Monday, December 8, 2008

Combating White Racism Against Indigenous Peoples

By Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

I am a Christian activist who is spearheading the local, national and international movement to revert the faulty-translation and profane name of Minnesota's "Rum River" back to its sacred Dakota Indian name Wakan, which translated means Spirit or Great Spirit.

I am also try to change 13 other derogatory geographic site names that are offensive to American Indians. After MN Representative Mike Jaros received my draft bill to change the name of the "Rum River" as well as 13 other MN geographic site names that are offensive to American Indians, he slightly edited it and then with the consent of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council he introduced it to the MN legislature.

This geographic site name-changing mission of mine is a part of my work to greatly transform Christianity by eliminating white racism in it.

Jerry Mander is an internationally renowned indigenous peoples rights activist. He is the Founder and Director of International Forum On Globalization (IFG), an organization that represents 60 organizations in 25 countries. He is also credited with co-editing a IFG book with Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. In his book The Absence Of The Sacred Mander writes:

"Our assumption of superiority does not come to us by accident. We have been trained in it. It is soaked into the fabric of every Western religion, economic system, and technology. Judeo-Christian religions are a model of hierarchical structure: one God above all, certain humans above other humans, and humans over nature. Political and economic systems are similarly arranged: organized along rigid hierarchical lines, all of nature's resources [including 'other humans'] are regarded only in terms of how they serve the one god, the god of growth and expansion. In this way, all of these systems are *missionary*; they embrace dominance. They are the creators and the enforcers of our beliefs. We live inside these forms, we are imbued with them and they justify our behaviors. In our turn, we believe in their viability and superiority [as systems] largely because they prove effective: they gain [us] power.

Gary R. Howard, the Founder and President of the REACH Center for Multicultural Education, has developed collections of curriculum materials which are being used internationally. He is frequently asked to deliver keynote addresses at regional and national conferences. He wrote:

"Most of our work in race relations and workforce diversity in the United States has emphasized the particular cultural experiences and perspectives of black, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian groups. These, after all, are the people who have been marginalized by the weight of European American dominance. With the shifting tide of population in the United States, however, there is now a need to take a closer look at the unique and changing role of white Americans. Attention to whites' role in multicultural education is very recent, and the focus on white identity development in multicultural education signals a shift away from equity pedagogy."

Professor Christine Sleeter is a multicultural educator, who lectures nationally and internationally. She won the National Association for Multicultural Education Research Award. She wrote:

"The importance of multicultural education is a struggle against white racism, rather than multiculturalism as a way to appreciate diversity. Both historically and in contemporary society, the relationships between racial and ethnic groups in this country are framed within a context of unequal power. People of European descent generally assume the power to claim the land, claim the resources, claim the language. They even claim the right to frame the culture and identity of who we are as Americans. That has been the case ever since Columbus landed on the North American continent."

The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) is combating white racism, and on this topic it teaches:

(1.)"In spite of the first two World Conferences to Combat Racism and their calls that Indigenous Peoples have a right to their lands and natural resources that must be protected, Indigenous Peoples continue to lose their lands at an alarming rate, seemingly a continuation of the 'Conquest' of the Americas."

(2.)"Ever since Pope Alexander VI's 1493 Papal Bull "Inter Caetera", calling for the subjugation of the Americas' "barbarous nations" and their lands, first colonial and then successor States have forcibly and violently destroyed Indigenous Peoples. To this day, the racial discrimination and cultural denigration established by Pope Alexander VI are engraved in the mentality of the Americas and continue to underlie the rational for racial discrimination against Indigenous Peoples. The religious imperatives of conversion and annihilation have been replaced by assimilation and "development " as the most desirable end for Indigenous Peoples. The State, economic elites and trans-national corporations have replaced the Spanish and Portuguese kings and Colonists as the beneficiaries of Indigenous lands and resources. "Reference: (1.)

Mililani Trask is an indigenous expert to the United Nations. She wrote: "Globalization is the new form of economic colonization. There is racism here, there surely is.

