Hearing Their Voices: The Persistence of Violence Against Native American Women and Girls
Workshop 1: Colonization to Reservation
Presented February 1, 2018 by Patina Park, J.D. Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center.
Patina: How ya doin? (crowd responds "good!" enthusiastically) Yah, eh! Welcome to MIWRC. I see a lot of familiar faces, but I see some new faces too, so you are specially welcome. If you have never been here before you are welcome to come back any time you would like. I don't know if... The history here at MIWRC, who knows what this building was thirty years ago? Anybody remember? This was the teaching chambers for the Deaconess Hospital that was torn down. So the nurses, the technical assistants, the phlebotomists, they lived here while they learned how to be healers at the hospital. When they tore down the hospital we purchased this building for a dollar. I know, nice, that isn't going to happen any time soon right? One dollar, and then we spent a lot of money to update the top two floors for housing, so we have housing on site, two and three bedrooms for families. And then we did some conversion of the residents' quarters into office space.
So MIWRC has five main programming areas, and I have a slide, I will show you that in a minute. But we really are focused on healing the effects of colonization. So the loss of identity, land, culture, traditions, all those things that make people very vulnerable to poverty, unemployment, loss of hope, right? I like to think a bigger picture is we try to do our best to give people hope, that there's a better way, better place, that people love you, that you are relatives, and that we are here to care for you as much as, in the best way that we can. It's never enough. The need is always huge. But, we do our best. I am very proud of the people who work here. I'm the one... Right, I get to do this... and I go out.. I am paid to meet, I joke about that, I'm paid to go to meetings. But I don't do the work here, right? I get to talk about it but the work is done by all the staff here. They really do remarkable work, for the community. And for each other, too, right? We all need a little healing.
The history of this kind of training, it's funny, I train nationally all the time. I'm constantly flying all over. I've done trainings like this everywhere from Hawaii to Alaska to DC and the west coast and everywhere in between. Frequently in Vegas doing trainings, in Albuquerque, I know, it's a rough life, right? But Jo Lightfeather, who is the director of the Learning Center has you know, been kinda prodding me for quite some time here, about well, you do that out there, why don't you do it here? And I was like, You know? you're right. so, at the end of last year, I carved, I mean I deliberately carved out the time to ensure I could be here so that we could do this training.
It's also timely, right? Which was, I'm going to tell you is accidental. This is when you can kind of feel your ancestors and creator pushing at you helping you make decisions when you don't really understand the full context because you know, Wednesday, oh, wednesday? February is really acknowledged now as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's Awareness Month. You know? So tomorrow there's activities the gallery opening. There is the Red Dress Project, that's going around tonight. I know they are making dresses making things to do a peaceful demonstration to raise awareness. Particularly, because it's the Superbowl, right? The highest trafficking event in the country. No, it's not. Not even close, actually. Anytime you bring a lot of, excuse me, men, White, middle class to upper, with liquid income, trafficking pops up. So, IT conventions are very big trafficking events. Any kind of sporting event. Hunting, here in Minnesota, up North, spikes trafficking. So it's a thing that happens all the time, every day. It's happening right now. Joy, one of my workers right now isn't here, because she's right now on Lake and Bloomington in the area doing outreach. For our relatives who are out there. And I point out that those relatives, someone's missing them. So right under our noses right now are missing indigenous women, men, boys, families, who people are really wanting to know where they are. It's also very timely because tomorrow is the date that the murderer of Savannah Greywind is going to be sentenced. So there's a lot of activity, there's an event tonight at Fargo and then there will be a lot of community support around the family. Ashton, the baby, and all the extended family who were affected by that really gross crime that occurred. And then unfortunately too this last week over in St. Paul just a few days ago we lost a relative too. Someone from the community is someone who was involved in that shooting at the convenience store. So its someone who has been involved with some of the programs here going out to ceremonies, drum groups so, that is an individual who is now another murdered indigenous woman that the community is feeling.
So these are very heavy topics and note that there are therapists here in the room who are probably here to observe and are like ooh, but if you need to please, take care of yourself. But it should be heavy. These are serious, serious things that we deal with that people don't pay attention to. And so when I was looking at all the different trainings that I do, I chose this one. This was most recently done at the Idaho coalition for battered women at their national conference and I did it over two hours. But I did what is going to be four sessions over two hours so I took sections of it and expanded in a way I wish I could all the time. Though it's going to be a little bit disruptive, right? So if you are not coming to all of them at the end of this one you are going to be like whoa, what am I going to do? So please come back to the last one which is to me the most important because it's well, so what does that mean right now? What do we do? What do we do with this information so that we can move forward to a better place for all? So that Minnesota is number one in all the lists for all of the residents in the state and not leaving all the people of color and the indigenous behind. That's Minnesota's dirty little secret, right? The best state in the country for white people, it's one of the worst states in the country for people of color and indigenous when you measure disparity across incarceration, graduation rates, health conditions, out of home placement, I mean the whole gamut. The indigenous and the African American community we kind of fight for top of the worst all the time.
So, let's mosey on, ask questions as we go on, right? If it's just me talking all the time I'm going to lose my voice, people. There are two seats here and there are i think two seats there there's some there in the middle. Please come in and join. So this is me. A little history about me, that could be a whole presentation itself, eh? I am a lawyer by training, but I am recovering because I don't practice anymore. Oh, I mean that so seriously. My first kind of presence in the urban native population here is I was a law clerk for judge Herbert Lefler in juvenile court for like three and a half years. Judge Herbert Lefler is now retired I think he still fills in at times, but he was one of the ICWA judges. So he handled the Indian Child Welfare cases as well as child protection and we had the serious delinquency because he was the presiding judge for most of the time I was there. Then I did direct representation of families over at the Indian Child Welfare Law Center. So that's really how I got to know this agency like personally from my client experiences. I heard about it in court but I really learned about it from my clients that I was representing who were going through services here who were also going through Kateri, right? Who were really in need of those multitude of supportive services so they could get their kids back and get the system out of their life.
Also worked over in Ho Chunk. Any Ho Chunks in the room? Oh, ehh, no Ho Chunks. Surprises me. Alright, love the Ho Chunks, worked over in Wisconsin and I was responsible for the roll out implementation of the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act. Which is really where I did all this training experience. Because I trained every county in Wisconsin. I trained the state, I trained private adoption agencies, attorneys, prosecuters, public defenders, judges, the entire gamut about kind of the historical context of ICWA and how to be better. Because their compliance is even worse than Minnesota's. Though I am pleased to say, that after all that training, and putting the experience of the native people in Wisconsin into a context, out-of-home placement rates started to drop. Because the gut reaction from social workers wasn't immediately to remove. It was to do a deeper dive into family to see what they could do to help keep the family together because they understood why it was so important. And it's also through that experience that I really understood and grew to firmly believe that that historical context is vital in any way that you work with the Native community. Whether you are a health care provider, whether you are an educator, whether you are a direct service provider of a Native agency or outsiders. But if you don't have that historical context, you're really not following best practices for working with our community. But there's not a lot of opportunities to get that kind of deep dive, right? And unfortunately, current education systems as they are you are also fighting against a lot of myths, lies, misrepresentations or just the fact that to learn about Native history you have to take a special class. Even though we are the only original people of this continent, of Turtle Island or the whole land.
