The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) asked me [Thomas Dahlheimer] to write and send Annamarie Hill, the council's executive director, a MIAC draft resolution endorsing the bill to replace Minnesota's derogatory geographic site names that are offensive to Indians. My draft resolution is presented below.
Alfred Bone Shirt (Sigangu), a nationally renowned Indian activist who is the contact person for the Dakota-Lakota-Nakota Human Rights Advocacy Coalition, published the following Minnesota Indian Affairs Council draft resolution. _____________________________________________________________
Minnesota Indian Affairs Council Draft Resolution
Dear Minnesota Legislators,
In respect to Representative Mike Jaros' bill to change our state's derogatory and, in some cases, also profane geographic site names, names that are offensive to American Indians as well as to a lot of other people, we, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, request that you pass this important bill.
We find our state's geographic site name that refers to the Dakota people as a snake, as does, according to the Minnesota Historical Society's Web site, Snake River, to be very demeaning and insulting. And because some of our state's Dakota/Sioux people, consider the name Sioux to be a derogatory and offensive name, we therefore request that the geographic site names, Sioux River, Little Sioux River, Cut Foot Sioux Lake and Indian Sioux River be considered derogatory and therefore included with the other geographic place names that we would like for you to replace by passing this bill.
The name Dakota, a Dakota language name meaning friend or ally, is the name that we would like for you to use to replace the name Sioux. The name Sioux was given to the Dakota people by colonial Frenchmen. It is an abbreviation of a past derogatory Ojibwe name for the Dakota people (Nadouesioux), a term of hatred, meaning "snakes, enemies".
We also find the geographic site name that refers to both the Dakota and Ojibwe people as redskins, as does Redskin Lake, to be demeaning and insulting. We also find the geographic site names that refer to Dakota and Ojibwe people as savages, as does, according to the Minnesota Historical Society's Web site, Savage Lake and East Savage Lake to be very demeaning and insulting.
We also find it very demeaning and insulting that our state has two geographic site names that are the White man's faulty translation names for a lake and river that the Ojibwe named to honor their Great Spirit (Manido), Manido bimadagakowini zibi is the Ojibwe name for this lake and its outlet river, it means the spirits (or God) walking-place-on-the-ice river. However, white men mistranslated Manido as Devil, hence our state, unfortunately, has a lake named Devil Track Lake and a river named Devil Track River. We not only find these names demeaning and insulting, but also very disrespectful toward the Ojibwe 's traditional religion and spirituality.
In a book published by the Minnesota Historical Society, a book titled, "Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origins and Historic Significances", Warren Upham wrote that the Rum River name is "the white men's perversion of the ancient Sioux name Wakan". He also wrote, in this same book, that: "The name of Rum river, which Carver in 1766 and Pike in 1805 found in use by English-speaking fur traders, was indirectly derived from the Sioux. Their name of Mille Lacs, Mde Wakan, translated Spirit lake, was given to its river, but was changed by the white man to the most common spirituous liquor brought into the Northwest, rum, which brought misery and ruin, as Du Luth observed of brandy, to many of the Indians..."
We find it very demeaning and insulting that the Dakota people's sacred "name" for a river (Wakan River), translated as (Great) Spirit River was mistranslated by white men to mean the alcohol spirit rum, and that the river was then give the faulty and punning translation name (Rum).
And we believe that what makes this "Rum" River name even worst is the fact that, at the time when the river was named Rum, rum was not only bringing misery and ruin to many of the Dakota people, it was also being used to help steal their land.
White European rum runners were transporting rum from the trading posts on the Mississippi River to the Dakota people's villages on the headwaters of the badly named "Rum River". They were supplying them with enough alcohol to cause a lot of the Dakota people to become alcoholic drunkards. This was a method that the European settlers used to separate the Dakota from their traditional religion and spirituality, a religion and spirituality that was intimately connected with their sacred relationship with their land and consequently to their attachment to it. This made it easier to lure a lot of the Dakota people to leave their sacred homeland and go to where they could get a steady supply of rum to satisfy their alcoholic addition cravings.
According to colonial European international law, after Duluth planted the flag of France on the Dakota people's land it officially belonged to France, provided the French annex the Dakota people from their land. The French not only supplied these Dakota people with a lot of alcohol they also supplied a band of Ojibwe people (a band that had recently migrated from the east coast into the Dakota people's territory) with a lot of alcohol. According to information presented on our state's DNR Web site, "Early White/Indian intervention played an important role in the settlement of the area by white men. The French, instigated fights between the Ojibwe and Dakota so as to ally themselves with the Ojibwe." The Dakota and Ojibwe people were abusing alcohol and the French knew that they were abusing it. And the French also knew that by continuing to supply them with a lot of alcohol they would cause the Dakota and Ojibwe people to become hateful and violent toward each other. This occurred, and when it occurred, the French sided with the Ojibwe, including providing them with gun powder. They did this in order to be successful in using the Ojibwe (in a radically abusive way) to drive all of the Dakota people from their sacred land on the headwaters of the "Rum River". And by doing so, they finalize their land grabbing transaction.
We believe that these derogatory and, in some cases, also profane names demean our traditional cultures and languages, and in some cases, also desecrate sacred sites of ours, and that they are legacies of racism that are a shameful scandal to our wonderful state of Minnesota.
