THE DAKOTA-U.S. WAR OF 1862: SELECTED ASPECTS
INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEONARD PELTIER
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Hosted By Oneida Nation
By Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D., RETIRED, Dakota
Associate Professor of Indigenous Nations & Dakota Studies
Ho, Mitakuyapi. Owasin cantewasteya nape ciyuzapi do! Mato Nunpa emankiyapi. Damakota, k’a Oceti mitawa kin he Wahpetunwan. Mini Sota Makoce heciyatanhan wahi.
“Hello, my Relatives. With a good heart, I greet all of you with a handshake. I am called Chris Mato Nunpa. I am a Dakota, and my Fire is the Wahpetunwan, or “Dwellers In the Leaves,” indicating the woodlands heritage of my Fire. I come from the “Land Where the Waters Reflect the Skies, or Heavens,” or Minnesota.
Also, I wish to thank mitakoda, my friend, Bill Means and the Organizing
Committee for honoring me the privilege of presenting testimony at this
International Tribunal for Leonard Peltier. I have used the documentary “Incident
at Oglala” many times in several of my Indigenous Nations & Dakota Studies (INDS)
courses at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) in Marshall, Minnesota.
This same documentary you all will be seeing sometime during the event. Also, I
have used also an article which appears in the book State of Native America (1992),
edited M. Annette Jaimes. The article is titled “A Warrior Caged The Continuing
Struggle of Leonard Peltier” by Jim Vander Wall” (Chapter X, p. 291). I learned many
things from the documentary and the article.
In addition, there was a Native man by the name of Chris Spotted Eagle, a
media person, a producer of documentaries and films. Mr. Spotted Eagle, a humble
and gentle man, a knowledgeable person, conducted a “Teach-In” on Leonard Peltier
for me while I was teaching the last 16 years of my professional career at SMSU.
Before Chris spoke, and as people were filing in, I played a portion of some music by
“Rage Against the Machine,” which had to do with Leonard Peltier. The students
thought I was cool for playing such music. I learned more about Leonard Peltier
from mitakoda, “my friend,” Chris Spotted Eagle, at his “Teach-In.”
My job here is to talk about the Dakota People of Minnesota and what
happened to them, and who did it, especially concentrating on the tragic and
traumatic events of 1862 and 1863. As I understand it, my presentation dealing
with the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862, along with other presentations, will provide a
historical and political context for what happened at Wounded Knee, both in 1890
and 1973, and what happened to Leonard Peltier and to other Indigenous activists
who are struggling against massive theft of our lands, against destruction of our
cultures, against suppression of our spirituality and ceremonies, and against the
genocide of not only the Dakota People of Minnesota, specifically, but also with the
Indigenous Peoples of the United States, in general.
Also, I wish to say the Oyate, “People” or “Nation,” consisting of the Dakota,
the Lakota, and the Nakota, took up arms against the Wasicu (the Dakota word for
the white man, for the Euro-American, or the U.S. Euro-Americans) in one of the
longest sustained periods of resistance to the Wasicu. This resistance began in 1862
when our Dakota People, under the leadership of Little Crow declared war on the
white man, a very disastrous decision, whose effects are felt today by the present-
day Dakota People of Minnesota and by the exiled Dakota who are spread over
several states and over several provinces in Canada. This resistance spread into the
plains and the Lakota, of the Oyate, which means the “People” or “Nation,” continued
the struggle. The Lakota, and some Dakota and Nakota, defeated Custer at the Little
Big Horn River, a decisive victory. The Oyate’s struggle and resistance culminated in
the tragic and genocidal massacre at Wounded Knee in December 29, 1890.
There are parallels to be found in the continuing struggle of Leonard Peltier
and his supporters and allies, along with other Indigenous Peoples who resisted the
land-stealing, the treaty-breaking, the deprivations of our rights (even according to
their own U.S. Constitution), and suppression of our Native religions and languages.
This would include the struggle of the Dakota People of Minnesota since 1862 and
1863 right up to the present time. With Leonard Peltier, we see the lies, i.e., the
complete fabrications by the FBI, which is the police of the U.S. government, the
threatening and intimidation of witnesses, the coerced affidavits, the false evidence,
and other instances of misconduct by the FBI.
