July 4 Reflection, a Petition, and News

The Declaration of Independence we celebrate today lays out the case justifying the colonies’ decision to break away from Great Britain. It lists many indictments against the King George III, the last of which is the following:

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

These are the same merciless savages that helped the earliest settlers survive, a fact we celebrate in November.

For a Native perspective on the Declaration of Independence, here is a 2014 piece from Indian Country Today titled: The Declaration of Independence—Except for ‘Indian Savages’ The article notes that: ” The Oneida Indian Nation in New York was the first proclaimed ally of the U.S., fighting in various pivotal battles while selflessly providing corn to George Washington’s starving troops at Valley Forge.”

In spite of most New England area tribes’ sincerest efforts to aid Americans, “Indian patriotism did not earn Indian people a place in the nation they helped create,” writes British American and Dartmouth Professor Colin G. Calloway in his book, The American Revolution in Indian Country: Crisis and Diversity in Native American Communities. “For Native Americans, it seemed the American Revolution was truly a no-win situation.”

He continued, “…The Stockbridge and their Oneida friends who had adopted the patriot cause found that republican blessings were reserved for white Americans.”

Petitioning the Pope to Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery

The Romero Institute is requesting signatures on a petition to Pope Francis to repudiate the papal bulls and the Doctrine of Discovery while he is in the United States this September. Go to http://www.romeroinstitute.org/projects/petition and add your name to the petition. The petition organizers are working on a way to deliver the petition to him in person while he is here.

Confederate Flag Debate Spurs Local Debate About Minnesota’s Controversial State Flag

In case you missed it, here is an Op/Ed that ran in the StarTribune titled: “As long as we’re discussing flags, what about Minnesota’s? It, too, may fail to reflect current sensibilities.” The image on the flag is the Minnesota State Seal, shown here. The article reads in part:

Minnesota State Seal, shown on State Flag
Minnesota State Seal, shown on State Flag

The pioneer/farmer is using a plow, a symbol of civilization. The white man is depicted as a “doer” who is entitled to the land, trees and water, empowered by the concept of Manifest Destiny. The Indian is the vacating tenant. A peaceful transition is suggested, but this ignores the tense and problematic history of conflict between European settlers and Indians, such as the complicated history of treaties and the Dakota War of 1862. More problematic, however, is the depiction of a racist, stereotyped Indian, who wears only a loin cloth and a feather. …

There have been voices of protests for this flag ever since the seal was first used. It is time that the state flag is revised, perhaps through a statewide design contest. While the current flag may represent a certain view and vision of the past, it does not reflect the values and sensibilities of Minnesotans today.

TPT’s Almanac Highlights the Capitol Renovation and Controversial Art

Almanac spent its entire show July 3 focusing on the ongoing capitol renovation. The video is available on line. Watch between the 42:00 and 44:45  minute mark where they talk about “emerging controversies.”

D. Stephen Elliott, director  and chief executive officer of the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), is interviewed, saying: “I have sat in the Governor’s Reception Room and I have to say it is not comfortable to sit in that room with leaders from the Dakota community and know that there are paintings in that room that really don’t reflect respectfully on Dakota history and heritage in our state.”

Elliott said the state is ready for a public dialogue about the art as part of the capitol renovation: “It will be good to have a discussion about what art remains in the Capitol or how it is interpreted and what can add so that it extends the story of Minnesota forward and fully reflects the rich diversity that is now our state.

Also, there is a brief interview with Dr. Anton Treuer, the executive director of the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University. He talks about the “absent narratives” in the capitol artwork. The art pieces with native imagery ” tend to romanticize or sugar coat some of the ugliest chapters in Minnesota history,” he said.

For more, see our blog’s Capitol Art blog page.

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