Stick to legislating

Ironically, there has been a Minnesota Historical Society since before there was a Minnesota. The MHS was established in 1849 by an act of the Minnesota Territory’s legislature, while the State of Minnesota was officially established in 1858.

For over 50 years, the MHS has overseen many of the state’s major historical sites, from Fort Snelling right down to the Harkin Store here in West Newton. They have been doing a good job of it, too.

Now, however, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate want the state to take over the management of the historic sites. Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, who embroiled the MHS in controversy four years ago by threatening to withhold $4 million in funding because the MHS included references to the Dakota people in some of the Fort Snelling signage, is now sniffing that the MHS “should not be embroiled in a huge amount of controversy. They should be keeping track of our history.”

We know whose history she’s talking about — the European settlers who laid claim to this land despite the tribes of indigenous people who already lived here and had their own names for the lakes, rivers and territories. Kiffmeyer apparently thinks nobody needs to know about them.

If the state is to take over the administration of the state’s historic sites from the non-profit Minnesota Historical Society, it will have to add more employees to the State Historic Preservation Office of the Department of Administration. Do Senate Republicans really want to grow the state government and add to the state’s budget so they can write our state’s history?

They should stick to legislating, at least until they prove they know how to do that.


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