In the “Wounded Knee Leadership Trial” of Russell Means and Dennis Banks,
we see what Jim Vander Wall calls a “classic example” of “the use of the courts to
pursue political ends” (p. 293). The comments of the judge (Nichols) was
enlightening in which he talked about the pattern of “misconduct” by the FBI
throughout the trial. It caused Judge Nichols to write, “The waters of justice have
been polluted” (p. 293, Jaimes). It is this writer’s perception that the “waters of
justice” have been “polluted” ever since the conception of the United States some
237 years ago. Judge Nichols comment is, also, how I perceive what happened in the
“trials” of the 392 Dakota men, of which 303 were sentenced to be hanged.
Eventually, 38 Dakota warriors, Minnesota’s first patriots and martyrs, were
hanged on December 26, 1862 in what is considered the largest mass simultaneous
hanging from one gallows in the history of the United States. These courageous men
gave their lives in defense of their country! They, actually, did fight for Minnesota
and for freedom of the Dakota Oyate!
The Trials of the Dakota Men
Back in 1862, in the “kangaroo court’’ military commission, we see these
same acts of misconduct and criminal actions by the military and the U.S.
government. For example, sometimes up to 42 Dakota men were tried in one day,
and some of the “trials” lasted less than five minutes. If a Dakota man was seen at a
battle site, he was guilty. The Dakota men were allowed no lawyers to defend them.
They were considered war criminals instead of prisoners of war. They were
considered, automatically, guilty without any specific charges brought against them,
and without any trial, to have these charges either proved or disproved. These
actions, along with other unfair and unjust actions, or “misconduct,” by the
government and military, caused Roy Meyer to write, in his History of the Santee
Sioux (1967, 1993), “Thus, the revered Anglo-Saxon principle of law that a person is
considered innocent until proved guilty was reversed in the case of the Indians”
Since the Dakota men who fought against the white man were automatically
considered war criminals and were executed, Carol Chomsky, a law professor at the
University of Minnesota Law School, conducted research about the trials and the
mass hanging of the thirty-eight (38) Dakota men and wrote a paper from a legal
perspective. The paper is titled “The United States-Dakota War Trials: A Study in
Military Injustice.” This paper was published in the Stanford Law Review in
November 1990. Also, the Copyright year is 1990.
Professor Chomsky said several things which are damning to the
One, “the Dakota were tried as common criminals, not as legitimate
belligerents of a sovereign nation. The only proper charge against a belligerent is
violation of the laws and customs of war” (p. 26).
Two, “As members of a sovereign nation, the Dakota should not have been
condemned for fighting in a war with the United States” (p. 26).
Three, “Clearly, if the Dakota were sovereign and fighting a war, killing
soldiers in battle would not be a violation” (p. 26).
Professor Chomsky goes on to say, “We have seen that the trials of the Dakota
were conducted unfairly in a variety of ways. The evidence was sparse, the tribunal
was biased, the defendants were unrepresented in unfamiliar proceedings
conducted in a foreign language, and authority for convening the tribunal was
lacking. More fundamentally, neither the Military Commission nor the reviewing
authorities recognized that they were dealing with the aftermath of a war fought
with a sovereign nation and that the men who surrendered were entitled to
treatment in accordance with that status “ (p. 28).
These statements certainly imply that the proceedings of the Military
Commission were not legal. Or, one could say the hanging of the 38 Dakota men on
December 26, 1862 was “legalized murder.” In fact, Roy Meyer, in his book
mentioned above, did use this phrase “legalized murder” to characterize the mass
execution of Dakota men on December 26, 1862 (p.138).
Professor Chomsky’s statement re: “the tribunal was biased” was not only
true for the Dakota men back in 1862 but also for Leonard Peltier in his trial
proceedings in March 21, 1977 in Fargo, North Dakota, in which trial Mr. Peltier had
a biased judge. An Anishinabe friend of mine, George Mitchell, from Minnesota, and
a founding member of the American Indian Movement back in 1968 would often
say, “Justice for the white man means “just us.” To reiterate an earlier assertion, it is
my perception that this statement re: U.S. law, “just us,” has been true since the
beginning of the United States of America and, most certainly, is true today.
