Minnesota Apology Resolution

By Thomas Dahlheimer

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Minnesota Representative Dean Urdahl expects to offer an Apology Resolution (reconciliation bill) that apologizes for the mistreatment and exploitation of Minnesota’s indigenous people?

Urdahl recently informed me that he will work with me along with others and try to find wording that will work. And that when he believes the wording will work, he will introduce the resolution.

Urdall also expects to offer a bill to change Minnesota’s derogatory geographic place names that are offensive to indigenous people.

I am an indigenous people’s rights activist who wrote a draft bill to change Minnesota’s 14 derogatory geographic place names that are offensive to Indians and then sent it to Rep. Mike Jaros, who then introduced it. And did so, after I addressed the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and received the council’s approval for him to introduce the bill.

After Jaros retired, Rep. Urdahl decided to modify and sponsor the name-changing bill. Rep. Urdahl is in real good standings with the Dakota (Sioux) tribal leaders. He asked the federal government to repeal the Indian Removal Act which banded exiled Dakota Indians from Minnesota. He recently spoke to the tribal leaders of several different Dakota bands who came to this year’s Winona, Minnesota annual “Great Dakota Gathering and Homecoming”.

A year ago, the Winona Daily News published a letter of mine, titled, State looks to settle up with the past. Excerpts from the letter read:

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.”

“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.” (ref.)

In respect to the wording of the apology resolution, I would like the resolution to include wording as to where the source of the racism that caused Minnesota to commit “ethnocide and genocide” against its aboriginal natives came from.

In a first-of-its-kind action in the Christian world, the national Episcopal Church – during a July, 2009 convention – passed a landmark resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery. The resolution identifies where, both, the source of the racism against U.S. indigenous people came from during our nation’s early history, as well as where it is still coming from, the Doctrine of Discovery. (ref.)

On October 13, 2008, the World Conservation Conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature acknowledged, in a motion, a connection between the colonization of Indigenous Peoples’ lands, which was sanctioned by the Doctrine of Discovery, a doctrine based on a series of 15th century Vatican papal decrees that were official authorizations to “invade, capture, vanquish” and “subdue” Indigenous Peoples, “subjugate” them and “reduce their persons to perpetual slavery” and “to take away all their possessions and property”. (ref.)

“The origins of the Doctrine of Discovery can be traced to Pope Nicholas V’s issuance of the papal bull [Romanus Pontifex] in 1452. The bull allowed Portugal to claim the conquer lands in West Africa. Pope Alexander VI extended to Spain the right to conquer newly-found indigenous peoples’ lands in 1493, with the papal bull [Inter Caetera], after Christopher Columbus had already begun doing so.” (ref.)

The Doctrine of Discovery was a principle of international law developed in a series of 15th century papal bulls and 16th century charters by European monarchs. It was essentially a racist philosophy that gave white Christian Europeans the green light to go forth and claim the lands and resources of non-Christian peoples and kill or enslave them – if other Christian Europeans had not already done so.”

The national Episcopal Church’s recent landmark resolution not only repudiates the Doctrine of Discovery, it also urges the U.S. government to endorse the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

“Steven Newcomb’s work on the Doctrine of Discovery in his many essays and his 2008 book “Pagans in the Promise Land” is the spark that ignited individuals in the Episcopal Church to pursue the resolution.”

Indigenous Peoples Literature posts articles of mine about Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Two internationally renowned indigenous activists [Steven Newcomb and Tony Castanha] who are in the forefront of the movement to influence the Pope to revoke the 15th century Papal bull [Inter Caetera], a bull that is the source of the past and present-day harmful racism against indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere, correspond with me and have mentioned that I have written “good articles” on this topic. (ref.) Tony Castanha wrote: “Very good article” (ref.)

According to Steven Newcomb, the United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous People is a declaration that had to be written and passed because of a series of 15th century papal bulls that denied Indigenous Peoples their fundamental human rights. (ref.)

A United Nations World Conference Against Racism document identifies the Doctrine of Discovery as being the source of past and present-day racism against Indigenous Peoples. (ref.)

During the 1993 UN Parliament of World Religions, 60 indigenous delegates wrote a Declaration of Vision asking the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church to revoke the 15th century papal bull [Inter Caetera], a bull that is at the heart of the Doctrine of Discovery, so that Indigenous People in the Western Hemisphere can regain their fundamental human rights.

“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 Cetera 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.'” (ref.)

Johnson v. M’Intosh, held that because of the Doctrine of Discovery American Indians have a mere right of occupancy to their lands. The racist ruling is foundational to federal Indian law. (ref.)

Dieffenbacher- Krall, the executive director of the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission and originator of the national Episcopal Church’s resolution movement, said the ultimate goal is to overturn Johnson v. M’Intosh, and dismantle Congress’ claim to plenary power over Indian nations. (ref.)

