A New Vision for Fort Snelling; Paiute Perspective on the Oregon Standoff; This Day in History: Indian Water Rights Protected

Fort Snelling will be undergoing a redesign and renovation in the next few years. SPIN and Healing Minnesota Stories believe the dialogue about the Fort’s past and future is relevant to interfaith dialogue in that the history of colonization and current/future healing of generational trauma in the indigenous communities are critical moral and religious matters.

The Minnesota Historical Society has three open houses scheduled in January where you can share your ideas, stories, and hopes for Fort Snelling. All events run 5:30-7:30 p.m.

More information is available online at Community Open Houses.

Remember the Paiute: A Different Perspective on the Malheur Refuge Takeover

By now, you probably have read several article about how Ammon Bundy and other domestic terrorists have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, protesting federal land ownership in the region. For a different take, check out the blog The Stranger, and its recent post: Required Reading: The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Was Taken Over Once Before, Back in the 19th Century. It gives the background on how settlers and ranchers — with the help of the federal government — forced the Paiute Indians off their traditional homelands more than a century ago.

But long before Ammon Bundy and his friends arrived, the Paiute people had lived in the Malheur Basin for thousands of years. The process by which natives were dispossessed of their homeland follows a pattern that took place all across the West: dehumanization, pillaging, war, murder, theft, and rip-offs.

The article includes a link to the Burns Paiute Tribe’s account how the tribe lost its land:

Settlers first moved into what is now Harney County as late as 1862, years after settlers poured into western Oregon. Cattlemen then quickly began to take land or buy up homesteads to run their huge herds of livestock over the land. The limits of the native ecology were severely stressed due to the grazing of livestock by the expanding foreign population and the increase in hunting and fishing by those same people. Resources depended upon by the Paiute people were depleted or destroyed. …

During these years the fighting between the Indians and the encroaching Whites became bitter, with the raids on wagon trains and army surveyors increasing. Punishing parties were sent out by the Whites to kill any Indian seen, whether man, woman or child. The Indians were fighting for their land, culture and their very lives.

This Day in History: Indian Water Rights Protected

On this day in history, Jan. 6, 1908, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Winters v. United States established that water rights were necessary to the survival and self sufficiency of Native American tribes and their people.

According to Wikipedia’s summery, the case centered on Montana’s Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, created in 1888. The language creating the reservation was silent about water rights to the Milk River. As more and more settlers moved to the area, they claimed water rights. The Court decision said since the reservations needed water to be self-sufficient, and the water rights were implied by the treaties that created reservations.