An IFG - Indigenous Peoples and Globalization Project - statement declares:

"This project aims to examine and publicize the multiple impacts of the globalization process on the most marginalized of all populations, native peoples. Today, millions of native people still live traditional lifestyles, each with a distinct culture, language, knowledge base, identity, and view of the cosmos. The impact of globalization is strongest on these populations perhaps more than any other because these communities have no voice and are therefore easily swept aside by the invisible hand of the market and its proponents. Globalization not only discounts native peoples, it is driving them closer and more rapidly toward extinction."

Note: Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the Chair of this IFG project as well as Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issue (UNPFII). The UNPFII has given its support for my effort to change the profane Rum River name, a faulty translation name that desecrates the sacred Dakota Indian name Wakan.

National and international leaders of multicultural education, the leaders of the International Forum On Globalization, and the International Indian Treaty Council seem to be on the same wave length when it comes to their campaigns to eliminate white-racism.

In addition to my Christian (Roman Catholic) social and political activist campaign to replace twenty six of Minnesota's white racist geographic site names that are offensive to the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, I am also promoting my own campaign to eliminate white racism. A campaign that is similar to that of internationally renowned multicultural educators, leaders of the IFG and the International Indian Treaty Council. My Web site (2.)

Steve Russell (Cherokee), a Texas state judge, twice past President of the Texas Indian Bar Association, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Indiana University, wrote, when referring to my campaign: "This campaign is a valuable history lesson!" And Tom Wisner, a singer and song writer who is known nationally for his song "Chesapeake Born", and who has received national, state, and local awards for excellence in teaching, sent me an e-mail in response to the news of Rep. Mike Jaros' offer to help with the "important legislation" to change MN's geographic place names that are offensive to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the e-mail Mr. Wisner mentioned that it is "conceivable to hire good education song writers" to promote legislative projects to show due respect for Indigenous peoples' languages and traditional cultures. And he also mentioned that he "could develop a proposal if he (Rep. Mike Jaros) is interested".

Apparently, white racists used the evil name of the Devil to name twelve of Minnesota's geographic place names. Linda Godfrey, a best-selling author and award winning journalist wrote:

"Racial hatred was why many geographic places were given the name Devil. Place names evoking the Devil reflect a dominant attitude on the part of Euro-American settlers towards the New World during the migration into the wild West. The history of place names is based in mistranslation, deliberate insult and slur..., as well as a Christian notion of the wilderness as the domain of the Devil."

"The origination of many of the Devils across Wisconsin probably has more to do with racial hatred than anything else. Early white settlers were mostly Christian and viewed Native Americans with their different spiritual practices as heathens (at best) or savages and devil-worshipers (most likely). It's a long-standing tradition across time to demonize your foes prior to taking everything they have, including their lives, to assuage any possible feelings of guilt."

"Native Americans saw spirits in many shapes and forms and though there was sometimes a Supreme Being, goodness or badness or tricks flowed from a variety of sources. In the simplistic Either/Or view of the early settlers, this mind-set of multiple spiritual sources was tantamount to practicing deviltry, and so settlers tended to put a malevolent spin on the landscape when interpreting native names for the surrounding landscape."

" the native cosmogony there is no single evil spirit comparable to the devil. In the mind of the settlers though, all this "heathen" spirituality had to be the work or the sign of the devil. So the name Devil was given often to native areas known formerly by names meaning Sacred or Spirit or Mystery."

"For example, Devil's Lake in Wisconsin's Sauk County is the white settlers' interpretation of the Ho-Chunk name Day-wa-kun-chunk, meaning Sacred Lake.

In the Encyclopedia of North American Indians there is an article titled: Place names. The following excerpt was take from the article. "Manitou and Wakanda are common names on the map as Algonquian and Siouan terms for the Great Spirit. Whites often changed these names to Devil, and so we have Devil's Lake in Michigan, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and elsewhere."

In Minnesota we have Devil Track Lake and Devil Track River, in these cases the Ojibwe name for the Great Spirit (Manitou) was mistranslated Devil. And in Minnesota we also have Rum River and West Branch Rum River. In these cases the sacred Dakota name Wakan, translated as (Great) Spirit, was mistranslated as the "demon spirit" rum, which brought misery and ruin to many of the natives.

