Come the second Monday in October, there will be no mention of Columbus Day in Red Wing, Minn. The City Council voted 4-2 last week to rename Columbus Day as Chief Red Wing Day. The city took its name from a succession of Mdewakanton Dakota chiefs named Hupahuduta, which translates into their symbol of leadership, “Wing of the Wild Swan Dyed Red.”

Unlike Minneapolis, which will simultaneously commemorate Columbus and Indigenous Peoples Day, Red Wing went completely with Chief Red Wing Day.

“I’ve studied enough history to realize we don’t need a holiday for Columbus,” said Red Wing Mayor Dan Bender, who voted for the change.

Christopher Columbus made it to Haiti and Cuba in 1492, not exactly discovering America, and returned the next year with an invasion force that led to slavery and genocide for millions of native people in the new world.

Social studies teacher Scott Bender, no relation to the mayor, pushed for the change and reached out to the Prairie Island Indian Community tribal council, which suggested the Chief Red Wing Day idea.

Curt Brown @stribcbrown



Prom Breathalyzer dropped

Perham High School students won’t need to pass a Breathalyzer to get into their prom this weekend, after protests from the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.

“We realized it was a constitutional gray area,” said Perham-Dent Superintendent Mitch Anderson, who saw the tests as one more tool in the school’s prom-safety arsenal, along with alcohol education and a mock crash scene for students last week.

The ACLU fired off a letter to the district last week, warning that pre-emptive screening could violate students’ Fourth Amendment rights.

“You imply that students are guilty until proven innocent instead of innocent until proven guilty,” the ACLU’s Charles Samuelson wrote.

Anderson said the ACLU letter was the first objection anyone had raised.

“There hasn’t been an uproar here,” he said. “Never in our minds did we think about violating civil liberties or anything like that.”

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks



Cheerleading vote reversed

Two weeks after cutting cheerleading, the Hermantown school board undid its decision, reinstating funding for the high school squad.

The reversal followed outcry from disappointed students and parents who packed the small room for the Monday night vote. More than 900 people signed an online petition arguing that the cheerleading program “has been a major positive influence in a countless number of young girl’s lives.”

The board had unanimously cut the program’s $2,500 price tag as part of $263,000 in reductions that included two elementary school teacher positions. On Monday, the board voted 4-2 to reinstate the cheer funding.

Board chairman Greg Carlson was one of the two “no” votes. “I felt that it’s a bad precedent to set — that it’s OK to cut in the classroom but it’s not OK to cut extracurricular activities,” he said by phone. “The community just has to fill up the boardroom, and the board will reinstate it.”

Hermantown students cheered the move. A Facebook page dedicated to bringing the program back noted: “SO PROUD AND HAPPY!!!!!!”

Jenna Ross @ByJenna


St. Cloud

Daily flights start

Daily nonstop flights from St. Cloud to Chicago will take off Tuesday.

The new service between the St. Cloud Regional Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport starts with a ceremony and inaugural flight at 12:30 p.m.

It’s historic, said Mayor Dave Kleis, who will be on board. “St. Cloud has never had daily nonstop service outside of Minnesota — ever,” he said.

Jenna Ross @ByJenna