Reflection Paper Assignment.
As you read your reading assignments, lectures, and documentary watching you should take notes, and you should reflect.
The reflection paper it’s all that is “Indian of Minnesota”. As you are well aware with knowledge comes responsibility, You as you read, watch, and listen what kind of responsibility do you feel to this knowledge so that past wrongs will not be repeated.
Please use Books:
Night flying Woman (PDF)
Documentaries: Dakota Conflict (https://www.tpt.org/dakota-conflict/)
Nokomis voices of Aanishinabe grandmother
Seven pages double spaced the style you should use is MLA.
Exploring the Indian Community in Minnesota
Home, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a place where something
normally or naturally lives or is located. Many people refer to Minnesota as home but
for some it is much more than home. It is the location of the origin of the Dakotas.
The language, the culture, the tradition, it’s all a part of Minnesota. Amidst of the
tumult of the fast paced city life of today, we have somewhere lost our connection to
the native practices of this land and its origins. Living in what we call our home, we
have forgotten to appreciate and understand the importance of home for the native
people of this land. Many native American tribes have been trying to make people
aware of their existence and have tried to pass on some of the values that have been
passed down to them by their ancestors. Having knowledge and being able to
understand and appreciate that knowledge are two very different things and are both
‘Coming to know’, as defined in class, is active participation of new
knowledge and acquisition. It defines active learning. Through the medium of this
class, we have engaged in a lot of learning by watching documentaries, reading books,
listening to different perspectives and discussions. We are now more equipped with
new knowledge about the indigenous people of the land. We have learnt about the
history and the origins of the people and how they and their land has developed since
the interference of the Europeans. We have talked about some of the cultural practices
that are prevalent in the community and also talked about how things in the modern
world have shaped the life of the Indians. This papers aims to explore more of what
we have learnt in this course about those topics and how we could use that knowledge
effectively to make a positive impact or prevent a negative action being taken. Anton
Chekhov says, “Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice”, and this is
very true in the context of this class as it will help us make wise decisions in regards
to the Indian Community in Minnesota thus adding a big responsibility on our
shoulders as we conclude this class with the immense wealth of knowledge we have.
We know that the use of the land the general society that exists in
Minnesota is way different from what it was back in the 1600’s. It is thus very
essential for us to explore what made those changes and were the changes justified.
We know from accounts by various historians, that before the 1600’s, all of
Minnesota land was habited by the Ojibwe and the Dakotas. They had about 55
million acres of land to use as they pleased. Today the Dakotas have about 5 million
acres of land for their use. This is a great shift in land use power. I believe that this
does not seem fair that about 50 million acres of land of the original inhabitants was
taken away with time. The means that were employed to acquire the land were also
not fair. “From 1819 to 1825, the US army built the first white settlement in what
would become the state of Minnesota. (Treuer 24). This was the start of a big decline
in the land of the natives. “ Within the living memory of an Ojibwe person, the
Anishinaabe went from being a regional power with sovereign control over large tract
of territory to being disempowered occupants of a small portion of their original
homelands” (Treuer 24-25) This is the sad truth of how things progressed for the
native nations. The Americans were flooding in to the land and randomly placing new
policies onto the original people without their consent. It is also important to be noted
that this period was a hard period for the Anishinaabe nation as everything was going
against them. The number of American civilians was increasing and they were losing
money in the fur trade as the Americans had placed their own licensed traders
throughout the continent. To combat this severe loss of trade and money, “the US
government initially asked the Ojibwe to sell land in Minnesota in 1837.”(Treuer26).
