|Written by Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D., Ritired Former Associate Professor Indigenous Nations & Dakota Studies,
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In response to the Year of Healing Proclamation
I read with a great deal of interest the article in The Circle, May 2012, Volume 33, Issue 5, titled "Year of Healing Proclamation honors 1862 Dakota Conflict."
There are several coments and concerns that I wish to make about the article and the proclamation, which proclamation was authored by the "American Indian Movement, the Episcopal Church of Minnesot, and the Democratic-'Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), and the Native American Community at large."
First, there appears to be no input from the Dakota People of Minnesota. Also, I was wondering if there was any effort by the initiators of the resolution to seek input from the four Dakota Communities of Minnesota. I did talk to members of the Board of Trustees, the governing body of the Upper Sioux Community near Granite Falls, Minnesota, one of the four Dakota Communities in Minnesota, and they said no one approached them.
I think that they could have consulted Dakota academics such as: Dr. Waziyatawin, Professor Neil McKay, Dr. Gwen Westerman, Dr. Leo Omani, or myself, Dr. Chris Mato Nunpa, et. al.
Secondly, the "eventual goal," of the proclamation, is "to seek a presidential pardon for the 38 Dakota men who were executed." I see NO reason why this should be done. If anybody's country is invaded, or attempts made to steal someone's property, that person or group will resist the invasion and the theft. This is a perfectly human reaction, no matter what the color of skin, what language they speak, what religion they practice, etc. These Dakota men gave their lives for fighting for our lands, Mini Sota Makoce ("Land Where the Waters Reflect the Skies, or Heavens - a reference to the thousands of lakes in the ancient Dakota territory), they gave their lives for our Dakota People, and for our way of life. These men were the first patriots of Minnesota and they were martyrs, who sacrificed their lives for their lands, people, and way of life. They perpetrated no crime for which they need to be pardoned! These Dakota men merely reacted as other humans would react in a similar situation!!
Fourthly - Apparently, the two Indigenous individuals who are pushing this proclamation, according to my understanding of the article, are: Robert Two Bulls, an Episcopal priest, a Lakota from the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota; and a Robert Thunder-Reid, an Anishinabe from the Red Lake Reservation. They are not of the Dakota People of Minnesota.
One last comment - Some of us Dakota academics say "The Dakota-U.S. War of 1862." One of the reasons for this is that Kangi Cistinna (literally, "Little Raven"), or Little Crow, declared war on the Wasicu (white people)?and then attempted to drive the invaders and land-stealers out of the Minnesota River Valley. Little Crow sent his Declaration Of War to both Ramsey and Sibley. So, that is why we, the Dakota People, call it a "war" and not a "conflict" or "uprising" or "massacre" etc.
Also, the term "conflict" refers to the U.S. not declaring war, hence, we have the "Korean Conflict" or the "Viet Nam Conflict." However, it doesn't make a difference whether or not the United States declared war. We, the Dakota people, declared war. So we call it a war. Let the Minnesota Historical Society and colonizers call it a "conflict."
I think that any people should be consulted first before any paper, book, project, proclmation, resolution, etc. is written about them. I would like to think that these days of doing something to or for a people, without their consultation, input, or participation, are over. However, in this instance, I guess not.
Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D., Ritired Former Associate Professor Indigenous Nations & Dakota Studies