Indian State of the Union: Progress and Problems; Lecture on Early Dakota Missionary at Lake Harriet

Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) gave the Indian State of the Union address this week, with a message of both Native American progress as well as continuing problems. (The NCAI is the oldest and largest organization “serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.”) His address came on the heals of President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

Media coverage of Cladoosby’s speech included Indian Country Today’s article: Progress and Promise in Indian Country: NCAI’s 2016 State of Indian Nations Address, and MinnPost’s article: For America’s Indian nations, an alternative State of the Union and nationally. According to the Indian Country Today article, he said:

“… we have not disappeared, and we are not victims. We have persevered. We are survivors and we are growing stronger every day. We are thriving 21st century governments, built on self-determination. Yes, our ancestors were central to America’s early days. But we are also central to America’s present – and vital to its future.”

In his speech, Cladoosby made several specific requests to Congress, including reauthorization of the Tribal Law and Order Act, the elimination of dual taxation in Indian Country, and reauthorization of Special Diabetes Programs for Indians. Following the Climate Summit in Paris, he called on world leaders to collaborate with tribal leaders to create a permanent Climate Adaptation Task Force.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, gave the Congressional response. (McCollum also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds Native American schools and other initiatives.)

According the MinnPost story, McCollum “affirmed what she called a bipartisan commitment in Congress to respect tribal sovereignty and give tribes the resources they need to solve their problems.” She also said: “more needs to be done to bolster existing law with regard to tribal sovereignty, especially on child welfare, hunting and fishing rights, and land trust issues.”

Lecture on Early Missionary at Lake Harriet

The Pond Dakota Heritage Society is hosting a lecture this Sunday on the Rev. Jedediah D. Stevens. Stevens was an early missionary with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) who in the 1830s set up his mission near the site that is now the Lake Harriet pavilion.

The lecture will be Sunday, Jan. 17, 2:00-4:00 p.m., at Pond Dakota Heritage Society, (in the city of Bloomington, south of the intersection of 104th Street East and Clinton Avenue South. Here is a map.)

According to the invite: Independent researcher Linda Louise Bryan will focus on Rev. Stevens’ association with the ABCFM, his personal background, a stint in the Ojibwe country, and his early years in the Fort Snelling area. Mrs. Bryan is a member of La Compagnie HSP, a Minnesota-based organization that presents fur trade history in public venues. Suggested donation $2, youth through high school free.

For more background, here is an excerpt from the book: Conflicted Missions: Faith, Disputes and Deception on the Dakota Frontier, by Linda M. Clemmons, 2014, Minnesota Historical Society Press:

The story of Minnesota’s development as a territory and state cannot be told without reference to the ABCFM missionaries. The missionaries were among the first Euro-American settlers in the region and paved the way for further settlement. Although other missionary organizations proselytized to the Dakotas in the antebellum era — including representatives from the Methodist, Catholic, and Episcopalian churches —  the ABCFM organization was the best funded and had the largest sustained presence in Minnesota prior to the War of 1862.


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