The following article was posted on Indigenous Peoples Literature (IPL). IPL is a site
where internationally renowned Indigenous activists' articles are often posted. Also, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Nation's on-line newspaper (Sota) also
posted this article.
When I wrote the following article I was a Roman Catholic. I am now of the New
When I was still a Catholic Archbishop Harry Flynn, sent me the following
letter. Archbishop Flynn's letter was written in response to a letter that I sent him on
December 31, 2007. In the letter, I included my article Restoring The Fundamental Human Rights
Of Indigenous Peoples.
January 11, 2008
Thank you so very much for your kindness in writing to me on December 31, 2007. I
greatly appreciate your sending me the article that you wrote recently on
returning the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples.
I greatly appreciate your keeping me informed.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, D.D.
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Restoring The Fundamental Human Rights Of Indigenous
By Thomas Dahlheimer
I am spearheading the local, national and international movement to revert the
faulty-translation and profane name of Minnesota's "Rum River" back to its
sacred Dakota name Wakan, which translated means Spirit or Great Spirit.
I am also trying to change 13 other derogatory MN geographic site names that
are offensive to indigenous peoples.
After MN Representative Mike Jaros received my draft bill to change the name of
the "Rum River" as well as 13 other MN geographic site names that are offensive to
Native people, he slightly edited it and then with the consent of the Minnesota
Indian Affairs Council he introduced it to the MN legislature.
I am also trying to influence the Roman Catholic hierarchy to revoke the 1493
papal bull "Inter Caetera." Shortly after Indigenous Peoples Literature posted an
article of mine, titled,
Changing The Racist Name Of The Knights Of Columbus
, Tony Castanha (Carib/Boricua), an internationally renowned leader of the
movement to influence the Roman Catholic hierarchy to revoke the Papal bull, Inter
Caetera, contacted me and said that I am doing "great work" and to keep him
"updated". More recently, after I sent him a link to my youtube.com video,
"Protesting The Racist
Name Of The Knights Of Columbus" Mr. Castanha contacted me and said: "time to go after these 'Knights' guys..." Tony Castanha
is also on the forefront of the movement to put an end to the glorification of
the colonial pirate Christopher Columbus.
In 2000 a delegation of roughly 15-20 human and indigenous rights activists from
the Americas and Pacific region, a delegation with a mission to influence the
Roman Catholic hierarchy to revoke Inter Caetera, were "received" at the
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. This is where the delegation had been
sending its "Appeal to the Vatican." The delegation met with a Monsignor under
the President of the Council. He assured the delegation that they were on the
right track, and that the Council was an important player along with the
Secretariat of State. The issue of the revocation of the Bull "Inter Caetera"
was submitted to a commission at the Secretariat of State. This was a victory
indicating for the first time that the Vatican is seriously considering this
Revoking the Papal bull, Inter Caetera, would help restore the fundamental human
rights of indigenous peoples. A movement to revoke the papal bull has been ongoing
for a number of years. It was initiated by the Indigenous Law Institute in 1992.
At the Parliament of World Religions in 1994 over 60 indigenous delegates drafted
a Declaration of Vision. It reads, in part:
"We call upon the people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade
Pope John II to formally revoke the Inter Caetera Bull of May 4, 1493, which will
restore our fundamental human rights. That Papal document called for our Nations
and Peoples to be subjugated so the Christian Empire and its doctrines would be
propagated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. McIntosh 8 Wheat 543 (in
1823) adopted the same principle of subjugation expressed in the Inter Caetera
Bull. This Papal Bull has been, and continues to be, devastating to our
religions, our cultures, and the survival of our populations."
Essentially, Inter Caetera is the cornerstone of an international system today
The revocation of Inter Caetera will definitely announce before the world
community that the Vatican no longer supports the principle of subjugation that
it promulgated five and a half centuries ago. The Roman Catholic church will be
demonstrating its seriousness about respecting the rights and dignity of all
peoples. The revocation of Inter Caetera will be an extremely important
spiritual and symbolic gesture of peace and healing in creating a culture of
peace on earth.
The doctrine of discovery was a principle of international law developed in a
series of 15th century papal bulls and 16th century charters by European
monarchs. The doctrine essentially gave white Europeans the green light to go
forth and claim the lands of non-Christian peoples and enslave their inhabitants.
In recent years, various tribal members and groups around the country have asked
the pope to rescind the 15th century papal bulls.
Finally, after 500 years of the Papal sanctioned domination and subjugation of
indigenous peoples, a group of continental U.S.
