Sheldon Wolfchild: Return land promised to Dakota descendants

Sheldon Wolfchild. Photo from Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community

Sheldon Wolfchild, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that seeks the return of land promised to the Dakota people, responds to concerns raised by Melvin Lee Houston:
The U.S. government had an obligation to inform our people that the U.S. had given itself permission to unilaterally abrogate Indian treaties in the event of a war, even if the U.S. had caused the events that sparked the war. For our Dakota nation to be so informed was part of treaty law at that time. Why did the U.S. government not tell our people? This is another reason Mr. Lee and others should not be blaming their own Dakota people; but we in our Dakota way forgive them.

The lawsuit we have filed has been based on one thing from the very beginning: Makoce Kin (The Land). The Traditional Dakota, our ancestors, always believed that the land upon which everyone walks is sacred because of how it was created by our creator, as the old ones say. The land is the foundation of what we are trying to preserve for the future of our children, our rights and their rights as Dakota, rights to a spiritual way of life which have been denied to our ancestors, to us, and to our children.

Greed has no place in our Dakota belief system, which, unfortunately, is a mentality that has been brought up in Mr. Lee’s letter. I can understand why he may think like this as the powers that be in Indian Country want the public to believe this, which is thinking based on the mainstream dominant society system of economics.

Our choice of Makoce Kin (The Land ) is our foundation and like our Dakota ancestors of old, we still are defending our rights to our sacred Dakota land. The history and research in contemporary times by way of this lawsuit is forcing the state of Minnesota to retrace past history and is re-educating the public. For this reason the Dakota people still have hope for a better future.

Get the Story:
Sheldon Wolfchild: Give Back Our Land: U.S. Must Honor Treaties With Dakota (Indian Country Today 4/13)

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