This Day in History, Feb. 6, 1850, a broken treaty sets in motion the Sandy Lake Atrocity

Minnesota leaders still disregarding treaties today

The Red Lake and White Earth nations are suing in the Minnesota Court of Appeals to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, arguing it violates their long-standing treaties with the U.S. government. The treaties of 1854 and 1855 guaranteed them the right to hunt, fish, and gather in lands they ceded, they say. Line 3 construction and future oil spills threaten those rights.

The state of Minnesota has turned a blind eye, approving Line 3 permits and allowing Enbridge to begin construction before courts resolve the treaty rights dispute. The failure goes all way up the ladder to Gov. Tim Walz.

It should come as no surprise. Minnesota was born of broken treaties.

On this day in history, Feb. 6, 1850, President Zachery Taylor signed an executive order that broke several treaties with the Chippewa. Taylor took that action at the behest of Minnesota’s Territorial Gov. Alexander Ramsey and other Minnesota leaders.

This executive order — and a corrupt scheme by Ramsey to advance his own financial and political fortunes — would lead to the deaths of 400 Chippewa people.

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