ST. CLOUD -- Should the name of Historic Fort Snelling be changed? The Minnesota Historical Society is asking that question and gathering input at a series of meetings around the state.

Spokesman Kevin Maijala says for the past decade they've been working to broaden the stories about the history of the land.

In the last 12 years or so we've started expanding stories, adding narratives that include the Dakota perspective, Japanese-American soldiers, African-Americans both in slaves and in soldiers at the fort, and expanding the time frame from what was traditionally a pretty 1820s to 1840s program.

Maijala says the name of the fort itself would not change. Also, the Fort Snelling National Cemetery and the Fort Snelling State Park would also keep their names. They are specifically talking about the 23 acres of land that surround the fort.

Maijala says two years ago they installed temporary signs at the site that added the phrase "as Bdote" following the name "Historic Fort Snelling".

So we added that as a recognition of that location that is important symbolically and spiritually for the Dakota to our signage, and that was confusing to people so we did pull that back.  We have not changed the name, because we don't have the power to do that.

Maijala says they wanted to hear from Minnesotans on what they think it should be called.

What does a name mean to a place, and who gets to decide or who is more important in that overall conversation, and people are really having that in-depth conversation that they really haven't thought about all that much.  So we're suggestions, a lot to keep Fort Snelling as part of it, many to add new things to it such as convergence or confluence.

The 23-acre property is located adjacent to the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, known as Bdote in the Dakota language.

Over the years, the historic site has had a number of different names as the management of the property has changed hands, including Fort Snelling State Historical Park and Old Fort Snelling Historic District.

A $34.5 million revitalization project is slated to break ground early next year which includes a new visitor center.

A public meeting will be held here in St. Cloud on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at the Stearns History Museum.

Following public input, the Minnesota Historical Society Board will make a recommendation on whether to change the name, it would then go to the Minnesota Legislature, which has final say over name changes for state properties.

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