A partnership with history

Published 6:45 am Saturday, May 4, 2019

As you may know, I came into my job as the Executive Director of a history organization without a history background. I jumped into the role assuming I could learn as I went along, and that has worked to some degree. However, I am grateful for statewide organizations that offer resources and support to local history organizations such as the HHH. I joined the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums (MALHM) to connect with other history professionals who could offer me guidance from their own experiences in the history field. I have also worked to familiarize myself with the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) as they offer resources to help with preservation, programming, and policy. I have relied on these two entities many times, and I have gained a complete new understanding and appreciation of why history is important.

Holly Johnson

Did you know that the Minnesota Senate recently voted to cut the funding for the Minnesota Historical Society because of their decision to recognize the history of the Dakota People at Fort Snelling by adding the word Bdote to their signage? The location of Fort Snelling is the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. In the Dakota language the site of the merging of these rivers is called Bdote. In response to the threat of the state government, MALHM has drafted the following statement:

“Public historians, like other professional fields, have a responsibility to examine all new evidence and data as well as reexamine existing scholarship as it relates to the study of the historical record and place. Acknowledging the depth and breadth of the historical record of place is not revisionist history or controversial; it is acknowledgement of the complexity for which that place represents. For most Minnesotans, Fort Snelling represents a military outpost. But for the Dakota, Bdote represents a place of cultural significance to their story. Through acknowledgement of Fort Snelling and Bdote on signage at this historic site, MNHS is not engaging in “revisionist history” or acting in a manner that is “highly controversial.” They are acknowledging that this place has significance for many different reasons and has more than one narrative that needs to be interpreted…”

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I still have a hard time calling myself a historian, but I am currently in my second year serving on the board of MALHM and will become Treasurer in June. Not only have I gained skills and insight that help me do my job, but I have become connected to a network of other historians who are working NOT to revise history, but to actually reveal more of it. It is our job to tell the stories that were written in the past. I hope you will pay attention to the state’s decision to penalize the Minnesota Historical Society for telling the stories, and reach out to your elected officials to encourage them not to support this funding reduction.

For more information visit www.mnhs.org or www.mnhistoryalliance.org.

What’s happening at the HHH

History Happy Hour: Austin’s Other Historic Homes

5:30 p.m. social, 6 p.m. presentation, Monday, May 13

Free for members of the Hormel Historic Home, Friends of the Library, or the Mower County Historical Society

Austin’s history was made by many people whose names we see around town or hear about in conversations of the past. In this presentation we will feature information about the Deckers, the Hirschs and Thomsons and the houses they called home.

2nd Annual King’s Wood Dinner

Saturday, May 18

Support Gerard Academy and the Hormel Historic Home by attending this dinner reminiscent of the luxurious King’s Wood Hotel and Night Club operated by Geordie Hormel. Live music. Tickets are $35 per person and are available at www.hormelhistorichome.org.