I know there are other lawyers, who are my lawyers in the room? Come on. Come on! You might have a JD, right? Alright, fine. Law school doesn't teach you any of this. You have to take a special class even though tribal jursidiction, civil procedure, all that is part of the legal system. So recognizing that, I have taken it kind of a step further, and not only asking about what historical kind of policies and procedures but what are perceptions? What were the perceptions at the time that really gave us a situation in modern times where it's okay to wear a bikini, head dress and war paint and no one calls you out until very recently. Alright, this kind of highly sexualized image of what a native woman is. When my experience with my relatives and my friends is no one walks around like that. Ever. It's alway White people "honoring" culture by appropriating and creating this kind of costume. Also, it's important to me because I'm a product of the adoption sweeps of the seventies. So when I was born in 1970 I was taken from my family and raised away from my tribe. So it was less than ten years ago that I could even, that I even knew any of this. I didn't know anything other than I was Sioux, that's what the adoption agency would tell people. She's Sioux. Now I was fortunate, beyond fortunate, because my family presented as white to the adoption agency they didn't realize it was actually an Osage family from Oklahoma who had moved north. So I was raised by a Native family. There's a lot of history, even in there around identifying language loss and et cetera. So I basically grew up on a farm in North Dakota until we moved to the big city of Bismark. That was culture shock to me at the time, right? But, for myself, even personally to be able to say not just that I'm Sioux, but specifically which area to not call it Sioux any more and call it Lakota has been profound on myself as an individual. So I'm also a living breathing example of why ICWA is so important and why we have to maintain that law and make it better because this knowledge is in my DNA. Until I could connect to that genetic deep seated bone memory inside my body I spent most of my life not knowing who I was and just kind of floundering. And that happens to so many of our youth and so many of our adults who are returning and trying to come back.
So, I kinda see the urban community as my peeps. Alright? Or a pan-Indian experience of people from all over but we have a core set of beliefs, understandings, respect most of the time. And I'll tell you a story. When I came back from Wisconsin to be Executive Director at Division of Indian Work, I got head hunted. Never had that happen before. It's very weird. In my first week there, and we had a feast. They were doing a building blessing. And so I was coming downstairs and two ladies walked into the elevator with me. I was like where are you going? Are you going to the feast? Okay, come with me. And The Conversation started, right? Who are you? I am Patina. And what's the next thing you know I got asked? Where are you from? At that time, I couldn't even specifically tell you the tribe because I hadn't found them yet. But I gave a little run over of my past and the two ladies happened to be from Rosebud and Pine Ridge and so the elevator hit the ground and the doors opened and that they walked out and one turned around to me and just said welcome home and kept walking. And I stood there and I'm like Yeah. And as every year progresses I feel more like I am home. So, that's a little about who I am I'm also married. I'm married to a cop, don't hold that against me. He's a good one. Sixteen years with Saint Paul. He's also known as the Autism Cop if you've seen any of that, he's responsible for all the training. Because our kids are on the spectrum. And so I was on the board here and I got the opportunity to lead this agency and oh, you know I laugh when people ask me for like career advice. Oh, man I am here because of outside forces pushing me here. I made no plans at any point in my life to be running a non-profit of this type.
But this is where I am. And so what we do, this is our little mission thing, right? Everyone has their mission statement. But for me, the most important word in that is empower. The work we do is about empowering individuals. To be self-determinant about what's successful for them. So that means we do the gambit of risk reduction you know, all the way to housing, right? where we have zero tolerance for drugs. I have to, there's kids here. And so, we have all these services, right? Housing, the training facility, that thank you Randy, Ashley, and Jo who put all this together. Organized everything, they are pretty remarkable. Family Stabilization, Child Protection stuff, I see Diana here other of the staff is here, Gary in the back, right? Nokomis Endaad, Grandmother's House in Ojibwe, it's an eighteen month outpatient culturally grounded program that provides traditional, clinical, just the kind of healing that women need to recover from lots of trauma in their life. So it's not like an abstinence program where your like don't don't, I always laugh at programs like that, right? Oh! oh! I'm so stupid, that's, I wasn't supposed to do it? That's not the question. The question is the why. Why do you need it and why are you using it and that's what they get at. And it takes a long time, right? It's not a month. Thirty, sixty days ain't enough.
We got Sacred Journey which is our sexual violence, domestic violence outreach, all of that kind of stuff going on. Mental Health, we have three full time therapists on site. I see one in the back, is Chanelle here? I don't think so, right? Carol, and we do everything from play therapy at Bdote to children's therapy on site to family therapy to individual therapy and Nokomis and Mental Health, I need to tell you we do with partnership with Fond du Lac. So I don't take state funds except for a little minor project I don't take grant funds for that program to really operate it, I do it through a billing relationship with the tribe with their government to government relationship with the federal government. So it's a beautiful, beautiful relationship.
And of course we do Mind Body Medicine. How many of you know Linda Eagle Speaker? Right? Linda is my agency elder, Ceremonial Elder in Residence so she's responsible for the well-being of everyone in the building, everyone outside the building, and the building itself. She also helps me a lot too. But she's also certified in these mind body medicine techniques that she has morphed into an Indigenized Mind Body Medicine. She is flying back from Palm Springs right now. I should be on that flight. I had to send Linda because of the Superbowl because, like I said, my husband's a cop, right? so he's on call right now so in case people riot. I got kids at home so Linda got to go to Palm Springs, but I get to be here with you guys, so it all worked out in the end, right? On the coldest day ever. We also did some research, right? You can find all that, Shattered Hearts, the big one. My predecessor, Suzzane Koeplinger, pushed that forward. The Cost Benefit Analysis helped to push forward Safe Harbor legislation. Because it showed a thirty-four dollar to one savings if you do front end services rather than waiting until a youth gets through the system and becomes an adult in need of a multitude of services. And then we also have a new culturally grounded parenting program for foster care parents or people who want to be foster care parents who want to care for our kids. And we have a kinship worker who is in the back corner, raise your hand. Gary. So he's running that parenting group and also if you know people who want to be foster parents, please, please, we need more. Talk to Gary. Alright, so, what time is it? Are we done? (unintelligible) Okay, thank you.
Let's get into the bulk of this, right? History. Why is it important? You hear "Ah, it's now," "Get over it." You hear that all the time. "It happened so long ago." Well, why is history important? You have family history, you have individual history, There is city history, and there is national history. And how long does it take for it to become history? I'm disturbed to find that music I listened to in high school is now considered "oldies." Eighties weren't that long ago, right? But it's absolutely vital because unfortunately history, especially for the Native community here, is not very well known. And so we have a lot of people working with our community that don't have an appreciation of the full history. And still continue to work with the families and actually do harm without realizing it. But even more, like I said, I train nationally. I don't just do conferences, but I work with tribes. I got a little side gig people. So I will go into tribes and work with their tribal government, their council, different departments, and when we talk about history, I never have had an experience where they knew everything I was talking about. They knew a lot about their own tribal history but they didn't understand or had never been taught kind of the broader history of how it has impacted them and how sovereignty is approached, and what their legal jurisdictional powers are and this kind of oversight of the federal government on them. And that continuously impacts tribal communities on the rez or off, is this history. So it's really not in the past, at all. It's a living breathing current thing right now and it's affecting us and how systems approach us as well as how we approach each other. Alright, we got words for it now, lateral oppression, decolonize is a big word right now. Decolonize your thinking. Decolonize your systems, but really if people don't understand the full history of colonization that has no contexualized meaning to them at all. It just becomes a word with a multitude of meanings to it. And it's also very important to note that there have been hundreds of years of experience that are living and breathing in us right now and how the systems deal. We have set policies here, right? If you have taken Indian history class or if you go to federal indian law classes. These are the eras we will talk about as significant for the indigenous people. Starting with first contact all the way through termination policy. Now we are in a period of self-determination, is the technical phrase for the era we are in. But that has looked different in the seventies when it began to where it is now. And under all this stuff too, we need to acknowledge there is a sovereignty that exists within the sovereign tribes of which there is now five hundred and seventy three. Because we just got six federal recognitions out of Virginia. Which is very exciting. But those tribes have a federal recognition with the federal government, government to government but the urban population here still have connections to those sovereign governments which are in their tribal lands as well as a relationship with the United States federal government, the state federal government, so when tribal members are here in urban settings they are a city resident, a state resident, tribal resident, all operating at the same time. And so, when I am working with systems they often forget or they will say "Well, what are the tribes doing?" Well, they are doing a lot but, they are still state citizens and you still, because they are a citizen of your state have an obligation towards them as you would toward any other, otherwise, you are kind of being racist, right? Don't want to use the R word but uh, there's really no other explanation for it.
