“Republican” is a synonym for “petty and stupid”

I’ve driven by Fort Snelling, the park and the gigantic military cemetery, an uncounted number of times — it’s right by the airport, so if you’ve ever flown into the Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport, you’ve gone by it yourself. It’s right there at the intersection of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, so it’s been an important landmark even before the airport was built; even before Minnesota was a state; even before European settlers invaded the territory.

Guess what has our Minnesota legislature — at least, the Republican side — in an uproar now? Historians have added a word to the sign at the visitor center: “Fort Snelling at Bdote“. They haven’t changed the name of the place, they’ve only added an acknowledgement of the Dakota word for this meeting of the two rivers, which sounds like a lovely addition to me, and one that does no harm to the European side of the history, but only extends it to include the longer Indian record of residence.

Unbelievably, Republicans consider this an assault on their version of history.

“Without any public input that I am aware of, the Historical Society has changed the name of historic Fort Snelling, which is a military installation, to historic Fort Snelling at Bdote,” Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

He said he’s also heard from veterans who are upset by the signs, and consider it “revisionist” history.

“I think it’s a rewriting of our history and I’m not in favor of it,” he said.

It’s not just a myopic reading of history, the Republicans are planning to punish the historical society by cutting their budget by millions of dollars, possibly costing the loss of as many as 80 jobs (which is fine with the Rs, I guess).

I’m just surprised a little bit that anyone would object to adding a little more historical information to a sign at a historical site. There’s no reason to complain, unless you’re so deeply racist that you resent any mention of the people the European settlers displaced to take over this region. Seriously, how can anyone be upset by this word?

But I shouldn’t be surprised. This cheerful message sparked a lot of online anger.

A great many white people flooded the comments to insist pointedly that that wasn’t Lake Bde Maka Ska, but Lake Calhoun, despite the fact that the name was officially changed. Calhoun was a Southern politician and vociferous advocate of slavery at the time of the Civil War, and it was totally inappropriate to honor him by naming a beautiful lake after him, but apparently some people think that it’s better to memorialize a white traitor who isn’t from this area than to use a pretty Dakota name that actually describes the lake.

If you’re wondering how it’s pronounced, it’s like it’s spelled. And that’s really what the lake is named on the maps.

OK, here’s Joe Bendickson demonstrating how to say it. Bendickson, by the way, has something in common with me: we’re both on Turning Point USA’s list of Dangerous Professors, which is entirely my honor.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    Republicans? Aren’t these the same folk who are annoyed that immigrants are too slow to assimilate to the pre-existing culture?

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    If you’re wondering how it’s pronounced, it’s like it’s spelled.

    Ack. With the English language that is not a helpful description. Is the middle ‘o’ long? Is the final ‘e’ pronounced as a separate syllable?

  3. blf says

    Indeed (on @3) — From memory, every single letter can, in English, be pronounced in at least two ways (not necessarily as a single letter but as part of a phoneme). This is obviously something of a technical quibble…

  4. lakitha tolbert says

    Meanwhile, over in the gmaing community, some of them are upset because one of the Black characters from Mortal Kombat, ends the game by going back in time and ending the Atlantic Slave Trade.

    They’re upset that a Black character, as an addition to a game, time travelled to end slavery, and they’re claiming white genocide!

    I’m just gonna sit back and watch as these white men become increasingly unhinged. I just hope things don’t get bad enough that they will take all of us with them in a paroxysm of batshittery.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    In the last 30-40 years, conservatism everywhere (including Canada, where I live) seems to have transformed into an “ideology” that consists largely of spite, dishonesty, stupidity and fear-mongering. I see little else. Yet it seems to resonate for a large number of people. Depressin innit.

  6. René says

    Bendickson doesn’t strike me as a first-nation name. Anyone more knowledgeable care to explain how this happened to become a surname of a Dakota (Lakota?) American citizen? (I’m well prepared for some nasty answers.)

  7. Rob Grigjanis says

    René @9: Oppressed people have often been given names by their oppressors. How many African-Americans do you know with African names?

    Many First Nation people have traditional names as well as the imposed names.

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    Re #10: Example:

    This is how the process would have unfolded: I would be asked my name, I would say “k’acksum nakwala”, and they would have written down “Bob Joseph”. Often I am asked if I am related to the Joseph’s from the Squamish First Nation, to which I usually reply “No, but I’m sure we had the same Indian agent”.

  9. Rich Woods says

    @rené #9:

    (I’m well prepared for some nasty answers.)

    It’s almost like you know you are talking shit…

  10. says

    If you went through the roll call of students in my classes, which are 20% native American, you’d have a tough time determining which were which on the basis of their names — there are lots of German and Scandinavian last names around here. Their ethnicity is not defined by their parents’ names, though, but by their official status in tribal rosters. If they have a tribal affiliation, they’re Indian.

    Do you expect them to all have names like Brave Horse or Little Flower?

    They also don’t show up in buckskins and braids, and they have all kinds of complexions. Watch your stereotypes.

  11. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Hey, Repubes, I don’t understand how adding the place to the name is revisionism
    I would understand when the name is being changed to a new one, EG [Fort Obama formerly Snelling]
    ~ ~ ~ ~
    I think this is a splash effect from the current wave of renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day

  12. chigau (違う) says

    I met an Inuit woman who still carried her old 1940s Government-issued ID card.
    It had her “christian” name and a number, something like: Jane 1234.

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    Calhoun was a Southern politician and vociferous advocate of slavery at the time of the Civil War…

    John C. Calhoun ceased to trouble the Republic, and the world, in 1850.

