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June 4, 2008

Healing the painful wounds of a genocide in Minnesota

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The Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commissioners have
acknowledged that Minnesota committed ethnocide and
genocide against Native Americans during its early history.

“Minnesotans pride themselves today on living in a
state that is forward-thinking and compassionate. We
have become a haven for refugees from countries where
genocide still occurs. We recoil at the holocausts of
World War I and II, and the more recent acts of
savagery in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.”

 

“Yet we remain either unaware of or unable to look at
our own history and acknowledge the painful wounds of
ethnocide and genocide right here in Minnesota. We
have a very hard time acknowledging that the pain
remains and that it has affected much of our history
thru to the present day.”

 

“Minnesota is home to 11 Tribal Nations. Tribes from
Canada, the Dakotas, and Nebraska and elsewhere, and
tribal members here in Minnesota and others are coming
together to participate in ceremonies of
reconciliation, such as that in Winona in May during
Statehood Week, thanks to the efforts of native
peoples and non-native peoples working together for
many years hosting such gatherings to bring about
education and awareness.”

 

When Minnesotans become aware of or able to look at
their own history and acknowledge the painful wounds
of ethnocide and genocide right in their own state
they will be inspired to go through a radical social,
political and religious transformation. A peaceful
cultural revolution will occur and Minnesotans will be
changed for the better. And this will help to heal the
Dakota Oyate’s painful wounds caused by ethoncide and
genocide.

 

Leonard Wabasha, a hereditary chief of the Dakota and
director of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota)
Community Cultural Resource Department, invited me to
address the Dakota tribal leaders and governmental
officials during the May 16th reconciliatory ceremony
in Winona.

 

During the reconciliatory ceremony, I spoke about the
15th century papal bull [Inter Caetera]. A papal bull
which was primarily responsible for Minnesota’s
ethnocide and genocide against the Dakota Oyate.

 

A movement to revoke the papal bull has been ongoing
for a number of years. It was initiated by the
Indigenous Law Institute in 1992. At the Parliament of
World Religions in 1994 over 60 indigenous delegates
drafted a Declaration of Vision.

 

It reads, in part: “We call upon the people of
conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade
Pope John II to formally revoke the Inter Caetera Bull
of May 4, 1493, which will restore our fundamental
human rights. That Papal document called for our
Nations and Peoples to be subjugated so the Christian
Empire and its doctrines would be propagated. The U.S.
Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. McIntosh 8 Wheat 543
(in 1823) adopted the same principle of subjugation
expressed in the Inter Caetera Bull. This Papal Bull
has been, and continues to be, devastating to our
religions, our cultures, and the survival of our
populations.” (ref.2)

 

I am on a mission to restore the fundamental human
rights of Indigenous peoples. (ref. 3)
Colorado is the first state to admit genocide against
our nation’s indigenous peoples. The Colorado
Legislature passed a resolution Wednesday April 30,
2008 comparing the deaths of millions of American
Indians to the Holocaust and other acts of genocide
around the world.

 

The resolution says Europeans intentionally caused
many American Indian deaths and that early American
settlers often treated Indians with “cruelty and
inhumanity.” Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, a
Comanche Indian, said: “Colleagues, this resolution is
a recognition that up to 120 million indigenous people
have died as a result of European migration to what is
now the United States of America.” (ref. 4)

 

References can be found at:
http://www.towahkon.org/Minnesotagenocide.html

 

Thomas Dahlheimer
Director of Rum River Name Change Organization, Inc.
Wahkon, Minnesota

 

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