Mendota Mdwakanton Dakota Community's letter of support:

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


In a Star Tribune newspaper artcile about the movement to change the derogatory Rum River name Jim Anderson was quoted as saying: "It's another derogatory term. Naming a sacred river after what they were binging up to our people is wrong. We're in favor of the name change."


In a Mille Lacs Messenger newspaper article, subtitled: "300 gather to note the toll by alcohol abuse", Melvin Eagle, a prominent member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is quoted as saying: "Alcoholism is not our traditional way. We need to try to pull together and away from alcohol because it is destroying our people." Now-a-days, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe live at the headwaters of the "Rum River". Rum and other alcoholic beverages are still destroying Native people located on the headwaters of the "Rum" River.

During prohibition there was a movement to change the name of the "Rum River". A lot of people did not want geographic places to have names that helped the alcohol industry to advertise and sell its addictive products that were harmful to society, as was the case with the "Rum" River.

When a geographic place is located near a Native community that is plagued with alcoholism - we especially do not what it to be named Rum, Whiskey nor by any other alcohol beverage. This is another reason why we initiated and are spearheading the movement to change the name of the "Rum River". The headwaters of the Wakan/"Rum" River are located next to the Mille Lacs Band Of Ojibwe, a Native community suffering with the plague of alcoholism.



We believe that the restoration of the river's original name would help uplift the Indian community, which has been historically plagued by alcoholism.

When Europeans came to the Americas they brought rum and other alcoholic beverages with them. At the time, the Natives had no cultural controls in place for their usage. Hence, because of alcohol abuse, things for the Natives moved into degradation and multitudes of premature deaths. This situation was made even worse by the White's frequent use of alcohol in ruthless genocidal attacks, alcohol was given to the Natives in order to kill, subdue, or cheat them.

We believe that by drawing attention to the "Rum River" name-change issue "white guilt" will increase, because of a heightened awareness of the catastrophic consequences caused by white settlers introducing and selling alcohol to Native Americans; and that this increase of "white guilt" will, in a lot of ways, cause white Euro-Americans or the dominate culture to offer all Native Americans their long over due restitution justice. Especially when it comes to making amends to help Native Americans to free themselves from the plague of alcoholism.

We believe that, by reverting the derogatory name of the "Rum River" back to its original Native American name (Wakan), we would be honoring the importance of spirituality for American Indians.

We believe that the "Rum River" name has become like a joke - an antagonistic joke that's very antagonistic, and that by changing the river's name we would be putting an end to a source of racial antagonism.

Rum River Name Change Movement website

testing Pope Francis' "New Age" Environmental Mission

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