Chris Mato Nunpa, Dakota and retired professor of Indigenous Nations and Dakota Studies, points out how "genocide" is censored by newspapers
From Chris Mato Nunpa,
Below is my letter to the editor which was printed in this week's edition of the Granite Falls Advocate Tribune, Thursday, August 21, 2008. It was edited, for example my statement, "I come from a people who were the victims of genocide. Terri comes from a people who were the perpetrators", was omitted. This is so typical. Most U.S. Euro-Americans shy away from the term "GENOCIDE". The thought of this is so horrible and paints the U.S. Euro-Americans in a very bad light. If they talk about genocide of the Indigenous Peoples of the U.S., people of the world might say that U.S. Euro-Americans are like Hitler and his Nazis. Anyway, if you get a hold of my edited letter to the editor in the paper and compare with my letter, you will find the differences. Thanks.
LIES, TRUTH, AND CLASH OF PERSPECTIVES
This past Saturday and Sunday, August 16 & 17, 2008, some of us Dakota People and our allies/supporters had a counter event to the Upper Sioux Agency State Park program initiated by Terri Dinesen. We did this because we thought that Ms. Dinesen was perpetuating lies, and, also, had not consulted with the Yellow Medicine Dakota Community. On Saturday, 8/16, my younger daughter, Waziyata Win, and my granddaughter, Winuna, were arrested by the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's department. I wish to offer several comments and impressions about this weekend's events.
First, I was absolutely amazed at the number of armed personnel - so many guns and police cars - from the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's department and from the Department of Natural Resources. It seemed like overkill, figuratively speaking. We had no weapons - guns, clubs, knives, etc. - yet the white law enforcement authorities were there in force. We know that they were not there for our protection but protection for Terri and the rest of the white people. In fact, one of our community members said something to the effect that "they were there to shoot us or beat us up." To me, this over-reaction demonstrated a high level of racial hatred and fear of the Dakota People, specifically, and of Indigenous Peoples, generally, on the part of the white folk here in southwestern Minnesota. We had gathered peaceably, with our posters, banners, and educational materials to be distributed to the interested white folk.
Secondly, there were many discriminatory aspects of the event. One aspect was the presence of so many law enforcement personnel. They were there so that they could bash Native heads. Several of these officers even had bulletproof vests. Another aspect involved a cousin's husband who is terminally ill. My cousin was not allowed to drive her husband up to where our group had gathered so that he would not have to walk so far. Later, a white lady, who has a husband, who, also, is terminally, ill, was able to drive right up to where we were and the husband could then join us. In my mind, this was discrimination on the part of Terri and her DNR guardians and, also, it was a violation of the federal disabilities act. Terri even asked the white woman, "are you with them," referring to us Dakota People. Lastly, when our people were arrested, the sons who were minors (and who were, also, deeply impacted by their mother's arrest) could not check on their mother and the husband could not check on his wife. The sheriff's deputies forcibly blocked them. However, we saw several white women who were allowed to go to the sheriff's car and see those who were arrested. Some of these things were videotaped and are now on YouTube for viewing both nationally and internationally.
There are so many things to say but in the interest of space, I will make one more comment re: Terri Dinesen. I perceive her as acting very unprofessionally and disrespectfully with the Dakota Community. According to one of her emails, Terri said she was taking the criticisms of her personally and it may well be that she, personally, ordered the arrest of Waziyata Win. I suspect that, in the future, there will not be too much cooperation between Ms. Dinesen/DNR and the local Dakota community because of her bull-headedness in NOT cancelling the event. One council (Board of Trustees) member indicated that she might introduce a resolution banning Terri Dinesen from the reservation. I, myself, think Terri should resign and be transferred elsewhere in the the DNR system. preferably, where she can work with white people only. She seems to have a white supremacist attitude and this would work well with white people.
Lastly, a comment re: perspective. I come from the perspective of a people whose lands were stolen. Terri comes from a perspective of the people who stole the lands. I come from a people whose treaties were violated and she comes from a people who violated the treaties. I come from a people who were the victims of genocide and Terri comes from a people who perpetrated the genocide. It's extremely difficult to reconcile these two diametrically opposed perspectives and world-views. White Minnesotans would have to admit the TRUTH! One thing that Terri could have done with her event would have been to include both the Dakota and wasicu (white man) perspective, not just the wasicu point-of-view. Let the public be exposed to both views, especially to the Dakota view. The public can, then, make up its own mind.
Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D.
Member, Upper Sioux Community
Retired Former Associate Professor
Indigenous Nations & Dakota Studies (INDS)
Southwest Minnesota State University
Marshall, Minnesota 56258