Now, unfortunately today, we're just going to get through the first three, right? and not even all the way through reservations. So we are just going to kind of skim it. And you can get a doctorate in almost any decade out of any of those, right? A PhD. you can get an LLM, a master's degree in law. Specific to different eras too. So, if you have questions later, or if you have things to add, please pipe up! Don't be shy. Now, I use colonizer here right because I really don't know how else to use it. But, we have to recognize that not only did these eras take place that had policy and law, removals, all that stuff, but we also had a European concept of how they were interpreting the indigenous people they came in contact with. And particularly for native women that's had an impact on why we are more vulnerable in modern times to all of the sexual violence, rape, et cetera. It's grounded in those early contacts. It's where history is living and breathing now. And we have reached a point where stats will say eighty percent, I mean you hear these stats, no one really knows for sure. All I can say, incidentally, I don't know a single colleague who hasn't been directly impacted by violence either personally or in immediate family. I know no one. So that's actually a rate of one hundred percent. Because part of that too is we're less than two percent of the population as well. Genocide was very effective. We are two percent of the population. Yet we make up a third of all arrests for prostitution on Lake Street. A third are Black, a third are White, and a third are Native. Two percent of the population. That is a direct connection to why the past experience creates an environment where we are even more vulnerable to this exploitation.
So, history. We are going to cover a few hundred years in about twenty-two slides. Questions, comments up to now? Alright, so what do we know about before European contact? It was an Eden, right? It was paradise! Who knows? I mean really, we don't know for sure. But we do know for certain there were a lot of people here. A lot of indigenous people on this continent. Here is a map I found that I just like. You know any map that shows, there's always a grain of well, you sure? But just showing all of the tribes across the United States, or what became known as the United States. This isn't even including our First Nation Canadian relatives or our relatives that are south of the border, right? Who are in my mind just as indigenous as the rest of us. All of those people. The, we had first contact. We all know this rhyme, right? Fourteen hundred ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Columbus Day, not recognized in Minneapolis hoo hoo! Recognized in the State of Minnesota. We had an Indigenous People's Day recognition from the governor but that was last year, it was good for only one day because it's a legislative action that we need to make a formal recognition of Columbus Day. But who was Columbus? Who was he? Yeah, he was a Spaniard, well he was Italian sailing for Spain. What else do we know about Columbus? What did you learn about in school? About good old Columbus? He discovered America. Why, that was nice of him. What else do we know about Columbus? Why was he here? Yeah, he was looking for trade routes, right? He was an explorer. Looking for more resources for Queen Isabella, right? They needed more gold, or wood, or whatever. They didn't have enough in their own country so they were looking to conquer new ones. The other thing that was there was this concept too, that came from their beliefs around Christianity is that god had given them this planet, thier god, and so they were allowed and given permission to go out and spread that Christian, that is was there and for their taking. It's kind of funny, right? in the world view, right if a European country finds land before others they claim title to it. Which is why you know when we landed on the moon, what did we do? Ours, right? There's a European kind of mindset around owning land and taking it.
Well, we know some other things about Columbus too. Because he wrote journals. He had to send messages back to the Queen. He had to give an update of what was going on. So there is a wealth of information there. He talks about too, how very friendly those Islanders were. They apparently came rushing out of their huts where they were living to greet them because they were amazed, right? Here's this huge boat, they have never seen anything like that and immediately offered food and gifts to greet them, right? And they were naked as the day they were born. If you read Sarah Deer's book. Has anyone read Sarah Deer's book? Oh, you gotta read it. Because it makes a very good argument that we don't know for sure, but from European colonizer writings, rape was foreign among the indigenous communities. It just didn't happen. It was a European kind of mindset that came across. Which I will say, makes sense. Right ladies? Women are life givers, just like the Earth. We are connected strongly to our Earth. And if you can claim possession of land? It's not a stretch to think they also claimed possession of bodies. And there's no more violent way to claim possession than rape.
So we know, handsomely made, the other thing that Christopher Columbus noticed is how ignorant they were of violence and how easy it would be to make them slaves. So Christopher Columbus was also the individual who started slave trade with this country. I believe his son sailed the first African focused slave ship here and it was because the islanders were of kind of weak stock, right? They were beautiful. And they were kind of gentle and they were peaceful and they kept dying so easily and they felt the Africans were stronger stock. So that was some of the rationale for switching the slave trade to the Africans rather than keeping with the indigenous. But you know it here, right? Fine servants, fifty men we can subjugate them all. Women, nine and ten, were in demand in Europe so we also started the first trafficking. Port those over to Europe. And while I always like this quote, is he said we can send here in the name of the Holy Trinity, so they were operating under the mindset that what they were doing they were doing in their god's name. So they were justified. And this is a pattern you will see across conflicts globally. Is in order to conquer or to take possession of other individuals, to do horrific things to them, you dehumanize them first, and you make them Other. And he did that very well. And rape. Right off the bat. Because the women were around naked and because they were beautiful, they are immediately seen as sexualized beings. And so this is also a letter someone was gifted one of the indigenous women. And you are basically reading here, if you can read it, I am sorry in the back if you can't these will be available. You are reading the description of a rape. But what I want you to note here is that even though he says "she didn't agree" you know, she scratched him, and so he took a rope and thrashed her. But, at the end they came to such agreement that she was brought up in a school of whores. So early mindset around the indigenous women were that because of their nakedness, because of their beauty, they were whores, to be used. From the very beginning. And we came to an agreement. I point that out because we are in an era right so much of consent what does consent look like? This certainly wasn't consent. But in his mindset, it was consent.
And then we have Thanksgiving. I love this one, right? Ah, good old Thanksgiving. So, we've jumped ahead a couple hundred years, right? And during that time we've had disease spread smallpox was vicious, influenza, all of the things we immunize for now had a disastrous effect on all the tribes that had any contact with Europeans. And Thanksgiving. I love that picture. My son when I think he was in the second or third grade came home from Thanksgiving week at school before the break and he had a Polaroid and he was so excited. Because it was a picture of him with his hand around his best buddy and he had a little cardboard, papier-mache head dress on and his friend had a little pilgrim hat and he was really excited because they had celebrated the Thanksgiving dinner in class and they got, they let him be the indian. Now he's the only Native, I live out in Wisconsin, he was and still is the only Native kid in his class. What do I do with that, right? Other than call the school, oh you know I did. But for him, he has this happy memory with his friend. Let's fast foreward a little bit now, fifth grade he's in class and the teacher's telling the whole story of Thanksgiving. Right, this one. All the pilgrims showed up. The tribe took pity on them. Tell them how to grow food and they had a big feast in the end. In the Fall, before the Winter set in. Thanksgiving. Well, in the fifth grade, my son, raised his hand to the teacher, because he wanted to point out that actually, that's not true. Mindset, right? I told you he's on the spectrum. He has Aspergers, right? I'm going to correct you, right? I know right. And so he commented on how actually the Pilgrims were thankful for smallpox. They thanked god for it because they thought it was god-given. Because it was wiping out mostly children and young people. And he said the first Thanksgiving was actually a few years after the Pilgrims landed. When the governor of Massachussets paid to have mercenaries come and massacre the Pequot Tribe. During their Green Corn Festival. So the men were called out in the early early morning and were shot or clubbed to death and then they burned the longhouses to the ground with all the women and children. Over 700 tribal members were murdered that night and the very next day the governor of Massachussets claimed it was a day of Thanksgiving which Massachussets celebrated for a subsequent hundred years. That is the first Thanksgiving. My son shared that information and you know what the teacher said to him? Thank you, right? No, she said "Why would you lie about something like that?" Again I had to call the school. I call the school like I can't even tell you how many times I call the school a year. But, but yeah, that was Thanksgiving. So a lot of people who have been educated too about these early experiences with the tribes and Europeans also are operating from a false send of kind of brotherhood and love that just somehow fell apart, I don't know. Where, in fact, from the very first stages there was conflict over differences of opinion of how we view things.