The Ojibwe were ready to do anything out of desperation to make money for
sustenance. Taking advantage of this desperation, the Americans signed treaties with
the Ojibwe people. The Ojibwe were/are community people and were alien to the
concept of individual ownership. The Americans had realized that they could tap into
this negligence of the native people and reap the benefits in the long run. This was
just the start of a big downhill journey for the Ojibwe people. One decision led to
another and each of them resulted in the worsening of their situation. As Alex
mentioned in class, the Ojibwe were lured or seduced to sell their land for a short term
benefit which could never compensate for the long term loss of the loss of the access
to the land. Treuer describes it as, “As the land used by the Ojibwe declined in size, so
too did their economy and standard of living. These factors created greater pressure
on the Ojibwe to sell more land to produce more cash to feed families in increasingly
dire straits. Traditional lifeways were irrevocably altered and poverty became a
common experience for the Ojibwe.” (Treuer 27). The Ojibwe were forced to sign one
treaty after another as they had to choose between giving into the demands of the
Americans or go to war with them. Since the Americans had better war equipment
and even more number of soldiers ready to fight, the Ojibwe knew that it wouldn’t
have been a wise decision to go to war with the Americans. Thus forcefully they had
to give in to the demands of the Americans. Even after the Ojibwe were left only to
small reservations on the continent, the Americans wanted more. “The US
government made clear that its goals was to assimilate Indians in to the broader white
culture.” (Truer 31). The whites had the intention of completely eliminating the rich
culture and tradition of the natives and impose the European values on them. The
went on to set up compulsory boarding schools for kids to keep them away from
home so that they are disconnected from their culture and grow up experiencing the
white culture. The native languages were also targeted and were discouraged from
being used. Ojibwe weren’t allowed to practice their religion and Christianity was
promoted. The effects of that are even prevalent now as most of the natives are
The overall goal of the Americans seemed to be convert the native people
from being independent entities to being dependants of the white authorities. The
Americans wanted to take over the state of affairs in the land and reduce this entire
mass of population to mere puppets that would sway in the direction that the “big
white father” wanted them to move in. These were the injustices that were done to the
Indian people in due to the effect of colonization. Many attempts have been done in
the recent past to reverse the wrongs done to the native people by the intimal
European settlers especially since the 1970’s. “Since the 1970’s, the tribes have been
more proactive in testing the limits of their sovereignty” (Treuer 49).There have been
other efforts taken too to protect the interests of the Anishinaabe people. “The Indian
child welfare Act of 1978 sought to address the problems in adoption and foster care
of the Anishinaabe children.” The gaming industry and the rights that the natives had
in the casinos have also helped a lot of communities. “Tribal gaming operations in
Minnesota have had a profound influence on the Ojibwe. Unemployment rates had
dropped from 50% in many communities to about 20% in just a few years” (Treuer
57). Although there are many challenges with the fast growing gaming industry
within the tribe and concerns have been raised about its effectiveness, it can be safely
said that,” The development and growth of tribal gaming operations for the Minnesota
Ojibwe have generated economic and political power for tribes like nothing else since
the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934” (Treuer 59). There have been many steps
taken in the right direction to negate the damage that had been done in the past.
Eliminating poverty by providing employment, reducing the alcohol and substance
abuse through remedy programs, a great emphasis of good education setting up of the
Indian Health Services are a few to name. (Treuer 68-69). I believe that the steps
taken in the past were not just towards the Indians and the steps taken now, though
proven to have good results are not sufficient to compensate for the harm done in the
Moving away from my personal opinion, we can explore about a few things
about how the native people might define Justice. One might think that once Justice is
granted in any form of court, it is actually justice but that may not be the case with
many of t native people. Although most of the Dakotas have a house to live in and
dwell but “the vast majority of the Dakota people are still in exile. That is most of the
people still have no home in our ancestral homeland” (Waziyatawin 10). Waziyatawin
believes that the problems that most of the Dakotas are facing are “not attributable to
Minnesota’s extermination policies but those policies laid the groundwork for
subsequent and extraordinarily successful colonization of the people.” (Waziyatawin
10). The end goal of justice should be the creation of a moral society. Waziyatawin
believes that the way to do that is through land return and reparations. He also
believes that “land return alone, however is not enough to create justice. Instead,
Minnesotans also have to restore the lands to a pristine condition.” (Waziyatawin 12).
He also believes in the creation of an oppression free society. “Colonization by its
very nature, I antithetical to justice.” (Waziyatawin 13). He also asks of the non-
Dakotas to “challenge, re-examine and reject the racist and colonist programming to
which you have grown accustomed. IT also asks that you rethink the values of
domination, consumption and exploitation that have become a part of the American
Society” (Waziyatawin 14). On the other hand, he also wants the Dakotas to rise and
acknowledge the potential for liberation.
