State Sen. Sue Rezin calls to keep Starved Rock’s name

Senator files resolution opposing name change

This statue carved by Peter "Wolf" Toth in 1989 serves as a memory to Native Americans that have lived in the Starved Rock area for over 10,000 years on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 at Starved Rock Lodge. The IDNR recently issued a statement acknowledging that park names could be reconsidered, including renaming Starved Rock.

State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said Wednesday she opposes a proposal to change the name of Starved Rock State Park. She has filed a resolution in the Illinois Senate to keep the park’s name.

“While I recognize desires to create open dialogue on issues such as naming parks and places after Indigenous peoples and their legends, I believe that this well-intended but misguided proposal will result in more harm than good,” Rezin said in a Wednesday statement. “The Starved Rock name has become a treasured part of the local community’s identity and brand. There are far too many people who rely on the park’s nationally recognized name for their livelihoods.”

Rezin filed Senate Resolution 956 on Tuesday. The resolution “supports the name Starved Rock State Park and recognizes its importance to the local community and its brand identity,” according to the resolution summary available at

The resolution also “acknowledges the concerns raised by residents and local businesses regarding the potential renaming of Starved Rock State Park, and pledges to advocate for the preservation of the park’s historic name. [It also] encourages open dialogue and collaboration with relevant stakeholders, including Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities, to address concerns and explore ways to honor the park’s heritage while respecting diverse perspectives.”

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources issued a statement last month confirming that the names of some IDNR units are “harmful” and “perpetuate false narratives” to the public – “Starved Rock is one example of many” – and that the agency, “in consultation with Tribal leaders and Illinois residents,” would explore “more appropriate names for some of our parks and sites.”

The April proposal drew mixed responses from Native American activists. More recently, a petition drive opposing the name change was launched Monday in Utica, with opponents warning of economic fallout if the name is changed.

“It is vital that we honor the important history of Starved Rock State Park,” Rezin said in her Wednesday statement. “I truly believe that there is a path to accomplish that goal in a way that preserves the park’s iconic name while respecting the heritage of Indigenous people.”

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources issued a statement Wednesday in response to Rezin’s announcement.

“As we’ve said, there are no immediate plans for name changes at Starved Rock or any other site. Any conversations and proposals about renaming sites will be led by tribal partners, and IDNR will make every effort to ensure various constituencies are represented at the table, including residents, business owners, state lawmakers and others.”

State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) speaks as state Rep. Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa) looks on during a news conference Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023, in Springfield. Lawmakers on Thursday approved a proposal that would allow companies to develop new nuclear power generation in Illinois for the first time since 1987.
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