Paiutes To Feds: Deal With the “Bad Men”; Talk: Indigenous Re-Naming; On Air: Indian Rights Attorney Levanthal; This Day in History: Termination Policy Comes to MN

In a story headlined: Oregon Militia Nuts Hold Paiute History, Artifacts Hostage, Indian Country Today reports on the Burns Paiute Tribe’s deep concern that militants are holding a building with “approximately 4,000 artifacts belonging to the tribe.” According to the story:

The tribe is demanding federal action under both the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and a “protection against bad men” provision in the treaty the tribe signed with the United States in 1868.

That seems like a reasonable enough request.

Red Power Media has reported on the militants counter offensive, posting a You Tube video of them sorting through boxes of artifacts. They argue that the federal government has mishandled the artifacts, and offer to return them to the Paiute people.

Click on the links above for more details.

Mato Nunpa to Speak on Reclaiming Indigenous Names

When European explorers and settlers came to this area, one of the first things they did was to rename the rivers, hills and and other landmarks that already had indigenous names. Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa, a Dakota elder and historian, will lead off the 2016 Series “What’s in a Name?” for St. Paul’s East Side Freedom Library, talking about the need to reclaim original names.

Mato Nunpa’s talk is called: “The Case for Indigenous Renaming: Acknowledging Minnesota Genocide,” and will be held Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at the East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul.

Background: In 2012, both Minneapolis and St. Paul declared 2012 “The Year of the Dakota,” marking the 150th anniversary of the Dakota-U.S. War. The resolutions acknowledged the atrocities and genocide that took place against the Dakota people.

The St. Paul resolution mandated that the city identify, name and interpret sacred Native American sites in St. Paul and along the Mississippi River. Mato Nunpa will present his views on the renaming that still must take place, from the white bluffs below Indian Mounds Park to the streets and places that still bear the names of Alexander Ramsey, Henry Sibley and John C. Calhoun, Euro-American conquerers who were guilty of genocide against the indigenous people of Minnesota.

Indian Rights Attorney Larry Levanthal on KFAI

This week’s First Person Radio show on KFAI features an interview with prominent Indian Country attorney Larry Levanthal.

The show runs 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27. Hear it on 90.3 FM in Minneapolis, or 106.7 FM in St. Paul, or listen on

Levanthal has represented Tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Oklahoma and other states in issues ranging from tribal government operations, gaming, business development, environmental issues, and litigation.  He currently serves as legal counsel to several American Indian Tribes. He will talk about the Indian Child Welfare Act and a range of tribal topics

First Person Radio is hosted by Laura Watterman Wittstock and Roy Taylor.

This Day in History: MN U.S. Senator Tries to End Federal Recognition of Dakota Communities

Within the lifetime of the Baby Boomers, the federal government was not only trying to unilaterally break individual treaties, but it was trying to make treaties and tribes disappear altogether, including right here in Minnesota.

We have written recently of the federal “Termination Policies,” efforts to end the sovereignty of tribal governments. On this day in history in 1955, those policies surfaced in Minnesota in an effort to officially terminate the Upper Sioux, Lower Sioux, and Prairie Island communities. (The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community was not officially recognized until 1969.) Wikipedia gives this summary:

On 26 January 1955 Senator Edward Thye introduced into Congress a bill (S704) to provide for termination of the tribes. Opposition, not only of the Indians, but of other citizens who realized their state expenses might increase, were made to the committee reviewing the bill. The Governor’s Commission on Human Rights also opposed the legislation, indicating that it would “not adequately protect the interests of the Indians…” The bill died in committee, never reaching the Senate floor.


This Day in History: The Nelson Act Defrauds Minnesota Chippewa of Land and Timber; Update on Paiutes and the Oregon Standoff

This day in history, January 14, 1889, marks the day of great injustice done to Minnesota’s Chippewa people. On this day, Congress passed the Nelson Act, legislation pushed by Minnesota leaders that unilaterally broke treaties and took tribal lands.

The legislation was named for Minnesota U.S. Rep. Knute Nelson. The bill’s official title was something of a whitewash: “An act for the relief and civilization of the Chippewa Indians in the State of Minnesota.” It was anything but. Continue reading

A New Vision for Fort Snelling; Paiute Perspective on the Oregon Standoff; This Day in History: Indian Water Rights Protected

Fort Snelling will be undergoing a redesign and renovation in the next few years. SPIN and Healing Minnesota Stories believe the dialogue about the Fort’s past and future is relevant to interfaith dialogue in that the history of colonization and current/future healing of generational trauma in the indigenous communities are critical moral and religious matters.

The Minnesota Historical Society has three open houses scheduled in January where you can share your ideas, stories, and hopes for Fort Snelling. All events run 5:30-7:30 p.m.

More information is available online at Community Open Houses.

Remember the Paiute: A Different Perspective on the Malheur Refuge Takeover

By now, you probably have read several article about how Ammon Bundy and other domestic terrorists have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, protesting federal land ownership in the region. For a different take, check out the blog The Stranger, and its recent post: Required Reading: The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Was Taken Over Once Before, Back in the 19th Century. It gives the background on how settlers and ranchers — with the help of the federal government — forced the Paiute Indians off their traditional homelands more than a century ago.

But long before Ammon Bundy and his friends arrived, the Paiute people had lived in the Malheur Basin for thousands of years. The process by which natives were dispossessed of their homeland follows a pattern that took place all across the West: dehumanization, pillaging, war, murder, theft, and rip-offs.

The article includes a link to the Burns Paiute Tribe’s account how the tribe lost its land:

Settlers first moved into what is now Harney County as late as 1862, years after settlers poured into western Oregon. Cattlemen then quickly began to take land or buy up homesteads to run their huge herds of livestock over the land. The limits of the native ecology were severely stressed due to the grazing of livestock by the expanding foreign population and the increase in hunting and fishing by those same people. Resources depended upon by the Paiute people were depleted or destroyed. …

During these years the fighting between the Indians and the encroaching Whites became bitter, with the raids on wagon trains and army surveyors increasing. Punishing parties were sent out by the Whites to kill any Indian seen, whether man, woman or child. The Indians were fighting for their land, culture and their very lives.

This Day in History: Indian Water Rights Protected

On this day in history, Jan. 6, 1908, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Winters v. United States established that water rights were necessary to the survival and self sufficiency of Native American tribes and their people.

According to Wikipedia’s summery, the case centered on Montana’s Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, created in 1888. The language creating the reservation was silent about water rights to the Milk River. As more and more settlers moved to the area, they claimed water rights. The Court decision said since the reservations needed water to be self-sufficient, and the water rights were implied by the treaties that created reservations.