Winona Daily News
STATE LOOKS TO SETTLE UP WITH THE PAST
Date: Saturday, June 7, 2008
Byline: Thomas Dahlheimer, Wahkon, Minn.
The Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission has acknowledged that Minnesota committed ethnocide
and genocide against American Indians during its early history.
"Minnesotans pride themselves today on living in a state that is forward-thinking
and compassionate. We have become a haven for refugees from countries where genocide
still occurs. We recoil at the holocausts of World War I and II, and the more recent
acts of savagery in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
"Yet we remain either unaware of or unable to look at our own history and
acknowledge the painful wounds of ethnocide and genocide right here in
Minnesota. We have a very hard time acknowledging that the pain remains
and that it has affected much of our history through to the present day.
"Minnesota is home to 11 tribal nations. Tribes from Canada, the Dakotas,
and Nebraska and elsewhere, and tribal members here in Minnesota and others
are coming together to participate in ceremonies of reconciliation, such as
that in Winona in May during Statehood Week, thanks to the efforts of native
peoples and non-native peoples working together for many years hosting
such gatherings to bring about education and awareness."
When Minnesotans become aware of or able to look at their own history and
acknowledge the painful wounds of ethnocide and genocide right in their own
state, they will be inspired to go through a radical social, political
and religious transformation.
A peaceful cultural revolution will occur, and Minnesotans will be changed
for the better. And this will help to heal the Dakota Oyate's painful wounds
caused by ethnocide and genocide.
Leonard Wabasha, a hereditary chief of the Dakota and director of the Shakopee
Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community Cultural Resource Department, invited me
to address the Dakota tribal leaders and government officials during the May
16 reconciliatory ceremony in Winona.
During the reconciliatory ceremony, I spoke about the 15th century papal bull
("Inter Caetera"). A papal bull that was primarily responsible for Minnesota's
ethnocide and genocide against the Dakota Oyate.
A movement to revoke the papal bull has been ongoing for a number of years.
It was initiated by the Indigenous Law Institute in 1992. At the Parliament
of World Religions in 1994 over 60 indigenous delegates drafted a Declaration
It reads, in part: "We call upon the people of conscience in the Roman Catholic
hierarchy to persuade Pope John II to formally revoke the Inter Caetera Bull of
May 4, 1493, which will restore our fundamental human rights. That papal document
called for our Nations and Peoples to be subjugated so the Christian Empire and
its doctrines would be propagated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson vs.
McIntosh (in 1823) adopted the same principle of subjugation expressed in the
Inter Caetera Bull. This papal bull has been, and continues to be, devastating
to our religions, our cultures, and the survival of our populations."
I am on a mission to restore the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples.
Colorado is the first state to admit genocide against our nation's indigenous peoples. The
Colorado Legislature passed a resolution April 30, 2008, comparing the deaths of millions of
American Indians to the Holocaust and other acts of genocide around the world.
The resolution says Europeans intentionally caused many American Indian deaths and that
early American settlers often treated Indians with "cruelty and inhumanity."
Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, a Comanche Indian, said: "Colleagues, this resolution
is a recognition that up to 120 million indigenous people have died as a result of
European migration to what is now the United States of America."
Dahlheimer is the director of Rum River Name Change Organization Inc. and lives in
Wahkon, Minn. His Web site is www.towahkon.org.