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Why the First Nations People Regard Thanksgiving Day as a National Day of Mourning and Why Minnesota Governors Sibley and Ramsey Should Posthumously Stand Trial for Crimes Against Humanity
“What happened to the Dakota in 1862 and afterward was a grievous crime against humanity. If it had occurred in this present day and age the United Nations and the international community would condemn it and declare it to be ethnocide and genocide. A United Nations world court indictment would be issued and the perpetrators of this ethnocide and genocide would be rounded up, tried, convicted and punished for crimes against humanity.” -- Thomas Dahlheimer from his long essay, entitled, A History Of The Dakota People In The Mille Lacs Area (http://www.towahkon.org/Dakotahistory.html)
“The Sioux (Dakota) Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state." – White Supremacist Alexander Ramsey, Minnesota’s second Governor
Glossary: According to the International Law Commission’s Draft Code of Crimes against the Peace and Security of Mankind (1996), Article 18, the definition of a crime against humanity is as follows: (I have underlined the ones that American aboriginals have experienced over the past 500 years.)
“…any of the following acts, when committed in a systematic manner or on a large scale and instigated or directed by a Government or by any organization or group:
(e) Persecution on political, racial, religious or ethnic grounds;
(f) Institutionalized discrimination on racial, ethnic or religious grounds involving the violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms and resulting in seriously disadvantaging a part of the population;
(g) Arbitrary deportation or forcible transfer of population;
(h) Arbitrary imprisonment;
(i) Forced disappearance of persons;
(j) Rape, enforced prostitution and other forms of sexual abuse;
(k) Other inhumane acts which severely damage physical or mental integrity, health or human dignity, such as mutilation and severe bodily harm.”
Last year’s Thanksgiving Duty to Warn column built the case on why Minnesota’s first two white supremacist governors Henry Sibley and Alexander Ramsey should be posthumously tried for crimes against humanity. (The column has been archived at: http://duluthreader.com/articles/2014/11/27/4423_why_first_nations_people_regard_thanksgiving_day.)
Those two governors were just two in a long string of powerful white male, punitive, state and national leaders that meet the definition of white supremacists. And the string remains unbroken despite the yearnings of progressives who have done the hard work of trying to foster peace and justice in the world.
There seems to be no shortage of examples of why our First Nations brothers and sisters continue to suffer and naturally mourn the pseudo-spirit and the mythology of Thanksgiving and considering the many treaties that have been broken by the American government and the many wars of genocide that have been perpetrated upon them by America’s racist military confidently make good use of the following truism:
“White Man Speaks With Forked Tongue”
We sports-addicted, shop-until-you-drop, over-entertained, historically-illiterate, don’t give a damn, drug-addicted, over-medicated, over-vaccinated, increasingly obese couch potato Americans have been the beneficiaries of 500 years of genocide and land grabs against the original inhabitants and possessors of the land, the Native Americans,. We seem to be oblivious of the crimes against humanity committed in our names by historical figures like Henry Hastings Sibley and Alexander Ramsey, both real estate speculators and businessmen who “served” Minnesota as the first and second state governors from 1858 through 1863. When the War Between the States began, Sibley entered the Union Army and led white troops in the murderous military suppression of the Sioux Indian revolt of 1862. Sibley tolerated the war crimes committed by his officers and soldiers and established the military tribunals that passed summary judgment upon the enemy combatants and innocent civilians that would have been condemned as war crime atrocities - and genocide - by the military justice standards of the 20th century.
So here it is Thanksgiving 2016 and it is obvious that white supremacist movements continue to thrive, both in the supposedly democratic political world and the anti-democratic corporate world, both of which have united, according to the unspoken agendas of both major political parties.
White supremacism is alive and well all over America, with a significant rearing of its ugly head in North Dakota, where white Christians have overwhelmingly (and perhaps unconsciously) joined the KKK, the cryptofascists, the Islamophobes, the homophobes, the xenophobes and the Christian supremacists that, “standing strong together”, gave the President-elect his 270+ electoral votes.