So if we look in those early times during the colonization era native women actually had a very active role in their governments, in the tribes. We had roles that we played or that we had, I wouldn't say that necessarily everyone was the same and equal because that's not true. but they were respected and held in high regard. They had a high status. They also, in many tribes, were the ones who held and managed all the resources. Men were off hunting. Men were off doing stuff. Women were there making things run. Taking care of stuff. Whereas men, well, you know, men. Hey. But the other thing that was most shocking to Europeans is they were autonomous in their sexual decisions. So it wasn't about an ownership or a possessive quality and in fact there are writings and evidence that sex was used to kind of smooth out trade relationships between tribes. With no moral kind of context or judgement against it. Ahh, it's natural. I mean really, when you think about it do animals get married and you know? It's brought in with other kind of social norms. These ideas of morality and usually again back to the Christian based kind of mindset. And particularly this challenge in the colonial mindset and the European mindset all property goes to men. So the virginity of your bride was very very important. Because it was really the only way to assure that your progeny from that was yours. At least that's their mindset. Right, right. But that's why it was like high regard. In the indigenous mindset? Not so much. In fact, Native women got to control the marriage in a lot of the tribes. So if I was like meh, sorry, it isn't working out. He would leave the home and all the marital property would stay with me and he would go back to his parents and try to find some other woman who would take care of him. Which is the complete polar opposite of the European kind of mindset of what a relationship should look like and what the status of women were at the time.
So it directly conflicted with their views because it shocked them, quite frankly. When you think of Puritans, right? Covered skin, you didn't show anything, right? Some not even in the same room as the other sex. Women are never unchaperoned. I mean huh. That's why a lot of pictures you see in the late 1800s were so scandalous because it was Native women out by themselves in nature, right? Without a chaperone. Which conflicted with kind of moral European views at that time. But it was viewed as uncivilized. Like I said, like animals. Which takes them from being humans, into Other. Which makes it easy for individuals to do horrific things to other human beings when you make sure you don't see them as another human.
So, John Lawson surveyed South Carolina Colony. He writes here about again, tender composition, destined for the bed then bondage, bondage being slavery, right? And he said here the multiplicity of gallants, right? The number of partners that that woman had was shocking. That it didn't have any kind of effect on her reputation. Huh, my gosh! That's crazy! In fact, he's like the more whorish the more honorable. Hmm. I don't know, the mindset he's coming with seems a lot more like warped and crazy than kind of the natural view that the tribes were doing at the time, but hey, I'll accept my bias here in this situation. And so as a result Native women, highly sexualized beings, no discrimination among partners. And so conquest of them, there's no rape involved because, well, the more, the merrier. The more power. So it also justified rape for the colonizers at the time, right? There was no need for consent becasue consent was just implied at all times. And so, if we kind of shift it to well, what were women like viewed with in the colonial mindset, the Puritan kind of view? Number one, inferior to men. If we come from a biblical context. We see that in modern times now with some of the far right-wing kind of belief system around marriage even and the role of women, stay home, right? Take care of the kids? It's grounded all the way back. And it's because women were the source of original sin. Within this mindset.
So we screwed it up from the very beginning. You know, and we pulled Adam in on it and now look at where we are. And so, they were secondary to the male roles in that family. So the husband, their father, often times their sons their brothers if there was a male around that is who they were subject to. And so they were the nurturers, they stayed home they took care of the kids. They had no property they had no right to demand a divorce. They were non-legal entities for a very very long time. We were a null in a European mindset. So you can imagine, I mean just think for a second if this is what you grew up with, right? Women stay at home, women are at work they are there to take care of the men. They are inferior, both morally and intelligently. And then you come up against a group of people where women own everything, women are making decisions, women are the people they are being asked to talk to. You can see right away, there's going to be a little conflict going on right off the bat. And that's continued. Because on the flipside, right? Social and economic roles in the tribe, there's no such thing as a patriarchal entitlement. In fact a lot of tribes are and were matrilineal. Because, let's be honest, if you really want to know if that child is biologically connected to a parent you go matrilineal. There's no doubt there, right? Patrilineal? it's hmm, well, just sayin, right? Human beings are human beings. And that whole sexual autonomy really conflicted with a strong religious mindset of the people coming across.
Now we need to take a quick break for a legal interruption here. Because a lot of stuff is going on in the background here, we aren't even talking about it, right? Treaties, all of that stuff, right? The sovereignty, the trade, all of that. But it is important because it affects us now to kind of do a little break right now around important legal laws that affect us. Now, as we move out of colonization we start to move towards the removal. A lot of things happened to let that start rolling out.
The first thing here is the Trade and Intercourse Acts where Congress essentially creating a federal presence in tribal communities. Because tribes were everywhere. And they didn't want states rights to break this new union of a consolidated United States apart, so policy makers, supreme court judges realized with tribal people everywhere if there is a federal relationship with them federalism will have something to stick to no matter where you are in this new country. And so this Trade and Intercourse Acts essentially made it only the feds could trade with the tribes (unintelligible) Indian Agents so they couldn't sell their land. It had to go through the federal system. Which is still with us today if you live in a tribal community.
In 1884 the Office Of Indian Affairs was created , it became the BIA. I note who started it. Did any of you know that? I didn't see that very often in the history when they were talking about Bde Maka Ska, that the lake was actually named by the individual who started the Office of Indian Affairs. Let that sit for just a second. I mean, come on, holy cow, for people who were offended about the name change, shame on you. So and note it was a Department of War Department. So it wasn't the feds, the feds gave it to War to manage the tribes. So now we're kind of moving into an area too where the tribes are seen as not just these kind of, you know, highly sexualized you know family male female roles twisted, broken up but now we are seen as violent and dangerous to the United States. So War needs to take care of us.
And then we get these three laws, the Marshall Trilogy. Worchester and the Cherokee cases. But basically, what we got out of these Supreme Court decisions are three things. One, The United States owns all the lands and resources on tribal lands, that's why they are called trusts. So trust land is actually is actually owned on the government on the tribe's behalf. So we have this trust relationship. Which is why they can put pipelines across whatever they want because it's their land. Because this court decided that when the Europeans came here they claimed title, but all the tribes get is the right to reside. Now in a modern context, if someone owns title to some property and some other people are living there, they have the right to reside, what does that sound like? Yeah, it's a renter, right? landlord tenant? And so, that decision essentially made a landlord tenant relationship between the tribes and and the federal government and what do you do when you don't like your tenants? Evict them. So that gave the legal basis for the Indian Removal Act. Before that they didn't have legal basis. We also learned that we are domestic dependants, we are not sovereign. So even though the United States had treaties with the tribes which is a government to government global recognition, after these Supreme Court decisions we are not a full sovereign, we are a quasi sovereign and more importantly a domestic dependant. So at this point all recognition of tribal governments started to disolve. And the federal government took more of this kind of very bad parent role over tribes. They were very, very bad parents. And that it is a federal relationship. State laws don't apply. We changed in the fifties, but at that time state had no authority over tribal lands. It was purely federal.
