Regaining The Mdewakantons Mille Lacs ancestral homeland

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By Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

On a Mille Lacs Kathio State Park interpretive sign, Leonard E. Wabasha is quoted as saying: “My people are the Mdewakanton Oyate. Mdewakanton means the People of Spirit Lake. Today that lake is known as Mille Lacs. This landscape is sacred to the Mdewakanton Oyate because one Otokaheys Woyakapi (creation story) says we were created here.

It is especially pleasing for me to come here and walk these trails, because about 1718 the first Chief Wapahasa was born here, at the headwaters of the Spirit River. I am the eighth in this line of hereditary chiefs.” (reference 1.)

When referring to the Mdewakanton “Sioux’s” (Dakota’s) Mille Lacs history, Angel Oehrlein wrote, in a Nov. 8th Mille Lacs Messenger letter: “When we attended schools in the 1930’s, we studied actual events, such as French-sponsored Sieur DuLuth’s 1760s Vineland battle, which drove the Sioux from the Mille Lacs area.”

Our state’s DNR website presents information about this topic. “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.” (reference 2.)

On a Minnesota Historical Society plaque located near the mouth of “Spirit River” (currently name Rum River) there are the words, when referring to the Dakota’s ancient Mille Lacs village: “About 1750 the Chippewa moving westward from lake Superior captured the village, and by this decisive battle drove the Sioux permanently into southern Minnesota.” (ref. 3.)

On the Lower Sioux Mdewakanton website the Lower Sioux state that: “Long ago, the Mdewakanton Dakota lived around Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota. Around 1750, our ancestors were displaced by another nation, the Anishinnabe, and they relocated throughout the southern portion of the state. This was not the last time the Mdewakantons would be forced into a new home.” (4.)

The S.D. Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe states on a website about their history that” The “Santee Sioux bands” had begun a stage of transition into a new culture with their expulsion from their traditional homeland around Mille Lacs.

And on Nebraska’s Santee Tribe website there are the words: “The Santee’s defeat by the Chippewas at the Battle of Kathio in the late 1700s forced them to move to the southern half of the state which would bring them into close contact and eventually conflict with the white settlers. From that point on, survival for the Santee Tribe would become a daily struggle. (5.)

As Europeans settled the East coast, they displaced eastern tribes who then migrated to get away from the White civilization, and they, in their turn, with the help of the western-moving Europeans, displaced weaker local tribes they encountered, and pushed many of those tribes farther from their homelands, as they took over their homelands. (6.)

Europeans sought to extinguish the ancestral ties that these local tribes have with the land, their ancestors and the spirit world. Evidence of this practice has shown itself time and time again throughout the Americas and is now facing international pressure in an effort to correct the sins of the present by recognizing and addressing the history of the Americas.

On July 2, 1679 Duluth planted the flag of France on the Dakota people’s sacred Mille Lacs area homeland, where the Dakota had lived for at least a thousand years. What was the significance of this flag planting?

According to a U. N. World Conference On Racism document: “In the fifteenth century, two Papal Bulls set the stage for European domination of the New World and Africa. Romanus Pontifex, issued by Pope Nicholas V to King Alfonso V of Portugal in 1452, 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.” 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. These Papal Bulls, or “doctrines of discovery”, sanctioned Christian nations to claim “unoccupied lands”, or lands belonging to “heathens” or “pagans”. (7.)

Therefore, when Duluth planted the flag of France on the Dakota’s sacred Mille Lacs area homeland he was proclaiming that the Dakota’s Mille Lacs homeland now belonged to France. The indigenous people of the Americas were red pagans, and not white European Christians, therefore, according to fifteenth century papal bulls, they did not own the land that they were living on, nor did they have a moral or legal right to own any land. Therefore, the unoccupied land that the indigenous people discovered and were living on could be claimed by the first European Christian explorer to plant his nation’s flag on it.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe oral tradition tells that, by the end of the 1760s Kathio battle, their ancestors had violently forced the Dakota from their Mille Lacs area homeland; and that that is how they took possession of the Mille Lacs area land that they now live on. However, because they were indigenous red pagans they didn’t own the land that they, with the help of the Europeans, took from the Dakota people. And these indigenous red Ojibwe pagans, to this present-day, do not own the land that they are now living on, its U.S.A federal land. The indigenous people of the Americas, still, do not have a papal granted moral right to own land. The papal bull Inter Caetera has not yet been revoked. (8.) I am working to rectify this injustice. At least a part of the Dakota people’s original Mille Lacs area homeland should be give back to them.

Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer Director of Rum River Name Change Organization, Inc. Wahkon, Minnesota

References:

(1.) https://www.towahkon.org/PicLeosign.html

(2.) https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/canoeing/rumriver/index.html

(3.) https://www.towahkon.org/sign2.html

(4.) https://www.jackpotjunction.com/culture/past.html

(5.) https://www.santeedakota.org/points_of_interest.htm

(6.) https://www.aaanativearts.com/article654.html

(7.) https://www.un.org/WCAR/e-kit/indigenous.htm

(8.) https://bullsburning.itgo.com/Index.htm