One of the events that my group, which I founded, the Oceti Sakowin
Omniciye, or “Seven Fires Summit,” has been talking about and doing some planning
for a Tribunal in which we would place the former governors of the state of
Minnesota, Alexander Ramsey and Henry Sibley, on trial for Genocide and Crimes
Against Humanity. The Tribunal would consist of a tentative number of five (5)
jurists, which would be Indigenous judge or lawyer types. These jurists would be
from outside the United States and would apply International Law and the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And it is precisely for the reason
stated above - that the U.S. law is for whites only, that it protects whites and the U.S.
government. U.S. Euro-American law is not for Indigenous Peoples of the U.S.
The Treaty of 1805
Vine Deloria, Jr. writes this about treaties, “In looking back at the centuries of
broken treaties, it is clear that the United States never intended to keep any of its
promises. Like other areas of life, the federal government adapted its policies to the
expediency of the moment. When the crisis had passed, it promptly proceeded on
its way without a backward glance at its treachery” (Custer Died For Your Sins
(1969, 1988), pp. 48-49). Note the term “treachery” which Deloria applies to the
United States of America.
In 1805 the Dakota People made a treaty with the United States, which was
the Oyate’s first treaty with the U.S.. The U.S. wished to establish dominance in the
Upper Mississippi River valley. Therefore, the U.S. needed land to build a fort. Forts
were necessary because they would enable the white settlers to steal Dakota land,
and when the Dakota would resist, the white soldiers, housed at the fort, would be
called upon to either kill the Dakota or removed them. So, the U.S. sent Zebulon Pike
to negotiate a treaty with the “Sioux Nation of Indians.”
There were three (3) articles involved in the treaty. Article 1 dealt with the
obtaining of land and building of a fort. Article 2 involved “consideration,” or
money. Zebulon Pike estimated the value of the 155,000+ acres of land at $200,000.
However, when the treaty went to the Senate back east, the Senate wrote in Article 2
the figure of $2,000, which was $198,000 short of the $200,000 expected by the
Dakota. This was a deceptive and dishonest trick that had been done, earlier, many
times to other Indigenous Peoples, and now it was being done to the Dakota. It
reminds the writer of a statement of Roy Meyer in which he speaks of “moral
obliquity,” in his History Of The Santee Sioux, “Many observers have noted the moral
obliquity that seemingly afflicted white men in their dealings with Indians. Men
justly respect for integrity and fairness in their relations with other white men saw
nothing reprehensible about resorting to all manner of chicaner and equivocation
when dealing with Indians” (p.77). Then, the U.S. government did not pay the
$2,000 until several years later. The Senate decided to pay the $2,000 in goods.
However, as the goods were coming up the Mississippi River in boats, a Sauk and
Fox person said that white men had killed his brother and he wanted some
payment. Some of the goods intended for the Dakota were, then, paid to the Sauk
and Fox person. Thus, the Dakota did not even get the $2,000 that the Senate wrote
in Article 2. Today, the position of many of the Dakota People is that we have not
been paid. Much of St. Paul and Minneapolis is located on this 155,000+ acres,
which is stolen land and has not been paid for. We are asking for payment of the
land, the return of some of the land, payment for back rent, and reparations for
Also, the Dakota are struggling for their rights according to Article 3 of the
1805 Treaty which states, “The United States promise on their part to permit the
Sioux to pass, re-pass, hunt, or make other uses of the said districts, as they have
formerly done in said district . . . . ” We are fighting for our treaty fishing rights, our
treaty hunting rights, and our treaty religious rights (e.g., access to Coldwater
Spring, etc.). We have had a number of fish-ins which we called “The Great Oyate
Fish-In.” Some of us have been arrested, many times, have faced white men armed
with guns, and have appeared in federal court a number of times. The charges have
generally been dismissed, not on treaty issues but on legal technicalities and flawed
The year 2008 was the 150th birthday of Minnesota as a state. Thus, the state
of Minnesota was “celebrating” its birthday. Some of the young Dakota People told
the Sesquicentennial Commission that the Dakota did not have anything to
“celebrate,” that Minnesota was built on Dakota blood, on Dakota lives, and on
Dakota lands and resources. However, the Dakota People and their allies and
supporters did other things which engaged in Truth-Telling, to counter the
“celebration” and the lies that have been told for the past 150 years.
