Recently the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that state law wasn’t followed when the name of Lake Calhoun was changed back to its historic Dakota name Bde Maka Ska. The week the ruling came out “Almanac” debated the topic with Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn and Rep. Jeremy Munson. Near the end of that discussion Representative Munson made light of the word Bde by comparing it to the French word bidet. Rep. Becker-Finn immediately responded by saying that Munson’s comments were inappropriate and disrespectful. That discussion led to further debate and conversation. Some, including fellow Republican lawmaker Jim Abeler, called on Munson to apologize for what he said.
After this exchange we heard from the Prairie Island Indian Community regarding some misstatements about Native history made during that initial segment. We thought it created a chance for all of us to better learn some of this little-understood state history. The President of the Prairie Island Indian Community –Shelley Buck– joined us with a primer on the history of Bde Maka Ska, and the history of Bdote –the area near Fort Snelling where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet.
President Buck also ventured her perspective on why the recent debates about historic places names have been so challenging. She said that for too long the Native community has not been included in the discussion. Buck added that now “you’re not only seeing people hearing us but you’re seeing more people joining us and agreeing with us. And for those that want to continue following the status quo that scares them.”
Here is the full conversation from the week earlier with Representatives Jeremy Munson and Jamie Becker-Finn.