So that has also created this weird jurisdictional problem that we will talk about in a couple classes. That tribes do not have jurisdiction over non-indians over their own lands because it's not their own lands actually, legally it's the federal government's lands. That they let us be there. but, because of these decisions we got the Indian Removal Act, which did subsequently lead to the removal of many tribes from the East to the West. Now, this is also a point where we are shifting in women being seen also not just as highly sexualized beings, the more partners the better, but we are also seen as undermining civilization because of our breeding. In fact, the word "breeder" was used quite a bit at this time. So if it weren't for women being such breeders perhaps the tribes would have civilized earlier and we wouldn't have to remove them to begin with. Now mind you, when those removals happened they went all the way up here. I mean the Ho Chunk Nation was removed five times under the Indian Removal Act, right? It went all the way to the headwaters it wasn't just the five big ones we hear about. But it did lead to the Trail of Tears. When the Choctaw, Chicasaw, Cree, Seminole, and Cherokee were removed. Now mind you too, when they were removed, they were put on lands that they were told they were promised that was their land, that they would be protected from settlers and they could be free to be themselves. Alright, I mean President Jackson actually wrote that, right? He sounds really altruistic and humanitarian. Let them go west, they can be free to be themselves.
Problem was, during this era we hit gold. And so multiple people went across, trying to strike it rich. And they had no idea how big the United States was so they just kind of stopped, dropped and set up a house wherever they landed, which was right in the middle of tribal lands and tribes started to defend themselves because the federal government wasn't doing it for them. So this is too where you see a dramatic shift in how women, particularly are identified, so I pulled this right, this is from the first interim president of the Republic of Texas which became the State of Texas. Here in eighteen thirty six he was asked by the BIA to write a book because settlers coming into the Texas area to kind of give them an overview of what to expect. And this is what he had to say about the Native women, the Comanches, alright? Ferocious, cruel, goes into good detail about how they torture their victims. Making him dance and sing, right? While they beat him with sticks. Great diligence and glee. So not only are they vicious, but they take pride in that viciousness. So you also see from an effect of that discussions of wow, the savages. We gotta do something to protect the rest of the country. And the War Department is the one who is doing it. So we've gone from a highly sexualized area to now violent, violent. And we move forward a little bit, right? This is why, now, okay good.
So we get into reservations here. Now what happened, like I said the Gold Rush occured. Tribes started fighting back because I tell you, right? I mean I live in Wisconsin, there's a multitude of reasons why I live out in the country, number one, the schools are great for my kids. I'm also too far away for people to call me, right? unless it's really bad, right? It's for my staff. I lived there before I worked here. But anyway, I lost my train of thought. That happens at the end of the day. Don't you hate that? Anyway, so, I live over there. And I come back into town, I cross the river I actually do a cleansing cermony when I go home. But anyway, when I'm in Wisconsin, right, the tribes there are in reservations not really, a few of them are, right? And some of them are from the east same here, right? You may know the Stockbridge Muncie Band of Mohicans in Wisconsin, it's actually three to five different historic tribes being shoved into one area into these reservations. And the mindset was of course with all these fights, all this viciousness, if we create a space for the Indians to stay, then the settlers know where to avoid, and the Indians know where to stay and problem solved, right? Because yeah, they were defending themselves.
Oh, now I know what I was going to tell you see, you notice that? I have no idea, I was like on a train. My back yard is pretty big. In fact its bigger than my city lot was when I lived in Saint Paul. Which is a pain to mow. But, someone, if someone started to build a house in my back yard and say to me "Well, you're not using this space, right? and you're not using it right anyway." This is my space, right? I can shoot them and kill them. Every state in this country defense of land, property and self are an absolute defense to murder. That's essentially what the tribes are doing when the settlers were encroaching.
But, it became a huge Indian Problem because of course, the settlers had to move over and they were operating on this Manifest Destiny kind of mindset, that just like the early Europeans, this land had been given to them by their god and so they were only serving god's will by spreading out. This is when you hear a lot of the stories of vicious attacks. Has anybody seen the new Western that's out right now? You have? Cause that's kinda talking about these ideas that Indians were coming in and attacking the settlers, massacring them, and that happened. I'm not saying it didn't. But, those settlers were living in land that wasn't their own either. So Congress decides to just put people in reservations. And again, they are going to have to create an environment so that no matter how horrific these reservation kind of treatments are dominant society now at this point is going to be okay with it.
So when you start looking at kind of government correspondence, documents, news reports, all of these things, they will describe the Native people as dangerous and uncivilizing are the women, because we are so savage. But I will freely admit that, right? I mean come on, how many of you are parents? You come after my kids, I'm killing you. I'm not kidding, right? I mean, I will defend my children to my last breathing breath. Well, for the Native women who were doing that at the time, dangerous, uncivilizing influences. But the other thing this did, is, when you heard horrific reports coming out of the Plains, and other areas where the calvary were coming in and essentially massacring entire tribal communities no one was upset about it. Even when they saw the pictures. It was like, oh, well, again, they are not human anyway they are savages they are Other they are preventing civilization and they are dangerous. So there was no outrage. It's very easy to pull up you know, old newspapers. You know, the guy who wrote Wizard of Oz, right, what's his name, what's his name? Come on. Somebody help me. Frank Baum, right? Also did a whole series of letters to the editor of the Rapid City newspaper calling for the outright genocide of all of the Dakota, Lakota, Cheyenne all of the tribal people that were essentially in his way. And it was published, right? I mean think about that, what if someone published, wrote, well, I don't know in this day, huh. But yeah, if you sent a letter to the editor calling for the outright massacre of all of the Somali community as a result of vicious stories that aren't true about a mindset that they are all terrorists? People would be up in arms. There would be a few crazy people who would be like "yeah!" but they are crazy, we all recognize that that's craziness. But at this time, the crazy was the dominant world view towards the tribal people. And this was a really dangerous time for tribal people. This is where we get the phrases like "off the rez." You hear that. Aw, he's off the rez. She's off the rez. We shouldn't go off the rez on this. Usually meaning going away from the norm or I mean it's gotten this kind of popular culture meaning. Who knows, what did that mean in that era? What did it mean if someone was found off the rez at this time in the eighteen sixties, seventies and eighties? It was a capital crime. Yeah, it kinda makes you think ooh, don't use that phrase, right? I just heard it again on the news not that long ago. This is also the time where we get Wounded Knee massacre. Sand Creek. Greasy Grass, or Big Horn. There was intense military presence that was justified through these kind of public opinions around how savage women and men and the children were dehumanized.
And it goes even further, right? The US Army went so far as to take like souvenirs from their crimes. Which was scalps body parts and particularly for women, genital mutilation. And they would take these female parts and hang them on their saddles as a badge of honor of the number of women they had killed, right? Because women were dangerous and uncivilizing. Those who participated in many massacres received awards. Came back to heroes' welcomes. And when you think about, I know, eighteen sixty seems like a long time ago, but in the scope of the entire Earth, and even of this country, that's not that long ago. It really isn't. And there's many in the community who can directly trace back to the family member who was massacred. They know what relation that was as we move forward. Which is why Mankato, right? The Mankato annual event, right? The horse ride and raising awareness around the Dakota Thirty Eight and the two that were brought back down, right? It's so important because they are still out relatives, people know who those people were. They can still tell stories about them, right? Which is also why when you take it in a modern context if you had known everything you know just to this moment and you were in charge of making decisions of curating art, would you have brought the scaffold here? Probably not, right? I would hope not. Because if you did, you are just, yeah. I don't know how to help you, right, at that point.
