The Modoc Indians’ Last Stand

Passing along a little known piece of history of Native American genocide, this one about the Modoc Indians’ Last Stand in northern California.

This story might be new to most, but the pattern is all too familiar: 1) Exposure to new diseases kills off many Modoc. 2) Settlers take Modoc lands. 3) Setters treat the Modoc as savages, killing them on various pretexts. 4) The inevitable U.S. government treaty forces them onto unfamiliar lands. 5) Desperate for their homeland, they try to return. 6) Their desire to be home triggers a war. 7) The Modoc suffer military defeat, further banishment, and loss of language and culture.

The California Sun wrote a very readable piece on this history. With the California Gold rush flooding the state with settlers and new diseases reducing the Modoc population by more than 80 percent, the Modoc signed a treaty forcing them to merge with the Klamath Nation in Oregon. The Modoc got homesick and tried to return to California, only to be met with military resistance. (The resulting fighting gets called the “Modoc War” as if the Modoc were the belligerents.)

While outnumbered, the Modoc’s knowledge of the local lava beds, they have enough of a military advantage to force treaty talks. President Grant sent Maj. Gen. Edward Canby to negotiate. When it became clear that the United States would not allow them to stay in California, Chief Kintpuash shot Canby dead during the peace talks.

More fighting follows, and Army reinforcements finally defeated the Modoc. Kintpuash was caught and hanged.

The rest of the Modoc were exiled to Oklahoma, where 200 descendants still live today. According to the story, “They reintroduced bison to the prairie and started a casino in the late 1990s. Their Modoc language and culture were largely forgotten.”

Click here for the story.

Here’s a link on the Modoc War


Line 3 Updates: Final PUC Vote Delayed; Growing Concerns About Eminent Domain

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) had expected a final vote on the Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline by late April; now it looks like the vote will be pushed back by a couple of months into July.

The proposed Line 3 pipeline expansion through northern Minnesota threatens lakes, rivers, and wild rice areas. It violates treaty rights. It will add to climate change. It is an investment in 19th Century energy solutions instead of looking to the future. Any project delay is good news. It adds costs to the project and increases the likelihood that it can be stopped. Continue reading

It Appears the “i” in “iPhone” is for Indian

And now for a lighter moment … 

My friend Bob Klanderud sent me this article and it made laugh hard enough I thought it must be worth sharing. It is from the website Truth Theory, and the headline is: 1937 Painting Includes Tribesman Holding What Appears To Be An Iphone. The painting is called: Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield.” Check out the Native man on the bottom, center-right. Let the conspiracy theories begin!

If you want to see an image of the entire painting, click here.



All That We Are Is Story

I attended a Healing Place Collaborative social gathering tonight and left with a four- by six-card with an inspiring quote that I want to share. It is appropriate for the work we do at Healing Minnesota Stories, too.

ALL THAT WE ARE IS STORY. From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship — we change the world one story at a time.

Richard Wagamese (October 14, 1955-March 10, 2017)
Ojibwe from Wabeseemoong Independent Nations, Canada
Author of “Indian Horse” 2012, “Medicine Walk” 2014,


Keystone XL Developer Waffling on Project, and other Weekend Reading

A little weekend reading, starting with good news from The Hill, which ran a story on Friday headlined: Developer might not build Keystone XL pipeline. Here’s the top, click the link for the rest.

The company that obtained a permit to build the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline might decide not to build it.

A TransCanada Corp. executive told investors Friday that it is still assessing interest in Keystone among the oil companies that would pay to use the Canada-to-Texas line, as well as seeking remaining regulatory approvals, and it will likely decide in November or December whether to build.

Minnesota State Rep Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL) wrote the following piece about Enbridge Line 3 for the online publication Vice Impact: There’s Another Proposed Pipeline That Blatantly Ignores Native Rights. She writes:

This project has special significance to me. As a state legislator, I promised to protect the environment. My family has a rich history in Standing Rock where I can trace my ancestry back for generations to Skuyapi and Lame Deer, Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux. Pipeline decisions matter to me from a policy standpoint, but more importantly, they are close to my heart. (Click on the link above for the full essay.)

Thirteen youth opposed to Enbridge Line 3 are official intervenors in the case before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which is charged with approving or denying the project. The Star Tribune ran an opinion piece by Sophia Manolis, one of the intervenors. It was headlined: Why 13 young Minnesotans launched a legal fight against a pipeline:.

The Line 3 pipeline would have many harmful effects. High on the list: It would contribute to climate change by expanding fossil-fuel infrastructure and dependency. Therefore, 12 other young people and I petitioned to intervene together in these legal proceedings, because the advancement of climate change would directly, personally and adversely affect our future health, opportunities, livelihoods and well-being. (Click on the link above for the full essay.)



Do American Indians Celebrate the 4th of July?

This is probably a good reason to start a Twitter account, just wanted to pass along these stories.

Do American Indians Celebrate the 4th of July? The National Museum of American Indian asks do American Indians celebrate the 4th of July and let their readers tell their stories about the day. (Indian Country Today, July 4, 2017)

Today tribes hold ceremonies and celebrations on or near Independence Day for different reasons. The Lumbee of North Carolina and Mattaponi of Virginia use this time as a homecoming for tribal members to renew cultural and family ties. The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma holds Gourd Clan ceremonies on the 4th of July because the holiday coincides with their Sun Dance, which once took place during the hottest part of the year. The Lakota of South Dakota and Cheyenne of Oklahoma continue to have some of their annual Sun Dances on the weekends closest to the 4th of July to coincide with the celebration of their New Year. Some American Indians do not celebrate the 4th of July because of the negative consequences to Indian people throughout history, while others simply get together with family and have cookouts, like many non-Native American citizens.

The Declaration of Independence. It’s Not What You Think (Native News.Net, July 3, 2016)

Yes, believe it or not, a mere 30 lines beneath the statement “All men are created equal,” the Declaration of Independence refers to Natives as “merciless Indian Savages.” Making it abundantly clear that the only reason the founding fathers used the inclusive language “all men” is because they had a very narrow definition of who was and who was not human.



Native Events and Advocacy: Saving Bears Ears; Owamni Falls Fest; Supporting Indian-Produced Inde Film

Painting by Albert Bierstadt of Owmni Falls, pre-settlement. (Wikimedia Commons)

Join the 4th Annual Owamni Falling Water Festival on Saturday, July 29th from 1-5 p.m. at the Father Hennepin Bluffs Park, 420 Main St. SE. (Omani is the Dakota word for Falling Waters.) The festival is a free family event with indigenous food, art, music, dance  and exhibitors. This year’s line up includes the Hoka Hey Drum Group, Blue Dog, Keith Secola & Frank Waln!

The falls today. (Wikiemdia Commons)

For more history on Owamni, see this story from The Circle: A History of Owamni Yomni: Lock Closures Signal Healing for Mississippi River. It begins:

To the Dakota, the only waterfall on the Mississippi and its surroundings is known as Owamni Yomni (Whirlpool), revered for centuries as a place of tremendous spiritual power and inspiration. Wita Waste (Beautiful Island) the key above the falls, once covered in maple trees, was the site of annual sugaring camps. The island below, Wita Wanagi (Spirit Island) shrouded in mist and the peaceful din of rushing water, was a calm and sheltered place where women gave birth to generations of Dakota children. The people shared the area with a large population of Eagles, for whom the waters provided a plentiful source of fish.

Here is an Owammi Event Flyer. Continue reading