  14. militantagnostic says

    In these parts (my commute goes through a Nakoda Sioux Reserve) Wesley, Danels, Poucette, Fox, Snow and Soldier.are Indian names as much as Twoyoungmen, GoodStonery, Bearspaw, Powderface and Chiniquay.

  15. says

    In Arizona, the former “Squaw Peak” was renamed “Piestewa Peak” after the first known native american woman to die while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Some people are still salty about it and refuse to call it anything other than its previous name.

  16. Onamission5 says

    In my old home region, there was, in the 90’s, finally a substantial enough push to rename the route named “Dead Indian Road” to literally anything else, please, for fuck’s sake, we beg of you that the county government took notice. After a period of some great debate, county officials agreed it should be changed and settled upon renaming that route “Dead Indian Memorial Road.” Every few years or so since the county receives a slue of complaints and every few years they decide apropos of nothing that changing the name again is unnecessary because racism solved, all better now. /s

  17. microraptor says

    Onamission5 @19: I remember that.

    My parents (particularly my dad) were salty because Political Correctness.

  18. chrislawson says

    Not far from us is a Murdering Creek Road. When it comes up in conversation (usually in a joke about real estate prices), I ask the other person if they know why it’s called that. Most of them don’t, so I give them the very brief version of the story. In 1864, a group of pastoralists lured a group of local aborigines across Lake Weyba. As the aborigines paddled to the shore, men who were hiding in the reeds opened fire, killing an unknown number. As far as we know, the motivation for the attack was race hate (there was no indication of active conflict between pastoralists and aborigines at the time).

    I would keep the name of the road because it’s a reminder of the violence underlying the pastoral leases that were doled out to English settlers. Too many people here still don’t understand that every cleared paddock they see today is the product of armed dispossession. The Crown never told settlers and police to kill aborigines — but they didn’t need to; it was an inevitable consequence of the pastoral lease policy.

    On the other hand, I haven’t spoken to any Gubbi Gubbi descendants, and their opinion should trump mine.

  19. chrislawson says


    I presume that your parents are so committed to fighting PC language that they would not resist naming their street Evil Cracker White Devil Lane?

  20. Onamission5 says

    @microraptor #20: The more things change, eh? That was one of the very same excuses given by county officials last time I could find that they refused to reconsider their choices, in 2017. That and the all purpose cover of “erasing history.”

    Like history would somehow be irreparably obfuscated if they renamed it Takelma Memorial Road or Trade Road or something else more appropriate to the location’s history and peoples.

  21. voidhawk says

    Sounds like how the Irish and Welsh language was supressed in the 18th and 19th centuries and their names (of people and places) Anglicised. Fortunately, that’s mostly over now, with place names written in English and the local language – apart from in Northern Ireland, where recognition of the Irish language is still a point of riotous contention.

  22. jrkrideau says

    Watch your stereotypes.
    Sounds like a university student I knew who spent most of his childhood in Saudi Arabia. He claimed that fellow students here in Canada expected to hear that he grew up riding camels!

    Since his father was a doctor he probably grew up riding in a Mercedes or Cadillac.

  23. microraptor says

    chrislawson @22:

    Oh no, they’d oppose something like that- it’s not historic.

  24. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    the mention of the name assigned to an Inuit woman, sparked a memory of the outrage when Obama authorized restoring the name of Mt McKinley back to the original Inuit, which was Denali.
    Causing just about everyone in Ohio to get upset, that their homegrown president was getting washed off the history books, that he did so much for the mountain his name belongs on it; despite lack of any history of that.
    ~ ~ ~
    this all makes me wonder why people are so determine to keep history locked-down as the first story they heard about it and refuse to accept additions, and corrections to errors in the first version. Trivial example EG is the Washington and the cherry tree story, many people hold onto it as true despite all the corrections presented. The human mind is a weird thing.

  25. lanir says

    It’s just a word. Also, probably makes them feel foolish for not being certain how to pronounce it. As though asking someone for historical information at a historical site were such a horrid ordeal.

    But the real reason is probably very simple. It’s not a racist monument to traitors of a stillborn country built around a callous culture of brazen human trafficking and thievery. It doesn’t glorify the so-called honor and pretend dignity of thugs and scumbags who couldn’t imagine a way of life that didn’t involve being bandit kings who took everything from those around them and enslaved them. It doesn’t play up the so-called virtues of traitors who were willing to let hundreds of thousands of their countrymen die to feed their greed and desire for some facade of normalcy to be pasted over their massive and pointless human trafficking operation and the misery it caused. It wasn’t added many decades after the traitors lost that battle to intimidate the descendents of former trafficking victims into ceding their rights to the descendents of the thugs who wronged their ancestors.

    It’s just a word. To learn more you’d have to go looking and ask questions.

    Obviously some Republicans* would have a problem with it.

    trying to avoid applying “the party of stupid” stereotypes to all of them but damn do they make it hard sometimes

  26. microraptor says

    Ianir @28: I think it’s simpler than that: they just don’t want to hear anyone talk about any group other than theirs.

  27. Michael says

    I applaud the name change, why should a Minnesota lake be named after a creepy southern politician? But I should mention that Calhoun died in 1850 well before the civil war, so you can’t label him a traitor. He did, however, become a very vocal proponent of all of the ideas secessionists would use later, as would the Jim Crow politicians of the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries: States rights, the necessary evil of slavery based on an idea of natural superiority of whites. So well worthy of being removed from any public monument or landmark. The southerners had not yet opted for rebellion, but Calhoun pointed the way. He argued that states had the right to “nullify” federal laws, i.e. selectively opt out of the union when they wanted. A kind of selective secession that would have made the federal government meaningless.