Dakota High School’s name change honors indigenous culture

What was once known as Woodrow Wilson High school, is now known as Dakota High School.

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — Fargo Public Schools is celebrating one high school’s name change.

What was once known as Woodrow Wilson High school, is now known as Dakota High School.

An opening ceremony celebrating the name change honors Native Americans.

“This ceremony is about recognizing the roots of our name. We see North Dakota, we hear the term North Dakota and we just many times think of the state which was named after the territory, which was named after the original people of the land,” Dakota High School Principal David Burkman said.

“I’m very proud of Fargo Public Schools, the school board, and our superintendent for choosing this name, because this is historic for us here in North Dakota. The Dakota name is not being used for just namesake, but is also for the recognition of the Dakota people and the land,” Fargo Public Schools Indian Education Coordinator Melody Staebner said.

Some say the name change brings awareness to Native American culture.

“I think it is very healthy as we’re opening a new school name to look at our history and to celebrate and acknowledge that there was an original people here, that the land is named after the very state it’s named after,” said Burkman.

“By changing the name to Dakota High school, you are be being progressive and sharing that it’s important to be leaders in acceptance, knowledge and education,” said Chanda Joseph from the  Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Office.

One man who stands behind leading the movement to get the school’s name changed says he couldn’t be prouder.

“It was a stain on this community to honor a man like Woodrow Wilson and to replace it with a name that means welcoming, friendly, inclusion. So, the school district has made a great statement in changing the name from Woodrow Wilson High School to Dakota High School,” said Jim Shaw who help lead efforts for the name change.

The Dakota High School name was chosen through public input and a Fargo Board of Education final selection in December of last year.

Categories: North Dakota News