Restore Native Names To Sacred Sites

This web site is about a movement to restore Native names to geographic sacred sites. It is being led by Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer, an indigenous peoples' rights advocacy activist who is spearheading the widely supported movement to restore the sacred Dakota/Native name Wakan to a sacred Minnesota river, a river that is currently name "Rum".

This sacred river (or site) was given the name Wakpa Wakan (Spirit River) by the Dakota. Unfortunately, the sacred Dakota name for this sacred site was sacrilegiously changed by European explorers to "Rum River".

A Sacred Site:
The head of the Wakpa Wakan ("Rum River")

Movements to restore Native names to geographic sacred sites are growing and gaining ground. Their mission is to influence the dominate culture to show due respect for sacred Native sites and their original names, which are often sacred names... and by doing so, ultimately reconcile the holocaustic behavior and treatment of indigenous peoples by the European settlers.

Countless Native names for sacred places or sites were changed by European explorers and settlers upon arrival. The "changed names" desecrated these sacred sites, and they still desecrate these sacred Native sites today.

European explorers and settlers often changed sacred Native names for sacred sites by replacing the orginial sacred names with faulty-translation English names. Therefore, many sacred Native names for sacred sites all across this land, from sea to shining sea, were desecrated, and they remain desecrated to this present-day.

In the native cosmogony there is no single evil spirit comparable to the devil. In the mind of the explorers and settlers though, all this "heathen" spirituality was often misconstrued to be the work or the sign of the devil. So the name Devil was given often to sacred Native sites known formerly by names meaning Sacred or Spirit or Mystery, including Devil's Tower, Devil's Thumb, Devil's Hop yard, Devil's Mountain, Devil's Lake, Devil Track Lake, Devil Track River, etc..

It's a long-standing tradition across time to demonize your foes prior to taking everything they have, including their lives, to assuage any possible feelings of guilt.

One movement to restore Native names to sacred sites seeks to re-sanctify this land and establish a new American worldview and globalization mission .(or a new paradigm ) that will, hopefully, usher in a new age and new world order. This movement is being led by yours truly, Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer.

As previously mentioned, I am spearheading the movement to restore the sacred Dakota/Native name [Wakan], a name meaning Spirit or Great Spirit, to the badly named "Rum River".

One of the reasons why this movement believes that the "Rum River's" current name is disrespectful or profane and should therefore be restored to its sacred Dakota name [Wakan], is because, as stated in a book published by the Minnesota Historical Society, "rum brought misery and ruin, as Duluth observed of whisky, to many of the Indians".

The other reason why, is because... as stated in Minnesota Geographic Names, a book written by Warren Upham in 1920 and published by the Minnesota Historical Society, the "Rum River" received its current name by way of a "punning translation" that "perverted the ancient Sioux name Wakan".

(The name "Sioux" is a misnomer. It was the ancient Dakota name that was "perverted". The "punning translation" turned the Dakotas Spirit, or Great Spirit, [Wakan] into a different kind of spirit, the alcohol spirit rum.)

Also, my new movement to restore Native names to sacred sites all across the United States of America... believes that the original Native names for all sacred sites should be restored.

Therefore, this movement is seeking to not only restore the sacred Dakota/Native name [Wakan] to the sacred river that is currently named "Rum River", it is also seeking to restore the sacred Dakota/Native name [Wakan] to the sacred lake that this sacred river flows out of, a lake that is currently name "Mille Lacs Lake".

The sacred Dakota/Native name for "Mille Lacs Lake" is Mde Wakan (Spirit Lake). Mde Wakan is a sacred lake (or site) where there is a sacred Dakota creation story.

A sacred site:
Mde Wakan (Spirit Lake)

This movement to restore Native names to sacred sites is also seeking to restore the Ojibwe/Native name to a Minnesota lake and and river.

The following statement is presented on the Minnesota Historical Society's website:

"'Devil Track River,' wrote Gilfillan, 'is Manido bimadagakowini zibi, meaning the spirits (or God) walking-place-on-the-ice river.' The Ojibwe applied this name primarily to Devil Track Lake, and thence, according to their custom, to the outflowing river. The name implies mystery or something supernatural about the lake and its winter covering of ice, but without the supremely evil idea that is given in the white men's translation."

This movement seeks to restore the sacred Ojibwe/Native name for "Devil Track Lake" and "Devil Track River".

The following Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community (MMDC) letter of support for the restoration of Native names to sacred sites was written by [Jim Anderson], this Commnity's Chairman, and formerly its Cultural Chairman and Historian.

The (displayed below) MMDC letter advocates for, both, the restoration of the sacred Dakota/Native name [Wakan] to the sacred river (or site) currently named "Rum River", and also for the restoration of all other Native names to sacred sites that had their names changed to "Rum" or "Devil" by European explorers and settlers.

August 12, 2004

To Whom It Should Concern:

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. We, as Dakotas, are very happy that there are people out there that are trying to understand that by using names like "rum" and "devil" to label sacred sites and places is degrading to our children, our elders and also to our ancestors. These places were already named in our language by our people because of their special meaning. When we have to tell our children why these places have been named after a poison or the worst words in their language. It is demoralizing to us to have to explain why a place is named after the same things that helped to steal our land and language. To have to be reminded of the cultural genocide that has been perpetrated on all Indian people. So, in changing the name back to the Dakota language, it will help in the healing process that our people continue to deal with.

