West St. Paul and Mendota Heights residents are being asked to choose among five options for the renaming of Henry Sibley High School.

Residents of the Independent School District 197 have until 5 p.m. June 11 to complete a survey online asking for their impressions on each name. The district also stretches into nearby Eagan, where residents are also being surveyed.

The school names being considered include:

  • Two Rivers High School.
  • Hillside High School.
  • Mni Sota High School.
  • West Heights High School.
  • Ohoda High School.

“Over 2,600 comments have been submitted as of right now,” Carrie Ardito, the director of communications for the Independent School District 197 said. One question in the survey allows residents to suggest names for the school in Mendota Heights.

All those names must abide by the board’s established criteria, which state, “Facilities names may reflect geographic locations, topographical character, or prominent persons of regional, state or national repute. When considering persons of regional, state or national repute, the following will be considered: 1. Demonstrates good character 2. Has made significant contributions or achievements.”

The process began on June 15, 2020, when a past graduate raised the issue at a board meeting.

Henry Sibley, a fur trader, was an early settler in territorial Minnesota and later became the state’s first governor. He also served as a military leader in the state.

The Minnesota Historical Society and American Indian Cultural Liaison detailed Sibley’s controversial past at a board meeting a few months later.

During the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, Sibley led 1,200 troops against the Dakota people in Minnesota and pursued them into neighboring states the following year on a series of “punitive expeditions.”

School leaders decided in early December to formally change the name. A committee was formed in March of 2021 and had been meeting regularly.

The district didn’t explain the reasoning behind each of the five names being surveyed, but the district website links to a West St. Paul Reader article offering rationales that include geography like nearby hills to the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, Mni Sota a Dakota phrase meaning where two waters come together, Ohoda being a Dakota word meaning respect, and West Heights a combination of parts of West St. Paul’s and Mendota Heights’ names.

There is no consensus on any name, school officials said. The release of the results will be released after the survey’s complete.

The school board could consider a new name for the high school as early as June 21.

Residents can find the survey on the district’s website: https://www.isd197.org/.