Native American Heritage Month, All Year Long
At two adult forums in October, we learned more about the Native Americans who lived in Chaska. Many centuries ago, this area was inhabited by people who built the burial mounds in Chaska's city square park. There used to be many more mounds, but they have since been plowed over. We are grateful to those who worked so hard to protect the mounds that remain and preserve the honor of those buried in that sacred space.
In the 1850’s, there was a small band of about 60 Dakota living in the Chaska area. Many indigenous people lived in this area for generations before, though no records exist. Their leader was Hampakadayya, which translates to Rattling Moccasin. The Minnesota tribes signed the Traverse des Sioux Treaty in 1851, which transferred 24 million acres of land in Southern and Western Minnesota to the U.S. government for 1.6 million dollars. But the federal government never paid them any of the money that was promised.
We also discussed several other injustices that were inflicted on Native Americans, including the hanging of the 39 in Mankato; the imprisoning women, children and elderly at a concentration camp near Ft. Snelling (which is also sacred ground for the Dakota, so it was doubly impactful); the march of the survivors to Nebraska; and the law that prohibited the Dakota from returning to live in Minnesota. Later, Native American children were taken from their families and placed in Indian Boarding Schools many miles from their homes, where they were forbidden to speak their language or practice their customs.
So that we can strive to be part of a solution, we discussed not only how best to recognize the injustices that occurred, but also how to honor the culture of our Native American friends and neighbors. How can we honor the indelible spirit of the Native people who are our also our siblings in Christ? The Justice and Inclusion Team list of resources below to help get us all started. And everyone at the second adult forum also worked together to generate a few ideas:
Acknowledge we are on Native land, especially as we travel to other parts of the country. Talk about whose land you’re on, wherever you go. Not sure whose land you're on? It can be tricky! But this website is a great resource.
Hang an orange banner in sun hall to honor of children who were forced into boarding schools. Read more about the symbolism in this letter from the American Indian / Alaska Native Lutheran Association.
Visit local museums to learn more, such as the Traverse des Sioux treaty site in St. Peter and the public exhibit at Hocokata Ti in Shakopee.
Learn about movements to return Indigenous land to Indigenous people, such as Sogorea Te’ Land Trust.
Visit historic sites in Mankato: treaty-signing site in St. Peter; the holding camp, which is now Sibley Park; and the hanging memorial along the river, just across the street from the Blue Earth County Library.
Contact legislators and the governor, encouraging a formal apology for Minnesota’s forced removal of Indigenous people.
Write a Land Acknowledgement statement for Crown of Glory.