Wednesday, May 15, 2013
the Minneapolis City Council acknowledges the ethnic cleansing of the Dakota
This year is the 150th anniversary of the massacre and driving out of Dakota Indians from Minnesota, the so-called "Dakota-US War of 1862." See here.
The City Councils of Minneapolis, of St. Paul and of Redwood City have each declared this year "the Year of the Dakota in Minnesota." Their resolutions and who voted for them are below.(h/t Chris Mato Nunpa, Tink Tinker).
The Minneapolis resolution states: "Whereas, the year 2012 is the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862 that led to the mass execution of 38 Dakota, the largest in the history of the United States, and the genocide of the Dakota people..."
The Redwood City and Minneapolis resolutions speak forthrightly of the trauma inflicted on indigenous people.
In addition, the forgetfulness of the American population about genocide is also a trauma or a matter of ptsd, echoed today in wretched aggressions toward nonwhite people. America boasts of being peaceful toward other democracies, while it overthrows or undermines those of nonwhite peoples (some 15 coups against nonwhite democracies during and after the Cold War). Even Obama sends the drones to murder nonwhite civilians, sometimes including American citizens, in countries against which America has not declared war (Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan)...
Jordan Pacheco, a social and political theorist and Ph.D. student in Social Work at the University of Denver, hails from southern (non-DC) Virginia. When she was growing up, she would be driven to visit her grandmother along Robert E. Lee highway, or for trips, along Jefferson Davis highway. She was taught in school "about the war of Northern aggression."
There is no road for Harriet Tubman or John Brown or Martin Luther King...
In the South, the Confederacy and slaveholding are largely remembered by the power holders, the genocidal character of slavery forgotten until nearly this moment. In January of this year, the City Council of Memphis courageously passed resolutions renaming the awful Jefferson Davis Park and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park (the slave-trader who founded the Ku Klux Klan)...
In Mississippi, the state legislature just now - after 148 years - ratified the 13th Amendment that cleans up the American Constitution.
The intense Founding Myth of the United States is palpable in Jordan's childhood experience and in the experience of everyone who deals with the South and the United States until now...
But what I have named a Founding Amnesia of America has been even more pervasive in Minnesota.
In Mankato, the scene of Abraham Lincoln's hanging of 38 Dakota men, the largest military hanging in American history, there was only a statue of Pocahantas, not one of a single Dakota, not one of those driven off the land...
The statue of Pocahantas has about as much relation to the ethnic cleansing of Minnesota as Columbus' naming of "Indians" - the predator thought he had reached India - has to do with his first genocide in Hispaniola.
But the City Councils of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Redwood City now name this history, bring it out from under the veil of forgetfulness. This is an important democratic action, something that begins to acknowledge the wretchedness of the American past, something that promises a future in which all the citizens of the United States can live together decently.
And if we can live together decently, perhaps we can begin to deal with America's murderousness and oppression in "Indian country" abroad as a Colonel in Iraq addressed it to his soldiers before the American aggression there. See here. Perhaps we can begin to abate this madness and deal also with the American role in climate change where American "forgetfulness," engineered by the oil companies and contained in the pages of the New York Times - see the front page article from Saturday "Carbon dioxide passes long feared milestone" here for this, in the Times unusual, frightening story - is likely to make the planet uninhabitable for much of humanity in this century.
May this be a year of truth telling in Minnesota, in Denver and throughout the country...
CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS
By Lilligren, Gordon, Reich, Hofstede, Johnson, Samuels, Goodman, Glidden, Schiff, Tuthill, Quincy, Colvin Roy, and Hodges.
Recognizing the 150th Anniversary of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862 and Declaring 2012-2013 the Year of the Dakota in Minneapolis.
Whereas, the year 2012 is the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862 that led to the mass execution of 38 Dakota, the largest in the history of the United States, and the genocide of the Dakota people; and
Whereas, much has yet to be learned about issues revolving around land, reparations and restitution, treaties, genocide, suppression of American Indian spirituality and ceremonies, suppression of Indigenous languages, bounties, concentration camps, forced marches, mass executions, and forcible removals; and
Whereas, Indigenous women, children and elderly were held in a concentration camp at the base of Fort Snelling, separated from the men, before being exiled to reservations in neighboring states and Canada, and later being stripped of their culture and traditions in boarding schools and subjected to white culture and religions; and
Whereas, the complete history of Minnesota must be taught from the perspective of all people that have lived it;
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by the City Council of The City of Minneapolis:
That every effort must be made to ensure that the Dakota perspective is presented during the year 2012-2013, through discussions at forums, events, symposia, conferences and workshops, to include the complex issues listed above;
Be It Further Resolved that the City of Minneapolis works to promote the well-being and growth of the American Indian community, including Dakota People.
Be It Further Resolved that these efforts during the years 2012 and 2013 will mark the beginning of future dialogues and efforts to rectify the wrongs that were perpetrated during, and since, the year 1862, a tragic and traumatic event for the Dakota People of Minnesota.
Be It Further Resolved that the year 2012-2013 is hereby designated “The Year of the Dakota: Remembering, Honoring, and Truth-Telling,” from December 26, 2012 to December 26, 2013.
Passed December 14, 2012
Barbara Johnson, President
Minneapolis City Council
R. T. Rybak, Mayor
Casey Carl, City Clerk
For news stories on the St. Paul resolution - the latter names the aggression more than this coverage - see here and here