Fighting Racism Against Natives In Mille Lacs County, MN
by Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer
A growing and significant number of Caucasians in the Mille Lacs area of Mille Lacs County are starting to
know and understand the truth about the racism against Natives that they have been unknowingly guilty of, and they are
now beginning to repent and change for the better. This is something that I had been
working for, for a long time.
In fact, many years ago I prophesied that this would happen.
Decades ago, I also prophesied that the Mille Lacs area would eventually be where the
activists on the cutting edge of the global movement to set indigenous peoples free from their
subjugated state of existence would be centered, and that from this area we would be
successful at accomplishing this goal.
Indian Country Today Media Network, the world's largest Indian news source, has posted
a lot of my submitted comments on articles that were written by the
internationally acclaimed Indigenous activist
Steven Newcomb. ICTMN generally posts two or three selective comments per article.
Several of my Mille Lacs Messenger
newspaper letters have been posted as comments on Mr. Newcomb's ICTMN articles.
Also, a 429 word
comment of mine was posted on an ICTMN article by the Chair
of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, Kevin Leecy. I believe that when people read these
of mine they will be persuaded that my above grandiose prophecy is, today, a
reasonable belief, or prediction.
Some of my comments on ICTMN articles are about the movement to change the Rum River's derogatory
name back to its sacred Lakota/Dakota name Wakan. Decades ago, I started this
movement by establishing the
Rum River Name Change Organization and setting up a
website to promote this campaign.
There is one Lakota/Dakota creation story that says they sprang into existence "about the
lakes at the head of the Rum River." These lakes are located in the Mille Lacs area. Many years ago,
I prophesied that the exiled Dakota people would return to Mille Lacs
and regain a portion of this sacred traditional/ancestral homeland of theirs. I believe that
the awesome amount of support gained for the name-change of the "Rum River"
is another indication that my prophecies will soon be fulfilled.
Not long after the publication of my March 22, 2017, Mille Lacs Messenger letter about a 15th-century papal edict that European monarchs used to
create an international legal construct called the Doctrine of Discovery - a Doctrine that was adopted into U.S. law in 1823 and is, today, the foundation of the
institutionalized U.S.A. white racism that unjustly subjugates Native peoples - two other related Messenger
letters were published. They were written by prominent residents of the Mille Lacs area.
Two paragraphs from the Mille Lacs Messenger's May 31st "Letter Of The Week",
which was written by Sue Layback, are presented below.
"I remain a member of Faith Lutheran. It is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
joined with others to be the body of Christ in love and service, promoting peace and justice, and
caring for those in need. Last fall at the churchwide assembly in New Orleans, and this spring
at our local assembly, resolutions were passed repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery.
This doctrine was a force that pervaded this country and Europe, paving the way for mass
entry into this land and the removal of Native peoples with little regard for their rights
as human beings. The honest remorse-filled rejection, at last, of this doctrine of thought
and action, is long overdue. I am grateful to be part of it. Repudiating the doctrine of
discovery is just one step in the journey towards healing and reconciliation, but a vital one."
"May we here at Mille Lacs enter into similar dialogue. May we find ways to acknowledge our
brokenness and the forces that have led us into divisiveness. It can be done.
We are all in this together. We can and must find our common value despite differences, to find
ways to honor this lake – the gifts of our Creator – while tending, sharing and
caring for all. After all, why should we be doing anything less?"
Several years ago, I attended and participated in a meeting with Rep. Dean Urdahl and Dakota
leaders. During this meeting, held near the State Capital, Urdahl asked me to write
an apology resolution and then send it to him. I did so, Urdahl then edited it and (with the
approval of the Mdewakanton Dakota hereditary chief, Leonard E. Wabasha) introduced it to the
MN legislature, as a resolution expressing regret. The harm that the Doctrine of Discovery has
caused the Native peoples of Minnesota is stated in the resolution. Steven Newcomb, one of
the world's most renowned Indigenous experts on the Doctrine of Discovery, had some input
into the draft of this resolution.
The other related Mille Lacs Messenger letter to the editor was written by Brett Larson, a former
editor of the Messenger who is now a newsletter staff writer for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. (When Mr. Larson was the editor of
the Messenger he published several of my letters on this topic.) In a recent Mille Lacs Messenger response letter to
Mike Wehking’s letter, Brett Larson wrote:
"However, he’s still missing the main point when it comes to our neighbors exercising their treaty rights. The point being: He’s a white guy telling Indians to fish like white people.
The bands manage their fishery differently. They allow their people to fish with nets and spears or
hook and line. Their traditional methods are just as important to them as our traditions are to us."
"When many Indians hear white people telling them how to fish (or how not to), they hear hundreds of years of white people telling them how to live, where to live, what language to speak (or not speak), how to worship, how to govern themselves, and how to define their reservation.
In short, what they hear is racism."
"Mike and most other white folks around the lake don’t harbor any conscious ill will or feelings
of superiority toward Indians. But racism (of which I have also been guilty) is far more subtle
than a simple belief that “my race is better.” Racism comes out in inexplicable negative
feelings, and in the belief that they just don’t get it, there’s something wrong with them, or
our ways are better than their ways. Until white people around here understand the effects of
our words and actions on our Indian neighbors, it will be impossible for this community to
I hope and pray that these recent letters to the editor, along with some
past (and likely future)
Messenger letters on this topic, as well as a Guest Column and letter in the Union-Times,
will inspire the majority of white people in Mille
Lacs County to come to know and understand the truth about the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, a
white-racist doctrine that our nation was
founded on, and which remains intact today, and is
root cause of our country's extreme racism being committed against
the Native peoples of this land.
And I also pray that after a majority of white people in Mille Lacs County have hopefully accepted
this truth, as well as other related truths, they will be inspired to welcome and
prepare the way for the Dakota people to return and
regain a portion of their
sacred Mille Lacs ancestral homeland, which would constitute the
reestablishment of their full independent sovereign nation status and rights on their
I can be reached at Wahkonrainbow@gmail.com
News: On June 17, 2017, the title of this article "Fighting Racism Against Natives In Mille Lacs County, MN",
plus the link to it, along with a map (displayed below( highlighting Mille Lacs County, was posted
here on the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community's Facebook site.