January 14, 1889
“Passed into law on January 14, 1889, the Nelson Act breaks up Ojibwe reservations into individual plots of land, leaving only Red Lake in tribal hands. Named for Knute Nelson, who from 1883 to 1889 served as representative to the U.S. Congress from Minnesota’s newly formed fifth district. It was during this time as a congressman that Nelson made one of the most significant moves of his political career when, as a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs, he drafts an act entitled “Relief and Civilization of the Chippewa Indians in Minnesota,” commonly known as the Nelson Act. The Act stipulates that Ojibwe families receive “allotments” of land on the White Earth Reservation.
This attempt to consolidate all of Minnesota’s Ojibwe people on a small land base results in the loss of Indian lands beyond what had already been ceded to the United States through treaties as the government sells leftover land to lumber companies.” *
Father, You have established order in this universe. You have said over and over to any who would listen, “ Pray for Your leaders, for those in authority. Your will be done!
As a human being, I acknowledge the fantasy we create when we have a self interest. Nelson may have genuinely believed that the sale of these lands were the path to reducing the conflict between Native Minnesotans’ and their new neighbors. Christ have mercy! However, it appears to be more probable that he thought he knew how to use their land better than the Ojibwe did.
Will You forgive the heart of force in the Nelson Act? Will You forgive the pride of our government in these dealings with the Ojibwe? Will You forgive the heart judgments’ against the Ojibwe, Cherokee, or any other native Minnesotans? **
You do not abhor property in your word. You gave allotments of lands to specific tribes of Israel. (See Genesis 12:7, 13:15, 15:18, 26:4, Exodus 32:13, Deuteronomy 1:35-36) You teach us to be good stewards of the property You have given us to manage, yet You ultimately are its Sovereign and owner.
` Father, we have broken Your laws and have broken faith with Your Native Minnesotans! We have used the force of government to wrongly divide their land for OUR use. Lord, will You release us of this sin? Will You release Native Minnesotans of their counter-judgements’ stemming from the Nelson Act, and the accrued judgments since?
Will You reveal to the Ojibwe that You alone are indeed the Sovereign of all land in Minnesota? Will You show Minnesotans how to disagree and maintain relationship on the issue of private property? Will You release the lands affected by this Act from their respective curses? Will You turn the Nelson Act into a blessing for ALL Minnesotans in perpetuity?
In faith, I send these offenses and counter-offenses to the Cross of Christ. I send these land-based curses to the Cross of Christ. I wish to bring the Nelson Act into Your eternal present, that You may give us life and blessing! Lord, forgive our unbelief and failure to evenly steward Your property in our charge! You alone are Sovereign of all property of all States and Nations, all Worlds, and the only and honorable King of the Universe!
** For more depth on the Bible and private property, see “Ownership and Property in the Old Testament Economy” by Dr. Walter Kaiser: tifwe.org
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