In February 1999, the United Church of Christ, Hawai’i Conference, passed a resolution calling upon people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy and in other organized religions to persuade the Pope to revoke the 1493 papal bull Inter Caetera. (ref.)

On August 4, 2006, there was a gathering of Indian nations and people from North and South America at Mato Paha (Bear Butte). They issued a call to the Vatican and the Queen of England to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery inspired papal bulls of 1493 and the English royal charter of 1496 that alleged to create legal rights for Europeans over the lands and peoples of the Americas. (ref.)

On October 26, 2007, Maine Episcopalians passed a resolution at their annual convention calling for Queen Elizabeth and the Archbishop of Canterbury “to disavow and rescind the claimed validity of the doctrine of discovery against all peoples, specifically as it is set forth in the 1496 Royal Charter granted to John Cabot and his sons by King Henry VII, and all other doctrines that have been relied thereon for the dispossession of lands and the subjugation of non-Christian peoples from their initial use to the present.” (ref.)

I have an online draft Minnesota Apology Resolution that apologizes for the mistreatment and exploitation of Minnesota’s indigenous people. It includes information about the papal bull [Inter Caetera] and how it has caused a lot of grief for Minnesota’s indigenous people, as well as for all indigenous people in the U.S.

My Minnesota Indian Affair Council draft resolution, which the MIAC council asked me the write, asks the MN legislature to pass the bill to change MN’s derogatory names, it identifies the source of the racism associated with why Minnesota has derogatory names that are offensive to Indians, the 15th century papal bull [Inter Caetera]. (ref.)

My draft Minnesota Apology Resolution that apologizes for the mistreatment and exploitation of Minnesota’s indigenous people also identifies the source of the racism associated with why Minnesota has radically mistreated and exploited Native Americans, the 15th century papal bull [Inter Caetera]. (ref.)

On April 30, 2009, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback re-introduced the Native American Apology Resolution, which offers an apology from the United States government to American Indians. Brownback said: “While we cannot erase the past, it is time for us to heal past wounds. We should acknowledge previous failures, express sincere regrets, and work toward establishing a brighter future for all Americans.”

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 Native Americans to the Holocaust and other acts of genocide around the world. (ref.)

My Roman Catholic bishop, Bishop John Kinney, Archbishop John Nienstedt, Archbishop Harry Flynn and Chris Liefeld, the Executive Director for the Minnesota Catholic Conference correspond with me. They are fully aware of all of my indigenous peoples rights activist initiatives, including my draft Minnesota Apology Resolution, and we are on good terms. I believe that our state will be the first state to pass an apology resolution that identifies the Doctrine of Discovery or the Papal bull [Inter Caetera] as being the source of the harmful racism against U.S. indigenous peoples. (ref.) (ref.) (ref.)

When Mike Jaros was a MN representative, he expected to offer a Minnesota Apology Resolution for the mistreatment and exploitation of MN’s Indians. At the time, I discovered that a big door of opportunity opened up. I began contacting the bishops of Minnesota Christian Churches and also leaders of Christian organizations – such as the director of the Minnesota Council of Churches and the director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, etc. – in order to ask them if they would like to write apology letters to apologize for their church’s or their Christian organization’s (or for the Christian religion’s) ties to the mistreatment and exploitation of our state’s and nation’s Indigenous People. An apology letters that would be introduced with the Minnesota Apology Resolution or reconciliation resolution. After doing so, I received a lot of positive response e-mails and letters. I will contact these Christian leaders again and request that they write apology letters to go long with Rep. Urdahl’s 2009 Minnesota Apology Resolution. (ref.)

Because of the Doctrine of Discovery and the 1823 U.S. Supreme court ruling [Johnson vs. McIntosh], a ruling based on the Doctrine of Discovery’s principle that calls for the subjugation of Indigenous Peoples, Minnesota’s Indigenous Peoples, as well as all of our nation’s Indigenous Peoples our still living in a subjugated state of existence.

Because present-day Indigenous Peoples’ ancestors were not Christians at the time of their [discovery] by white European Christians, they, according to U.S. federal Indian law, still can not be granted absolute ownership of their ancestral homelands, nor can they be granted full independent sovereign nations status and rights.

These fundamental human rights of theirs are still being denied them, and this causes many Indigenous People to experience low self esteem, which subsequently causes depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse problems, lack of incentive to work and provide for themselves, their families and tribes. Hence many experience poverty and serious health problems that end with death. And this amounts to a slow genocidal process that continues to plaque Indigenous peoples to this present day.

I hope that the readers of this article will become aware that here in America a great awakening is occurring that is similar to the awakening that the Germans experienced after World War II: an awakening to their criminal nature and behavior. America is awakening to its terrible crimes against humanity, to its need for radical repentance and to its need to offer restitution justice to the Indigenous People it has so radically abused.

About Wahkon

I am an activist who is spearheading an international movement to change the name of a Minnesota river (the Rum River) back to its sacred Dakota Indian name [Wakan], which translated means Spirit or Great Spirit.