A Historic and Monumental Resolution Regarding the Year of the Dakota

On Friday, December 14, 2012, the Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution titled “The Year of the Dakota: Remembering, Honoring and Truth-Telling,” which year began on December 26, 2012 through December 26, 2013. The Resolution contained such terms and phrases as: “Genocide” “Bounties” “Concentration Camps” “Forced Marches” “Mass Hangings” “Forcible Removals” etc. In my 72 “winters,” I had never seen a white governmental entity at any level – federal, state, or local – use such Truth-Telling terms in one of their official documents.

For me, it was “historic” to hear such Truth-Telling as contained in that Resolution. One Native college instructor called the document “monumental.”

This wonderful break-through event, the passing of the Resolution by the Minneapolis City Council, occurred as the Dakota People of Minnesota, along with their allies and supporters, are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. We say “Dakota-U.S. War of 1862” because it was the Dakota who declared war on the Wasicu (the Dakota word for the white man). The Dakota wished to drive the invaders and the land-stealers out of the Minnesota River valley. This decision by our Dakota leaders to declare war turned out to be disastrous.

One, of the things I have learned about this history, is that it is suppressed by the white academic establishment. The Genocide of the Dakota People of Minnesota and of the Indigenous Peoples of the U.S. is “hidden.” The U.S. Euro-Americans did not, and do not, wish to talk about this disgraceful and shameful history. I began to learn this in first grade, 1947-1948, in the Granite Falls, Minnesota public schools, although I, then, was not able to articulate this new learning. The white teachers said many things that were defamatory about the Dakota. The teachers said things that dehumanized us. They said disparaging things, like we didn’t make any real contributions to the development of Minnesota or of the U.S. They obliterated our history, teaching us that history only began when they came.

The Wasicu teachers did not talk about massive land theft, broken treaties, concentration camps, bounties, forced marches, mass hangings, forcible removals. Other topics not discussed included the suppression of our spirituality and ceremonies, the prohibition of our Indigenous languages. And, most certainly, the teachers covered up any talk about the Genocide of the Dakota People of Minnesota and of the Indigenous Peoples of the United States. Thus, based upon my experiences within the Granite Falls public schools, from 1947 to 1959, I learned, basically, nothing of Dakota history in the school.

The Oceti Sakowin Omniciye, “Seven Fires Summit,” is an educational group, especially dealing with the Treaty of 1805, the Dakota’s first treaty with the U.S. Most of the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis are located on the 155,000+ acres of land that was involved in the treaty. We have not been paid for this land. Also, we are exercising our treaty rights of fishing, hunting, trapping, and access to sacred sites located on this land.

We, also, are planning, and implementing activities, events, etc. re: the following:

the 150th anniversary of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862 and of the largest simultaneous mass hanging on December 26, 1862;

the 150th commemoration and honoring of our 1,700 Dakota women and children who were force-marched, November 07-13, 1862, 150 miles from southwestern Minnesota to a concentration camp at Ft. Snelling;

the 150th anniversary of the Concentration Camp experience of or Dakota women and children; and,

the forcible removal on May 04, 1863, of our Dakota People from Minnesota; and, the Genocidal military expeditions of Sibley, in which whole villages were indiscriminately destroyed and innocent Dakota were slaughtered, in the year 1863, in the areas now known as South Dakota and North Dakota.

The Oceti Sakowin Omniciye (OSO) worked with members of the Minneapolis City Council, which members spearheaded the passing of the Resolution, which declared 2013 as “The Year of the Dakota.” The St. Paul City Council is expected to pass the Minneapolis Resolution on Wednesday, January 09, 2013. The OSO is working with Representative Susan Allen to see if the state legislature and the Governor of Minnesota will pass the same Resolution and issue a Proclamation.

In conclusion, we, the Dakota People of Minnesota and our allies are elated about the passage of the Resolution by the Minneapolis City Council. We think that this Resolution is both “historic” and “monumental,” and will open the gates to Truth-Telling of the real history of the state of Minnesota and of the U.S. Hopefully, the public schools, the colleges and universities, and the historical societies will begin to teach the “inconvenient” Truths, and begin to use the difficult and painful terminology, We think that this Resolution will lead to dialogues to deal with difficult topics such as Genocide, Land Reparations, Land Restitution, etc. We are optimistic that “the year 2013 will mark the beginning of future dialogues and efforts to rectify the wrongs that were perpetrated during, and since, the year 1862, a tragic and traumatic event for the Dakota People of Minnesota.”

Ho Mitakuyapi. Wopida tanka owas eciciyapi do! “Yes, my Relatives, I extend to you all my deepest appreciation!” Mato Nunpa de miye! “I am Two Bear!”

Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D., is a former associate professor of indigenous nations and Dakota studies. He is working on a book titled A Sweet-Smelling Savour: Genocide, the Bible, and the Indigenous Peoples of the United States.