Reclaiming the Indigenous Identity of the “Jeffers” Petroglyphs; Criticizing Trump’s Use of “Pocahontas” as a Slur

Jeffers Petroglyphs (Wikimedia Commons)
Petroglyphs near Comfry, Minnesota. (Wikimedia Commons)

The “Jeffers Petroglyphs” are a collection of ancient carvings made by Native American ancestors more than 7,000 years ago in what is now southwestern Minnesota. As old as they are, they bear the name “Jeffers” because of a recent immigrant family that once owned the land.

The Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) is working on giving this site a more appropriate name and interpretation. This is part of a growing interest in recognizing the original inhabitants of this land, their contributions, and their original place names, such as restoring the Dakota name Bde Maka Ska to Lake Calhoun.

If you are interested in giving feedback on the Native American reinterpretation and renaming of the Petroglyphs, come to a MNHS event Saturday March 25, 1-4 p.m. near the Petroglyphs, 27160 County Road 2 in Comfrey. Let your voice be heard. (Comfrey is on the border of Brown and Cottonwood counties, about a 130 mile drive from Minneapolis.)

According to the Minnesota Historical Society:

We are committed to reinterpretation that showcases the importance of this special place. Our hope is that MNHS will better tell the story of the carvings and the people who made them. … All are welcome, this is a free event and food and beverages will be provided.

If you have questions about the project, please contact Katherine E. Beane (Flandreau Santee Sioux) Program and Outreach Manager, Native American Initiatives for MNHS, 651-259-3391.

Trump Taken to Task For Using “Pocahontas” as an Insult

President Trump’s use of the name “Pocahontas” as a derogatory term to refer to Sen. Elizabeth  Warren is drawing fire from the Native American commentators.

Several news outlets, including The Hill, reported on how Trump reportedly mocked Warren in a meeting with democratic senators, saying: “Pocahontas is now the face of your party.” (Trump frequently mocked Warren with that name while campaigning, because of Warren’s claim to having some Native American heritage.)

Indigenous Women Rise published a collective statement on Trump’s comments, demanding an apology to indigenous peoples. It was sent in an email from An email from Native Americans in Philanthropy. It read in part:

Reducing Native and Indigenous women and girls to one word, one name – Pocahontas – is a blatant act of racism….

As Indigenous women, we understand the harms of a colonial legacy that perpetuates and normalizes racism directed at Native and Indigenous women and girls. Indigenous communities have been historically stricken with harmful stereotypes, often reducing us to subhuman caricatures. However, as Indigenous Women we Rise to say, “Enough is enough!”

Congressman Ellison’s Position on DAPL

I wrote Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) about his position on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Here is an excerpt from the response I recently received.

One of my top priorities in Congress is to address climate change. …

We cannot drill our way out of our energy problems. …

In January, President Trump issued an order to expedite the review and approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a move that reversed the Obama Administration’s decision to further study the potential impacts of this pipeline. DAPL risks polluting the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers, which are critical sources of water for millions of people. We need a fair and thorough review of this project.

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