ST. PAUL – State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, recently was appointed Minnesota’s official state representative to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He and other commission members hosted a news conference Monday, revealing plans to recognize Lincoln during the upcoming year.
The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission was created by the U.S. Congress to plan observances and events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth on Feb. 12, 2009. A number of other preliminary goals and projects established by the newly formed Minnesota commission were discussed at Monday’s gathering. Urdahl said school curriculum pertaining to Lincoln, a potential documentary portraying Lincoln and Minnesota Indians, as well as Capitol observances are some of the things being explored.
Urdahl is an avid historian but even he wasn’t aware until very recently that a federal law still exists which removed Dakota and Winnebago Indians from Minnesota. He said he will explore –
apart from the commission – repealing that legislation after consultation with Minnesota Indians.
“I was surprised to find out we never officially took that law off the books at the federal level,” Urdahl said. “This law has been in place for nearly 150 years and, even though it is no longer in practice, we’re going to ask that it be repealed.”
Urdahl has appointed a handful of commission members, including University of Minnesota historians Hy Berman and Ann Pflaum; former Minnesota Historical Society director Russell Fridley; State Rep. Paul Gardner, D-Shoreview; David Kelliher of the Minnesota State Historical Society; and Lynn Genter of the Minnesota Council of Social Studies Teachers.
Dean Urdahl represents District 18B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes most of Meeker County and a portion of Wright County. This is Urdahl’s third term in the legislature after being elected in 2002, 2004 and 2006.