Let's replace these white racists names, let's not let these evil racist names adorn our geographic places and maps.

The first Pope (Peter) was a Jew, but all of the Popes since Peter have been white European men. I believe that the reason why a Catholic indigenous man of the Americas, who is participating in his people's culture, within his people's traditional homeland, can not become the Pope as well as why no other colored indigenous Catholic man who is participating in his people's culture, within his people's traditional homeland, can become the Pope is because the Roman Catholic Church believes in and practices extreme white racism in the context of radical institutional racism. Reference: statistics revealing institutional racism (3.)

I believe that many white people of European descent are psychologically addicted to a type of racism where in they need to dominate the world. They need their white European Pope sitting on the throne of Peter exercising great influence over the world.

A recent United Nations' World Conference Against Racism document proclaims that a 15th century Papal Bull "declared war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioned and promoted the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories." (4.) This Papal Bull, written by Pope Nicholas V, instructed Columbus and other slave traders to "capture, vanquish, and subdue the pagans, and other enemies of Christ," to "put them into perpetual slavery," and "to take all their possessions and property". (5.) And in Pope Alexander VI's papal bull of 1493 (Inter Caetera), he stated his desire that the "discovered" people be "subjugated and brought to the faith itself." By this means, said the pope, the "Christian Empire" would be propagated. (6.) Consequently, Columbus wrote, after discovering the homelands of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold." (7.) ... (8.)

Reverend Bartolome de Las Casas, the first European historian in the Americas wrote, when referring to the Europeans' first forty years of genocidal behavior in the Americas:

"...for they are still acting like ravening beasts, killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the native peoples, doing all this with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty, never seen or heard of before, and to such a degree that this Island of Hispaniola once so populous (having a population that I estimated to be more than three million), has now a population of barely two hundred persons." Reference: (9.)

I believe that Pope Nicholas V and Pope Alexander VI were white racist genocidal madmen who are primarily responsible for 100,000,000 Indigenous Peoples of the Americas elimination in the course of Europe's ongoing "civilization" of the Western hemisphere. Both the present Pope as well as our nation's white Catholic Bishops are still pursuing Pope Nicholas V's and Pope Alexander VI's white racist genocidal agenda. Reference: (10.)

The Indigenous Peoples of the Americas sacred homelands were stolen from them, they were enslaved and killed by diseases, wars and alcohol. And those who survived this Roman Catholic Church instigated and promoted genocide were forced onto reservations (concentration camps) where they are now being assimilated. And on these reservations they are dying from alcohol abuse, hard drug abuse, tobacco abuse, poor diets etc.. And most white Christian leaders do not even care enough to do anything about this terrible situation. It's like when the Jews in white European Catholic nations were forced into slums where they were dying of malnutrition and diseases until Hitler decided not to prolong the genocide and exterminated them in his gas chambers.

Mililani Trask is an indigenous expert to the United Nations, she was nominated and appointed as the Pacific representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Ms. Trask is calling on Indigenous peoples the world over to work together to eliminate the prevailing colonial mindset. In her article, A Question of Sovereignty, Ms. Trask writes:"When you look at the nations sitting at the UN you can see that they're all sovereign, but nobody wants to give self-determination to Indigenous peoples."

"Why? Because with our history of colonization, our peoples were placed in a different political status from those of the dominant society. And that old colonial format was maintained by social mechanisms of power which exist to this very day."

"What are the roots of racism? We make a mistake if we believe that racism started when the colonizer sailed in. I really do not subscribe to this belief. If we're going to get to the roots of racism, we go beyond the point of colonization."

"Before Cook sails to Hawaii, what brought him there? What brought Columbus to America? What sent the Spaniards to Central and South America? How did that happen?"

"Well it started back in the 1500s and it started in Rome. From edicts that were enunciated through the Papal Bulls. These were statements and pronouncements that came from the Vatican. And with these pronouncements, the world was divided up for European Christian colonizers."

