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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: It’s time to listen to other stories in this land

While graffiti can be jarring, the recent “genocide” marking on Minnesota's iconic Babe the Blue Ox statue next to Paul Bunyan offers a chance to reflect on what this cherished Minnesota story means and whether it's time to adopt a new story.

I am a fifth-generation Irish-Minnesotan and mother of two young adults who also call Minnesota their home. I grew up thinking of Paul Bunyan as a great hero. He represented strength and industry -- an industry that provided jobs and homes and much more for many of us in Minnesota. But not for all of us. Certainly not for our native hosts -- the Anishinaabe and the Dakota who have made their home in these lands far longer than those of us who are immigrants.

Paul and Babe, whose story is still told over and over in our schools and in public art displays, validates the conquering mentality and extends historic harm into today. Do we really want to continue to cause this harm? As global warming wreaks havoc on many industries in the state, we are also called to rethink how we might care for the earth. Paul, maybe it's time for you to set down your axe and pause. In this pause, let's listen to other stories in this land -- stories that promote the well-being of all Minnesotans and our precious land.

Nora Murphy, Minneapolis, is the author of "White Birch, Red Hawthorn," an historical memoir about the role her family has and continues to play in the genocide of native people in Minnesota.