20th Century, Environment, History

Wilderness Act of 1964 establishes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Looking back at what led to the 1978 BWCA Wilderness Act. virginiamn.com

1964
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, named in 1958, gains new protections in the federal Wilderness Act. Amid conflict between recreationists and conservationists, more than one million acres of forests, lakes, and rivers are set aside as a federally managed wilderness. *

In 1909, a vast wilderness some 150 miles long and 1.2 million deep of forest
straddled the border of Minnesota and Ontario. President Theodore Roosevelt had just claimed it as the Superior National Forest and Superior Game Refuge which removed it from grasp of developers; usually logging or mining interests. By 1938, this area’s moniker became the Superior Roadless and Primitive Area which mostly meant that boats, trucks, snowmobiles, planes and permanent roads were curtailed. Within twenty more years in 1958, the United States Forest Service officially renamed and repurposed the Superior Roadless Area to the even more pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It would take another 6 years for this new area to be codified and defined by Federal law was wilderness.

Over half a century ago, our Federal government saw the pressure placed on public lands through economic development and population growth and sounded the alarm. What shall we do to protect areas from commoditization, and foster nature to remain wild? According to the United States Department of Justice:

“Congress passed the 1964 Wilderness Act in order to preserve and protect certain lands “in their natural condition” and thus “secure for present and future generations the benefits of wilderness.” 11 U.S.C. § 1131(a).” **

So, what are the tangible ramifications of these two generations of preservation?
For starters, it contains “the largest contiguous areas of uncut forest remaining in the eastern United States.” **** Additionally, the area boasts 1170 lakes, about 1200 miles of canoe routes, and approximately 2000 specified campsites. About 160,000 visitors interact with this wilderness each year. *****

Now we turn to You, Lord of the Lakes, and meditate with You. What do You wish to underscore about the Wilderness Act and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area? Can we watch this era in history with You?

As a first reflection, we establish this baseline truth from King David; “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein.” Psalm 24:1 This establishes You as the Sovereign of this planet, and all living things within it including humankind. What does that mean in this context, Sovereign One?

Though some of our peoples may have acknowledged You as the first holder of the deed, our state already had established laws surrounding property rights and obligations. We see the Superior National Forest, motivated at the Federal rather than the local level, removed from Minnesota and Minnesotans their rights to development and the use of its primary commodities: mining, timber, and water. The next circle drawn around this property established it as a Primitive Area; but granted that its neighbors and inhabitants could use basic machinery and vehicles for transportation and safety.
We see the BWCA/Wilderness Act as a third redefinition of this property which disallows even humble outboard motors and snowmobiles.

So we see this source of agreement and conflict in 1964; users agreed that setting aside this land is wisdom, but disagreed strongly on what wilderness looked like. To illustrate, imagine that your family lived remotely on one of these lakes. It is likely, almost a given, that your family loves solitude and nature because that is where you have chosen to live. How is your safety affected, should an injury occur, if one cannot use an outboard motor? Should your child bleed out from an axe wound because canoeists are irritated by waves and even the noise of a motor? Shall original homesteaders be refused the use of a snowmobile and cargo sled to bring staples from town because it breaks the silence of the forest?

We confess these three rungs of conflict and judgment to You today in the finalization of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the establishment of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, dear Father.
We have judged each others ability to utilize the land You have stewarded to this generation. In doing so, have we dismissed and judged Your intentions for this land?
We have judged each others heart in the second rung of preservation, though agreed in intent, and greatly curtailed the access to these lands by roads. In doing so, did we judge Your Children whose physical limitations do not allow them to hike or canoe from enjoying this property?
We have disagreed strongly over the limited use of an outboard motor or snowmobile in winter on this specific geography. In so doing, did we offend You? Did we deny our brothers and sisters a modicum of connectivity and safety for the sake of pristine silence for hikers and canoeists?

