Momentum is building for truth telling and healing around the cultural genocide that took place in Indian Boarding Schools and the trauma that continues today

First in a two-part series.

The Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) is moving into a decade-long commitment to truth telling, education, and repair with Native American and African communities. Those communities suffered deeply from America’s original sins: Slavery and Native American genocide. Those sins have never been fully acknowledged or addressed, let alone healed or repaired.

Christine Diindissi McCleave, CEO of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, gave one of two keynote addresses at MCC’s inaugural event, “Minnesota’s Racial Legacy: Finally Telling the Truth,” Sept. 24-25 at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis.

McCleave (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) put the work ahead in stark terms: “Why don’t we tell the truth about genocide in this country?” she asked. “Because people have things they will lose. It’s tied to Empire and control and money and land.”

At the same time, there’s a tremendous amount of healing that can happen and actions that could put this nation and its religious institutions on a more solid moral foundation.

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For Indigenous Peoples, Is Full Participation in “We the People” Progress or Assimilation?

Native Leaders Offer Differing Critiques of the Doctrine of Discovery and Different Paths Forward

Steve Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) and Mark Charles (Navajo/Dutch) are both outspoken critics of the Doctrine of Discovery, an expression of Christian superiority and the forerunner to Manifest Destiny. Their critiques take them in different directions. Newcomb emphasizes that Native peoples and nations need to move toward a free, independent and sovereign existence, while Charles emphasizes moving toward indigenous equality in American society.

This clash of views came into focus after Charles made a TED Talk on the Doctrine of Discovery earlier this year and Newcomb criticized it in an editorial.

It should come as no surprise that indigenous leaders hold differing opinions. Yet as non-indigenous people look to follow indigenous leadership in truth telling and healing around dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery, such differing views create a challenge to understanding what it means to be an ally.

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Lawsuits Being Readied Against North Dakota Law Enforcement, and More Stories from Indian Country Today

I spun through Indian Country Today’s news page for the past few days — so many good stories. They include articles on:

  • Lawsuits that will be pressed against law enforcement for the excessive force used against the water protectors near Standing Rock.
  • How a Native American water protector got an electoral vote for U.S. President.
  • Canada’s efforts to take action on its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and
  • How stopping one oil pipeline is winning a battle, not the war.

Below is a quick summary of each article and links to the full text. (And consider bookmarking Indian Country Today on your browser.) Continue reading

National Truth and Reconciliation Efforts Moving Forward

Truth Commission
From Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Several nations have used Truth and Reconciliation Commissions or similar processes to try to acknowledge and heal from the traumas colonial powers inflicted on Indigenous peoples. In the United States, such work is long overdue, both for Native Americans and other people of color.

An article published in Yes! Magazine this month discusses efforts to push Truth and Reconciliation forward at a national level. Continue reading

Tours of Dakota Sacred Sites in the Twin Cites, Update on Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Healing Minnesota Stories (HMS) invites you to join a “Tour of Dakota Sacred Sites” led by HMS founder and co-convener, Jim Bear Jacobs, and Bob Klanderud. The dates are open on a first-come, first served basis. The summer tours date options are:

  • Saturday, July 11, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 22, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 19, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.

The tours center around the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, what the Dakota refer to as Bdote, or “meeting place of rivers.” The tour stops include Fort Snelling, the site of the Dakota internment camp following the Dakota-U.S. War, and Pilot Knob Hill, a traditional burial ground. The tours give you an opportunity to learn parts of Minnesota history that have too long been ignored, and to learn about them from a Native perspective through story telling.

These tours have been very popular over the past two years and quite moving to over 500 previous participants. There is no charge for the tour, but a free will offering is appreciated. It supports Healing Minnesota Stories’ mission to create understanding and healing between Minnesota’s Native peoples and non-Native people, particularly those from communities of faith. We call ourselves Healing Minnesota Stories because we believe in the healing power of stories, such as those you will hear on this tour.

We meet at the Church of St. Peter’s (1405 Sibley Memorial Highway in Mendota). We proceed from there by auto caravan. We limit each tour to about 20 people to make the caravan easy to follow. Wear walking shoes and bring a bag lunch or snack. Registration is required. To register or for questions, email Renee at and give the date you want to attend. If you have a group of 12 or more, we can also schedule a separate date for your group.

Initial Fallout from Final Report of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission

In our May 31, 2015 blog, we reported on the release of the final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We now share a June 2 news report from APTN (the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) about some of the initial reactions indicating that much work is left to be done. The headline reads: “[Prime Minister] Harper won’t implement TRC recommendation on UN declaration on Indigenous peoples.” It reads in part:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper signaled Tuesday his government would not be implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People despite a call for the move from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) report released earlier in the day.

Harper also refused to back the conclusion of the commission which determined Indian residential schools were a main tool used by the Canadian government in its policy of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples.

The TRC released a summary of its final report in a ceremony that included a speech from Chair Murray Sinclair who called on Ottawa to implement the UN declaration as a way to begin reconciliation. Sinclair also said Harper’s 2008 apology for residential school rings hollow today because the federal government has done little to work toward reconciliation.

Click here for the full story.