But what has been happening at Standing Rock over the past year started before the election. So one must ask “What is there about North Dakota’s 1) pro-corporate Republican Governor Jack Darlymple, 2) North Dakota’s law enforcement agencies, 3) the North Dakota National Guard leadership, 4) the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners Kelcy Warren, 5) Warren’s private security goon squads, 6) Warren’s attack dogs and 7) Energy Partners investors (like Enbridge, Phillips 66, Sunoco, Warren Buffet and Donald Trump) that fail to recognize the human rights of non-white American citizens that are exercising their traditional land rights and sacred beliefs?”
Should the members of these groups also be considered as perpetrators of crimes against humanity?
Here are a few of the powerful images that are everywhere on the internet.
And, to help the readers to get up to speed on the Standing Rock issue and why it is so important to the future of our democracy, I offer the following items:
The following quotes are from the following website: https://libya360.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/all-eyes-on-dakota-access-all-eyes-off-bakken-genocide/
“The Army Corps of Engineers issued permits authorizing the construction of segments of the pipeline in US waters, one of which is under Lake Oahe. The lake is a reservoir behind the Oahe Dam on the Missouri River; it is approximately ½ mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation.
“Although the pipeline will not cross Standing Rock’s land, the tribe claims that the pipeline’s route passes through the tribe’s ancestral lands and other areas of great cultural and spiritual significance. To the Standing Rock, the Missouri River and Lake Oahe are sacred. . . and legally owned by the tribe.
“The tribe’s reservation is located in a small section of North and South Dakota, but the original boundaries as defined in the 1851 & 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties were much larger. After the treaties, however, the Black Hills were seized by the US and a series of statutes were passed that further parceled the land. In 1980, however, the Supreme Court held that the lands had been illegally seized from the tribe and ordered the payment of just compensation. The Sioux refused to accept the money, though, because they did not want to relinquish their claim to the land.
“This proposed pipeline, it’s going to go right over the 1851 treaty land. That’s what we’re talking about being native domain land. And then of course the powers that be shortened the 1851 treaty down to the 1868 treaty and then said, ‘Here’s what the native people have on what is presently Standing Rock.’ But we’re going by the 1851 treaty land.”
And here is the text of a plaque that overlooks Plymouth Rock, the site where white supremacist Puritans first landed on Native American soil that explains why Thanksgiving has only negative connotations for non-whites:
"Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole's Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in a National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience."
Here are excerpts about Sibley’s role in that war. They were taken from the following website: http://racism.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1644:colonial-calibrations&catid=121&Itemid=140&showall=&limitstart=2
” Once white blood was spilled…white supremacist attitudes quickly evolved into explicit calls for Dakota extermination…
“When Dakota people declared war in 1862… they desired to drive the whites out of our homeland, they did not do so because of a general hatred of all white people everywhere, but because they were opposed to the white people who had invaded and occupied Dakota homeland. The Dakota people were against settler occupation and interference in the Dakota way of life.
“One of the leaders responded to efforts to stop the war by saying: ‘I have no confidence that the whites will stand by any agreement they make…Ever since we treated with them, their agents and traders have robbed and cheated us. Some of our people have been shot, some hung; others placed upon floating ice and drowned; and many have been starved in their prisons.’
“Once Sibley had accomplished his task of quelling Dakota resistance…he then worked to execute plans that shifted from standard war practices to practices that may be deemed genocidal…With surrendered Dakota people in custody, the troops separated the men from the women and children. To deceive the Dakota men into submission, the army told them they needed to be counted separately for disbursement of the long-overdue treaty annuities. Once separated, the army shackled them and tried them in an ad hoc military tribunal that remains one of the most egregious acts of injustice in the American legal system.
“As legal scholar Carol Chomsky has demonstrated in her meticulous research on the 1862 trials, ‘the Dakota were a sovereign nation at war with the United States, and the men who fought the war were entitled to be treated as legitimate belligerents’ rather than as criminals.
