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- Dream of Wild Health expands its farm
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Call this tragic anniversary “Doctrine of Discovery Day.”
On this day in history, 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued one of the important bulls (edicts) in what has come to be known as the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. In the bull Inter caetera, the Church granted Spain the right to conquer and claim newly found lands to the west. The Pope issued this edict just one year after Columbus sailed; it triggered the start of Catholic missions in what is now North America. According to an English translation of Inter caetera published on the website nativeweb.org, the papal bull states in part:
“Among other works well pleasing to the Divine Majesty and cherished of our heart, this assuredly ranks highest, that in our times especially the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.”
It puts Christianity into a category of domination and forced conversation rather than a religion of love.
Later, the “Discovery Doctrine” became part of U.S. law through a series of 19th Century Supreme Court decisions, notably Johnson v. M’Intosh.
Many Native American leaders and organizations have been working to educate people about the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and to get the Catholic Church to officially rescind it. Locally, Sheldon Wolfchild of the Lower Sioux Community has produced a documentary on the Doctrine of Discovery. (Follow this blog for information on upcoming showings.)
Inter Caetera is not the only Papal bull considered to be part of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, but since it is so close in time to the Columbus voyage, it seems like a good anniversary to highlight, and to reflect on repairing the massive harm it did.
There are rays of hope in the work being done locally by Native-led organizations. And there are ways that we as individuals and institutions can, in small ways, support them in repairing the loss of Native lands, languages, and cultures that are synonymous with the Doctrine of Christian Discovery.
Here are just a few of the organizations that could use your support. Continue reading
Here are a few upcoming opportunities to learn about, engage with, and support local Native American communities. They include a “Birch Bark Biting” Art Demonstration, an Ice Cream Social, a Sacred Medicines and Gardening Workshop, and a request for donations of sewing supplies to help with a shawl project for young students at the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul. Continue reading
Caucus Resolution: American Indian Nations Should Have Access to Outdoor Heritage Fund
With Minnesota’s political caucuses coming up March 1, consider proposing this resolution:
Resolved: the Minnesota Legislature shall ensure that American Indian nations in Minnesota have equal access to the Outdoor Heritage Fund without diminishing their treaty rights.
Here is the background, provided by a recent Star Tribune editorial: The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has voted twice to approve $2.2 million to buy about 2,000 acres from Potlach for preservation. White Earth would buy the land and transfer it to a federal trust. The project was included in a 2015 omnibus bill, but funding got stripped out at the end of the session for dubious reasons, raising “regrettable questions about bias toward American Indian communities.”
A U.S. Supreme Court case is reviewing the power and reach of Indian Tribal Courts and it is drawing national attention.
On December 7, The Atlantic ran a piece Who Can Tribal Courts Try?: The U.S. Supreme Court weighs which disputes America’s Indian tribal courts can adjudicate. The same day, The Nation wrote a piece titled:Dollar General Takes Its Case Against Indigenous Sovereignty to the Supreme Court.
As The Nation article frames it:
The case is rooted in accusations of child sexual abuse brought over a decade ago. In the summer of 2003, a 13-year-old Choctaw student, whose name has been withheld, claimed a white store manager named Dale Townsend repeatedly molested him at a Dollar General store. The teenager was enrolled in his tribe’s job-training program and was placed in the store on the reservation. …
When federal prosecutors refused to bring charges, the victim’s family sued Townsend and Dollar General for [civil] damages in Choctaw Tribal Court, alleging the company had failed to properly vet and supervise the manager and was responsible for his violent conduct.
Dollar General Store is arguing that the Tribal Court should not have civil jurisdiction in this case, even though it is willingly operating on tribal land. It is expected to argue that tribal courts are unfair to non-Natives.
According to The Atlantic article, the National Congress of American Indians has filed an amicus brief, warning that if Dollar General’s argument prevails:
… tribal governments couldn’t regulate off-reservation businesses that dump waste on tribal land; … Tribal courts could not hear cases against abusive non-Indian spouses who live on the reservation; tribal courts couldn’t evict non-tribal members squatting in tribal housing.
Report on Duluth’s Native History: An Effort Towards Improved Relationships
The city of Duluth’s Indigenous Commission is working on a report to document the history of Native Americans in the city, according to a recent report by MN Native News. “Many hope it will have a positive impact on the city’s landscape and relations between Natives and non-Natives in the region,” the news account said.
“We wanted to have our stories from our ancestors be known,” said Babette Sandman, who is Ojibwe and sits on the Duluth Indigenous Commission. “If you come to Duluth, you don’t see anything that says we ever existed.
Healing Hearts at Wounded Knee: An Effort Towards Peace
Healing Hearts at Wounded Knee is holding its 25th annual horse ride and promoting a world-wide sacred ceremony of healing. According to its website:
The Healing Hearts at Wounded Knee [HHAWK] Committee extend invitation to Indigenous communities, religious institutions, … and people in all walks of life in order to end massacre, racism, war and to further global healing of the essential “multi-generational wounding” caused by these acts. Since religion is one of the historical modes of oppression, focusing on healing the wounds between Indigenous people and world religions — in particular Christianity — we believe could create a significant shift in consciousness and healing from 2015 – 2018.
The recent apology to Indigenous people by Pope Francis is a significant step in this process and demonstrates the need for work in these areas. The work by the Canadian Truth & Reconciliation Commission with their First Nations people is another example of “breaking ground,” and should not be an end point, but the beginning of historic healing work.
The organization is encouraging people to participate in world-wide prayer on December 29 (the 125th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre) at noon in your time zone.
Click on the links for more information, including this background on the memorial horse ride.
Holiday Sales of Native-Made Food and Gifts
Native Rights Written Out of Climate Pact
Negotiations in Paris to develop global solutions to address climate change have deleted text that would protect Native rights. A December 7 story in The Guardian newspaper read: Indigenous activists take to Seine river to protest axing of rights from Paris climate pact. It starts:
Indigenous groups from across the world staged a paddle down the Seine river in Paris on Sunday, calling on governments to ensure Indigenous rights are included in the United Nations climate pact currently being negotiated in France.
The United States, the EU, Australia and other states have pushed for Indigenous rights to be dropped from the binding parts of the agreement out of fear that it could create legal liabilities.
Bush Foundation Announces Native Nation ReBuilders
The Bush Foundation created the Native Nation ReBuilders Program in 2010 after elected tribal leaders from the 23 Native nations called for community leaders to help with nation-building work, according to a foundation announcement. The latest group of “ReBuilders” has 22 tribal citizens. Over the next two years they will share strategies and insights to make a brighter future for Native people across the region. Here are their names: