Regaining The Dakota People's Mille Lacs Traditional Homeland

Mde Wakan (Lake Mille Lacs) Image

by Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

On a Mille Lacs Kathio State Park interpretive sign, Leonard E. Wabasha is quoted as saying: "My people are the Mdewakanton Oyate. Mdewakanton means the People of Spirit Lake. Today that lake is known as Mille Lacs. This landscape is sacred to the Mdewakanton Oyate because one Otokaheys Woyakapi (creation story) says we were created here. It is especially pleasing for me to come here and walk these trails, because about 1718 the first Chief Wapahasa was born here, at the headwaters of the Spirit River. I am the eighth in this line of hereditary chiefs." (ref. 1)

When referring to the Mdewakanton "Sioux's" (Dakota's) Mille Lacs history, Angel Oehrlein wrote, in a Nov. 8th Mille Lacs Messenger letter: "When we attended schools in the 1930's, we studied actual events, such as French-sponsored Sieur DuLuth's 1760s Vineland battle, which drove the Sioux from the Mille Lacs area."

Minnesota's DNR website presents information about this topic. "Early White/Indian intervention played an important role in the settlement of the area by white men. The French, instigated fights between the Ojibwe and Dakota so as to ally themselves with the Ojibwe." (ref. 2)

On a Minnesota Historical Society plaque located near the mouth of "Spirit River" (currently named "Rum River") there are the words, when referring to the Dakota's ancient Mille Lacs village: "About 1750 the Chippewa moving westward from lake Superior captured the village, and by this decisive battle drove the Sioux permanently into southern Minnesota." (ref. 3)

On the Lower Sioux Mdewakanton website the Lower Sioux state that: "Long ago, the Mdewakanton Dakota lived around Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota. Around 1750, our ancestors were displaced by another nation, the Anishinnabe, and they relocated throughout the southern portion of the state. This was not the last time the Mdewakantons would be forced into a new home." (ref. 4)

The S.D. Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe states on a website about their history that" The "Santee Sioux bands" had begun a stage of transition into a new culture with their expulsion from their traditional homeland around Mille Lacs.

And on Nebraska's Santee Tribe website there are the words: "The Santee's defeat by the Chippewas at the Battle of Kathio in the late 1700s forced them to move to the southern half of the state which would bring them into close contact and eventually conflict with the white settlers. From that point on, survival for the Santee Tribe would become a daily struggle. (ref. 5)

As Europeans settled the East coast, they displaced eastern tribes who then migrated to get away from the White civilization, and they, in their turn, with the help of the western-moving Europeans, displaced weaker local tribes they encountered, and pushed many of those tribes farther from their homelands, as they took over their homelands. (ref. 6)

Europeans sought to extinguish the ancestral ties that these local tribes have with the land, their ancestors and the spirit world. Evidence of this practice has shown itself time and time again throughout the Americas and is now facing international pressure in an effort to correct the sins of the present by recognizing and addressing the history of the Americas.

On July 2, 1679 Duluth planted the flag of France on the Dakota people's sacred Mille Lacs area homeland, where the Dakota had lived for several hundred years. What was the significance of this flag planting?

According to a United Nations World Conference Against Racism document: "In the fifteenth century, two Papal Bulls set the stage for European domination of the New World and Africa. Romanus Pontifex, issued by Pope Nicholas V to King Alfonso V of Portugal in 1452, declared war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioned and promoted the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories." In Pope Alexander VI's papal bull of 1493 (Inter Caetera), he stated his desire that the "discovered" people be "subjugated and brought to the faith itself." By this means, said the pope, the "Christian Empire" would be propagated. These Papal Bulls, or "doctrines of discovery", sanctioned Christian nations to claim "unoccupied lands", or lands belonging to "heathens" or "pagans". (ref. 7)