Christians are asking the current English monarch to renounce the "doctrine of discovery"
that resulted in the genocide, colonization and dispossession of the indigenous peoples of
the "new world."
Maine's Episcopal diocese is the first in the continental United States to
protest against the "doctrine of discovery". The diocese passed a resolution
at their annual convention Oct. 26 calling for Queen Elizabeth and the
Archbishop of Canterbury ''to disavow and rescind the claimed validity of the
doctrine of discovery against all peoples, specifically as it is set forth in
the 1496 Royal Charter granted to John Cabot and his sons by King Henry VII,
and all other doctrines that have been relied thereon for the dispossession of
lands and the subjugation of non-Christian peoples from their initial use to
Several years ago the United Church of Christ, Hawai'i Conference, passed a
resolution which resolves that: "President Paul Sherry on behalf of the United
Church of Christ urges and calls upon people of conscience in the Roman
Catholic hierarchy and in other organized religions to persuade Pope John Paul
II to revoke the Papal Bulls Dum Diversas of 1452 [Romanus Pontifex of 1455]
and Inter Caetera of 1493..."
On November 26th I attended an Anoka-Hennepin Indian Education Parent
Committee and Indian Education Staff public hearing. It was held in Anoka,
Minnesota. The "Rum River" finds its confluence with the Mississippi River
in Anoka. During the hearing I addressed the committee and staff and spoke
about the work I am are doing to change Minnesota's derogatory names that are
offensive to Indian people.
I was asked a lot of questions, therefore, I was allowed to address the
committee and staff for about twenty minutes. I told them about Jim Anderson's
and my two hour meeting with the mayor of Anoka, I spoke about the progress we
made toward [fully] establishing an Anoka Dakota Unity Alliance. I also
mentioned that we are trying to influence the City of Anoka to sponsor Anoka
Pow Wows, cross-cultural educational programs, blend spirituality services,
etc.. Jim Anderson is the Cultural Chair for the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota
Community and leading Minnesota Dakota activist.
I also spoke about a U.N. World Conference Against Racism Conference
that identifies two 15th century Papal bulls as the source of white
racism against indigenous peoples. In addition, I mentioned that there is an
international movement to influence the Vatican to revoke these Papal bulls.
I told them that I have been corresponding with internationally renowned
indigenous activists and internationally renowned multi-cultural educators
and social activists. I also talked to them about my article "Changing The
Racist Name Of The Knights of Columbus." When doing so, I mentioned the
correspondence I had with two prominent member of Anoka's Knights of
I also mentioned that I believe that what is being taught in the public schools
is "propaganda" and that the real history of what happened to the indigenous
peoples of the Americas is still being covered up.
I told them that European international colonial law was based on two 15th
century Papal bulls, and that it is called the "doctrine of discovery". I also
mentioned that it was modified and then officially established as a U.S. law
in 1832, and that - from a Christian perspective - it is a "doctrine of the
Devil", and that America is based or founded on this doctrine of the Devil,
and that this evil racist and religious sectarian doctrine should be replaced
with a good humanitarian doctrine which respects the basic or fundamental
human rights of all people.
The meeting went great and I was asked to come to their next meeting on the
28th of January and present more information on these topics. They also told
me that Jim Anderson is welcome to address the committee and staff during
their next meeting.
In the near future Mr. Anderson and I will be meeting again with the mayor of
Anoka. Anderson recently told me that he will address the Anoka-Hennepin
Indian Education Parent Committee and Indian Education Staff on the 28th
On December 6th I met with the mayor of Anoka and talked again about these
mentioned above issues. After sending Leonard Wabasha, a hereditary chief of
the Mdewakanton Dakota Oyate, manager of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota
Community Cultural Resource Department and adviser of mine an e-mail about
my recent meeting with the mayor of Anoka he asked that I ask the City of
Anoka to write letters to the Minnesota Dakota Reservation Tribal Councils
inviting them to get involved with Anoka's mission to unite and reconcile
with the Dakota people. I recently did what Mr. Wabasha advised me to do.
During my most recent meeting with the mayor of Anoka he told me that there is
an Anoka organization that is being led by the President of the Anoka County
Historical Society, Paul Pierce, and that this organization is trying to
influence the City of Anoka to change the name of Anoka's "Rum River Nature
Area". I called Paul Pierce a few years ago and he, at the time, gave his
support for the effort to change the profane "Rum River" name back to its
sacred Dakota name Wakan.
Director of Rum River Name Change Organization, Inc.