One of the events was holding four days of ceremonies at a sacred site,
Coldwater Spring. The newspapers, the radio stations, and the television stations
said we were “protesting” and “demonstrating.” Instead,we were conducting Inipis,
a purification ceremony; the Canduhupa, or the Pipe Ceremony; plus speakers and
panels. Various law enforcement personnel were there including: Hennepin County
Sheriff’s deputies, Minneapolis Police, Federal Marshalls, Homeland Security, and
there was even one SWAT team from Edina, Minnesota. These law enforcement
personnel would drive their cars slowly down the road by our camp, turn around at
the end, and return slowly. Their windows were tinted – we couldn’t see them but
they could see us. Their purpose was to intimidate and harass us. Also, in the last
two days, there were two helicopters hovering above us. We are fairly certain that
they were taking pictures of everyone that was there and were recording the
speeches and the panelists.
The main point is that we, like so many Indigenous Peoples and groups, are
struggling for our lands, for our languages, for our constitutional rights (i.e., the U.S.
Constitution), and our treaty rights. And, like other Indigenous Peoples, who resist
the white man, we are up against overwhelming numbers, guns, and their law which
protects them and not us, the First Nations Peoples.
I would like to close this discussion on treaties with another quotation from
Vine Deloria, Jr., “When the Kennedys and King were assassinated people wailed and
moaned over the “sick” society. Most people took the assassinations as a symptom
of a deep inner rot that had suddenly set in. They needn’t have been shocked.
America has been sick for some time. It got sick when the first Indian treaty was
broken. It has never recovered” (p. 76)
Genocide: The Forced March
On November 07-13, 1862, 1,700 of our Dakota People, primarily women and
children, and some elders, were force-marched 150 miles from southwestern
Minnesota (in the Morton and Redwood Falls area) to the Concentration Camp at Ft.
Snelling near the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Dozens of our Kunsis (or
“Grandmothers”) were killed on this death march., including one of my
grandmothers who was bayoneted in the stomach by a white soldier on horseback.
Her “sin,” or crime, was not understanding a white soldier’s order, given in a foreign
language, English. Another friend of mine, now deceased, tells the story of his
grandmother who was on the march. She needed to relieve herself and she, for
modesty’s sake, headed for the trees alongside the march route. A white soldier
waved her back, signaling her to get back on the road and keep walking. The
grandmother walked until she could no longer hold it, and, again, she headed for the
woods. The white soldier became angry and shot and killed the grandmother.
We do not know how many of our women and children were killed on that
150-mile march We do not know how many children and elders succumbed to
violence, hunger, cold, disease, despair, and terror. We do not know how many
elders were killed if they lagged behind on the march. Also, we do not know how
many of our Dakota women were raped along the 150 miles. We, the Dakota People
and other Indigenous Peoples who have experienced the genocidal marches, do
know that all these horrible acts of killings, deaths, rapes, etc. were common to all
the forced marches of the Indigenous Peoples, including the Dakota People of
Minnesota, in the 19th century with the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
The forced-march fulfills criterion “c” of the five criteria of the 1948 UN
Genocide Convention, “Deliberately inflicting upon the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” This forced
march is state-sponsored Genocide! Violence, sickness, despair, and terror
characterized the conditions of the Dakota People.
Genocide: the Concentration Camp
When the women and children completed the 7-day forced march, they were
“concentrated” at the site below the bluff on which the fort was situated. This area
is now known as Ft. Snelling State Park. Hundreds of our women and children were
murdered here. According to oral accounts, there were burials every day from sun-
up to sun-down. There were no shovels to dig a grave. The Dakota had to use sticks,
sharp rocks, and their hands, whatever was available, to dig the graves. So, the
graves were shallow. It was not uncommon, in the mornings, to see a dog dragging
human bones around, bones of infants, children, elders who had been buried the day
Dr. Jack Weatherford, in his book Native Roots (1991) says this after looking
at photographs of the Ft. Snelling concentration camp. He writes,
Those old photographs have an eerie quality . . .
