An informational session will be held Sept. 30 in Rochester to gather input on a possible change to the name of Historic Fort Snelling.
The session, hosted by the Minnesota Historical Society, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Saint Mary's University's Cascade Meadow facility. A change to the name of the 23-acre site is being considered in light of two major factors: a $34.5 million revitalization project scheduled to start in 2020, and the widening circle of historic information being provided at the site by the historical society.
In addition to U.S. Army experiences at the fort, programming at the site now includes information about Native Americans, civilians and the families of military personnel at the fort, enslaved and free African Americans who also lived there, and Japanese Americans who trained as language specialists at the post during World War II.
"We've received excellent feedback from visitors about the expanded programming we've developed," said Kent Whitworth, director and CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society.
The name of the fort structure itself, which occupies four acres of the site, will not change. The larger property, known officially as Historic Fort Snelling, includes additional buildings and a visitors center.
In 2017, the historical society added the phrase "at Bdote" to signs for Fort Snelling, reflecting what Native Americans who lived in the area for hundreds of years called the site. The signs caused confusion among the public. The information gathering sessions on any potential change or addition to the name of the site are apparently an attempt to clear up misunderstandings in advance.
In addition to Rochester, information gathering sessions will be held in Duluth, St. Cloud, Brooklyn Park, St. Paul and Redwood Falls.
Any changes to the name of the site would have to be approved by the state Legislature.
Cascade Meadow is at 2900 19th St. NW.