After a Round of White Fragility, Minnesota City Park Board Changes Names from Racist Politician to the Original Indigenous Name
The Minneapolis, Minnesota, Park and Recreation Board voted Wednesday to rename four parkways with the original Dakota name.
Park Board commissioners, who voted 7-2 to make the change, said it was a small step to undo the presence of the lake’s namesake, John C. Calhoun — the politician who advocated for slavery and the removal of American Indians from their lands in the early 19th century — and teach people about the land’s indigenous history.
The vote comes after a round of white fragility which saw some local politicians and leaders cringe at the thought of changing the name to reflect the real name bestowed upon the lake and region by the Dakota Sioux community.
As a result of Wednesday’s vote, West Calhoun Boulevard, Calhoun Drive and East and West Lake Calhoun parkways will now be named West Bde Maka Ska Boulevard, Bde Maka Ska Drive and East and West Bde Maka Ska parkways. City crews are expected to install new placards for East and West Bde Maka Ska Parkways on Thursday morning, although green street signs will be changed by the city at a later date.
The change is the latest in a years-long back-and-forth surrounding the name of one of Minneapolis’ most popular lakes. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) restored the name to Bde Maka Ska, meaning “White Earth Lake,” in 2018, a decision currently under review by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
READ MORE AT Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Google Earth outreach: Published Aug 9, 2019
Of the 7,000 languages spoken around the globe, 2,680 Indigenous languages—more than one third of the world's languages—are in danger of disappearing. The United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages to raise awareness about these languages and their contribution to global diversity. To help preserve them, our new Google Earth tour, Celebrating Indigenous Languages, shares audio recordings from more than 50 Indigenous language speakers.
“It is a human right to be able to speak your own language,” says Tania Haerekiterā Tapueluelu Wolfgramm, a Māori and Tongan person who works as an educator and activist in Aotearoa--the Māori name for New Zealand--and other Pacific countries. “You don’t have a culture without the language.”
Tania is one of several dozen Indigenous language speakers, advocates and educators who helped create the tour. Thanks to their contributions, people can click on locations meaningful to Indigenous speakers and hear people offer traditional greetings, sing songs, or say common words and phrases in their languages.
The people who recorded audio in their languages and connected Google with Indigenous speakers each have their own story about why revitalizing Indigenous languages strikes a chord for them.
For Arden Ogg, director of Canada’s Cree Literacy Network, and Dolores Greyeyes Sand, a Plains Cree person and Cree language teacher, the focus is on providing resources for language learners. For Brian Thom, a cultural anthropologist and professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, the interest grew out of his work helping Indigenous communities map their traditional lands.
Brian asked yutustanaat, a member of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and a language teacher in British Columbia, to record the hul’q’umi’num’ language. “Our language is very healing,” says yutustanaat. “It brings out caring in our people and helps our students be strong, because the language comes from the heart.” In her recording, yutustanaat speaks the traditional hul’q’umi’num’ greeting: ‘i ch ‘o’ ‘uy’ ‘ul’ or “How are you?”
By using their languages—and sharing them with the rest of the world—Indigenous people create closer connections to a culture that is often endangered or has outright disappeared.
Wikuki Kingi, a Māori Master Carver, recorded traditional chants in Te Reo Māori, an Eastern Polynesian language indigenous to New Zealand. He says, “Speaking Te Reo Māori connects me to my relatives, to the land, rivers, and the ocean, and it can take me to another time and place.”
Hundreds of languages are a few days away from never being spoken or heard again. By putting Indigenous languages on the global stage, we reclaim our right to talk about our lives in our own words. It means everything to us. ~Tania Haerekiterā Tapueluelu Wolfgramm, Māori and Tongan Activist and Educator
“I do this not for myself, but for my children and grandchildren, so that in the future, they’ll hear our language,” says Dolores, who recorded audio in her native Plains Cree.
To ensure that future generations hear and speak Indigenous languages, more needs to be done to support their revitalization. Tania Wolfgramm suggests checking out how her nonprofit organization, Global Reach Initiative & Development Pacific, uses technology to connect far-flung Indigenous people to their traditional communities—like bringing Google Street View to the remote island of Tonga. Arden Ogg directs people interested in Indigenous languages to the Cree Literacy Network, which publishes books in Cree and English to facilitate language learning. And a video from the University of Victoriasuggests five ways to support Indigenous language revitalization, such as learning words and phrases using smartphone apps, and learning the names of rivers, mountains and towns in the local Indigenous language.
This initial collection of audio recordings in Google Earth only scratches the surface of the world’s thousands of Indigenous languages. If you’d like to contribute your language to this collection in the future, please share your interest.