In addition, we believe that replacing the derogatory and profane "Rum River" name would help our people who are suffering from alcohol abuse to increase their appreciation of our/their traditional cultures and values and that this would help to heal the wounds that are contributing to their drinking problems, and that this, in turn, would be good for all of our Minnesota Indian communities.
We appreciate the local, national and international support for the effort to change the derogatory and profane name of the "Rum River". We are aware that there is a United Nations Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues promoted international movement to change derogatory and profane geographic site names that are offensive to indigenous peoples who are still suffering from the oppressive effects of colonialism. We are more than happy to participate in this international movement by endorsing our state's name-changing bill. We believe that indigenous people all around the world will be helped by, both, our endorsement of this bill as well as by, hopefully, your passage of it.
We are also aware that there is a national movement to replace derogatory and profane geographic site names that are offensive to American Indians and we are more than happy to also participate in this movement by endorsing our state's name-changing bill. We believe that our endorsement of this bill sets another national precedent and that if you pass this bill, it will also set another national precedent that will help our nation to replace all of its racists names, names that demean American Indian cultures and languages and, in some cases, also desecrate sacred American Indian sites. We believe that our endorsement of this bill and, hopefully, your passage of it will help promote the national movement to replace all of our nation's derogatory and profane geographic site names, and that this will help our nation to become a better place to live.
We also believe that this campaign to change our state's derogatory and profane geographic site names is a valuable history lesson and that if you pass this bill, this valuable history lesson will even more so help to transform our wonderful state so that the people of the dominate culture more fully respect and appreciate our people's traditional cultures and languages.
We also believe that in the wake of a recently published on-line document by the United Nations' World Conference Against Racism that the true history of what happened to our people will be revealed to the general public, and be revealed by (1.) the campaign to replace our state's derogatory and profane names, (2.) our endorsement of this bill as well as (3.), hopefully, your passage of it, and that this true history will cause both our state's Ojibwe people, especially the Mille Lacs Band of Ojiwe, as well as the dominate culture to apologize to the Dakota people as well as offer them restitution justice. In addition, we also believe that the revealing of this true history of our people will cause the dominate culture to also apologize and offer restitution justice to our state's Ojibwe people, and especially to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, for the injustices committed against them, and that everyone will benefit from our endorsement of this bill as well as, hopefully, your passage of it.
After reading a recent United Nations' World Conference Against Racism document and then searching to find out why our state has these derogatory and profane names it becomes clear as to why our state has these derogatory names. Thanks to both this World Conference Against Racism document and campaign to replace our state's derogatory geographic place names, for the first time, the true history of what happened to our state's Dakota and Ojibwe people is fully revealed. On-line articles about what happened to our state's Dakota and Ojibwe people can be viewed at:
Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer, the person who originally drafted the name-changing bill and who also asked Representative Jaros if he would like to introduce an apology resolution, which Rep. Jaros said he would, has, so far, also asked the Minnesota Council of Churches, Greater Minneapolis and Saint Paul Area Councils of Churches, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota, the Diocese of Saint Cloud, the Bishop of Minnesota's United Methodist Church and the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota to not only apologize for their ties to the exploitation of our people, but to also radically repent and reform their lives, and do so, in order to treat our people with due respect.
Mr. Dahlheimer has been corresponding with the leaders of these Christian organizations and churches and this causes us to believe that our endorsement of this bill as well as, hopefully, your passage of it will help influence the establishment and promotion of an, indigenous peoples rights, social and political movement that will greatly transform our state, and that this movement will spread throughout our nation as well as throughout the Americas, setting all of the Americas' indigenous peoples free from the subjugated state of existence imposed upon us by Pope Alexandria the VI's 15th century Papal Bull (Inter Caetera). A Papal Bull that continues to be the source of the oppressive White racism being perpetrated against us to this present-day. We believe that Pope Alexandria the VI's present-day predecessor as well as the leaders of both the Eastern Orthodox Church and Protestant Churches continue to abide by this papal bull's, subjugation of indigenous peoples, racist edicts.
In the Papal Bull (Inter Caetera) Pope Alexandria the VI called for the "subjugation of the New World's barbarous nations and their lands". And ever since, first colonial and then successor States have subjugated our people and our lands as well as kept our people and our lands in subjugation. According to the Papal Bull (Inter Caetrea) and colonial European international law (law basis on this Papal Bull) a law that was later incorporated into U.S. law only White European Christian nations could own land. Therefore, we believe that there is a need for the leaders of Christian Churches as well as their people to radically repent and reform their lives. Christian leaders and colonial European international law denied us two of our basic human rights. And U.S. law, currently, denies us these same basic human rights. We had, and still have, a right to absolute root ownership of our homelands as well as full sovereignty rights. However, thanks to, primarily, Christian Church leaders we are still being denied these two basic human rights. This has to change to make things right.
And we also believe that this Christian reformation will occur, primarily, because of our endorsement of this bill as well as, hopefully, your passage of it, and that this Christian reformation will cause a great and wonderful transformation of our state, our nation and the entire world.
This campaign to change our state's derogatory and profane names is revitalizing our appreciation of our traditional cultures and languages. And we believe that your passage of this bill would even more so help us to preserve what is left of our traditional cultures as well as restore that which has been lost. And we believe that this would be good for everyone, and especially for everyone living in our wonderful state of Minnesota.
Minnesota Indian Affairs Council
Click apology resolution to view and read a Minnesota apology resolution for the exploitation of Native Americans.