This Day in History 1868: Indian Peace Commission Report Issued (Shows Moral Blindness of the Era)

In 1867, Congress created the Indian Peace Commission to make peace with hostile Indian nations on the western plains, secure the safety of frontier settlements, and create a plan to “civilize” the Indians. The Commission was charged with identifying new reservation lands to relocate all hostile Indians east of the Rocky mountains

The Commission issued its first report 150 years ago today and presented it to President Andrew Johnson. While the report acknowledges the government had done great injustices to Native peoples, it’s steeped in the language of Manifest Destiny and white Christian superiority, as well as moral blindness.

Continue reading

ELCA Brings Shareholder Resolution on DAPL to Enbridge, a Major Pipeline Investor

This is the first in a series of blogs exploring how religious communities who are Standing with Standing Rock are reviewing their investments for ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Will their investments change?

ELCAThe Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has taken a formal position supporting the Standing Rock Nation and its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It also is flexing its financial muscle, looking at how its investments are supporting DAPL and asking tough questions of Enbridge, a major DAPL investor.

There is a growing effort to get individuals and institutions to divest from companies tied to DAPL. Divesting is one option outside of the political arena where people can make a difference and vote their values with their money.

The ELCA is a large institutional investor, socking away money for retirement plans for its many employees. It’s the kind of big investor that can influence a corporation. As of the third quarter of 2016, the ELCA had $7.8 billion managed by Portico Benefit Services. (Of that, $6.4 billion was in retirement plans).

The ELCA’s  investments include Enbridge Inc. “whose U.S. vehicle, Enbridge Energy Partners, owns a 27.5% interest in the Dakota Access Pipeline project,” according to Rev. Jeff Thiemann, Portico’s President and CEO. According to a statement Rev. Thiemann made to Healing Minnesota Stories on Dec. 8:

Portico just this week, along with several other investors, submitted a shareholder resolution to Enbridge Inc. [regarding DAPL] … This resolution calls on Enbridge to prepare a report to shareholders detailing the due diligence process used by Enbridge, its affiliates, and subsidiaries to identify and address social and environmental risks, including Indigenous rights risks, when reviewing potential acquisitions.

Continue reading

Free, Prior and Informed Consent: A DAPL Dispute

A great point of contention in the dispute over the Dakota Access Pipeline is whether or not the Standing Rock Nation had the opportunity to be consulted on the pipeline.

The Standing Rock Nation said it did not give its informed consent to the project. The pipeline owners said Standing Rock missed its chance by not engaging in conversation sooner.

However, it appears that Standing Rock did raise objections early in the process, a fact that is only recently coming to light. It undermines the pipeline company’s position.

Let’s try to sort it out.

Continue reading

Minnesota Gold Rush That Never Panned Out Forced Ojibwe Off Their Lands

Gold RushThroughout U.S. history, there are examples where white settlers’ greed for gold completely trampled Native American land rights.

Yes, surprisingly, it even happened here in Minnesota in 1866.

Right in the middle of it all was none other than Henry Sibley, Minnesota’s first governor (1858-1860). Sibley was no stranger to profiting at the expense of Native Americans. Back in 1851, he used his position as a key negotiator in the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux to cheat the Dakota people out of money. In that instance, he was able to secure for himself thousands of dollars of treaty money to get out from under his fur company debts. (For the details, check out This American Life.)

This time around, Sibley’s get-rich-quick scheme was gold mining on Ojibwe lands. Continue reading