The pictures show us the birth of an institution, the
beginning of a whole new social practice of concentrating
innocent civilians into an area and imprisoning them for protracted
periods without charging them with any crime . . . By the middle of
the twentieth century, the concentration camp had spread virtually around the world” (p.178)
Again, the concentration camp fits not only criterion “c”, mentioned above
but also criterion “b”, “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the
groups,” and Criterion “a” as well, “Killing members of the group.” Thus, our Dakota
grandmothers were murdered by cold, hunger, disease, and despair. Also, they were
terrorized. I remember my Tunwin (which means “Aunt”) Naomi Bear Cavender
who talked about white soldiers urinating on the tipis of the women. In Dr.
Waziyatawin’s article, “Colonial Calibrations: The Expendability of Minnesota’s
Original People” (2013), she quotes the missionary, Stephen Riggs who wrote, “It is
a very sad place now. The crying hardly ever stops.” Gabriel Renville reported, “We
were so crowded and confined that an epidemic broke out among us and children
were dying day and night” (William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 39:2, p. 474).
Some racist white academics and other people will deny that genocide
occurred at the concentration camp site at Ft. Snelling. Dr. Waziyatawin writes, “if
we perceive these deaths as anything other than part of the genocide, we are
denying the standards used in other genocidal contexts” (p. 473). Professor
Waziyatawin goes on to quote Dr. Robert Venables, a historian from Cornell
University, Ithaca, New York, who, in reference to the Indigenous holocaust asks the
question: “Does it matter that millions of the Indians who perished died of disease
and malnutrition rather than by the sword? Are we not to count the Jews who died
of disease and starvation, and only those gassed or shot?” (p. 473).
Genocide: Forcible Removal
By the end of the six months (November & December 1862, and January,
February, March, and April of 1863), there were now 1,300 women and children
who had survived the 150-mile forced march and the six months in the
Concentration Camp. These tired, sickly, starved, etc. Dakota people were loaded
onto two cattle-boats, or steam boats, and forcibly removed from our ancient
homelands in Minnesota, transported down the Mississippi River to the mouth of
the Missouri River. Then, they went up the Missouri River to Crow Creek, South
Dakota where the majority of the women, children, and elders ended up.
This forcible removal of the Dakota from their ancient homelands fits right
into the fine tradition established by the U.S. Congress, the highest legislative body
in the nation, with the passage of the Indian removal Act in 1830, an act which was
enthusiastically implemented by President Andrew Jackson, another white “hero”/
President in the long line of U.S. genocidaires, i.e., perpetrators of Genocide. It, no
doubt, would be of interest of the reader to know that Thomas Jefferson, an
advocate of Extermination and Extirpation of the Indigenous Peoples of the U.S., had,
also, suggested, in 1803, that the First Nations Peoples be either exterminated or
removed. However, it was not until 27 years later that Jefferson got his wish when
Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. In 1863, thirty-three (33) years after the
Indian Removal Act was passed, the state of Minnesota passed the act titled “an Act
for the Removal of the Sisseton, Wahpeton, Medwakanton, and Wahpakoota Bands
of Sioux or Dakota Indians.” Such legislative acts of Forcible Removal of Dakota and
other Indigenous Peoples are not only state-sponsored Land Theft but also state-
sanctioned Genocide. The white supremacists, the imperialists (believers in
Manifest Destiny), and the colonizers used their laws to pursue their genocidal and
Thus, the state of Minnesota and its Euro-Minnesotan citizenry repeated the
deliberate and systematic policy of expropriation of lands and resources, by the
forcible removal of Indigenous Peoples from their homelands, by removing the
Dakota People from their ancients home lands in Mini Sota Makoce, “Land Where
The Waters Reflect the Skies, or Heavens” (Dr. Mato Nunpa’s translation). Again,
many Dakota were killed by hunger, cold, thirst, and despair, as well as by violence.
