Following Minneapolis, Seattle, and several other cities, the St. Paul City Council has designated Oct. 12 as “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Check out the coverage in the Pioneer Press and MinnPost, which noted that: “St. Paul will live in both worlds, as the council resolution says the city will recognize Indigenous People’s Day and continue to recognize Columbus Day as a state and federal holiday.”
The resolution was authored by all seven council members. It reaffirms “the City’s commitment to promote the well-being and growth of Saint Paul’s American Indian and Indigenous community.” It reads in part:
the City of Saint Paul recognizes the occupation of Dakota homelands for the building of our City and knows indigenous nations have lived upon this land since time immemorial and values the progress of our society accomplished through and by American Indian thought, culture and technology …
Among the resolutions, it says that
Indigenous Peoples Day shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people on this land, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that Dakota, Ojibwe, other Indigenous nations add to our city.
Division of Indian Work Seeks Volunteer Tutors
The Division of Indian Work of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches is seeking volunteers to tutor youth grades 1-12 on Monday and Tuesday evenings, 5-7 p.m. Volunteers need to attend an orientation and complete a background check. For more information, contact Rica Rivera, 612-279-6323, firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for more information.
This Day in History: Congress Creates the Indian Claims Commission
On August 13, 1946, Congress created the Indian Claims Commission. According to the National Indian Law Library:
The Commission … was created to hear claims of ‘any Indian tribe, band, or other identifiable group of American Indians’ against the United States. The Act provides broad grounds for recovery, including claims based on ‘unconscionable consideration’ for tribal lands … Claims not settled after 1978 were transferred to the Court of Claims.
According to the Wikipedia entry:
[The Claims Commission] was conceived as way to thank Native America for its unprecedented service in World War II and as a way to relieve the anxiety and resentment caused by the United States’ history of colonization of Indigenous peoples. Together with the law, the Commission created a process for tribes to address their grievances against the United States, and offered monetary compensation for territory lost as a result of broken federal treaties. However, by accepting the government’s monetary offer, the aggrieved tribe abdicated any right to raise their claim again in the future. On occasion, a tribe gave up federal recognition as part of the settlement of a claim.
The Commission published a 141-page final report on Sept. 30, 1978. According the report, tribes litigated more than 500 claims and won more than 60 percent. The report opens with a historical survey:
Indian Grievances, the Government, and the Court of Claims, 1831-1946
The bases of the Indian claims against the American Government were rooted in what has been referred to as the “largest real estate transaction in history.” As the Indian’s possessions receded, his claim surfaced. This element of American history flowered in the period from the close of the Civil War to the First World War and the “wrongs committed, or at least initiated by our public servants in that period give rise to most of the claims that we are trying to redress today.”
Historical precedent and national policy called for the United States to acquire this land by the legal forum of treaty-making and legislation rather than the simpler method of conquest and confiscation. The separate Indian tribes were considered as sovereign nations during the treaty-making period and in 370 treaties they negotiated away nearly two billion acres of North America, leaving themselves 140 million acres at the end of that period in 1868. …
By the 1890’s, the contest for America was over and its possession signed, sealed, and delivered. But, though the white man was contented with his record in these dealings, the Indian was not. One Western historian has noted that “it would be difficult, indeed, to find a land cession made by the Indians entirely of their own volition.” The American right to buy always superseded the Indian right not to sell. The white man’s superior power allowed this policy, and pro forma use of the treaty conformed to his Anglo-Saxon tradition and concern for the law. For the Indian the legality of it all was of little comfort.
The historical analysis offers the following conclusion:
The Commission may terminate but, in spite of the Congressional mandate that Indian claims arising prior to 1946 also terminate, they will persist. The future of the debate on land claims rests now in a more searching examination of the treaties and the intent of both participants. It also lies in how far the Indians are able to push their claims for land and how far the United States is willing to acknowledge them. Between these contending positions the treaties will be interpreted or reinterpreted, or even revoked, as the ripening climate of American opinion allows it to happen.
Click on the link above for the full report.