This Day in History: Congress Exiles Dakota from Minnesota (1863); “Civilization Fund” Act Passes (1819); and More

On this day in history, March 3, 1863, Congress passed a law exiling the Dakota people from Minnesota, a law still in effect today.

Officially, it was called: “An Act for the Removal of the Sisseton, Wahpaton, Medawakanton and Wahpakoota Bands of Sioux or Dakota Indians, and for the disposition of their Lands in Minnesota and Dakotas.”

The law was passed at the urging of Minnesota’s Congress members in the wake of the Dakota-U.S. War; it grew from a mix of fear and greed. It resulted in the exile of the Dakota people from their homeland. Their lands had been diminished to a section of land along the Minnesota River, and with this act the U.S. government allowed for it to be sold to white settlers. The government moved the Dakota to barren land in the Dakota Territory known as Crow Creek.

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There are several other significant historical events that occurred on March 3. Continue reading

This Day in History: Attacks on Native American Treaty Rights and Culture

Researching items for “This Day in History” blogs, March 3 stands out as a particularly bad day for legislation that undermines Indian treaty rights, autonomy, and culture. Here are five things that happened on this day in history.

The Civilization Fund Act of 1819 was the forerunner to boarding schools
The Civilization Fund Act of 1819 laid the groundwork for boarding schools.

March 3, 1819: Congress passes the Civilization Fund Act, the forerunner to the boarding school movement. The Act’s goal was to “stimulate the civilization process.” The website USDakotaWar.org provides the following summary:

In the late eighteenth century, the U.S. government desired to acculturate and assimilate American Indians (as opposed to instituting reservations), and promoted the practice of [educating] Indian children in the ways of white people. To aid this, the Civilization Fund Act of 1819 provided funding to societies (mostly religious) who worked on educating Indians, often at schools. Schools were founded by missionaries next to Indian settlements (and later reservations). As time went on schools were built with boarding facilities, to accommodate students who lived too far to attend on a daily basis.

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