Statement from the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums Regarding the Minnesota Senate’s Proposed Funding Cut to the Minnesota Historical Society
This week, the Minnesota Senate passed an appropriations bill that would reduce funding for the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) by $4 million dollars annually. This level of funding loss could result in as many as 80 of our colleagues being laid off, reduced hours at historic sites, potential closure of historic sites, and reducing the number of education programs that MNHS can provide to students across the state. We strongly disagree with this reduction and feel that full funding should be restored to MNHS.
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 for visitors to understand those significances. By definition, this is doing good history work. This is the craft of the public historian.
We ask our elected officials to reexamine this decision and restore full funding to MNHS so they can continue to do their work as public historians and aid all Minnesotans in better understanding the great state that we call home from all perspectives.
For resources on how to contact your legislator to show support for fully funding MNHS, please visit our advocacy page.