This Day in History, March 19, 1867: U.S. treaty with Chippewa Indians gives white business leaders access to valuable timber lands

I’ve wondered how many “This Day in History” entries could be written just about broken treaties. Wikipedia says: “From 1778 to 1871, the United States government entered into more than 500 treaties with the Native American tribes; all of these treaties have since been violated in some way or outright broken by the US government.” I guess that means you could fill an entire calendar and have plenty left over.

Today’s entry concerns a treaty between the Chippewa of the Mississippi and the U.S. government on March 19, 1867 that effectively stole valuable timber lands from Chippewa people in northern Minnesota.  This was the last treaty the U.S. government negotiated with Native nations in Minnesota.

It’s part of state history that most of us who live here never learned. We need to. It’s an important correction to our history books. The wealth of early business leaders had its roots not in sweat and toil, but in deceit and outright theft of Indigenous lands and resources.

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This Day in History, Feb. 27, 1803: President Jefferson’s private plan to swindle Indigenous lands

On this day in history, Feb. 27, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson wrote a private letter William Henry Harrison outlining his plans to gain control of massive amounts of Indigenous lands.

At the time, Harrison was serving as the first Governor of the Indiana Territory, the frontier of his day. The Territory included an expansive area that would later become the states of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and parts of Michigan and Minnesota. Harrison was dealing with many Indigenous nations. Jefferson wrote him privately that “I may with safety give you a more extensive view of our policy respecting the Indians.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 …”

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Going Back to the 1800s, U.S. Leaders Have Acknowledged Abuse of Indians

On this day in history, April 9, 1830, U.S. Sen. Theodore Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, a Whig Party member, gave a long and stirring speech on the Senate floor opposing the Indian Removal Act.

Sen. Frelinghuysen is unknown today, but his speech makes it clear that there were voices of conscience opposed to this immoral law, a voice other leaders chose to ignore.

President Andrew Jackson pushed the Indian Removal Act, which eventually passed. It resulted in the massive forced removal of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminoles, Chocktaw, and Muskogee-Creek from the southeastern United States to present day Oklahoma. Most notably, the Act resulted in what is known as the Trail of Tears, referring to the many indigenous people who suffered and died from exposure, disease, and starvation during the long walk.

Frelinghuysen’s speech, excerpted in Paul Prucha’s Documents of United States Indian Policy, begins:

God, in his providence, planted these tribes on this Western continent, so far as we know, before Great Britain herself had a political existence. I believe, sir, it is not now seriously denied that the Indians are men, endowed with kindred faculties and powers with ourselves; that they have a place in human sympathy, and are justly entitled to a share in the common bounties of a benignant Providence. And, with this conceded, I ask in what code of the law of nations, or by what process of abstract deduction, their rights have been extinguished?

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