This Day in History, Feb. 6, 1850, a broken treaty sets in motion the Sandy Lake Atrocity

Minnesota leaders still disregarding treaties today

The Red Lake and White Earth nations are suing in the Minnesota Court of Appeals to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, arguing it violates their long-standing treaties with the U.S. government. The treaties of 1854 and 1855 guaranteed them the right to hunt, fish, and gather in lands they ceded, they say. Line 3 construction and future oil spills threaten those rights.

The state of Minnesota has turned a blind eye, approving Line 3 permits and allowing Enbridge to begin construction before courts resolve the treaty rights dispute. The failure goes all way up the ladder to Gov. Tim Walz.

It should come as no surprise. Minnesota was born of broken treaties.

On this day in history, Feb. 6, 1850, President Zachery Taylor signed an executive order that broke several treaties with the Chippewa. Taylor took that action at the behest of Minnesota’s Territorial Gov. Alexander Ramsey and other Minnesota leaders.

This executive order — and a corrupt scheme by Ramsey to advance his own financial and political fortunes — would lead to the deaths of 400 Chippewa people.

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News: David Smith’s death 10 years ago echoes George Floyd’s; key PolyMet decision expected Thursday, and more

In this blog:

  • Washington Post: How Minneapolis police handled the in-custody death of a Black man 10 years before George Floyd
  • WaterLegacy: Key PolyMet decision expected this Thursday, Sept. 3
  • The Intercept: Trump Supporters Rush to Defend One of Their Own Who Killed Protesters in Kenosha
  • The Koncow Maidu’s Trail of Tears in California

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Healing Minnesota Stories milestone: Blog tops 1,000 posts, please share with your networks

Healing Minnesota Stories Founder Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs leading a Sacred Sites Tour.

Last week, Healing Minnesota Stories’ blog passed a milestone, publishing its 1,000th post since we started writing in 2015. Below, we provide links to some of the best-read blogs.

Healing Minnesota Stories’ mission is to create dialogue, understanding, healing, and repair between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, particularly with those non-Indigenous people who belong to faith communities.

Since our organization launched in 2011, Healing Minnesota Stories Founder Jim Bear Jacobs became Program Director for Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches. The blog has followed suit, expanding its coverage of racial justice issues, such as the recent protests over George Floyd’s murder.

We have 377 followers so far. Please consider following the blog if you don’t already, and sharing it with friends and networks so we can expand our reach.

The blog’s main author is Scott Russell of Minneapolis, a volunteer with Healing Minnesota Stories. He can be reached by posting comments in the blog, or at scottrussell@usfamily.net.

Comments, criticisms, and questions always welcomed. Thanks for your support over the past five years! Continue reading

This Day in History, July 29, 1837: First major swindle of Ojibwe, Dakota lands in what would become Minnesota

On this day in history, July 29, 1837, the Ojibwe and Dakota signed the first treaties ceding significant amounts of their land to the U.S. government in what would become the state of Minnesota. White businessmen got the better end of the deals. Continue reading

This Day in History May 27, 2020: Menominee Tribe wins landmark case to preserve hunting and fishing rights in spite of official “termination”

In one of the more blatant examples of broken treaties, the United States tried to unilaterally end the existence of Tribal Nations and their treaty rights during what is known as the Termination Era. Forced assimilation policies spanned the 1940s to the 1960s.

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin was one of the first tribes officially terminated by an Act of Congress, and one that pushed back. On this day in history, May 27, 1968, the Menominee Nation won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case reestablishing its hunting and fishing rights, the first step in reestablishing its status as a sovereign nation. Continue reading

This day in history, May 15, 1905: U.S. Supreme Court upholds tribal sovereignty, sets important precedents for interpreting treaties

On this day in history, May 15, 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Winans v. United States, a case that set important precedents for how the Court would interpret treaty rights.

This case has echoes of the current debate in Minnesota over the proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline and its impact on the Anishinaabe people’s rights under the treaties of 1854 and 1855 to hunt, fish and gather on the lands they ceded to the United States.  Continue reading

This Day in History, May 4, 1863: The Dakota Exile

On this day in history, May 4, 1863, the U.S. government began deporting more than 1,100 Dakota people from their homelands, implementing federal legislation that exiled Dakota people from Minnesota following the Dakota-U.S. War. On May 4 and 5, steamships took more than 1,100 Dakota women, children, and elders from St. Paul to the newly created Crow Creek Reservation in the Dakota Territory. Continue reading

This Day in History: Supreme Court rules desecrating sacred site doesn’t violate First Amendment

On this day in history April 19, 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association that brought into focus the clash between the Western view of land as a resource to be mined, plowed or harvested and the Indigenous view of the earth as Mother and sacred. Today’s example comes from the U.S. Supreme Court case, decided this Continue reading

This day in history, April 7, 1866: Bois Forte Band forced into treaty to open land for Minnesota’s ‘Gold Rush’

History offers several examples of white settlers’ greed for gold and how it led to violence, disease, land theft, and genocide of Indigenous peoples, the California and Black Hills gold rushes being prime examples.

Less well know is that it happened in Minnesota, too. Reports of gold in northern Minnesota led state business and political interests to seek the U.S. government’s help in securing a treaty to force the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe to cede lands coveted by gold speculators and prospectors. That treaty was signed on this day in history, April 7, 1866.

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