"What was actually happening at the time was that the monarchs of the Christian nations - the Brits, the French, the Italians, the Dutch - began to fight and war over land and natural resources. In seeking a way to resolve this bloodshed in Europe, they went to the Holy Father."

"This is at a period of time in Western history that predates the concept of secularization, there wasn't a division of the Church and the state and the Pope was the head of the world."

"And so we had, for a period of a couple of hundred years, these Papal Bulls sought to prevent the fighting by dividing the world."

"My favorite one is the Papal Bull of Pope Alexander the VI, it's called the Inter Caetera. When I read the translation of it, (it was written in Latin), it just stunned me. The Pope is saying here that he will sanctify the subjugation of the new world and its barbarous nations."

"So the blessing of the Pope was given, and the colonizer sailed out. It's important that we understand this to be the root of racism, because to this very day, the churches form a central part of the social system of the nation states that are Christian."

"And so the Pope divided up the world. When you look at the colonies, especially in North, Central and South America, you can see this division to this very day."

"When we get together and try to do business, it's tough. The Pacific peoples that come from Chile are speaking Spanish, the French coming in from Tahiti are speaking French, the Hawaiians are trying to regain our language but generally we speak in the tongue of the colonizers."

"We have to go back and seek accountability from the churches. And not only do we need to educate them, but we need to make a place for them at the table of reconciliation. They are called upon to acknowledge this past. To stand up and to walk with us, shoulder to shoulder. So that we can overturn these racist historical policies.

"I'm glad to see in the effort here in Australia that I have worked on myself, for reconciliation, strong voices come from the church. That is appropriate."

Christine Sleeter, a nationally and internationally renowned multicultural educator and social activist defines white racism or white supremacy as "the system of rules, procedures, and tacit beliefs that result in whites collectively maintaining control over the wealth and power of the nation and the world".

I believe that by indulging in extreme white racism the Roman Catholic Church continues to be the primary promoter of a health and earth destroying "civilization" and that it is continually spreading its influence throughout the world by way of its white supremacist world domination mission. And I believe that the reason why this is occurring is because the Roman Catholic Church is so radically white racist that it has not been able to, as Cardinal Danielou wrote: "refract Christianity through the many facets of human civilization. Christianity has been refracted through the Greek and Roman worlds, but it will have to be refracted through the Hindu facet and the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas facet in order to attain its fulfillment. There are many aspects of Christianity that shall not be discover until Christianity has been refracted through every facet of the prism of human civilization." I also believe that the Roman Catholic Church is so extremely white racist that it can not believe that there are enough spiritual treasures in indigenous colored peoples' cultures and religions to make it worth while refracting Christianity though them in order to incorporate the spiritual treasures that are in them, hence it continues to lead the whole human race to its destruction.

In an article published in Minnesota's Saint Cloud Diocesan newspaper, the Visitor, James Engel, a past staff writer for the Visitor, wrote:

"Christianity came to the Americas nearly five centuries ago. Spirituality had been here long before that, and while Christians often disregard the principles of Christianity, nowhere has it done more damage than to the people native to the Americas. Traditionally, Native Americans recognized the presence of the Creator in all of His and inert. Dating back centuries Native Americans are credited with respecting this creation: The lakes, which today are poisoned or have died. The earth, now cursed with pesticides and dotted with overcrowded landfills. The sky, today sporting holes in its unseen ozone and sporting too, thick layers of visible smog."

"European setters denied Native Americans their land, to life, to religion. Much was lost. And while there is little effort to retrieve that which was lost, something can be learned from it, even today."

"When Pope John Paul II toured the southern and western United States in the fall of 1987 he addressed, and was addressed by, a conference of Native Americans."

A Native American (Alfretta Antone) spoke at that conference and Engel wrote about his address:

"Upon initial contact with Europeans, we shared the land given us by our Creator and taught others how to survive here. History, however, stands as a witness to the use and abuse we have experienced in our homelands." "Today little remains of the gifts and richness which our Creator has shared with us, the original peoples of these lands."