When extreme white nationalists make themselves visible—as they have for the past decade, and now more than ever with a vocal white nationalist president—they are dismissed as marginal, rather than being understood as the spiritual descendants of settler colonizers. - ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ
The United States has been at war every day since its founding, often covertly and often in several parts of the world at once. As ghastly as that sentence is, it still does not capture the full picture. Indeed, prior to its founding, what would become the United States was engaged—as it would continue to be for more than a century following—in internal warfare to piece together its continental territory. Even during the Civil War, both the Union and Confederate armies continued to war against the nations of the Diné and Apache, the Cheyenne and the Dakota, inflicting hideous massacres upon civilians and forcing their relocations. Yet when considering the history of U.S. imperialism and militarism, few historians trace their genesis to this period of internal empire-building. They should. The origin of the United States in settler colonialism—as an empire born from the violent acquisition of indigenous lands and the ruthless devaluation of indigenous lives—lends the country unique characteristics that matter when considering questions of how to unhitch its future from its violent DNA.
The United States is not exceptional in the amount of violence or bloodshed when compared to colonial conquests in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America. Elimination of the native is implicit in settler colonialism and colonial projects in which large swaths of land and workforces are sought for commercial exploitation. Extreme violence against noncombatants was a defining characteristic of all European colonialism, often with genocidal results.
Rather, what distinguishes the United States is the triumphal mythology attached to that violence and its political uses, even to this day. The post–9/11 external and internal U.S. war against Muslims-as-“barbarians” finds its prefiguration in the “savage wars” of the American colonies and the early U.S. state against Native Americans. And when there were, in effect, no Native Americans left to fight, the practice of “savage wars” remained. In the twentieth century, well before the War on Terror, the United States carried out large-scale warfare in the Philippines, Europe, Korea, and Vietnam; prolonged invasions and occupations in Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic; and counterinsurgencies in Colombia and Southern Africa. In all instances, the United States has perceived itself to be pitted in war against savage forces.
Appropriating the land from its stewards was racialized war from the first British settlement in Jamestown, pitting “civilization” against “savagery.” Through this pursuit, the U.S. military gained its unique character as a force with mastery in “irregular” warfare. In spite of this, most military historians pay little attention to the so-called Indian Wars from 1607 to 1890, as well as the 1846–48 invasion and occupation of Mexico. Yet it was during the nearly two centuries of British colonization of North America that generations of settlers gained experience as “Indian fighters” outside any organized military institution. While large, highly regimented “regular” armies fought over geopolitical goals in Europe, Anglo settlers in North America waged deadly irregular warfare against the continent’s indigenous nations to seize their land, resources, and roads, driving them westward and eventually forcibly relocating them west of the Mississippi. Even following the founding of the professional U.S. Army in the 1810s, irregular warfare was the method of the U.S. conquest of the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, Southeast, and Mississippi Valley regions, then west of the Mississippi to the Pacific, including taking half of Mexico. Since that time, irregular methods have been used in tandem with operations of regular armed forces and are, perhaps, what most marks U.S. armed forces as different from other armies of global powers.
By the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829–37), whose lust for displacing and killing Native Americans was unparalleled, the character of the U.S. armed forces had come, in the national imaginary, to be deeply entangled with the mystique of indigenous nations—as though, in adopting the practices of irregular warfare, U.S. soldiers had become the very thing they were fighting. This persona involved a certain identification with the Native enemy, marking the settler as Native American rather than European. This was part of the sleight of hand by which U.S. Americans came to genuinely believe that they had a rightful claim to the continent: they had fought for it and “become” its indigenous inhabitants.
Irregular military techniques that were perfected while expropriating Native American lands were then applied to fighting the Mexican Republic. At the time of its independence from Spain in 1821, the territory of Mexico included what is now the states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Texas. Upon independence, Mexico continued the practice of allowing non-Mexicans to acquire large swaths of land for development under land grants, with the assumption that this would also mean the welcome eradication of indigenous peoples. By 1836 nearly 40,000 Americans, nearly all slavers (and not counting the enslaved), had moved to Mexican Texas. Their ranger militias were a part of the settlement, and in 1835 became formally institutionalized as the Texas Rangers. Their principal state-sponsored task was the eradication of the Comanche nation and all other Native peoples in Texas. Mounted and armed with the new killing machine, the five-shot Colt Paterson revolver, they did so with dedicated precision.
