Sunday, December 7, 2008

Restoring The Fundamental Human Rights Of Indigenous Peoples

By Thomas Dahlheimer

I am spearheading the local (MN), national and international movement to revert the faulty-translation and profane name of Minnesota’s "Rum River" back to its sacred Dakota name Wakan, which translated means Spirit or Great Spirit. I am also trying to change 13 other derogatory MN geographic site names that are offensive to indigenous peoples.

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 Native people, he slightly edited it and then with the consent of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council he introduced it to the MN legislature.

I am also trying to influence the Roman Catholic hierarchy to revoke the 1493 papal bull "Inter-Caetera." Shortly after Indigenous Peoples Literature posted an article of mine, titled, Changing The Racist Name Of The Knights Of Columbus , Tony Castanha (Carib/Boricua), the internationally renowned leader of the movement to influence the Roman Catholic hierarchy to revoke the Papal bull, Inter Caetera, contacted me and said that I am doing "great work" and to keep him "updated". More recently, after I sent him a link to my video, titled: "Protesting The Racist Name Of The Knights Of Columbus" Mr. Castanha contacted me and said: "time to go after these ‘Knights’ guys…" Tony Castanha is also on the forefront of themovement to put an end to the glorification of the colonial pirate Christopher Columbus.
In 2000 a delegation of roughly 15-20 human and indigenous rights activists from the Americas and Pacific region, a delegation with a mission to influence the Roman Catholic hierarchy to revoke Inter Caetera, were "received" at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. This is where the delegation had been sending its "Appeal to the Vatican." The delegation met with a Monsignor under the President of the Council. He assured the delegation that they were on the right track, and that the Council was an important player along with the Secretariat of State. The issue of the revocation of the Bull "Inter Caetera" was submitted to a commission at the Secretariat of State. This was a victory indicating for the first time that the Vatican is seriously considering this issue.

Revoking the Papal bull, Inter Caetera, would help restore the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples. A movement to revoke the papal bull has been ongoing for a number of years. It was initiated by the Indigenous Law Institute in 1992. At the Parliament of World Religions in 1994 over 60 indigenous delegates drafted a Declaration of Vision. 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 Caetera 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 v. McIntosh 8 Wheat 543 (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."

Essentially, Inter Caetera is the cornerstone of an international system today based on the same ideology of dominion, subjugation and exploitation of lands and peoples as ushered into Africa and the Americas in the 15th century. We are not saying that the Catholic church is perpetuating the same atrocities they did 500 years ago, but what we are saying is that the same ideology and mentality of dominion grounded in contemporary law is ROOTED IN THEIR LAWS and this must be acknowledged and addressed.

The revocation of Inter Caetera will definitely announce before the world community that the Vatican no longer supports the principle of subjugation that it promulgated five and a half centuries ago. The Roman Catholic church will be demonstrating its seriousness about respecting the rights and dignity of all peoples. The revocation of Inter Caetera will be an extremely important spiritual and symbolic gesture of peace and healing in creating a culture of peace on earth.

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. The doctrine essentially gave white Europeans the green light to go forth and claim the lands of non-Christian peoples and enslave their inhabitants.

In recent years, various tribal members and groups around the country have asked the pope to rescind the 15th century papal bulls.

Finally, after 500 years of the Papal sanctioned domination and subjugation of indigenous peoples, a group of continental U.S. Christians are asking the current English monarch to renounce the ”doctrine of discovery” that resulted in the genocide, colonization and dispossession of the indigenous peoples of the ”new world.”

Maine’s Episcopal diocese is the first in the continental United States to protest against the "doctrine of discovery". The diocese passed a resolution at their annual convention Oct. 26 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.”

Several years ago the United Church of Christ, Hawai’i Conference, passed a resolution which resolves that: "President Paul Sherry on behalf of the United Church of Christ urges and calls upon people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy and in other organized religions to persuade Pope John Paul II to revoke the Papal Bulls Dum Diversas of 1452 [Romanus Pontifex of 1455] and Inter Caetera of 1493.…"

On November 26th 2007 I attended an Anoka-Hennepin Indian Education Parent Committee and Indian Education Staff public hearing. It was held in Anoka, Minnesota. The "Rum River" finds its confluence with the Mississippi River in Anoka. During the hearing I addressed the committee and staff and spoke about the work I am are doing to change Minnesota’s derogatory names that are offensive to Indian people.

I was asked a lot of questions, therefore, I was allowed to address the committee and staff for about twenty minutes. I told them about Jim Anderson’s and my two hour meeting with the mayor of Anoka, I spoke about the progress we made toward [fully] establishing an Anoka Dakota Unity Alliance. I also mentioned that we are trying to influence the City of Anoka to sponsor Anoka Pow Wows, cross-cultural educational programs, blend spirituality services, etc.. Jim Anderson is the Cultural Chair for the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community and leading Minnesota Dakota activist.

I also spoke about a U.N. World Conference Against Racism Conference document that identifies two 15th century Papal bulls as the source of white racism against indigenous peoples. In addition, I mentioned that there is an international movement to influence the Vatican to revoke these Papal bulls. I told them that I have been corresponding with internationally renowned indigenous activists and internationally renowned multi-cultural educators and social activists. I also talked to them about my article "Changing The Racist Name Of The Knights of Columbus. When doing so, I mentioned the correspondence I had with two prominent member of Anoka’s Knights of Columbus organization.

I also mentioned that I believe that what is being taught in the public schools is "propaganda" and that the real history of what happened to the indigenous peoples of the Americas is still being covered up.

I told them that European international colonial law was based on two 15th century Papal bulls, and that it is called the "doctrine of discovery". I also mentioned that it was modified and then officially established as a U.S. law in 1832, and that - from a Christian perspective - it is a"doctrine of the Devil", and that America is based or founded on this doctrine of the Devil, and that this evil racist and religious sectarian doctrine should be replaced with a good humanitarian doctrine which respects the basic or fundamental human rights of all people.
The meeting went great and I was asked to come to their next meeting on the 28th of January and present more information on these topics. They also told me that Jim Anderson is welcome to address the committee and staff during their next meeting.

In the near future Mr. Anderson and I will be meeting again with the mayor of Anoka. Anderson recently told me that he will address the Anoka-Hennepin Indian Education Parent Committee and Indian Education Staff on the 28th of January, 2007.

On December 6th, 2007 I met with the mayor of Anoka and talked again about these mentioned above issues. After sending Leonard Wabasha, a hereditary chief of the Mdewakanton Dakota Oyate, manager of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota Community Cultural Resource Department and adviser of mine an e-mail about my recent meeting with the mayor of Anoka he asked that I ask the City of Anoka to write letters to the Minnesota Dakota Reservation Tribal Councils inviting them to get involved with Anoka’s mission to unite and reconcile with the Dakota people. I recently did what Mr. Wabasha advised me to do.

During my most recent meeting with the mayor of Anoka he told me that there is an Anoka organization that is being led by the President of the Anoka County Historical Society, Paul Pierce, and that this organization is trying to influence the City of Anoka to change the name of Anoka’s "Rum River Nature Area". I called Paul Pierce a few years ago and he, at the time, gave his support for the effort to change the profane "Rum River" name back to its sacred Dakota name Wakan.

Link to timeline of the efforts by Indigenous Nations and Peoples calling upon the Vatican to revoke the Inter Caetera Papal Bull of 1493: Timeline

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