Therefore, when Duluth planted the flag of France on the Dakotas sacred Mille Lacs area homeland he was proclaiming that the Dakota's Mille Lacs homeland now belonged to France. The indigenous people of the Americas were red pagans, and not white European Christians, therefore, according to fifteenth century papal bulls, they did not own the land that they were living on, nor did they have a moral or legal right to own any land. Therefore, the unoccupied land that the indigenous people discovered and were living on could be claimed by the first European Christian explorer to plant his nation's flag on it.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe oral tradition tells that, by the end of the 1760s Kathio battle, their ancestors had violently forced the Dakota from their Mille Lacs area homeland; and that that is how they took possession of the Mille Lacs area land that they now live on. However, because they were indigenous red pagans they didn't own the land that they, with the help of the Europeans, took from the Dakota people. And these indigenous red Ojibwe pagans, to this present-day, do not own the land that they are now living on, its U.S.A. federal land. The indigenous people of the Americas, still, do not have a papal granted moral right to own land. The papal bull Inter Caetera has not yet been revoked. (ref. 8) I am working to rectify this injustice. (ref. 9) At least a part of the Dakota people's original Mille Lacs area homeland should be give back to them.

Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer
Director of Rum River Name Change Organization, Inc.

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I have a facebook group named "Regaining The Dakota Oyate's Mille Lacs Traditional Homeland".

Lake Traverse Reservation is located in South Dakota and is home to 10,840 Sisseton- Wahpeton Dakota people. It is composed of descendants of the Isanti people. Isan means "Knife" and Isanti refers to the Knife Lake and Mille Lacs Lake people of the Dakota nation. In the month of December, 2006 the editor of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux (Dakota) Tribe's newspaper published this displayed above article

This article is also displayed on the Indigenous Peoples Literature website. Over 10,000,000 people have visited this website. This article can be viewed and read by clicking Regaining The Dakota's Mille Lacs Ancestral Homeland

In addition, blackcrowheart posted this article on the American Indian Society Delaware Forum, it can be viewed and read by clicking Regaining The Dakota's Mille Lacs Ancestral Homeland

The natives operating the website also have this article posted on their website. It can be veiwed and read by clicking Regaining the Dakota's Mille Lacs Ancestral Homeland .

The article "Regaining the Dakota's Mille Lacs Homeland" was published on The Good Red Road website. The article can be viewed and read by clicking The Good Red Road .

A Minneapolis American Indian Center Dakota boy's group canoed down the Wakpa Wakan (Rum River) to connect with the past and to proclaim that their people's Wakpa Wakan Watershead ancestral/traditional homeland is still concidered sacred to them and other Dakota people.

In The Circle article 'Dakota Rising' its author Jon Lurie describes how Wyatt Thomas (Dakota) traveled to Mille Lacs County from Nebraska where he lives on a reservation as a member of the Santee Dakota Tribe. Thomas said that Minnesota, and Ogechie lake in particular, was, to him, "home". Thomas was on a mission to scout his tribe's Minnesota ancestral lands. An important first step in reintroducing the Santee Dakota to their original homeland."... "Thomas is one voice in a growing chorus of indigenous cultural leaders who agree that the reclamation of traditional lands is crucial to solving the Dakota mental health crisis due to the brutality of their historic treatment."

Isanti County News article about Dakota boy's group: reclaiming the Wakpa Wakan (Rum River)


In a recorded radio broadcast (ref.) , Waziyatawin (Angela Wilson), historian and a leading MN Dakota Indian activist says that she hopes that the Dakota will eventually regain some of their Mille Lacs (north-central MN) ancestral homeland wild rice grounds. In respect to my article Regaining The Dakota's Sacred Mille Lacs Ancestral Homeland, Waziyatawin told me "your doing good work"


Associated article History of the Dakota People In Minnesota


Support for the effort to regain the Dakota's Mille Lacs ancestral homeland.

Rev. Rev. Sequoyah Kofi bin-Tomas' letter of support.

Rev. Sequoyah Kofi bin-Tomas is an internationally regarded essayist and Indigenist political commentator. He has been called one of North America's most articulate and uncompromising post-colonialist voices examining the motives, means and end results of 500 years of pro-Eurocentric global exploitation. His highly informative writings and public discussions have been studied in university courses and political action groups in the U.S. and abroad.

Nearly one hundred of his essays and commentaries have appeared in various international political journals and periodicals.

His written works and recorded interviews have been translated into Mandarin, German, French, Japanese, Tagalog, Spanish and Korean.

Rev. Sequoyah Kofi-Ade website is located at

His letter supporting the effort to change the name of the Rum River and regain the Dakota people's Wakan/"Mille Lacs" Lake ancestral/traditional homeland can be viewed and read at: letter of support

Minnesota Indian Affiars Council Draft Resolution

The Dakota Peoples History in Minnesota

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