Again, terror characterized the mental and emotional of the Dakota People. These
conditions were deliberately inflicted upon the Dakota People by the Genocidaires,
thus fulfilling criterion “c,” as well as criteria “b” and “a,” of the 1948 UN Genocide
Genocide: The Punitive Military Expeditions of Sibley & Sully
In 1863, in the aftermath of the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862 in Minnesota,
hundreds of Dakota men, women, children, and elders were killed in 1863 in the
areas now know as South and North Dakota. Sibley and Sully, with their punitive
and genocidal military expeditions, destroyed wholesale many Dakota villages and
indiscriminately slaughtered hundreds of innocent Dakota civilians and then called
these massacres “battles.” Many of these Dakota People had never fought against
the white man, and some had never been in Mini Sota Makoce. Their sin was being
Dakota. It appeared that Sibley and Sully were consumed by a genocidal lust and a
racial hatred of Dakota People. One soldier wrote in a diary that the white soldiers
did much worse things to the Dakota than the Dakota ever did to the Euro-
Minnesotan citizenry. These murderous and hateful acts by Sibley and Sully, and
their troops, fulfilled Criterion “a” of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, “Killing
members of the Group.”
Not only did Sibley and Sully kill non-combatants but they also destroyed
their food supplies and their means of feeding their families, children, and elders.
As Dr. Waziyatawin writes, that in addition to killing large numbers of Dakota
People, “ . . . the expeditions were incredibly harmful to Dakota People. In addition
to causing terror, the expeditions destroyed vast quantities of Dakota supplies and
equipment. The battles primarily consisted of Dakota warriors trying desperately to
fend off white soldiers while their women and children fled behind them. Of course,
most of the casualties of these expeditions would occur the following winter when
the Dakota populations on the run starved or died of exposure” (What Does Justice
Look Like? (2008, p. 49).
Genocide: The 400 Dakota Men Imprisoned in Davenport, Iowa
About 400 Dakota men were imprisoned in the new concentration camp at
Davenport, Iowa for three years. Approximately, one-third of the men were
murdered there, dying of violence, hunger, cold, disease, despair, and terror,
including one of my relatives on my father’s side, Wicanhpi Nunpa, or “Two Stars.”
This action and conditions fulfill criterion “c” of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention,
“deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical
destruction in whole or in part.”
One of the significant points that could be made here re: the imprisonment of
the Dakota men at Davenport, Iowa, is the fact that they were separated from their
women. This, also, occurred with the imposition of the concentration camps. The
Dakota women and children were at Ft. Snelling, and the men were at the Mankato
concentration camp. When the genders are separated, there can be no procreation.
There will be no children burn. This is “flatly and intentionally genocidal,” to use
David Stannard’s words in American Holocaust (1992), p. 119), for no population
can survive” (p. 119) if there are no children being born. These actions of forcible
separations of the genders by the state of Minnesota and by the U.S. government
fulfill criterion “d” of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, “Imposing measures
intended to prevent births within the group.”
One of the most barbaric and heinous acts perpetrated by Governor Ramsey,
by the Minnesota state legislature, and by the Euro-Minnesotan citizenry was the
placing of bounties on the scalps of Dakota People. There was no gender
discrimination – both Dakota men and women were target for the Euro-
Minnesotans. There was no age discrimination – men, women, and children were
fair game. The bounties placed on the Dakota People began with the sum of $25,
then, it was raised to $75, and, finally, to $200 (Meyer, p. 135). According to people
who understand the economics of the 1860s in the state of Minnesota, $200 was an
It was theoretically possible for an entrepreneurial Norwegian or German
young man to shoot a Dakota and buy a quarter-section of land, and begin a career
in agriculture. It is understandable why western European immigrants loved this
country. There was so much opportunity! Other immigrants saw Minnesota as
Canaan, the Land of Milk and Honey. When I first read comments like this, I
shuddered because I knew what this meant. The Assemblies of God were one of
three Christian denominations to send missionaries to our little Dakota community.