Having perfected their art in counterinsurgency operations against Comanches and other Native communities, the Texas Rangers went on to play a significant role in the U.S. invasion of Mexico. As seasoned counterinsurgents, they guided U.S. Army forces deep into Mexico, engaging in the Battle of Monterrey. Rangers also accompanied General Winfield Scott’s army and the Marines by sea, landing in Vera Cruz and mounting a siege of Mexico’s main commercial port city. They then marched on, leaving a path of civilian corpses and destruction, to occupy Mexico City, where the citizens called them Texas Devils. In defeat and under military occupation, Mexico ceded the northern half of its territory to the United States, and Texas became a state in 1845. Soon after, in 1860, Texas seceded, contributing its Rangers to the Confederate cause. After the Civil War, the Texas Rangers picked up where they had left off, pursuing counterinsurgency against both remaining Native communities and resistant Mexicans.
The Marines also trace half of their mythological origins to the invasion of Mexico that nearly completed the continental United States. The opening lyric of the official hymn of the Marine Corps, composed and adopted in 1847, is “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.” Tripoli refers to the First Barbary War of 1801–5, when the Marines were dispatched to North Africa by President Thomas Jefferson to invade the Berber Nation, shelling the city of Tripoli, taking captives, and blockading key Barbary ports for nearly four years. The “Hall of Montezuma,” though, refers to the invasion of Mexico: while the U.S. Army occupied what is now California, Arizona, and New Mexico, the Marines invaded by sea and marched to Mexico City, murdering and torturing civilian resisters along the way.
So what does it matter, for those of us who strive for peace and justice, that the U.S. military had its start in killing indigenous populations, or that U.S. imperialism has its roots in the expropriation of indigenous lands?
It matters because it tells us that the privatization of lands and other forms of human capital are at the core of the U.S. experiment. The militaristic-capitalist powerhouse of the United States derives from real estate (which includes African bodies, as well as appropriated land). It is apt that we once again have a real estate man for president, much like the first president, George Washington, whose fortune came mainly from his success speculating on unceded Indian lands. The U.S. governmental structure is designed to serve private property interests, the primary actors in establishing the United States being slavers and land speculators. That is, the United States was founded as a capitalist empire. This was exceptional in the world and has remained exceptional, though not in a way that benefits humanity. The military was designed to expropriate resources, guarding them against loss, and will continue to do so if left to its own devices under the control of rapacious capitalists.
When extreme white nationalists make themselves visible—as they have for the past decade, and now more than ever with a vocal white nationalist president—they are dismissed as marginal, rather than being understood as the spiritual descendants of the settlers. White supremacists are not wrong when they claim that they understand something about the American Dream that the rest of us do not, though it is nothing to brag about. Indeed, the origins of the United States are consistent with white nationalist ideology. And this is where those of us who wish for peace and justice must start: with full awareness that we are trying to fundamentally change the nature of the country, which will always be extremely difficult work.
This essay is featured in Boston Review’s fall 2018 print issue EVIL EMPIRE.
Gutzon Borglum, named after his father's sneeze, designed Mt. Rushmore, and it's no secret that he blasted it out of sacred Native land. But this decision resulted less from a "Well, we need land" reasoning, and more from a "We must purify the land of the unclean races"-type mentality.
See, Borglum's first claim to fame was the Confederate Memorial at Stone Mountain, Georgia -- a gigantic monument funded by the Ku Klux Klan.
Borglum was not merely sympathetic to the KKK's ideology and goals; he was damn near a member himself. While he never wore a white pillowcase on his head, he attended rallies, served on committees, and became so important to the organization that he would adjudicate disagreements between top leaders. He was good buds with D.C. Stephenson, a grand dragon. Stephenson was wealthy, and not only funded the sculpture of Confederate leaders on Stone Mountain, but also lent money to Borglum directly. The only thing that caused their relationship to sour a bit was when Stephenson was imprisoned for raping and murdering a woman.
Even after leaving the Stone Mountain project, Borglum didn't give up trying to glorify the Confederacy. During the initial years of Mt. Rushmore's construction in 1924, he worked on a new design for a coin that included Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on horseback. The U.S. Mint rejected the design, because the only traitors we allow on currency are the ones who betrayed the British.
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The Donner and Reed families, collectively known as the Donner Party, entered the annals of history the hard way. While traveling to California in the winter of 1846, a freak snowstorm marooned their wagon train in the Sierra Nevada range, where they were trapped the entire winter. With supplies running out, historians now believe the survivors resorted to cannibalism to survive. But it turned out they had plenty of chances to avoid starvation, and all they had to do was stop being racist for half a second.
The story of the Donner Party is one of misfortune and woe -- unless you ask the wel mel ti, a northern offshoot of the Washoe tribe, who know it more as a dark comedy. While the the harsh winter caused the Donner Party to freeze their butts off, the Washoe had been thriving there for centuries. So when they saw the ill-equipped, starving strangers, they took pity on them and tried to help. To which the Donner party reacted in typical pioneer fashion: They shot at them.
