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.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The Dawes Act allowed the government to divide up communally held reservation lands into individual parcels, up to 160 acres for a head of household, according to Wikipedia.

The law’s deceit was that there was plenty of acreage left over  after individual allotments were made. The law allowed the government sell off this so-called “surplus” land.

The poster to the right says it all. Continue reading

What’s behind the mascot? Next up, San Francisco 49ers and the genocide of indigenous peoples

Healing Minnesota Stories got a recent spike in views on an old post: The Kansas City Chiefs name represents a form of cultural appropriation, but the backstory is more bizarre than you think. It’s not surprising given that Kansas City made the NFL playoffs and now the Super Bowl.

So let’s next deconstruct the mascot of the San Francisco 49er’s, Kansas City’s Super Bowl rival. Scratch the surface of history, and it’s an ugly story.

Continue reading

Today, Sept. 30, is Orange Shirt Day, remembering Indigenous children who suffered in residential schools

If you happen to have an orange shirt in your closet, consider wearing it today (Monday, Sept. 30). Orange Shirt Day is a relatively new effort to raise awareness and remember the indigenous children who suffered in Canada’s residential school system, a system that stripped them of their languages, cultures, spiritual traditions and their very identities.

The practice is not as wide spread in the United States, which has a similar ugly history with American Indian boarding schools. Some people in the United States have followed Canada’s lead.

Continue reading

How a Spanish spy set in motion a fake treaty to acquire lands that would become Minneapolis and St. Paul

On this day in history, Sept. 23, 1805, history books used to tell us “Pike’s Treaty” was signed, the first time Dakota people ceded lands to the U.S. government in what is now Minnesota. It covered 100,000 acres, including what are now the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as Fort Snelling.

The problem is, it wasn’t a treaty at all. It wasn’t negotiated on behalf of the U.S. government. Most Dakota leaders did not agree to it.

Continue reading

This Day in History, May 12, 1879: Standing Bear v. Crook Grants Civil Rights to Native Americans Under U.S. Law

On this day in history, May 12, 1879, the landmark case Standing Bear v. Crook granted Native Americans civil rights under U.S. law. This case is another opportunity to learn about and lament the U.S. government’s gross violation of treaty rights and a window into historical trauma.

Continue reading

This Day in History, Feb. 28, 1823: U.S. Supreme Court Adopts ‘Discovery Doctrine’

On this day in history, Feb. 28, 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Johnson v. M’Intosh, effectively adopting a secular form of 15th Century Papal edicts as the basis for the relationship between the U.S. government and Native nations.

The Papal edicts provided the legal and religious justification for European explorers to claim indigenous lands on behalf of their monarchs by right of discovery. Collectively, these edicts (or bulls) are known as the Doctrine of Discovery. In Johnson v. M’Intosh, the Court wrote that the United States, as the successor nation to European monarchies, maintains those same land rights.

The United States civilized inhabitants “hold, and assert in themselves, the title by which it was acquired. They maintain, as all others have maintained, that discovery gave an exclusive right to extinguish the Indian title of occupancy, either by purchase or by conquest …”

Continue reading