These missionaries taught us Bible verses and Bible stories. I learned about the
“Chosen People,” the Jews. I learned about the “Promised Land,” Canaan. I learned
that the Canaanites and the Hittites, et. al., were to either be removed or “utterly
destroyed.” This was the command of the Old Testament God to his “Chosen
People,” the Israelites. I had learned, later, that the Old Testament God didn’t like
the first Peoples of the Promised Land, the Canaanites. Well, when these white men
came and saw Minnesota, and said “Canaan, Land of Milk and Honey,” I knew what
that meant. That meant that the white men were the “chosen people.” our ancient
homelands were “Canaan,” or their “Promised Land,” and we, the Dakota People,
were the godless Canaanites and Hittites that needed to be either exterminated or
John Toland wrote what is considered the definitive biography of Adolph
Hitler. In his book, Toland points out that Hitler told his inner circle, on a number of
occasions, how much he admired the “efficiency” of the U.S. genocidal programs
against the Indigenous Peoples of the U.S., including the Dakota People of Minnesota,
and viewed them as models for his own programs against the Jews, the Gypsies, the
physically handicapped, homosexuals, and everybody else he did not like.
Hitler, an evildoer, learned and committed many of the things that U.S.
perpetrated against the Indigenous Peoples of the U.S., the Dakota People being one
of the Native Peoples, including genocide, concentration camps, forced marches, and
removals, mass executions, etc. Hitler shared the same racial hatred toward the
Jews that the U.S. and its Euro-American citizenry displayed toward the Indigenous
peoples of the U.S. Hitler even borrowed certain terms and phrases that the U.S.
used re: the Aboriginal Peoples of the U.S. For example, the phrase “final solution”
was used by the U.S. re: the First Nations Peoples, and Hitler used this phrase in
regard to the Jews and Gypsies. Hitler, also, applied the term “Redskins” to the
Russians, a term which Hitler learned from the U.S. When the German Nazis were
about to invade Russian, Hitler told his troops that they must treat the Russians as
“Redskins.” The United States was an excellent teacher and Hitler was an excellent
An incidental comment - most of us are aware of the Washington Redskins, a
professional football team, and most Indigenous Peoples are painfully aware that
the U.S. Euro-Americans are okay with this term even though this term “Redskins,”
is extremely offensive and disrespectful to the First Nations Peoples. We do not
wish to be U.S. America’s “fun and games,” as Dr. Ward Churchill would put it.
There is one thing that Hitler did not do with the Jews that the U.S. did with
the Native Peoples of the U.S., and that Ramsey and the Euro-Minnesotans did with
the Dakota People. Hitler did not place bounties on the scalps of Jewish People. If
Hitler had placed bounties on Jewish scalps, one can just imagine the howls of
protest that would have arisen from the fine Christian U.S. Euro-Americans. As it is,
that U.S. Euro-American public did apply to Hitler and the Nazis the terms of
“Criminals,” “Murderers,” “Barbarians,” and “Butchers.” Yet, these U.S. Euro-
Americans and Euro-Minnesotans think it is just fine if they do these same genocidal
actions against the Dakota People and to other Indigenous Peoples, and, at the same
time, think that is wrong for Hitler and the Nazis to do the same things to the Jews.
This is one of dozens upon dozens of instances in which the U.S. displays its
hypocrisy and the use of double standards in the genocidal and oppressive
treatment of the Indigenous Peoples.
With the few examples I have provided re: the broken treaties, the use of
their law to pursue their ends to crush the Dakota; to expropriate our lands; to
perpetrate genocide on the Dakota people which denied the Dakota their physical
lives; to deny us our religious rights by disallowing access to our sacred sites, etc., I
trust that this bit of information, along with the other presentations at the Tribunal
event, have shown that the United States is not a friend of Indigenous Peoples but is
an enemy intent on denying us our rights, our cultures, and is intent on stealing
what lands and resources we still have. And the U.S. has shown over its 237 years
of existence that it is more than willing to use their soldiers, their law enforcement
personnel, their SWAT teams, their guns and helicopters, and their laws to crush us
and deprive us of our rights.
Even though the forces against us are overwhelming, and I sometimes
despair, it is unacceptable to do nothing. I must speak up, I must act, and I must
write, as the Indigenous Peoples here at this event are doing. I am taking
encouragement and strength from all of you at this conference.
Owasin wopida tanka eciciyapi do! “I say thank-you to all of you.”
Mitakuyapi owasin! “All my Relatives!”
Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D.
5690 250th Ave.
Granite Falls, Minnesota 56241