Many schools and teams have already changed their names in respect to our children and adults. It promotes us to be proud of our heritage, language and culture, to respect themselves and being Indian in our own homeland. I am writing in support of the name change of the Rum River.

We, as the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota, request the County Commissioners in the affected counties to support our hope of righting this wrong. Please do the respectful and moral thing and change this disrespectful and culturally damaging name. Respectfully yours,

Jim Anderson Cultural Chairman

Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community

There is one confederation of groups and individuals committed to restoring Native names to sacred places/sites that is known as the Restore Native Names Alliance. Currently, this Alliance is seeking to restore the sacred Native name [Ti'Swaq'] to a mountain currently named "Mount Rainier". This is the only sacred Native site that this Alliance has listed or acknowledged on its website.

The coalition that I am establishing has a simular name, it's called the Restore Native Names Coalition. It, in conjunction with the Alliance, seeks to restore the Native name [Ti'Swaq'] to the sacred mountain currently named "Mount Rainier".

In the future, this website (my website) will be adding more sacred Native sites to the list of sites (or geographic places) that we are seeking to protect, by, in part, restoring the original Native names to these sacred sites.

To join the Restore Native Names Coalition please contact me at and I'll add your name or group to this Coalition.




Here is a list of Native names for sacred sites, names that were changed by European settlers or their American descendants, and should, if requested by Natives, be restored to their original Native names.

(1.) Blanca Peak is known to the Navajo people as the Sacred Mountain of the East: Sisnaajin (or Tsisnaasjini), the Dawn or White Shell Mountain. The mountain is considered to be the eastern boundary of the Dinetah, the traditional Navajo homeland. It is associated with the color white, and is said to be covered in daylight and dawn and fastened to the ground with lightning. It is gendered male.


(2.) To the Navajo people, Mount Taylor is Tsoodzil, the turquoise mountain, one of the four sacred mountains marking the cardinal directions and the boundaries of the Dinetah, the traditional Navajo homeland. Mount Taylor marks the southern boundary, and is associated with the direction south and the color blue; it is gendered female. In Navajo mythology, First Man created the sacred mountains from soil from the Fourth World, together with sacred matter, as replicas of mountains from that world. He fastened Mount Taylor to the earth with a stone knife. The supernatural beings Black God, Turquoise Boy, and Turquoise Girl are said to reside on the mountain. Mount Taylor is also sacred to the Acoma, Laguna and Zuni people.


(3.) Hesperus is notable as the Navajo People's Sacred Mountain of the North, Dibe Ntsaa, which marks the northern boundary of the Dinetah, their traditional homeland. It is associated with the color black, and is said to be impregnated with jet. When First Man created the mountain as a replica of mountains in the Fourth World, he fastened it to the ground with a rainbow and covered it in darkness.

(4.) The San Francisco Peaks have considerable religious significance to thirteen local American Indian tribes (including the Havasupai, Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni.) In particular, the peaks form the Navajo sacred mountain of the west, called Dook'o'oosliid. The peaks are associated with the color yellow, and they are said to contain abalone inside, to be secured to the ground with a sunbeam, and to be covered with yellow clouds and evening twilight. They are gendered female.


Excerpts from Indian Country Today article National Sacred Places Prayer Days Starts June 16

"Throughout prayer days, prayers will be offered at the following sacred places, among others:"

"Antelope Hills, Apache Leap, Badger Two Medicine, Badlands, Bear Butte, Bear Lake, Bear Medicine Lodge, Black Hills, Black Mesa, Blue Lake, Boboquivari Mountain, Bunchgrass Mountain, Cave Rock, Chief Cliff, Coastal Chumash Sacred Lands in the Gaviota Coast, Cocopah Burial and Ceremonial Grounds, Coldwater Springs, Colorado River, Columbia River, Deer Medicine Rocks, Dzil Nchaa Si An (Mount Graham), Eagle Rock, Everglades, Fajada Butte, Ganondagan, Great Mound (Mound Bottom), Gulf of Mexico, Haleakala Crater, Hatchet Mountain, Hickory Ground, Holy Mountain, Hualapai Nation landforms in Truxton and Crozier Canyons, Indian Pass, Kahoolawe, Kasha-Katuwe, Katuktu, Kituwah, Klamath River, Kumeyaay Bands Burial and Ceremonial Grounds, Lake Superior, Luiseno Ancestral Origin Landscape, Mauna Kea, Maze, Medicine Bluff, Medicine Hole, Medicine Lake Highlands, Medicine Wheels, Migi zii wa sin (Eagle Rock), Mokuhinia, Mokuula, Mount Shasta, Mount Taylor, Mount Tenabo, Nine Mile Canyon, Ocmulgee Old Fields and National Monument, Onondaga Lake, Palo Duro Canyon, Petroglyphs National Monument, Pipestone National Monument, Puget Sound, Puvungna, Pyramid Lake Stone Mother, Quechan Burial and Ceremonial Grounds, Rainbow Bridge, Rattlesnake Island, Rio Grande River, San Francisco Peaks, Serpent Mound, Snoqualmie Falls, Sweetgrass Hills, Sutter Buttes, Tse Whit Zen Village, Tsi-litch Semiahmah Village, Valley of Chiefs, Valmont Butte, Wakarusa Wetlands, Walking Woman Place, Woodruff Butte, Wolf River, Yucca Mountain, Zuni Salt Lake, Sacred places of all removed Native Nations, all waters and wetlands."