GOP candidate Liz Bishop opposes renaming Starved Rock

Opponent Murri Briel also questions IDNR proposal

Liz Bishop candidate for the 76th District speaks during a candidate forum on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024 at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby.

A local candidate for state representative is against renaming Starved Rock State Park.

Liz Bishop of Peru, the Republican nominee for the 76th House District – which is held by outgoing state Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa – issued a statement Wednesday formally opposing any proposal to rename Starved Rock.

“Starved Rock State Park is a local treasure and a historical beacon that sheds light on the complex interactions among Native American tribes that once inhabited our region,” Bishop said. “The suggestion to rename this park based on unverified assumptions and a limited perspective ignores the broader context of Native American history and heritage, which deserves to be recognized and respected – not erased.”

As previously reported, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources issued a statement confirming that the state “in consultation with Tribal leaders and Illinois residents will explore more appropriate names for some of our parks and sites.”

IDNR soon issued a follow-up statement saying: “There are no immediate plans for any name changes at Starved Rock or any other site. Conversations and proposals will occur over time.”

Nevertheless, Bishop said she has fielded calls and was approached on the campaign trail by concerned constituents. Bishop said the debate around the park’s name “arose from a misinterpretation of historical events and a lack of broad consensus among community members, including local Native American groups.”

“For a park that has suffered from decades of maintenance neglect due to state budget constraints, these funds could be far better allocated toward urgent repairs and enhancements that ensure safety and accessibility for all visitors,” she said.

Bishop said she is calling on community leaders, historians and all Illinois residents to stand against the renaming of historical sites without thorough consideration and respect for the true historical context.

The issue isn’t going away, but it might not turn into a campaign issue, insofar as Bishop’s opponent also expressed misgivings about the name change.

Shaw Local News Network reached out to Democratic nominee Amy “Murri” Briel of Ottawa, and she issued a statement raising concerns.

“While we are sure these efforts are well-intentioned, this is not an issue that has ever been raised by local Native Tribal members to my knowledge,” Briel said. “Rather, the issue of renaming Starved Rock seems to have bureaucratic roots, spearheaded by nonstakeholders who do not understand the sheer scale of an undertaking like this nor the kind of upheaval it would bring to the local community and its economy.

“People around here – both Native and non-Native – revere the land and history of Starved Rock State Park. Countless businesses and organizations have built their identity around their proximity to Starved Rock with the understanding of how important it is to the people who actually live here, as well as to the people from around the world who come to visit every year. It’s not as simple as just renaming something. Doing this would have multimillion-dollar ramifications and could ultimately end up damaging this community more than it helps.”

Democratic candidate Amy Murri Briel, who is vying for the nomination for the 76th district seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, answers a question Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in a meet the candidates forum at the DeKalb Public Library. Democratic candidates Cohen Barnes and Carolyn Zasada also spoke at the event organized by DeKalb Stands and co-sponsored by the DeKalb County Democrats.
Have a Question about this article?