The Washoe Indians attempted to offer food to the Donner party multiple times, but the distrusting wagoneers wouldn't let them near. On one occasion, they approached the starving settlers with nothing but smiles and a whole deer carcass, and the Donners opened fire. The Washoe got so desperate that they snuck rabbit and potatoes near the camp in order not to spook these trigger-happy trailblazers. Of course, when they discovered the party had gone full cannibal, they broke off all contact out of fear they would be next on the menu, leaving them to their preference: eating white meat to avoid talking to red people.
Association On American Indian Affairs
President Trump has expressed his intent to remove the first and only Native American representation on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee in the U.S. State Department and appoint Stefan C. Passatino in her place. Mr. Passatino works as outside legal counsel for the Trump administration, formulating its responses to Congress’ various investigations. The House of Representatives Oversight Committee has been investigating Mr. Passatino for ethical misconduct. He has no known experience in protecting cultural heritage resources.
Mr. Passatino will replace Shannon Keller O’Loughlin, citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and Executive Director and Attorney for the Association on American Indian Affairs. Ms. O’Loughlin was the first and only Native American ever appointed to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee within the U.S. State Department. Ms. O’Loughlin has deep expertise regarding U.S. law that protects cultural heritage and has served on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Review Committee as well. Other members of the Committee have been serving over many administrations and yet continue to serve. Ms. O’Loughlin, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2016, has been the only Committee member replaced during the Trump administration.
The Cultural Property Advisory Committee is a federal advisory committee administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, which advises the President on appropriate U.S. action in response to requests from foreign governments for assistance in protecting their cultural heritage. This Committee was established by the 1983 Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, which implements Article 9 of the 1970 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. In the committee’s 33-year existence, never had a Native American been appointed to this position.
The U.S. State Department’s Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs has a significant budget that is used to protect other countries’ cultural heritage, but little to nothing towards protecting Native American cultural heritage from being exported out of the U.S. or to help repatriate cultural heritage items back to Tribal Nations. The inclusion of a Native American perspective on the Committee is imperative to make sure that agreements with other countries are truly mutual and advocate to protect Native American cultural heritage. Additionally, Native American representation assures that the U.S. does not overstep its boundaries by asking other countries to do more than what the U.S. is willing to do to protect cultural heritage in the U.S.
In a bombshell report, the LA Times revealed that white men in almost every state have been falsely identifying as Native American or paying Black people to serve as the "front" so they could make hundreds of millions through government contracts.
An Alberta teen who sang the national anthem in both English and Cree before the Toronto Blue Jays game over the weekend said the entire experience was a privilege.
“It’s an honour to be singing at such an historic event, especially singing it bilingually. I sang it half in Cree and half in English,” 13-year-old Kiya Bruno said Wednesday. Bruno is a Grade 8 student originally from the Samson Cree Nation in northern Alberta.
On Saturday afternoon, Bruno sang O Canada in front of thousands of baseball fans at Rogers Centre as part of the Blue Jays’ celebration of National Indigenous People’s Day.
Bruno said she auditioned as part of a national casting call. She said she submitted a video of herself singing the anthem in Cree.
“I didn’t think I was going to get the part but I ended up getting the part and I was really excited and happy.”
Bruno said the whirlwind hasn’t totally sunk in yet.
“My whole family was happy for me… I was really excited, especially because I am one of the first Indigenous people to be singing in Cree, especially at an event this big,” she said.
“It was 20,000 people. We got an overview of the stadium. I got a small tour. I was really excited and nervous at first just because it’s a bigger stadium than I usually sing at.”
Bruno said she learned the song in Cree, and a few other tunes, from her mother and grandmother. She’s interested in furthering her singing career, as well as acting, dancing and modelling.
Read the full story here:https://globalnews.ca/video/5446632/teen-sings-o-canada-in-cree-before-toronto-blue-jays-game/
Woman Convicted of Trying to Sell Native Babies for Profit Scam, Released to Halfway House After only 6 Months in Prison
Three House members have introduced a bill calling on Congress to strip Medals of Honor from 20 soldiers who participated in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.
Reps. Denny Heck, Washington Democrat; Deb Haaland, New Mexico Democrat; and Paul Cook, California Republican, introduced the Remove the Stain bill Tuesday.
The legislation would rescind the 20 Medals of Honor that were awarded.
Descendants of Lakota Sioux who were slaughtered at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, expressed support Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol for the Remove the Stain bill. They made the trip from the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River reservations in western South Dakota.
Read the article at the Washington Times