Henry Sibley High School board votes to move forward with name change process

The process to change the name of Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights is moving forward following a unanimous school board vote Monday.

According to Independent School District 197, the school board heard from Kevin Maijala and Dr. Kate Beane from the Minnesota Historical Society regarding the name. The board also heard from the district’s American Indian Liaison, Allicia Waukau Butler, on the perspectives she gathered from American Indian families and students regarding the school name at a board meeting on Nov. 16.

School administration will now be tasked with developing a process for creating a new name for the school which may include changing the logo and mascot as well.

The criteria for selecting a new name was laid out in policy 801.1 which states that facilities names may reflect geographic locations, topographical character, or prominent persons of regional, state or national repute. When considering persons of repute, they should be considered for demonstrating good character and making significant contributions or achievements.

Joanne Mansur, school board chair, issued the following statement after the name change Tuesday:

"I believe Board Member Stephanie Levine captured it best at last night’s meeting when she said, ‘I want to be clear that a name change in no way erases history, and students should continue to learn about the complex legacy of Henry Sibley and the Native inhabitants on whose land we now live. His legacy should be studied and remembered, but not honored with the name of our high school.’"

We look forward to working closely with our students, staff, and community to determine a new name for our high school that represents our community and its values."

Henry Hastings Sibley, the namesake of Sibley County, was the first Governor of the state of Minnesota.

Sibley’s role in the 1862 U.S.-Dakota war remains controversial.