Tribal nations negotiated government to government, preserving their sovereign land, rights, and privileges through treaties. When land wasn’t ceded through good faith efforts, it was often stolen from our Indigenous relatives.
In 1851, the Dakota signed the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, ceding land in southern and western Minnesota to the United States government. Dakota leaders faced insurmountable odds during the treaty process. In addition to inflating their unpaid debts, white negotiators from the federal government threatened to push the Dakota to the Rocky Mountains by force with “100,000 men.” Dakota leaders had little choice but to sign the treaty to protect their people. In the end, the federal government has never paid the approximately $3 million promised in the treaty.
Both the State of Minnesota and the United States Government carried out genocide, ethnic cleansing, and forced removal against the Dakota as a way to acquire land. They broke promises. Despite centuries of colonial theft and violence, this is still Indigenous land. It will always be Indigenous land.
Indigenous people are not relics of the past. We are still here, and we continue to demonstrate our talents and gifts amidst a backdrop of ongoing colonialism and oppression. We are worth celebrating.