But, this shift from highly sexualized into very violent into going so far as to taking souvenirs from raping and murdering women shows this huge history of dehumanizing Native women. So we become less than a human being which is how you do these kinds of horrific things to people. Because we are all human beings. And so, but we have to ask ourselves "well, that was THEN. Why do we care now?" Why do I care? Why do I even do these trainings? It would be so much easier on my psyche if I didn't have to revisit this as I prep or prepare or create, right? Trying to be cognizant of the fact that there are people who are learning this new, people who know it well, trying to be sensitive, not too harsh. But, why do you care? Why are you here? Why did you come? It wasn't the food, right? I mean we just said light, only I think we even said just "Light Refreshments" I mean we even qualified don't be expecting fry bread and you know, stew. But why did you come? Clearly you have some interest in how this historic context has come forward. Clearly you have some interest in how Native people are now and how that past has influenced how systemic influence and services and everything impacts us right? You know, I do ask myself every once in a while, you know, what if in the first contact, I mean the very, very beginning, what if instead of finding peaceful, beautiful naked people living in harmony, they had just wiped Columbus and all of the people out, right? And then when the Pilgrims came, right? Nina, Nina, that was Columbus. What were the... Pilgrim boat... Mayflower! There you go, thank you. What if they just wiped them out? Right? Do you think things would be different now? Than we have? I don't know. You know, I had the benefit of going to South Africa and learned there are no indigenous South Africans left because that's what they did, and Dutch and others came in force and wiped them all out. So there's a context too to all this training that really dives into colonization and its impact on really indigenous people and what kind of ownership we all have as a community both in and out to acknowledge that and raise it up and reconcile that history.
Because really, why we should care now is because it is effecting us now. Ask any tribe, go on any tribal community at all and you ask them about their relationship with the federal government and how well that government is upholding their treaty. Every single one has been violated. You go up to a reservation and here in the urban and you ask the community "Hey, how's it going?" Right? Well, let me tell you how it's going. We have a heroin epidemic. We have huge rates of sexual violence, domestic violence, just... violence. And because of all these generations of it happening, right? It's normalized in many of our communities. It's not even an if, it's a when. Not if it's going to happen, but when. And that's just the current state of being, right? And so if you ask, well, you know people are like "What do you me to give you your land back?" I got into an argument with someone about that "Well, yes, as a matter of fact!" but no, no, no, right? That would be impossible, right? Where would we put everybody? And that's also contrary to many of the indigenous kind of views anyway, of making relatives. Many of the tribes welcomed freed slaves, runaway slaves, right? So now we have Black Indians that it's very hard, ooh, you all heard that right? I'm just telling you, there's a spirit that hovers around there. I have felt him but.. It got a little heavy there right? Thanks! Yeah, that is a living, breathing experience for us right now. And I haven't even got into some of the eras, right? I haven't even gotten there yet! We aren't even in the modern context. This is just you know, up to the late eighteen hundreds. Man, we still got to cover allotment, we gotta cover termination, we gotta cover self determination, we gotta kinda the civil rights, there's still alot, the child protection, and removals. But if you take nothing out of this kind of discussion that we've had here, my spewing words at you because that's how it's been, right? Take and recognize that I have barely covered this, I mean I've just touched into it. There's so much more in everything I've talked about today that you can learn from. You just have to be willing. And I'm telling you, in today's society, there's absolutely no excuse not to know. Number one, you could come here, we got a library upstairs. No one checks out books anymore, right? Because everyone does it online or on their phone. Come and read some books! Google that shit!
But I go into workgroups often and at some point, and my staff who experience me when I come back to the office after these workgroups, have lived this, is it's deeply distressing and upsetting to me that I can be in a group of very well-meaning people who have never taken the time to learn this stuff, but yet they want to rescue me and my family and my community. They have great ideas on what we need. But they don't even know who we are, and you can't know who we are until you know where we've been and where we've come and that we are still here, damnit. Or my favorite is, "Hey can you come give a talk and do the whole history stuff and kind of a current status of how it is in modern times and you know, it's about twenty-thirty minutes. Okay?" Sure.
Yes m'am. (question is too quiet to transcribe) Ahh! right? just ask my staff, right? arrgh, and I'll come back, I'll acknowledge that there is.. I've gotten a little different attitude as I've gotten older, I guess I joke the closer I get to fifty the less concerned I am about nurturing everybody's feelings in a space. Because you know, that too is kind of a sign of systemic oppression on people of color and indigenous people is that we have to be very gentle and careful with what we say so we don't harm in the telling of actual facts, right? I mean I'm not even telling truth, I'm telling facts. This is documented, this has happened. But also acknowledge too like you know, like I guess multi-racial I would say I mean I'm Lakota but I also happen to have some Scottish in my a little Russian, right? And recognizing that we are multi-faceted in our identities and they are all valid and in you, right? They are who make you up. But I had a very, very good friend, we have our ups and downs, but she does not live here, she's from outside, right and she's been involved in civil rights internationally for many many years, you know. And I on Facebook just posted, I'm sure you all saw the meme, right? like "I'm not asking for your apology, what I am asking you to do is help break down the systems that you have benefited from that have oppressed people of color and indigenous. I don't want your sorry. In true, bless her heart, progressive liberal white woman way, her comment to me was "Yeah, but wouldn't it be nice to get an apology?" (laughter) I just told you I don't want your apology, right? I want you to work at like.. but that apology wasn't for me, that apology was about her. Had nothing to do with me. Or even the experience of Indigenous people in this country it had to do her reconciling her ancestors' role and her place in it and you know is she even the person to step into those dialogs, you know? I told her, I said do you know? nobody better to, because if you can get it, right? aww, then you can teach it to people who think more like you and you will be more effective than I am. Because you won't make them feel guilty and bad. But you will raise their awareness and connect to them in a way I can't. Taking someone who has no understanding or even is opposed and creating an ally? Oh man, they are better than your current allies. Because they have seen both sides. And came to the right side, which is mine. (laughter) Ehhh. But yeah, acknowledge, right? But it's a life, it's a life thing.
I have spent myself personally I can tell you, a little more history here, because the adoption policies of the seventies, right, the idea was that you really did take the kid away and you put them somewhere else and the got roots and you just disconnected everything. Now my dad being Osage asked the adoption agency like okay, you got a Native girl here, where's her family? He couldn't believe there was a Native girl up for adoption quite frankly. And the agency told him Well, you know, she's a half-breed and so the tribe doesn't want her. Now I understand why they did that. They wanted to assure that my adopted family would be my whole family and there wouldn't be any conflict, any disruption, right? To make my family essentially feel better about taking me, right? This ficticious story of this poor little lost soul, right? Rescue this adopted, you know? There's a dark side to adoption we don't often talk about. Except adoptees. but anyway, And so I grew up, you know my dad, he did tell me when I was old enough to kind of understand it because he was really worried because he didn't know Lakota. He was Osage, he was "Well, maybe that's how they feel, I don't agree but..." He didn't want me to go find a tribe and family who would reject me. So I grew up thinking my tribe didn't want me. So I, are you kidding? The eighties when I was in High School, no one knew I was native. I was just a thing, right? No one knew my parents were Native. They presented as very White. In the way they acted and looked. It wasn't until I started doing ICWA work, actually, that I started meeting tribal people. And Lakota people. And finding that like, okay, wait a minute, that's contrary to everything, that's contrary to everything I am meeting and seeing, and so when I found my grandma, who passed two years ago, she wanted me desperately. And she was fourty years old. She was in good health, she could have easily have taken me, but it was my dad who was her child. And my mother's parents were not happy she got knocked up by an Indian. So she got taken away to a home for unwed mothers. It's funny I was... I don't know if any of you know Eileen Briggs, she's also from Cheyenne River. She was at Bush Foundation. We were talking and we realized that my mother and one of her good friends' mothers were at the agency at that unwed moms home at the same time. Because I was born in April and her friend was born in March. Right, so our birth mothers from the same part of South Dakota were up in Fargo to give their babies up, right? That woman also subsequently came back. We always do. I mean we always come back. We'll figure out how to get back. But that was people in my best interest, right? With no understanding of the history other than Indians are bad, this family is better, she'll have a good life if she's with them. Which is a form of assimilation that we will talk about really began the next era which we will talk about in the next session if you are here. Oh! uh oh. Do you need some water? I got a pregnant staff member in the back we're gonna keep an eye on her. It's late in the day, do you need some food? She's baby making, that's hard.