----Rob Capriccioso's Indian Country Today newspaper article about this topic can
----be viewed and read by clicking
Benedict XVI: Reflections on the pope's visit to
----Steve Newcomb's Indian Country Today articles about this topic can be viewed
----and read by clicking
Steve Newcomb's ICT articles
Healing the painful wounds of a genocide in Minnesota
Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission's Native American Partnering & Truth-
Minnesota is helping to heal the wounds of genocide
The Pope's remarks whitewashed the genocide of Indigenous Peoples
Independent Indigenous Sovereign Nations
The Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota newspaper (Sota) posted an article about the same topic as the
above article, and did so, right next to my article, titled: "Restoring the Fundamental Human
Rights of Indigenous Peoples".
The Sota article:
Dakota were fighting to defend their land. When colonials attempted the same thing at Concord, they
assured themselves a spot in
history as 'patriots.'
By Laura Waterman Wittstock
December 17, 2007
Patrick Hill's Dec. 5 commentary ("the rest of the settlement story") calls up the spectre
of racism in his attack on Angela Wilson. The subject we should rightly be addressing is the
battle for survival the Dakota people launched in defense of their homelands.
There can be no doubt of who owned the land. The Louisiana Purchase did not give the United
States title to Indian lands within the boundaries of the land purchased. Thomas Jefferson
merely bought the claim France made to the territory. There remained the challenge that
the United States had to go out and survey and, most importantly, negotiate treaties with
the tribes for purchase of the lands.
These efforts eventually led to homesteading by the Europeans. But not all land was settled
by treaty. Thousands of homesteads were taken at the point of a gun or simply by moving into
existing Dakota homes and cleared land. It is doubtful that Hill can defend his comments in
terms of the Europeans involved in the battles as having ownership of the land they occupied.
Swedes coming into the Stillwater area simply took over cleared land while the Dakota occupants
were away hunting and gathering food. How convenient for the settlers. The returning Dakota
were met with threats of death if they tried to return to their homes. Thus in many cases was
"property" claimed and later defended in 1862.
History for the Dakota people in 1862 was a long look back to 1753, when the Mdewakanton center
was at Mille Lacs. Chief Wabasha was born there. He traveled north to Canada to meet with the
European powers and was given a military symbol by the British. This transaction was to become
common as British and then Americans moved to conquer the West.
Eventually, as we all know, the British lost the American Revolution and the damage to the
Dakota was substantial. Michigan, not on the table during the Treaty of Versailles, was simply
handed over to the Americans. Bands of the Ojibwe people came west as the American push for more
land increased. Eventually, the Ojibwe took over Mille Lacs and much of the Dakota land in what
Mille Lacs was a key location because the lake connects to the Mississippi River and key Dakota
villages as well as being the "superhighway" to the south. It had trade as well as tactical
advantages, something not lost on the encroaching Europeans.
Pigs Eye (St. Paul) quickly was established as a port center, something Stillwater had been
The War of 1812 saw the British invade all the way to St. Louis. Along the way, negotiations
were made with the Dakota, picking up on the old agreements with Wabasha. Nothing was to come
of this and the British were defeated in their effort to re-take the United States.
In the meantime, one president after another tried to pacify or kill the Indians in the way of
settlement. President Thomas Jefferson is on record having the view that Indians stood in the
way of progress, and the now familiar policy of "by any means necessary" was part of his
strategy. There can be no doubt of the intention to grab and hold land.
Thus the 1753 to 1862 period was a time of continuing war against the Dakota people. This went
on until almost all of their land was taken from them. The once successful and well established
Dakota were under pressure to become extinct. Fort Snelling, an area once populated by
Mdewakanton and their allies the Hidatsa, was abandoned to the Americans.
Fatigued, unable to grow and store crops for the requisite six months, unable to hunt in a
more and more restricted territory where game was scarce, having to wait for unscrupulous U.S.
agents to deliver on promised food and supplies, some of the Dakota had had enough. The only
reasonable thing left was to strike out to save family and home. Who could blame them for
their sense of desperation? Perhaps some feel that yes, they should have just died and let
the new Americans take all of their land. That should be the fate of any conquered peoples.
But they chose to defend their families and their land. In Concord, Mass., such acts would
be called patriotism and the revolutionaries patriots.
The Dakota deserve and should have apologies from the United States government, the United
Kingdom and France. All were complicit in killing and displacing Dakota people. Anything
less will leave those Western governments with unresolved guilt for their crimes against
innocent people and native nations.
(Editor's note: Laura Waterman Wittstock, Minneapolis, writes on American Indian, political and