Weekend Reading: From DAPL Documentary to the Native American Slaves Who Built California’s Wine Industry

Weekend Reading:

  • North Dakota Trying to Get U.S. Taxpayers to Pick Up Costs of Excessive DAPL Police Response
  • Documentary: Beyond Standing Rock
  • Federal Budget Cut Plans Could Hurt Native Radio Stations
  • Trump’s Fondness for “Indian Killer” Andrew Jackson: A Wreath and a Portrait
  • California’s Wine Industry has Bloody Roots in Native American Slavery

Continue reading

Standing Rock to Challenge DAPL in Court Based on Water Rights; Trump Honors President Jackson, aka Indian Killer

sign-9-daplThe Standing Rock Nation will challenge the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in court  based in part on its federal water rights, according to Chairman David Archambault II. Archambault made his comments in an interview with MSNBC, posted online by Indian Country Today.

Archambault cited the “Winters Doctrine” as one reason that DAPL should be denied. According to a summary of the Winters Doctrine by the Congressional Resource Services:

Although the federal government has authority to regulate water, it typically defers to the states to allocate water resources within the state. The federal government maintains certain federal water rights, though, which exist separate from state law. In particular, federal reserved water rights often arise in questions of water allocation related to federal lands, including Indian reservations. Indian reserved water rights were first recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Winters v. United States in 1908. Under the Winters doctrine, when Congress reserves land (i.e., for an Indian reservation), Congress also reserves water sufficient to fulfill the purpose of the reservation.

Continue reading

Tubman the New Face of the $20; Jackson Moves to Back of the Bill

Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson as the new face of the $20, according to the Star Tribune and other news outlets. Unfortunately, Jackson will still be portrayed on back. (The back of the $20 currently shows the White House; a smaller image of Jackson will be added.)

Jackson does not deserve even that honor. He was the driving force for the Indian Removal Act, which not only displaced tens of thousands of Native Americans from their homes, but also resulted in the deaths of thousands of Native Americans in the forced relocation known as the Trail of Tears.

Still, not surprisingly, Jackson’s defenders are emerging. Continue reading

This Day in History: The Battle of Horseshoe Bend and the Creation of Alabama

Map of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend
Map of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend

On this day in history, March 27, 1814, the Upper Creek Indians suffered a decisive loss at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, or Tohopeka to the Creek Indians. This is probably not a battle you learned about in school but it was immensely significant. It represented the single largest loss of Indian life in any single engagement with U.S. forces, some 800 dead. The battle effectively created the state of Alabama  through the Treaty of Fort Jackson. In that treaty, the Creek were “forced to cede 23 million acres … —half of central Alabama and part of southern Georgia,” according to Wikipedia. The battle also propelled Andrew Jackson into national prominence, and the spotlight followed him all the way to the White House.

A description by the National Park Services said the Battle of Horseshoe Bend could best be described as a slaughter. Forces led by Andrew Jackson of the Tennessee militia outnumbered the Creek fighters by about three to one. Jackson’s forces also had the advantage of two small cannons and Native American allies. Continue reading

More on Mascots: The Sooners, Lord Jeff, Your $20 Bill, and a Surprising Twist on Redsk*ns

On this day in history, March 2, 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed one of numerous  “Indian Appropriations Acts.” That sounds like a good thing for American Indians, where the federal government appropriates money to live up to the terms of its various treaties. In this case, the bill opened up nearly 3,000 square miles of Unassigned Land in Indian Territory for white settlement.

The Unassigned Lands in 1855.
The Unassigned Lands in 1885.

So what is the connection between this event in history and mascots? The name for the Oklahoma University mascot — the “Sooners” — comes from those settlers who went into the “Unassigned Lands” sooner than was legal — before the land was officially opened for settlement. They got in first and staked out the best land.

There is a complicated history here. It includes the Creek Indians getting caught up in the wash of the U.S. Civil War. The Creek were not unanimous in their support of either side of the conflict, but one Creek Council did sign a treaty with the Confederacy. According to Wikipedia, when the Confederacy lost, the United States forced the Creeks into a new treaty in 1866. Under its terms, the Creeks agreed to cede a portion of the lands they held in Indian Territory. The Seminoles, who actively supported the Confederacy, were forced into a similar treaty that ceded all of their lands in Indian Territory. Together, this ceded territory became the “Unassigned Lands.” The Creek treaty stated the United States planned to use the land to relocate other Indians and freed slaves. In the following years, white settlers pressured the government to open the land for settlement.

Continue reading