Mary Kiiffmeyer suppressing votes instead of history - 2012 - Steve Timmer photo
by Steve Timmer
Jun 15, 2021, 10:00 PM

Mary Kiffmeyer, the Herodotus from Big Lake

Herodotus was the father of history; Mary is its mother

The June 15th edition of the Strib brought the latest Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, er, salvo in her debate with the editorial board over the ownership of history in Minnesota.

Kiffmeyer wants the state to take over historic sites — including Ft. Snelling — to protect the white version of Minnesota history.

After all, we are talking about state assets — places, buildings and land the state has chosen to invest in and protect for future generations. It is “our” history.

Of course, Kiffmeyer doesn’t mean “our” history; she means Kiffmeyer’s history, and that of her fellow travelers: Yankee Doodle history. To paraphrase Jesse Helms, Kiffmeyer believes that:

History used to be a good thing, but now it has gotten into the wrong hands.

Helms was talking about democracy, but it’s clearly the same idea.

Kiffmeyer seems to have gotten wind of Yankee-Doodle-history heresy a couple of years ago when she tried to stick a shiv in the Minnesota Historical Society for referring to the place where Fort Snelling is located as Bdote. (I really like the story at the link; I hope you will read it.) That’s a Dakota word. Kiffmeyer apparently finds it hard to believe that indigenous people lived at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers before Col. Snelling showed up.

If there weren’t any Indians here at the time, it’d be interesting to talk to Zebulon Pike to see who he talked to when he was here in 1805.

A Fort Snelling volunteer impression of a member of the Zebulon Pike expedition in 1805 – Steve Timmer photo

We named an island after ol’ Zeb (who met a sorry end in the War of 1812); the least we can do it acknowledge the people who lived there at the time and for a long time before that.

That would require, though, a small measure of generosity of spirit that Mary Kiffmeyer does not possess.


Update 6/16: This is just one battle in the war for history. Historical revisionism has been with us for a long time. Republicans are skilled practitioners.

Republican reaction to a failed palace coup – Avidor graphic

When “Bdote” was added to the identification of where Fort Snelling is located, Kiffmeyer and Sen. Scott Hansen accused the MHS of “historical revisionism.” The revisionism was actually earlier than that, when much of the indigenous people’s connection to the area was erased.

The MHS is making an earnest effort to correct that, but push back by the Yankee Doodle hysterics is utterly predictable.


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