The question is yeah, how does organized religion, how has that played a role? Hoo, man! That's a dissertation! And I want to freely admit right now any bias that may come up I do not identify as Christian any more, I was raised Christian I have not, it doesn't sit with me... well. So recognize that as I say this. There's some really great tenets in it but it just doesn't sit well in my skin. Because of... I mean from one perspective I'll just be blunt here, that other people have written this, right? That there is an argument that rather than Christianity spreading civilization across the global world, that actually Christianity killed civilization as it moved across the globe. In that, the narrow mindset of female-male roles the original sin, kind of the tenets that are in Christianity came into such conflict with indigenous kind of beliefs particularly for those who really feel strongly that god gave them this Earth not as a steward or as someone to care for, but literally as "Here, here's for you, use it however you want." And so, Christianizing Native people started even before the United States existed. There were boarding schools before the United States. There were missionaries before the United States. There's been a presence and when we get to the boarding schools of the late eighteen into the nineteen, I mean you can track the boarding schools, who ran them, by what's the predominant religion in those tribal communities, whether it was Catholic or Episcopalian or, you know, Lutheran, you can see it. It's breathing. But on the flip side, there are a lot of deeply devout wonderful Native people who identify as Christian too. Who have found strength in that. The greater power, the story of Jesus is a beautiful one, right? I mean it is a really beautiful story. And so, there's a tension there too, that exists just naturally. In that as a church as a religion if you don't reconcile with your history of indigenous people globally, are you really following the tenets of your faith too?
And I'll just tell you a story it's very... you know Standing Rock, right? Heh, a little thing that happened last year. A friend of mine was on a plane he was talking about realizing that he was sitting next to this very well-dressed woman coming from Bismark or going to Bismark, I don't know it's the only way to fly into North Dakota, right? And they got to talking, and he's a big Native guy and he realized she was the wife of one of the like oil company execs. Awkward! (laughter) But no, they had a very, very, respectful conversation amongst themselves because he realized early on he couldn't argue with her, he wouldn't convince her. But she truly in her mindset, from a deeply devout religious respect of god giving this land to Christians believe that oil will never run out because we need it and it was given to us by god, I mean and that, that's just how she felt, right? And you can't, it's hard to argue. Like when someone's like "The sky is purple, it's purple!" Okay, I mean, right? Sometimes you have to choose your battles. You can live in a world where the sky is purple. Good for you, right?
But some churches have made great leaps around that. I mean churches were leading some of the dialog around Lake Calhoun and changing it to its proper name. And getting rid of that... individual. His connection. More needs to be done. I think I'll leave it at that, right? Before I get myself in trouble. Yeah, don't call my dad, right? He'd be deeply disturbed to find I've left the faith.
Any other questions or comments? (audience member: The sources that you refer to in your presentation are all from the White colonizers and I am wondering if you have any problems with (unintelligible) are there primary sources especially from Native women (unintelligible)) Ohh, they are hard to find. Because written language... my guess too is that written language might have existed simply because of elements and not being protected were lost too. I can say a lot of the material came from Sarah Deer's book, which is very deeply researched. But yeah, acknowledging that... but you know from my perspective too, when I look at... like you say a lot of it is the colonizer's writing, they had nothing to lie about. You know? It's like a refreshing, disturbing, gross, honesty to what they are writing. And if you put it in the context of what's going on, it makes perfect sense. Right, too, from a pragmatic, logical kind of view. But man, it would be lovely if we just found somewhere something. Unfortunately the colonizers too, a lot of stuff was lost. I mean I didn't even talk about the... one of the... it wasn't just about the loss of life in the removals, right? It was the loss of all the cultural teachings, learnings, things they left behind when they were forced to leave and only carry what they could. Right? and if it was a kid, that was all they had. Or to the Indian wars. Where the tribes not only did they massacre them but they destroyed everything that was in their property. Which is also why I will bring Standing Rock back in, right? I mean the thing... there were so many things to pick from. A deeply disturbing historical experiences there. You know, from having test runs with the kids and elders across the lower parts of the water in case the National Guard attacked, right? Just like the Calvary but.. You know I think when they tore the one camp apart and then dumped everyone's stuff back, you know, they destroyed prayer staffs and drums they urinated on them I mean there was acts of war that occured during that experience that people are still trying to heal from and I don't know, it's going to take a long, long time. And those were all government actions. By a government that is entrusted with the well-being of their citizens which included everyone sitting at Standing Rock.
Any other questions? Comments, jokes, right? (audience member: a comment for the audience, could they please speak up when they speak and could you summarize what they ask because I can't hear the question but I can hear your answer.) I am very sorry. Oh, alright, we had a question around kind of the Christian or religious impact, that's where that conversation came from. Like the tension between religious perspective, and Jewish too, I mean that there's a lot of them in there, right? I, I don't know, of Native people in here, have you ever had an individual from the Jewish faith try to convince you you are a member of the lost tribe? Has that happened to anybody? It happens to me fairly routinely. And maybe it's because I travel nationally, but that's happened numerous times there's this lost tribe of the Jewish tribes. I don't know enough about Judaism but apparently many of them believe Native people are that lost tribe. Here on this continent. So I guess, you know, maybe, who knows? Thank you that, I should have remembered that. We had a mic, we just forgot to get it out. We'll learn. Next time, we'll be perfect.
Yes m'am, (voice too low to transcribe) Absolutely, Yes, we may not be the lost tribe, but we sure share a genocidal experience with them, theirs is very new and recent for the Jewish community like with the concentration camps and such, right? We also share a history with African Americans, like the African slaves brought here. There's a lot more kind of recognition of that in the late sixties and seventies, that shared experience, than we really feel now.
Yes, (audience member: My personal opinion I keep hearing that we are part of something and it's another way of not recognizing us as who we are as a people, as a community and that we were here first!) I know, right? Yeah, it is. It's almost, I'll tell ya, It's almost exhausting to hit a point where you are like "Whoa with that stuff" I mean ignorance is bliss, who said that, they were so smart, right? Because I even get into arguments with people around creation. Not appreciating that most of the scientists up to fairly recent believed that Adam and Eve were the beginning of humanity and have done everything they can to make sure that science supports this belief that we all came from this single spot and then spread, right? The Bering Strait argument and all that. When in fact, our creation stories come from here. My creation story, we came from here. We have just as beautiful stories as the Christian or Jewish or Muslim, all, we do, but they are centered on this continent but there hasn't been Christian scientists trying to kind of justify and prove Adam and Eve were first. All life sprung from this one place on the continent. I mean from a practical standpoint do you believe in a creator? That's just called many names? It would make no logical sense to put everyone and have them start in one spot, right? I mean, come on! I mean it doesn't even make sense. I mean, from a logical mindset, creation stories all over to me are more scientific and logical than this idea of original source in Africa somewhere. But it was.. it happened when I went to South Africa, right? And throughout the entire, for two weeks it hit on the second to the last day when I finally just couldn't take it any more. Because everyone kept saying "back on the motherland" "we're back on the motherland" right? Both White and African American and other non-indigenous people. "oh, it feels... to be back on the motherland." I felt disconnected and like floating above the Earth, right? I mean, I have no connection to that continent at all. And when I said "Hey" just to raise awareness, right? "Um, yeah, this isn't my mother land." I was actually called out for being divisive. And anti-black actually is what some of the language they used to me, I mean... But it's true, I believe I came from here, not that I came from there. And maybe some day there will be enough Native, indigenous scientists that we'll prove it. For other people to... I mean we prove... you know science finally caught up to DNA carries trauma. You know, science finally caught up Smudging actually has a bacterial component as well, you know, I mean it's just a matter of time. Some day science will catch up to what we have always known for millenia.