Engle also wrote:

"Antone implored the Pope to help secure a dozen rights for Native Americans. Several dealt with fair treatment by the government, others dealt with much needed economic gains, others dealt with successful incorporation of Native American culture into American culture. But one stood out as important in its meaning, and its insight: (Antone said) 'That our sacred ways and prayers be respected'."

"Many Native Americans espouse some Christian religion, and while the Native American population in Minnesota might be higher than in some regions of the country, there is precious little Native American culture or pirituality in the ways and lives of central Minnesota Catholics. And, most probably, precious little respect for that spirituality."

"A 1977 pastoral letter on Native Americans, written by the bishops spoke of justice, the American experience, and the role of the Church. It spoke of faith and culture: the Catholic faith, the American culture. It virtually ignored the gifts, the talents, the spirituality that Native Americans bring to the Church."

It is because of this exclusive white racist mentality of the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy that the Catholic Church continues to lead the whole human race as well as all life on earth to its destruction. It is so extremely white racist that it can not do what it should do, and that is, refract Christianity through the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas facet of the prism of human civilization - and in doing so, incorporate the ecological awareness of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas into the Church, and by doing so, get the Church going in the direction of ecological salvation for the whole human race as well as for all other good life forms.

Hopefully, both, my local, national and international movement to replace Minnesota's geographic place names that are offensive to the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas as well as my - eliminating white racism in Christianity - Catholic teaching ministry will get the Roman Catholic Church going in the right direction.

Day by day, week by week, year by year, I am continually gaining more and more power to influence the Roman Catholic Church to change its course and get going in the right direction.

After the National Catholic Reporter was informed that I had received a letter from the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace it published a letter of mine about my effort to revert Minnesota's profane "Rum River" name back to its original Native name. The National Catholic Reporter is an independent newsweekly with over 120,000 loyal readers in 96 countries on 6 continents, a newsweekly that is commitment to in-depth reporting on global peace and justice issues and consistently wins national and international awards from the Catholic Press Association.

Archbishop Harry Flynn as well as my bishop, Bishop John Kinney, have given their support for my effort to change the profane Rum River name. In a letter from Archbishop Harry Flynn, he thanked me for crediting his support for a lot of the national and international support that I have received for my effort to change this river's profane name.

After sending an envelope containing (A.) a letter about my effort to change the profane Rum River name, (B.) the mentioned above letter from Archbishop Harry Flynn, (C.) a letter of support from the Tekakwitha Conference, an international Indigenous People of North America Catholic conference representing hundreds of tribes, and (D.) some "associated material", material about my worldview around the word wakan, Catholic prophetic visionary ministry, to the PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE, I received a response letter from Bishop Giampaola Crealdi, a secretary for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, wherein he wrote: "Thank you for your letter of 24 January 2004, on your efforts to change the name of a river in Minnesota. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has taken note of your campaign and the associated material you sent with your letter." The "associated material" was my booklet about my, worldview around the word wakan, Catholic prophetic visionary ministry.

Professor Christine Sleeter, the mentioned above multicultural educator, who lectures nationally and internationally, and who won the National Association for Multicultural Education Research Award, has given her supported for the effort to revert the name of the "Rum River" back to its original Native name. She sent me the following letter of support.

"I am writing to express my full support of the effort to return the "Rum River" to its original name, Wakan. I believe that this is the right and honorable thing to do for two reasons. First, there has been a long history among colonizers of changing names of the people and places as part of the process of conquest. As you know, schools have a history of Anglicizing children's names, which I see as a comparable practice to changing existing place names, as if the place did not already have a name. Names are valuable symbols of identity that should be respected."

"Second, when I found out why Europeans selected the name "Rum," I was appalled. Keeping that name maintains a racist, derogatory characterization of Mdewakanton Dakota peoples. U.S. citizens today do not need to perpetuate legacies of racism. The right thing to do would be to return the River to its original name, and get rid of the racist label that the name "Rum" keeps alive. I support the work you are doing to bring about this redress."

The more support I receive for my effort to revert the name of the "Rum River" back to its original Native name, the more power I gain to influence the Roman Catholic Church to change course and get going in the right direction.

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