Sparking change in Minnesota

On Aug. 18, I met with Minnesota Rep. Dean Urdahl and representatives of two Dakota/Sioux Indian communities. The meeting was mostly about drafting a resolution apologizing for the mistreatment and exploitation of Minnesota’s Indian peoples.

We also addressed Urdahl’s plan to modify and re-introduce the bill that I wrote and Rep. Mike Jaros (now retired) offered to change Minnesota’s 14 geographic place names that are disrespectful to Indians.

During the meeting, Urdahl asked me for a copy of my 2008 draft Minnesota apology resolution. And later, I mentioned that I would be sending him a revised resolution.

I spoke about the Doctrine of Discovery, which was based on a series of 15th century Papal bulls/decrees, as being the source of the past and present-day racism against Minnesota’s Indian peoples. I also mentioned that the national Episcopal Church recently adopted a resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery. In addition, I said that if our state is going to adopt an apology resolution it should repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. Leonard Wabasha, a hereditary chief of the Mdewakanton Dakota, who is often the chief spokesperson for the Dakota on reconciliatory issues, agreed.

Steve Newcomb is going through my draft apology resolution. We are corresponding regularly, and I am expecting to receive suggestions from him that will help me to improve it. Urdahl knows of Newcomb’s involvement and is looking forward to receiving my revised resolution.

Newcomb is an internationally renowned indigenous law scholar who is on the forefront of the movement to influence Pope Benedict XVI to publicly revoke the 15th century Papal bull [Inter Caetera]. It’s the Doctrine of Discovery Papal bull most responsible for the subjugation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Newcomb’s work on the Doctrine of Discovery in his many essays and his 2008 book “Pagans in the Promised Land” is the spark that ignited individuals in the Episcopal Church to pursue a resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery.

In my draft apology resolution, I write: “Whereas, Minnesota Native peoples are endowed by the Creator with inalienable or fundamental human rights, including the right to be fully independent sovereign nations and have absolute root ownership of their ancestral homelands.” Also, the right to religious freedom, which includes the right for Native peoples to re-establish their traditional religions in their sacred ancestral homelands.

I hope this apology resolution will ignite a great awakening of the American conscience. We set our nation’s African slaves free from the subjugated state of existence that we had imposed on them. We (people of the dominant culture and the U.S. government) should now set our nation’s aboriginal Natives free from the subjugated state of existence we still impose on them.

– Thomas Dahlheimer

Wahkon, Minn.