Graff supports renaming Ramsey after Page

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated who was responsible for the decision to hang 38 Dakota men after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. President Abraham Lincoln made the decision, following trials by a U.S. Army commission.

Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff is supporting an effort to rename Ramsey Middle School after Alan Page, the former Minnesota Vikings player and Minnesota Supreme Court justice.

Graff wrote in a letter to Ramsey Principal Erin Rathke that he appreciates that the rename effort started with students and teachers “engaged in important learning.” He wrote that it was evident the student-leaders were motivated by a desire to make “real and lasting change through advocacy and public policy.”

“I trust they will continue to raise their voices, lead important conversations and navigate the world of policy that governs our institutions and our broader society,” Graff wrote. “This is the sort of engagement that makes Minneapolis Public Schools strong and reaffirms our values as a democratic society.”

Graff’s support means the name change will go before the School Board for a first reading in May and a vote in June.

The vote will wrap up a yearlong effort to rename the school, which students initiated at the beginning of this school year. The school community narrowed a list of potential new namesakes down to five earlier this year, and the school’s site council expressed support for three finalists: Page, Martha Ripley, a 19th-century physician, and the phrase Bde Ota, which means “many lakes” in the Dakota language.

The site council in their recommendation emphasized that Page was their top choice.

The school is named after one of Minnesota’s first governors, Alexander Ramsey, who has gained notoriety for his comments during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 calling for the extermination of the Sioux Indians in Minnesota. Ramsey also negotiated treaties with the Native Americans that forced them to cede almost all of their land in Minnesota and eastern Dakota.