executive Directors of Christian publish policy organizations I have not only ask for apologies for the exploitation of Minnesota's Natives I have also ask that Minnesota's Christian Churches radically repent.

An United Nations "World Conference Against Racism" on-line document informs its readers that two 15th century papal bulls were the source of the white racism associated with the European colonizers invasion and occupation of the Americas as well as their subjugation and exploitation of its indigenous peoples.

Nationally and internationally renowned multicultural educators and social activists are also teaching this same "World Conference Against Racism" historical account of what happened, and what is still happening, to the indigenous peoples of the Americas . Four of my on-line articles, articles that I have sent to some of the Bishops of Minnesota's different denominations as well as to Executive Directors of Christian public policy organizations, also present the (I believe) true history of want happened, and what is still happening, to the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

In a 15th century papal bull, Pope Alexandria the VI instructed European Christian nations to go to the Americas and "subjugated the New World's barbaric nations and lands". The colonizers' 15th century European international law, based on Pope Alexandria the VI's 1493 papal bull (Inter Caetera) , instructed European Christian nations to send explorers and settlers to the Americans in order to subjugate the indigenous peoples as well as take possession of their homelands and natural resources.

When European explorers put their nation's flag in the soil of a tribe's homeland it became the land of their European nation, they then only had to drive the tribes from their homelands to finalize their land purchasing transactions. And they could, and often did, use Eastern tribes that had migrated west (some having fled the European invasion) to violently force the long established tribes from their homelands. The migrating west Eastern tribes that helped the European colonizers drive out the long established tribes were then allowed to live on a part of the White man's newly acquired land. According to Pope Alexandria the VI's papal bull and European international law red indigenous people could not own land, only white European Christian nations could own land.

Pope Alexandria the VI was building his Christian Empire and his predecessors as well as Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Bishops are continuing his mission to this present day. The subjugation and exploitation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas will come to an end when the Christian Churches' Bishops and their followers radically repent and reform their lives, and do so, by ending their Pope Alexandria the VI's mission and starting a new mission, a mission that respects all of the indigenous peoples of the Americas human rights, including the right to have absolute root ownership of their homelands as well as full sovereignty rights.

Our state's DNR Web site presents information about the early white settlers land purchasing process, as it relates to what happened to Minnesota's Natives, it states that: "Early White/Indian intervention played an important role in the settlement of the area by white men. The French, instigated fights between the Ojibwe and Dakota so as to ally themselves with the Ojibwe."

When the French explore Duluth put his nation's flag in the sacred soil of the Dakota people's sacred homeland on the headwaters of the badly named "Rum" River, he claimed the land for France. And as soon as an Ojibwe band that had migrated from the east coast into the Dakota people's Minnesota territory acquired gun powder from white men, and then violently drove the Dakota from their sacred Mille Lacs homeland, during the historic - Duluth sponsored - "battle of Kathio", Duluth and the French settlers in the Mille Lacs area finalized their land grabbing transaction. The Dakota's sacred Mille Lacs homeland, now officially belonged to, according to European international law, France. And then later it because U.S. land, and the Ojibwe band that drove the Dakota people from their sacred Mille Lacs homeland were given some U.S. Mille Lacs land to live on for their assistance in driving the Dakota people from their Mille Lacs homeland. (Ref. "finalized their land grabbing transaction"

And what makes this situation even worse is that the Ojibwe band that drove the Dakota from their Mille Lacs homeland gave the Dakota people's sacred Wakan River the derogatory and profane name 'Iskode Wabo, which is translated firewater or rum. In addition, a radically derogatory Ojibwe name for the Dakota people (Nadouesioux), translated as snake, was shortened by the French to Sioux and then used to name several of Minnesota's geographic site names. The Ojibwe also gave another one of their derogatory names for the Dakota people to one of Minnesota's rivers. An Ojibwe word for snake is Kanebec, and according to information found on the Minnesota Historical Society's Web site: "Snake River gets its name from the Ojibwe word Kanabec, or snake, naming it after their enemies, the Dakota, who lived upriver, and who they later displaced."

Rep. Mike Jaros and I are trying to change these derogatory and, in some cases, also profane geographic site names. We are also tying to change other derogatory and, in some cases, also profane geographic site names, names such as Redskin Lake, Savage Lake, East Savage Lake, Devil Track Lake and Devil Track River. In respect to the last two names on this list, the Ojibwe name for the Great Spirit, (Manitou) a name that the Ojibwe gave to the first part of their name for a lake and river, was mistranslated by white men to mean Devil and then the white men's faulty translation name (Devil) was used to name the lake and river, the lake was named Devil Track Lake and river was named Devil Track River.

On April 30th I addressed the Minnesota Indian Affairs council and spoke about the name changing bill, the apology resolution and my correspondence with Minnesota's religions leaders and Executive Directors of Christian public policy organizations. I also mentioned that I have asked Minnesota's Christian Churches and Christian public policy organizations to present apology letters to go along with the name changing bill and apology resolution. The council asked me to right a draft resolution and then send it to them. They will look at it and then let Representative Mike Jaros and I know if they will support the name-changing bill during their next meeting in June.

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