October 2, 1919 to October 4, 1919
“The eighth convention of the Society of American Indians is held in Minneapolis.”
“It is not right that the Indian, who fought for his country in France, go back to his tribe without the right to vote.” —Dr. Charles A. Eastman, a Dakota Indian born near Redwood Falls who becomes president of the Society of American Indians and a professor at Amherst College. *
At first glance, this issue seems like a slam dunk; American citizens have the right to vote, Indians of this era were American citizens, therefore this is a breech of their Constitutionally secured rights. It breaks faith with both the spirit and the letter of our law. Perhaps Eastman’s statement errs, however, in the assumption that most Indians were citizens?
Through the efforts of individuals and organizations like his, the Dakota would eventually be recognized as citizens by the Indian Freedom Citizenship Suffrage Act of 1924, also known as the Snyder Act. Unfortunately, before 1924, only about 8% of Indians were U.S. citizens, therefore, it is somewhat logical that they did not vote in a nation they did not wish to be part of. ** Many considered the tribe of origin to be their sovereign nation within U.S. borders before the Snyder Act, and many tribes are defined as “First Nations” for the same reason today.
To add a spiritual dimension, we can explore a relationship between civil rights and worship dysfunctions. Both concepts speak to the inherent, unalienable value of a subject. Civil rights are directed to protect the intrinsic, non-negotiable worth conferred by G-d upon each human being. Worship, perhaps, could be defined as human recognition and practice of the intrinsic, non-negotiable worth of G-d. When and where we are dysfunctional in our worship of G-d, we open ourselves to be dysfunctional in respecting the worthiness and honor of our human neighbors.
Prior to his time organizing for SAI, he organized for the YMCA in western states and Canada among Indians. Below is quote of some observations that informed his faith.
“During that time, as an avowed Christian, Eastman nevertheless seemed to maintain a reflective stance toward that religion because of his early traditional Dakota upbringing. He studied what he called “the Protestant missionary effort among Indians” and “almost unconsciously reopened the book of my early religious training.” He wondered how it was “that our simple lives [before Christianity] were so imbued with the spirit of worship, while much churchgoing among white and Christian Indians led often to such very small results.” ***
Lord hear our prayer for Minnesotan’s of 1919. We are guilty of a worship dysfunction in this era. We have attempted to assume the rights of citizenship in Your kingdom without humility. Our legal status is based on the unmerited favor and rights bestowed on us by the blood of the risen Messiah! How can we receive unmerited legal access to the King of the Universe, and then deny legal rights to those we see everyday?
Likewise, our worship dysfunctions manifested in our failure to recognize Your image and worthiness and inherent legal rights of our Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota neighbors. Will You have mercy on our lack of mercy for these neighbors? Will You have mercy on our worship dysfunctions that usurp Your position as Author of All Human rights!?
Will You raise our awareness of the perfection of Your authority? May we be humble and learn from our elders about our relationships and laws; human to human. May we receive our justice as a gift from the One so that we can pass it to the many until You reign forever! Amen.
A nice summary of the life of Dr. Charles Eastman. (aka Hakadah and Ohiyesa) http://aktalakota.stjo.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8884