“When the tribunal had finished its dirty work, 303 Dakota men were sentenced to execution and another twenty sentenced to prison terms. As many as forty-two cases were tried in a single day, some taking as little as five minutes before condemning another Dakota man to death. Had the findings of Sibley's tribunal been carried out as intended, it would have meant the immediate elimination of an estimated one-tenth of the total male population estimated to be in Minnesota at the time of the war, and probably a third of the able-bodied men. As it was, when the thirty-eight were hanged on December 26, 1862, in what remains the largest, simultaneous mass hanging from one gallows in world history, this was a spectacular way to implement an extermination policy under the guise of legality.
“This genocidal campaign may be seen as intimately intertwined with the desire for the remaining Dakota resources. As Chomsky observed, the ‘settlers' response to the war may also have been motivated by greed: Treating the Dakota as war criminals allowed the United States summarily to remove all the Dakota from the state, thereby opening to settlement land that the Minnesotans had coveted for years.’
“Certainly, other examples of direct killing occurred in the fall and winter of 1862-1863 as the army force-marched or forcibly removed our ancestors (the women and children to Fort Snelling and the condemned men to Mankato) and imprisoned them in concentration camps. Through the Dakota oral tradition, we have accounts of grandmothers stabbed in the stomach or shot by white soldiers, babies ripped out of mothers' arms and their heads bashed on the ground, and shackled men beaten to death by angry mobs. Furthermore, as will be discussed later, there were thousands more that were killed indirectly.
“In this section, however, one more example of genocidal killing that must be mentioned is the bounty system implemented in 1863. That summer, Minnesota's Adjutant General Oscar Malmros answered the call of…Minnesotans who wanted to use such a system to hasten Dakota extermination. The system he devised included payment to white civilians for combing the woods in search of Dakota people to exterminate and an additional payment for each scalp those Indian-hunters could provide to the state; the corps of scouts earned $1.50 per day for their searching and an additional $25 for each scalp. By the end of the summer, the price of bounty payment had reached $200, enough to buy a 160-acre homestead in 1862.”
Republican Alexander Ramsey, who, as a real estate speculator, made a fortune cheating natives out of their land, was Minnesota’s second governor until his resignation on July 10, 1863 to became US Senator. Ramsey County, Minnesota, Ramsey County, North Dakota, the city of Ramsey, MN, the city of Ramsey, IL, Ramsey Park in Stillwater, MN, Ramsey Junior High School in Saint Paul, MN, Alexander Ramsey Middle School in Minneapolis, MN and Alexander Ramsey Park in Redwood Falls, MN (the largest municipal park in Minnesota) are all named after him.
The genocide started in 1492 when the racist, gold-hungry, white supremacist Christopher Columbus and his sex-starved sailors disembarked from their stinking ships (thinking that they had landed in India) and started pillaging the land and raping the most nubile female inhabitants. Having survived the trip, Columbus and his men eventually demanded, under the threat of having their hands cut off, that the natives produce allotments of gold from precious metal-less mines.
And then, when Native Americans refused to become slaves and cotton was becoming the economic king, our racist Southern ancestors “imported” millions of black Africans, millions of whom died in chains on the passage from Africa to the land that their slave-holding owners called “promised land” or the “New Jerusalem”.
Ironically, the psychopathic conquistadors, their sadistic soldiers and the religiously fanatic Puritans that followed Columbus were initially welcomed, tolerated and even nurtured (a la the mythical First Thanksgiving). Trusting the intruders to return their hospitality - in the spirit of the Christian “Golden Rule” - turned out to have been a huge mistake, for the slaughter never stopped, often performed in the name of Christ, with the blessings of the embedded priests, whose mission was to convert the heathen to Christianity - or else.
Most of our earliest European ancestors were greatly enriched by the US Army’s massacres, the theft of their land, the exploitation of the resources and the destruction of their way of life. We pink-skinned progeny of those predators were then carefully taught to believe the Big Lies. Thanks to our cunningly censored history books and the myths learned in our Sunday Schools over the ages, we have been led to believe that the “nice” Pilgrims gratefully shared a feast with their new native neighbors - whom the invaders soon tried to annihilate). These illegal, undocumented, white immigrant-occupiers from Europe were obviously not averse to homicidal violence. Tragically, they were soon followed by a variety of other religious fanatics that perpetuated the genocide that resulted in a 90% de-population of the Native Americans over the first few centuries.
