Thank you to everyone who has read the blog this year. For 2016, we have had nearly 44,000 views, a big jump from 2015.
Here are the 2016 highlights, followed by a reflection on empathy and truth telling for 2017.
Here are some of 2016’s top blogs, by the readership numbers provided by WordPress.
The most read posts for 2016 concerned the growing number of religious organizations repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery. (The Doctrine refers to the religious and legal justification used by Europe’s colonial powers to claim lands occupied by indigenous peoples, seize their property and forcibly convert or enslave them.)
- Presbyterian Church USA Joins Growing List of Denominations Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery (July 27), had more than 14,000 views.
- Lutheran Church (ELCA) Moves Towards Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery; Native Leaders Meet Pope (May 11) and ELCA Repudiates the Doctrine of Discovery, Next Up: Mennonite Church USA (Aug. 11) together had more than 3,600 views.
Two well read blogs highlighted historical injustices to Native Americans.
- This Day in History: Winnebago Removal Act and the Little Known History of the ‘Knights of the Forest’ (Feb. 21) had nearly 1,500 views and
- Swindling Dakota Prisoners: Franklin Steele and the Fort Snelling Concentration Camp (June 28) had more than 1,200 views.
We also covered current issues.
- Media Disappoints in Covering Prairie Island’s Nuclear Waste Challenge (July 15) got more than 1,400 views.
We had many posts on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The number of views doesn’t tell the whole story. For instance, Gov. Dalrymple’s Op/Ed on DAPL Offers Finger Pointing Instead of Leadership (Dec. 18) only had 100 views, and (Feb. 19) only had 11. They were still important to write.
Reflections on Empathy and Truth Telling for 2017
It is my hope to increase the blog’s visibility in 2017, increase its impact, and promote discussion.
A quick digression. In a recent effort to increase readership, I resorted to paying Facebook the $5 fee to “boost” a post.
I chose to boost A Win for North Dakota’s Three Affiliated Tribes, A Loss for Leadership in North Dakota. It was a story about how the federal government had seized — then flooded — Native lands in western North Dakota in the 1950s as part of a flood control project to protect larger cites downstream on the Missouri River. Now some 70 years later, the government was finally fulfilling a promise to return excess lands it took but didn’t need for the project.
The intention of the blog was to increase empathy for the Native American experience. Surely people could empathize with the Three Affiliated Tribes and their desire to have their land returned to them after all these years. Anyone in their position would want the same for their family.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, but “boosting” the blog brought new readers and a few hostile responses. Here was the most bizarre:
“Mob rule. But it will be overturned and justice will prevail. Let’s hope the terrorists will go to jail. Religious fanatics like ISIS and the pipeline protestors will eventually be defeated and good will prevail.”
Now the first thing to point is the blog had nothing to do with the pipeline. The reader apparently didn’t bother to read the blog. I’m guessing he read as far as “North Dakota” and “Native Americans,” decided it was a “pipeline” story, and got very angry. (The second thing to point out is that — if this was a blog about the pipeline — it is law enforcement and the pipeline security guards, not the water protectors, who have used force and fear as weapons.)
To be honest, it is hard for me to find empathy for people who make comments like the one above, which seem to me to be uninformed and hurtful. That is part of my work for the coming year.
Obviously, there is a lot of work to do to create empathy in this world, all around. At the same time, we must not fail to tell the truth about the injustices — about the flooding of Native lands, about excessive force, about the historic misdeeds of the Knights of the Forest, the land swindles, all of it.
We need to hold both truth telling and empathy together.
To that end, Healing Minnesota Stories will continue with our founding idea — that we believe in the healing power of stories. Stories heal because they make invisible pain visible. The healing goes two ways, from the listener to the storyteller, and from the storyteller to the listener. Hearing each others personal stories, instead of political platitudes, can help create empathy.
It is an incredible powerful message of hope for the New Year. Sharing stories is such an easy thing to do. Stories changes how we see the world. They break down stereotypes. We need to continue to tell stories, and do it in a way that opens hearts.
Happy New Year.
If you are so moved, please encourage friends to follow the blog and share posts that inspire you. Feel free to send your stories, comments, blog ideas and reflections our way. We always are trying to improve the blog. Email firstname.lastname@example.org