Anybody else? Yes sir, (voice too low to transcribe) So the question being you know, yeah, what do you do in response to those people who want you to do it in twenty minutes. How can allies that are out there help, kind of raise awareness. I would say this, there's a number of ways allies can do it. One, I'm just to the point where I push back and I can't. I can talk about like a week of experience if you want me to do it in twenty minutes but I cannot, I'm not going to even try. I will give resources, ideas for them to read, to kind of share. But one thing allies can do when they are out in the community is constantly raising the issue of indigenous rights, sovereignty, experience, when you are in other groups because the dialog I've often found becomes White-Other which becomes a disservice to all of the Other. Because depending on who's in the room, the focus will be on one community within that Other and then the... everyone thinks well, we're serving the full non-white community. And so we'll see that where you know money will get diverted to North Minneapolis or money will get diverted to new immigrants you know money will go around when it comes down to a genocide has been so successful that we only have less than two percent of the population, we don't have a political voice.
Even though we have a Native caucus now, which is pretty darn cool and hopefully a Native lieutenant governor at some point, right? That's my perspective personally, not the agency's. That's still, right, just a few voices in the whole. And we need everyone else saying "Hey, Minnesota, you know, you should be embarrased about the current condition for indigenous people and people of color. I mean, you should actually be ashamed because there is no other explanation besides systemic racism because of the huge gap." When you try to put in other conditions, other things, when you do statistical analysis, the only thing that's left, is racist policies that are occuring that are having disparate effect. So calling it out in any space your at because we can't be everywhere at once because there are too few of us. Both urban and on the reservation. Because I think there is also a huge misconception in many states of non-native people that reservations say who have casinos, or everyone is like Shakopee, right? Everyone has tons of money and it should be their resposibility to serve all Indians in the state. That is... that's racist. Actually. You don't expect that for anyone else, right? Before he was president no one was expecting Donald Trump to cover the cost of all the poor white people, right? I mean, but yet, I hear that all the time, what about the tribes? What do the tribes contribute? You know what? The tribes barely have enough to take care of themselves, most of them, right? Because all of this, when you think about it impacting an individual, think of the compound effect on an entire government unit that has experienced this as an individual and as a collective. So, tribes, they're doing a lot of remarkable work. But they certainly can't handle everyone nationwide. But I will go back to what I said earlier. If I lived in Minnesota, let's pretend I do, right? You know, I may be an enrolled member of another tribe somewhere else, I am a citizen of the state. And therefore, the state has a responsibility to me as a citizen regardless of my identity with some tribal entity. And when they are not doing their job recognizing that and kinda trying to divert it "Well, you know, we've had convers... no..." they are not serving their population. They are picking and choosing who they serve. And here's kind of the deep irony, right? We are only two percent of the population. The amount of investment in our community that would have an enormous impact is relatively small when you compare it to other communities who are suffering with this too, these kind of effects where their numbers are much larger. It's going to cost more. So, really, it's not a resource issue, it's a priority issue and often times Native people don't even hit radar.
Another thing I would urge you to do is if you read a report in the news and they talk about all about these racial equalities and there is nothing in there about tribes, or tribal people, call that newspaper, call that radio and say "Um, what about the indigenous people?" You will often hear "Well, they are statistically irrelevant." Oh, well, yeah, because genocide was effective, but what about Native people? You can do statistical assessments as far as disparity and impact in the community, right? I mean, Native kids, everyone else went up. Poverty improved, we dropped. That wasn't even in the news. It wasn't even in the statistics. The deliberately, in my mind, left it out. It wasn't until community pushed back it was like, "oh, okay, yeah, you're right." When we just look at the Native population child poverty rose. But everyone else dropped. I mean, there's even um, unfortunately a picking and choosing of the information that's shared about the community that doesn't give a full picture for everyone else to know how things really are. I mean the opioid crisis, I'm really glad we're talking about it nationally, that's awesome. My community been dying for years and no one's cared. No one has other than "Oh, that's horrible, I don't know what to do." Well, you don't know what to do. Right, I get it. But you should because you are the experts. And your looking at real communities and your looking at... you know. If seven to twelve overdoses were happening every weekend in the same size that Little Earth is in Edina, so you can't tell me there isn't a systemic racism that exists here that people just don't like to look at because it's uncomfortable. Cause it's Minnesota nice. Greatest state in the nation... for lakes.
Yes (audience member: I want to jump ahead to the fourth session.) You gotta wait! (I know, I'm here because I learned that seventy five percent of juvenile trafficking victims in Minneapolis are Native. Although, less that two percent of the population as a whole. And, I know about trafficking in Asia. And this is my community, you know, and what do we do?) Yeah, she's pointing out the statistic you know that Minneapolis Police pointed out that in their juvenile sex trafficking cases seventy five percent of them are Native girls, and that's from a couple years ago, actually, from two thousand... yeah, and actually, incidentally, Grant Schneider says that's consis... that's still true. Even through two thousand sixteen. And just look a the rates of arrests along Lake Street, right? Two percent of the population but thirty percent of all the arrests. And I mean think about that for a second, right? I mean that's insane. Yeah (sighs) it is six o'clock, if you need to go, just get up, it's good. I won't be hurt, I understand you have families, food, dogs to walk et cetera. And thank you if you leave. I hope to see you back. Back to that "What do we do?" right? More of these kind of trainings at a high level of government would be beneficial. For people who are actually making the decisions, to be forced to have kind of to have a reckoning of the historical context of the problem they are trying to solve. You know I was in a meeting not that long ago... Thank you! have a good night everybody! I was in a meeting not too long ago and an assistant commissioner, you know, high up, we were talking about healthy births. What could really have an impact on Native, African American, new immigrants, those communities really suffering and having outcomes that aren't good, and this individual, I mean, with all sincerity said, "Well, this is why parental leave is so important that we get passed." We have to ensure that they have jobs when they get back. So they can focus on the baby. I'm like, well okay, yes, but around twenty-nine percent of Native people who could work in the state are working. So our unemployment rate is hovering around seventy percent. So actually, there's no parental... I mean (laughter) it won't have any effect on us at all, right? Not a bad policy! But recognize when you do that it will have no impact on the most vulnerable community. But, I don't mean, I don't blame this individual at all, doesn't know better. Really doesn't know better. For most people parental leave would really help. Great policy, I'm two thumbs up. It just won't have any effect on my community. Not measurable. Anyone else?
Well thank you! Have a good night! (applause) Oh, you don't have to do that! That makes me feel like I need to, right? Thank you so much for coming. Seriously, I am blown away by the number of people here. Please come back, right? We've got one in March, April, and May. It's on our website, materials out there. Please come to the gallery opening tomorrow, six o'clock at All My Relations For the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's show that opens, goes through April 20th. February fourteenth is the march. The Red Dress Project is also tomorrow so if you see red dresses hanging up throughout the city, take pictures, post it on social media, hashtag it because it's trying to raise awareness, and I beleive they are going to be on the Cedar Bridge, I am not sure, it's on Facebook as far as where they are going to be or Chicago, yeah, bringing their materials they made tonight, because there are a lot of people making dresses tonight to hang. So, thank you very much. And if there's more food please take it. Grab a water bottle.