WASHINGTON — The U.S. government is one step closer to reinstating the traditional name for a national wildlife refuge in North Dakota after the Senate passed legislation Thursday, Nov. 14.
The chamber approved a bill, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., that would change the name of Sullys Hill National Game Preserve to White Horse Hill National Game Preserve, honoring the heritage of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation, which encompasses the preserve. In the Dakota language, “White Horse Hill” translates to “Sunka Wakan Ska Pa Ha.”
“This may seem small, but it is no small issue to the people of Spirit Lake,” Cramer said in remarks on the Senate floor. The bill is the first of Cramer’s to pass since he was elected.
“This action by our committee will help to ensure that the Spirit Lake Tribe’s story of the white stallion will be ingrained in our nation’s history for years to come,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. “Quite simply, this is the right thing to do.”
More than a century ago, Congress passed legislation to name the preserve after U.S. Gen. Alfred Sully, who gained notoriety for committing several massacres against Native Americans, including one of the deadliest in North Dakota’s history, according to a news release from Cramer's office.
In May, members of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council signed a resolution to Congress in support of the legislation that would change the name. In the House of Representatives, Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., has introduced identical legislation.
Another House bill, known as the Remove the Stain Act, seeks to revoke the 20 Medals of Honor given to U.S. soldiers for committing the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota. But the legislation remains in the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and a similar bill hasn’t been introduced on the Senate side.