On this day in history, Sept. 30, 1854, Ojibwe leaders signed a treaty in La Pointe, Wisconsin that cede their lands in the Arrowhead Region of the Minnesota Territory after being badly mistreated by the government.
The website Why Treaties Matter says the treaty was part of a broader effort by the government and mining interests to relocate Ojibwe people and gain access to recently discovered copper deposits in northeastern Minnesota. The treaty established several new reservations in Michigan, Wisconsin and the Minnesota Territory, including the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage reservations. Under the treaty, the Ojibwe retained extensive hunting and fishing rights.
A key piece of context for the treaty is the Sandy Lake Tragedy in the winter of 1850-51. According to Wikipedia, the wave of European immigrants coming to Wisconsin and the Minnesota Territory was creating increased political pressure on the President and Congress to move the Ojibwe.
Officials of the Zachary Taylor Administration and Minnesota Territory sought to relocate several bands of the tribe to areas west of the Mississippi River. By changing the location for fall annuity payments [to Sandy Lake, Wisconsin, an isolated trade hub], the officials intended the Chippewa to stay there for the winter and lower their resistance to relocation. Due to delayed and inadequate payments of annuities and lack of promised supplies, about 400 Ojibwe, mostly men, (12% of the tribe) died of disease, starvation, and freezing.
That experience (delayed treaty payments and promised supplies) sounds similar to the Dakota experience that led up to the U.S. Dakota War. In this case, instead of war it made the Ojibwe more eager to accept reservations on their traditional lands.
Click on the links above for more details.
St. Paul’s Indigenous Peoples Day Events
This year is St. Paul’s Inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day, and a celebration will be held Monday, Oct. 12 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 11 Kellogg Blvd. East.
The City Council passed a resolution August 12, which continues to recognize Oct. 12 as Columbus Day, but adds the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day. Among the acknowledgements in the resolution, St. Paul acknowledges “the occupation of Dakota homelands for the building of our City and knows indigenous nations have lived upon this land since time immemorial.”
The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe owns the Crowne Plaza, which will host the celebration. The Band issued a statement praising the City Council’s actions, saying: “you are replacing a day that symbolizes colonization with a day that celebrates our history and culture, as well as our future. You are paving the way for other cities across the nation.”
Doctrine of Discovery Documentary Gains More Attention
Since its official release Sept. 4, the documentary The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code has continued to gain national attention. Most recently, co-producers Sheldon Wolfchild and Steven Newcomb were on the east coast doing showings and dialogues in advance of Pope Francis’s visit to the United States. Here is a recent write up in Indian Country Today about an event at Fordham University School of Law in New York City.
Healing Minnesota Stories has worked to host a number of local screenings, and we continue to look for opportunities to bring the film to adult education classes and community organizations. For more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org