North Woods Students Create New Capitol Art! … And This Day in History

Students at North Woods School in Cook, MN have just completed their  version of Healing Minnesota Stories lesson plan: “Indians in Public Art Project: Myths and Misconceptions” — they learned about the art currently in the Minnesota State Capitol and some of its negative stereotypes and hidden messages. Then they created alternative Capitol art of their own.

This Day in History: Landmark Supreme Court Case Recognizes an Indian as a Person

May 12, 1879: Standing Bear v. Crook–First, some quick context. Standing Bear and the Ponca tribe had agreed to be relocated from their lands in Nebraska, but while they thought they were going to the Omaha Reservation, the government was moving them to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). The Poncas were poorly treated during their relocation; they arrived in Oklahoma too late to plant crops that year. The government failed to provide them with the farming equipment it had promised.

In 1878 they moved south, to what is the present-day Ponca City, Oklahoma. By spring, nearly a third of the tribe had died due to starvation,  malaria and related causes. Among the dead were Standing Bear’s son. Standing Bear and 65 followers traveled north to Nebraska so he could bury his son on their traditional lands, where he had promised.

People at the Omaha Reservation welcomed the Ponca as relatives. Yet when the government learned of their arrival, Brigadier General George Crook was sent to arrest them for having left their Indian Territory reservation. With the aid of a pro bono attorney, Standing Bear sued to stay.

According to Wikipedia:

As the trial drew to a close, Judge Dundy announced that Chief Standing Bear would be allowed to make a speech in his own behalf. Raising his right hand, Standing Bear proceeded to speak. Among his words were, “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain,” said Standing Bear. “The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”

On May 12, 1879, Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that “an Indian is a person” within the meaning of habeas corpus. He stated that the federal government had failed to show a basis under law for the Poncas’ arrest and captivity.

It was a landmark case, recognizing that an Indian is a “person” under the law and entitled to its rights and protection.

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