Art Exhibit; Upcoming Films; Attack Dogs; and This Day in History

Sinew: Female Native Artists of the Twin Cities

A new art exhibit is opening called Sinew: Female Native Artists of the Twin Cities, aimed at “increasing the visibility and recognition of the strength, vigor, power, and resilience of Native American women and their important contribution to the arts, our communities, our families, and our world.”

The exhibit is being shown at Artistry, 1800 West Old Shakopee Road in Bloomington. They will have an opening reception Friday, Feb. 12 from 6-8 p.m.  They will hold a panel discussion Tuesday, March 1, at 7 p.m. Artist Dyani White Hawk Polk curated the show. The exhibit has works by Carolyn Lee Anderson, Julie Buffalohead, Andrea Carlson, Elizabeth Day, Louise Erdrich, Heid Erdrich, and Maggie Thompson.

Upcoming Films

On Saturday, February 6, come see a documentary showing of Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code, followed by Q&A with Director Sheldon Wolfchild. The screening starts at 1:30 p.m. and is hosted by Messiah United Methodist Church, 17805 County Rd 6, Plymouth (just west of Highway 101). The event is free and open to the public.

On Monday, February 15, the Augsburg Native American Film Series invites you to a special screening of Bad Sugar, a section of the PBS series Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? focused on Native American communities.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will be held from 5-6 p.m. in Sverdrup Hall, Main Lobby, on the Augsburg campus. The screening begins at 6 p.m. in Science Hall Room 123. Join Donald Warne, (Oglala Lakota), MD, MPH Senior Policy Advisor to the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board for a post-film discussion.

Attacks Dogs: More Than Metaphor

The Discoverers and Civilizers Led to the Source of the Mississippi
The Discoverers and Civilizers Led to the Source of the Mississippi, Minnesota Senate Chambers

We have written about the Minnesota State Senate Chamber mural (above) several times. Notice the priest on the left holding out the cross at the Native man and woman. Behind him, a man restrains two attack dogs. The message seems unmistakable: accept Christianity or you will be attacked. The dogs in the painting seemed like a metaphor for violence.

Then we came across this item researching Solomon Stoddard, a Congregational Pastor for the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a major religious leader of his day. In the book American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World, David Stannard writes:

As late as 1703 [Stoddard] formally proposed to the Massachusetts Governor that the colonists be given the financial wherewithal to purchase and train large packs of dogs “to hunt the Indians as they do bears.” There were relatively few Indians remaining alive in New England at this time but those few were too many for the likes of [Cotton] Mather and Stoddard. “The dogs would be an extreme terror to the Indians,” Stoddard wrote, adding that such “dogs would do a great deal of execution upon the enemy, and catch many an Indian who would be too light of foot for us.”

The Wikipedia entry on Stoddard said in 1706, “Massachusetts passed an act for the raising of dogs to better secure the frontier borders.”

In the book Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide from Sparta to Darfur, Ben Kiernan wrote that Stoddard said dogs had helped Virginia prevail in its Indian Wars.

The use of the attack dog images in the Minnesota Senate Chamber is appalling. This image is a flagrant denial of Freedom of Religion. Removing this mural would take some work since the canvas is glued to the wall. Yet, it is possible to remove it, preserve it, and display it in a museum.

It seems increasingly likely that the Art Subcommittee appointed to make recommendations about Capitol art will not have the courage to recommend removing it. The Art Subcommittee meets tomorrow, Friday, to finish its preliminary report. We will see where it stands.

U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Rights Condemns the Doctrine of Discovery

On this day in history, February 4, 2010, the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Rights issued a report stating that the Doctrine of Discovery was a root cause of violation of indigenous peoples rights.  The following is a verbatim from the summary:

This preliminary study establishes that the Doctrine of Discovery has been institutionalized in law and policy, on national and international levels, and lies at the root of the violations of indigenous peoples’ human rights, both individual and collective. This has resulted in State claims to and the mass appropriation of the lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples. Both the Doctrine of Discovery and a holistic structure that we term the Framework of Dominance have resulted in centuries of virtually unlimited resource extraction from the traditional territories of indigenous peoples. This, in turn, has resulted in the dispossession and impoverishment of indigenous peoples, and the host of problems that they face today on a daily basis.

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