Waziyatawin’s views are the views of a very idealistic society. It will take a
long time before that stage is reached when the Dakotas realize that they need not feel
oppressed any more but more importantly, the whites feel that they need to right the
wrongs of their ancestors and give equal footing to the natives. It is really hard to
change the thought process of someone that has such deep roots but I agree with
Waziyatawin that one day eventually we will get there. This is where the
responsibility of having the gift of knowledge becomes evident. WE know that
eventually we all have to co-exist and being in 2016, we all have to appreciate the
variety and variability in the world. We know that cultures are dying out and we are
trying our best to preserve them. Having a basic knowledge of what culture looks and
feels like is one of the most essential steps to take. I believe that one will want to
preserve something only if one appreciates it and values it and so this course has been
a great method for me to learn about a different culture that I value and respect and
feel obliged to introduce other people to. It is a responsibility to share the positives of
this culture to be able to move towards the idealistic society as mentioned by
Waziyatawin which is when true justice would be done towards the natives and all
wrongs would be reversed.
Having talked a lot about the political aspect of things, this course was not
only about political knowledge but also a lot of cultural enlightenment which was
focused on some of the practices and the values that defined the Indian culture. Many
of the values that are embedded deep in the Indian philosophy are very applicable in
today’s society and thus the gift of knowledge about them is something that needs to
be preserved and passed on to the right people who can preserve it further and prevent
its extinction. It is rightly said that Nature is the best teacher. The natives are very
much involved in nature and learn a lot from it. As Eastman mentions in his book,
“We are not only good mimics but we were close students of nature. WE studied the
habits of animals just as you study your books.” (Eastman 3) It is important for us to
recognize that the Indians possess this immense amount of knowledge about nature
that scientists all around the world are spending millions of dollars to emulate nature.
One of the other things that is very important for us to imbibe within us is the spirit of
oneness amongst the Indian people. “The Indians are a patient and a clannish people;
their love for one another is stronger than that of any civilized people I know.
(Eastman 14). In this world of cutting throat competition, having the feeling of
oneness and community is very essential for stable sustenance. The books brings out
strong contrast in the ways of upbringing of city kids and Indian kids. In the chapter
about An Indians Boys training, Eastman talks about how the Indian kids were raised
to do very practical things like hunting and the like. They were trained to face
hardships both emotionally and physically without showing any sign of weakness or
complaint. “All boys were expected to endure hardship without complaint.” (Eastman
47). Kids and students are losing this somewhere and due to the connection with the
conveniences in life and becoming weaker by the day. It is really a gift to be able to
learn about these ways of upbringing and respect them. Indian philosophy relies a lot
on the principle of reciprocity. Based on the discussions in class, we know that
tobacco was offered for everything that was taken from nature. It was a way of giving
back and preventing over –exploitation. The Indians knew the importance of
preserving the natural resources and had a system to balance the amount of intake.
This is also a great knowledge which is so applicable in today’s times with the
extensive over utilization of resources that we promote. Some of the other knowledge
that I have learnt from this class is the philosophy and the meaning of powwows.
They are a result of modern influence on the Indian culture which serves a perfect
example of how Indian tradition has kept up to the times and adapted itself and
proven that it is ongoing. The dances and the drums of the powwow are a wonderful
display of talent and skill. It’s an exuberant display of colour and entertainment
galore. All these are intricate parts of the Indian culture which, living in the big cities,
we tend to ignore but are close to every Indians heart.
Following an intense discussion about the political injustices of
colonization, what is being done to rectify those injustices, what is true justice in the
minds of the Indians and how we can learn from their culture and tradition, it brings
us to a point where we can see the importance of reflecting on these questions. I
believe that the Indians were the first inhabitants of the land and thus it is essential for
our existence on the same land that we know what occurred on this land before our
presence. It is important to know about the issues faced by people sharing this land
with us and understand what steps need to be taken to improve the quality of life for
everybody and reach the stage of the idealistic society as mentioned by Waziyatawin.
We need to gain knowledge about the natives and use it wisely as wrongly used
knowledge could worsen the situation. Since we are the privileged ones to have access
to this knowledge by means of this course, it is our duty to show respect to the things
that we learn in this course and comprehend that it is a totally different culture that we
are learning about in this class. We also need to share this knowledge with others
giving due respect to the natives as we are now their representatives when we share
with knowledge. Representing an entire section of population of this land is a great
responsibility and thus it is important to reflect on the significance of the knowledge
we have gained in this class. Thus to conclude, it can be said that this has been a great
class in terms of the amount of and variety of knowledge learnt and I understand the
responsibility that comes with the knowledge I have learnt through the medium of this course.
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