I grew up by the Rum River and never knew it's significance as a kid. I have since
become re-connected with my deceased
Dakota fathers' side of the family. I have learned alot about what was important to our
ancestors. The Mille Lacs area
creation story is paramount to our ancestral identity as is the confluence of the
Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers story.
They are all wakan. The name "Rum" should definitely be dropped and changed to
something more appropriate. Wakan or Spirit
River, for instance.
LeMoine LaPointe, director of the Healthy Nations Program at the Minneapolis American
Indian Center, is quoted in a
July, 2008 Isanti County News article: "Rum is a pollutant, a destructive chemical.
not a poison river, it's a
holy river," he said. "That river has contributed to the development of successful
tribal communities for thousands of
years. Recognizing it as Wakan Wakpa, Holy River, reattaches a positive connotation
that will be felt in mind, body
and spirit in many different ways."
"LaPointe says it's also important to the health of Native American people that the
river be called by its original name."
On March 30, 2006 we received an e-mail from Steve Russell (Cherokee) - a Texas state
judge, twice past
President of the Texas Indian Bar Association, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice,
Indiana University - wherein
he gave his support for our campaign to replace Minnesota's offensive names. Steve
"This campaign is a valuable history lesson!"
CHRISTINE ROSE, Executive Director of STAR, an organization on the national
forefront in respect to helping school boards and State Departments of Education
to determine the removal of Native-based mascots.
Christine Rose Wrote: "Thank you so much for sending us information about your
quest to return the Rum River to its original name. The disrespectful appropriation
of the river name is so indicative of the ways Indian people have been mistreated
and their spiritual ways dishonored. STAR is proud to support you in your efforts
and is prepared to help you in any way possible."
"Please continue to inform us of your progress."
MIKE L. GRAHAM (Oklahoma Cherokee Nation), founder of United Native America,
a Native American organization with a membership of 30,000.
Mike L. Graham wrote: "It's time to make this happen."
STEVE MELENDEZ, President of American Indian Genocide Museum.
Steve Melendez wrote: "The board of directors of the American Indian Genocide
Museum lends our support to change the Rum River's derogatory name to its sacred
name of Wahkon. This would be a just and honorable thing to do. We have struggled
for years to throw off the negative, stereotypical, and fictional image of Indians.
We, as American Indians, do find it offensive and disrespectful. One of the greatest
lessons adults can teach our children is the lesson of "Respect". We are not
people that have passed into history, we are still here. We must stress to our
children the importance of respecting our culture and those of others. It's our
heartfelt prayer that the City of Wahkon, Minnesota will be one of the first in
setting a precedence of doing the right thing."
Tom Wisner, a nationally renowned singer and song writer who is writing a song
in support of the effort to rename the Rum River, wrote:
"I am beginning to suspect that there is a deeper
connection between the concept of lake and water and
WAKAN than I ever experienced previously. Perhaps the
early Sioux had visions of water as the primary sacred
substance. I certainly share that experience and
vision. My song is about praise for the vision of the
sacred presence in all of creation.....and of the
possibility that this river MDOTE-MINI-WAKAN was
central to sustaining that praise through singing her
name. My approach to name change is subtle suggesting
that the power in a name and its usage has something
to do with maintaining the peace and sanity of a
The river is sacred to the Indians. White man changed the name to something really
really bad for the Indians;
Rum was actually deliberately used to kill Indians - sometimes the white invaders put
gunpowder in it, and/or
a lot more unhealthy stuff, and then traded it away. It was a way to either get rid of
them or to
make them dependent of you by addiction. Reason enough for a name change.
Wolf wrote: "I think names/places should be given by legal
rights to where they belong by whom they are entitled too. To long
the Indian has been disgraced, put down, killed and not honored; its
past time to take rightful place in everything; so put proper names
where they belong."
David wrote: "Part of the healing process is to return to
the old ways as much as possible which includes reinstating the natural names of
sacred sites where ever possible."
Pat wrote: I am a member of U.N.A., and will support you all the way Tom... Go for it, and
I will battle by your side.
Karen wrote: Of course the name of this "Rum River" should be
changed......Spirit River is more suitable. Mistakes made in the past should
now be corrected. And, it can be done. I would like to someday visit this
"Spirit River" previously known as Rum River.
Tom wrote: "Rum River" is a name that the colonizers gave
it NOT the indigenous people who have loved it all of these years. It should be
named by those who have truly cared for it and recognize it as a gift from the
Wendy Cruz wrote: Maybe I do not have the rights as many but since my father
was native, I feel I have the same to speak as others. It should be changed and
the name to mean something for all the native community.
Jon wrote: "I am all for this change. I have been very blessed to learn about
Native culture. I may not have much Native blood but I have a whole lotta Native
Spirit and I know that Native people were blessed to care for the land. How can a
people so connected to the land abide by an alcoholic name for a sacred river? WE
have seen all to clear the effects of alcohol on our Native brothers and sisters,
indeed all people. This name change, I see this as a pretty big deal. It would
help to undo the wrongdoings of the past and gets us on the track of Native
justice. I believe the Elders would want this to happen."
Nancy wrote: "I am sad that I grew up in this great country and do not
know the sacred places. I would like to see them recognized in their true
names and understand the stories behind their sacredness.
I believe starting with the renaming of Rum River is a good place to
Change the name of the Rum River! It is presently the name that the white man
gave the river. The name is/was a tool the white man used to render the Native Americans
incompetent in order to steal their land. It is an outrageous reminder of the
white man's evil perpetrations upon the Indian Nations.