This Day in History: Nelson Act Breaks Treaties, Steals Anishinaabe Land in Minnesota, Forces Assimilation

On this day in history, Jan. 14, 1889, Congress approved “An act for the relief and civilization of the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota.Not surprisingly, that’s a euphemism. The act did not provide relief. Quite the opposite, it violated treaties, forced assimilation, and stole Native lands. Continue reading

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Community Discussion About Controversial St. Paul City Hall Murals to Be Held Jan. 10

The East Side Freedom Library is hosting a community discussion about the four murals in the chambers shared by the St. Paul City Council and the Ramsey County Board. These Depression-era murals have been controversial because of how they portray our history. They have images that are not welcoming to all members of the community, including a priest towering over Native Americans and converting them.

The community discussion will be held at the library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul, on Thursday, Jan. 10, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. St. Paul City Council Member Jane Prince (7th Ward) and Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough will participate. The event is free and open to the public. Here is the Facebook Event Page to share.

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Latest Art Controversy: Notre Dame’s Columbus Murals

One of the murals in Notre Dame’s Old Main. (Courtesy of Mike Freeman.)

The National Catholic Reporter provides us with the latest controversy about historic art and how it depicts Manifest Destiny and the Doctrine of Discovery. The article is headlined: Offensive murals must go, say Native American Notre Dame students and others — But administration says paintings of Columbus will stay.

The murals in question occupy are in Notre Dame’s Main Building (the building with the golden dome.) As the story notes: “All tours of the campus include a stop there, and its steps are where the marching band gathers before football games.”

But lining the walls of the second floor’s main hallway are 11-foot murals that send the wrong message about Notre Dame, say more than 450 students, faculty, staff and alumni who have signed an open letter to the university president urging their removal.

The 12 Renaissance-style murals, painted from 1882 to 1884 by Vatican portrait artist Luigi Gregori, depict and celebrate Christopher Columbus, who at that time was seen as something of “American saint,” according to a pamphlet produced by University Communications.

The arguments on both sides will be familiar to anyone who followed the debate about the art in the Minnesota State Capitol.

The university says murals “are of historic and artistic value,” and they will stay in place.

The letter writers call the murals the university’s “own version of a Confederate monument.” “The letter says they are contrary to Notre Dame’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, not to mention the church’s teaching on universal human dignity.”

Click on the link above for the full story.