Historical Society to include internment of Indians in programming

According to a recent story on WCCO-TV, the Minnesota Historical Society says “it will expand programming to include the internment of Indians.” Let’s just see how that works for them and “the Indians.” A good test will be this weekend, when various groups will converge on the Fort Snelling area for the events described below

May 29th: March on Fort Snelling! National Day of Action Against SB 1070!

WHEN: 12pm, May 29th, 2010 (Immigrants and Allies)
11:30am (Dakota and Native People)

WHERE: Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building–1 Federal Drive Fort Snelling, MN (Immigrants & Allies)
Saint Peters Church, Mendota — 1405 Sibley Memorial Highway (Dakota and Native)
For Map – Click Here

WHY: May 29th is the opening day celebration of Historic Fort Snelling, a former concentration camp that was used to imprison Dakota people following the Dakota Uprising of 1862. Primarily women and children were held there over the winter of 1862-1863, before being force marched into exile and the institution of governor Ramsey’s genocidal extermination law. The opening day’s events include a host of family-friendly historical re-enactments that glorify the history of land theft and military occupation of Dakota land.

Dakota People and Allies relaunch the Take Down the Fort campaign in response to the racist celebration and re-inactment of genocidal actions, and the 2010 proposed multi-million dollar renovation plans on a replica of what used to be Fort Snelling. Modeled after its 1820s condition, Fort Snelling was rebuilt after it was declared a historical landmark.  The replica is crumbling and the Minnesota Historical Society wants Minnesota tax-payers to foot the $6.7 million bill to rebuild the structure at a time when state social services and education system are on the chopping block.

$1.4 million was spent on attempting to repair the crumbling structures at Fort Snelling this year alone. When Nina Archabal announced her retirement in April of 2010 as the director of the Minnesota Historical Society, she proclaimed: “The new direct will have to ‘figure out how to knit Fort Snelling back together; it’s like Humpty Dumpty, it’s falling apart. That’s probably a 10-year undertaking [of construction].” If Fort Snelling is neither physically or politically viable, then why should we allow for our state government to fund its existence?

May 29th is the National Day of Action Against SB1070 in response to Arizona’s newly adopted anti-immigration legislation that promotes racial profiling and collective punishment by mandating law enforcement officers to check the citizenship of anyone who looks “suspicious”. A bill nearly identical to SB1070 was recently introduced in Minnesota by a Republican Representative and co-signed by five members of the House.

Immigrants and Allies to Kick Off Boycott Arizona – Minnesota! (BAM!)
An alliance of Minnesota immigrants and their allies are launching a campaign to Repeal SB1070 by encouraging individuals, organizations, and businesses to boycott Arizona, and to show the right wing extremists that we will not tolerate hateful Arizona style laws here in Minnesota.

We March Together!

Dakota, Latinos, and Allies! Immigrants and allies will meet up to rally against ongoing racism and exploitation in the form of SB1070 and the Minnesota version of the bill at the Bishop Henry Whipple (BHW) Federal Building, which houses ICE and the Department of Homeland Security. This rally will then march to join Dakota activists and rally at Fort Snelling against the ongoing racist occupation of Dakota homelands and sovereignty! We are marching together to build power and solidarity around brown unity, to highlight that colonization, land theft, and racist policies are the threads that tie together the experiences many Dakota, Latin@, and immigrant, and oppressed people find themselves in today.

Our Demands

Repeal SB1070 and similar anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and here in Minnesota, including the Criminal Alien Program and 287G!

No further funding should be approved for rehabilitation of Fort Snelling in the middle of global economic crisis! While schools are shut and social services cut, the yearly and rehabilitative funding of the fort stands as a symbol of the unethical and unsustainable priorities that we all suffer from! No more celebrations and reinactments of colonization– these are racist and offensive. The Historic Fort replica must be demolished and this land, located on the site of the Dakota genesis and genocide, must be returned to Dakota People’s control!


Historical Society to include internment of Indians in programming — 2 Comments

  1. It is actually inaccurate (though you may be more interested in political correctness than accuracy) to refer to the “internment” camp as a concentration camp. It was a POW camp, nothing more. Yes, Indians died while in captivity, but compared to other POW camps of the era the number of deaths were actually quite low (think Andersonville).

    There were interred there as a result of the Dakota Conflict as it is called these days. The killing spree by the “Dakotas” resulted in the most civilian casualties in history until 9/11.

    Report the facts, but report accurately. To call it a concentration camp minimizes was a concentration camp really was.

  2. You’ve raised some interesting points. It is useful to have a discussion about the terminology we use to describe aspects of the past. But some of the things you say are inaccurate. I don’t think can claim that you are reporting more accurately than those who use the phrase “concentration camp.”

    First of all, the camp where Dakota people were held at Fort Snelling was in no way a POW camp. Such camps were for combatants, but the people at the Fort Snelling camp were elders, women, and children. So POW camp just does not fit.

    Second the term concentration camp is generally accepted to have arisen in relation to camps where civilians were confined, in circumstances such as the Spanish-American War and the Boer War. The fact that people later used the term in Germany to apply to death camps, does not make all concentration camps death camps.

    On the term concentration camp, see, for example, the definition given in the American Heritage Dictionary: “A camp where civilians, enemy aliens, political prisoners, and sometimes prisoners of war are detained and confined, typically under harsh conditions.”

    There is a useful survey of information at Wikipedia, though it is only a starting point. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment

    Finally, you use the term “killing spree” to describe the actions of the Dakota in 1862. How accurate do you think that is as a term of description? For many Dakota 1862 was a war, with specific causes and reasons.

    It seems to me arguments about the accuracy of terminology conceal other important topics for discussion. As the anniversary of 1862 approaches we need to have discussions about those topics. To do so we need to get beyond terminological disputes.

    What in fact were the specific causes and reasons for what happened in 1862?

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