It’s no wonder that Thanksgiving will again not be celebrated at Standing Rock this year – for the 400th year in a row.
The Myth of the First Thanksgiving
All the propaganda about the First Thanksgiving that I learned in school has probably been designed to make Americans believe that America is a gentle, non-aggressive, peace-loving nation that never hurt anybody. The myth about the gospel values of welcoming the stranger to our shores and being merciful to the oppressed has been laughed at by the vast majority of those who have wanted to emigrate here or are seeking refuge from terrorizing forces.
The myth of the merciful First Thanksgiving has attempted to absolve our ancestors (and of their guilt for the cruel bloodbaths that they either perpetrated or approved of when bloodthirsty white American soldiers repeatedly massacred the militarily weaker native population, (a pattern that American power-elites have perpetrated against weaker nations in every hemisphere of the world throughout our blood-stained history).
The following censored-out quotes from a few of our so-called “heroes” need to be told in the context of the true history of the American genocide of the First Nations people. Those “heroes” include Alexander Ramsey, Minnesota’s second governor.
“The Sioux (aka Dakota) Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state." – Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey in a statement made on Sept. 9, 1862. Ramsey had made a fortune in real estate because of his dealings selling property to white settlers and businessmen after he himself had negotiated US-Dakota treaties that cheated the tribes out of their land. (http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/alexander-ramsey-house/history)
"I shall probably approve them (the executions of the 303 Dakota warriors) and hang the villains" -- Colonel (and ex-Governor) Henry H. Sibley, whose troops had defeated Chief Little Crow in the Battle of Wood Lake on August 23, 1862. Sibley had appointed the five member military tribunal that tried, convicted and sentenced, via death by hanging, 303 Dakota warriors that had been captured in the battle that ended the 6 week US-Dakota War of 1862. Sibley was commenting on the fate of the convicted warriors, all but 38 of whom had their death sentences commuted by President Lincoln. Many warriors were imprisoned at Camp McClellan, near Davenport, Iowa and more than 1,600 non-combatants were imprisoned at a concentration camp at Fort Snelling over the winter of 1862 – 63. Those that survived the cold, the starvation diets and the diseases were then deported to concentration camps in Nebraska and South Dakota (Pine Ridge). (http://www.minnpost.com/minnesota-history/2012/09/150-years-ago-us-dakota-war-ends-battle-wood-lake)
“Destroy everything belonging to them and force them out to the plains, unless, as I suggest, you can capture them. They are to be treated as maniacs or wild beasts, and by no means as people with whom treaties or compromises can be made." – Civil war Major General John Pope, in a letter to Colonel Sibley - dated September 28, 1862.
"As Europeans settled the East coast, they displaced eastern tribes who then migrated to get away from the White civilization, and they, in their turn, displaced weaker local tribes they encountered, and pushed many of those tribes farther from their homelands, as they took over their homelands.
“Westward moving Europeans would give the displaced eastern tribes … guns and gun powder and they would then instigate fights between the newly arrived tribes and the long established tribes in order to force the long established tribes from their homelands; and in doing so, extinguish the long established tribes' ancestral ties that they had with the land, their ancestors and the spirit world. Evidence of this practice has shown itself time and time again throughout the Americas.
“Around 1750, a displaced East coast band of Ojibwe were pushed into the Dakota's homeland and they then used French guns and gun powder to force the Dakota from their Mille Lacs Lake homeland.
“This was the strategy the European colonists used to greatly diminish the number of Dakota in their Mille Lacs homeland, which encouraged and made it possible for a French weapons armed, alcohol manipulated band of Ojibwe to violently force the Dakota from their Mille Lacs homeland.” -- Thomas Dahlheimer from his long essay, entitled, A History Of The Dakota People In The Mille Lacs Area (http://www.towahkon.org/Dakotahistory.html)
Dr Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, USA who writes a weekly column for the Reader, his hometown’s alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns mostly deal with the dangers of American fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, malnutrition, psychiatric drugging, over-vaccination regimens, Big Pharma and other movements that threaten American democracy, civility and longevity.