This Day in History (March 24, 1999): Mille Lacs Band Wins Landmark Treaty Rights Case at the U.S. Supreme Court

On this day in history, March 24, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa had the treaty-protected rights to hunt, fish, and gather on the lands the Band ceded to the U.S. government by the 1837 treaty.

This treaty has particular relevance today. Anihsinaabe bands (called either Ojibwe or Chippewa by early settlers and treaty documents) are resisting the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota based on similar claims to hunting, fishing and gathering rights along the pipeline’s proposed route.

Continue reading

This Day in History (March 11, 1863): Ojibwe-U.S. Treaty Cedes Ojibwe Lands, Bribes Ojibwe Treaty Signers, Requires Christian Oversight

On this day in history, March 11, 1863, Ojibwe leaders signed a treaty with the United States, acknowledging the Mille Lacs Band for its role in backing the United States in the Dakota-U.S. War.

The treaty also:

  • Ceded additional Ojibwe lands to the United States.
  • Bribed Ojibwe treaty signers with special one-time payments and houses.
  • Defined — in U.S. terms — what it meant to be an Ojibwe Chief.
  • Appointed Christian leaders to oversee annuity payments.

Continue reading

This Day in History: Congress Exiles Dakota from Minnesota (1863); “Civilization Fund” Act Passes (1819); and More

On this day in history, March 3, 1863, Congress passed a law exiling the Dakota people from Minnesota, a law still in effect today.

Officially, it was called: “An Act for the Removal of the Sisseton, Wahpaton, Medawakanton and Wahpakoota Bands of Sioux or Dakota Indians, and for the disposition of their Lands in Minnesota and Dakotas.”

The law was passed at the urging of Minnesota’s Congress members in the wake of the Dakota-U.S. War; it grew from a mix of fear and greed. It resulted in the exile of the Dakota people from their homeland. Their lands had been diminished to a section of land along the Minnesota River, and with this act the U.S. government allowed for it to be sold to white settlers. The government moved the Dakota to barren land in the Dakota Territory known as Crow Creek.

For more, click here.

There are several other significant historical events that occurred on March 3. Continue reading

This Day in History (Feb. 21, 1863): Congress Expels Winnebago Nation from Minnesota, More Than 550 Die During Forced Relocation

Map from Cole Sutton’s blog. Used by permission.

This day in history, Feb. 21, 1863, Congress passed a law — pushed by members of Minnesota’s delegation — to expel the Winnebago people from the state. The Act was fueled by fear, prejudice, and greed; it resulted in land theft and the deaths of more than 550 Winnebago people.

The Winnebago (also called Ho Chunk) were expelled from Minnesota in the wake of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862, a war in which the Winnebago did not participate. Yet Minnesota’s leaders were so eager to free up the Winnebago’s reservation lands for settlers to farm that they expelled the Winnebago before they officially expelled the Dakota.

This is a horrifically ugly chapter in Minnesota history. It includes the little known story of the Knight of the Forest, a secret Klan-like group that formed to expel all indigenous peoples from the state.

Continue reading

This Day in History (Feb. 8, 1887): Dawes Act Forces Assimilation, Leads to Massive Indian Land Theft

On this day in history, Congress passed the Dawes Act which both forced indigenous peoples to assimilate into a system of private property ownership and effectively stole millions of acres of what should have been treaty-protected lands.

Continue reading

This Day in History 1955: U.S. Supreme Court Uses Religious Justification to Deny Legitimate Indigenous Property Rights

On this day in history, Feb. 7, 1955, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling based on the Christian Doctrine of Discovery to deny the Tee-Hit-Ton Indians any compensation for the timber the U.S. government allowed to be sold off their lands.

In the ruling Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v. United States, the Court used 15th Century reasoning to exert domination over “an ignorant and dependent race,” treating them not as land owners but as mere tenants. These tenants, the ruling said, are allowed to stay there only “as a matter of grace” by the United States.

Continue reading

This Day in History: Nelson Act Breaks Treaties, Steals Anishinaabe Land in Minnesota, Forces Assimilation

On this day in history, Jan. 14, 1889, Congress approved “An act for the relief and civilization of the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota.Not surprisingly, that’s a euphemism. The act did not provide relief. Quite the opposite, it violated treaties, forced assimilation, and stole Native lands. Continue reading