We are ashamed of the irony before You; we created a primitive area, but deny those most reliant on this land for survival their primal rights. Surely, these accrued offenses were not what Howard Zahniser had in mind when he wrote the Wilderness Act of 1964! We agreed to set aside this land, but have so little empathy set aside for those who oppose us internally. Will You heal these bitter roots that have and still embroil us in conflict over our National and State Parks? Will You lift these judgments up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? Come and heal our past, free our present, and bless our futures to align with the land use intended in Your Economy and Dominion. Amen.

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20th Century, African American, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Uncategorized

Rondo Neighborhood Removed

The Place to Be. blackthen.com

1959
Freeway construction passes through established neighborhoods in the Twin Cites. The Rondo neighborhood, long a center of black community life in St. Paul, is razed to make way for Interstate 94. Four hundred houses are condemned and torn down.*

“If New York has its Lenox avenue, Chicago its State street, Philadelphia its Wylie avenue, Kansas City its Eighteenth Street, and Memphis its Beale street, just as surely has St. Paul a riot of warmth, and color, and feeling, and sound in Rondo street.” 
–Earl Wilkins, The St. Paul Echo, September 18, 1926**

Connecting the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul had long been in the minds of local civil engineers. The excerpt below from the MNopedia article by Ehsan Alam sums up their thoughts rather precisely.
“In the 1930s, commuters and city planners began to call for a highway linking the business districts of downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. After World War II, city engineers chose St. Anthony Avenue as the route. This street was located between University Ave and Marshall Avenue, and went all the way to Minneapolis.”***

Yet, that is not the whole story. We find that there is a viable alternative to either Rondo or St. Anthony Avenues that wouldn’t split an existing neighborhood in half. Minnehaha Avenue, now known as Pierce Butler Route, is road that runs adjacent to the rail lines between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Often, the land adjacent to rail lines is already publicly owned, and would suggest that this route may encroach less on neighborhoods and privately owned property. ****

Given these circumstances, one wonders “Why did these cities and Federal Department of Transportation leaders choose to place I-94 through many neighborhoods (including Rondo) instead of adjacent to them?” In any type of city planning or civil engineering events, there are myriads of motives and opinions that compete to be heard. Below, we explore a few hypotheses.

George Herbert Herrold, an engineer and city planner far and away has the most documentation of the City Planning Board of St. Paul, Minnesota. His manuscript covers a 33 year time frame from the start of the Board in 1920 until 1953; just the years that would tell us of their motives, studies, and actions. This research suggests that the city had an interest in eliminating slums. To elaborate, their working definition of a slum constituted a neighborhood with a high percentage of rental properties whose owners did not live in the neighborhood. *

However, what the Board defined as “slums” also was home to the largest African-American neighborhood in St. Paul. Granted, there were some run-down rentals, but there were also a large contingency of fine homes belonging to Rondo’s middle-class residents. Rondo had a population of roughly 30,000 of which about one-third were black, and the remainder composed by Italians, Jews, Native Americans, and a sprinkling of other ethnicities. It is precisely because of Rondo’s diverse assemblage that suspicions of “red-lining” or racist motives arise in criticism of St. Paul’s role in routing I-94 through this neighborhood.******

In contrast, we find evidence that does not support this conclusion. Department of Transportation employees did extensive studies on both alternatives, as they did elsewhere through the Interstate Highway System. Commonly, this looks like engineers doing on-site observations and gathering data: counting cars on every East-West thoroughfare, establishing “desire lines” (i.e. which roads are most preferred), collecting data on rush hour usage, travel times from origin to destination, etc. Of these DOT engineers professor C. Wells of Macalester College states, “the process that they went through would seem to suggest that race had nothing to do with it…”. **** The data collected suggests that the direct route along St. Anthony Avenue was the preferred route, and support for the “northern route” along Pierce Butler and the railway diminished.

As the neighborhood of Rondo saw the writing on the wall, they peacefully protested and gained concessions. According to the research of Mark Simonsen, their focus became the four points listed below.
1. Stay in homes as long as possible.
2. Receive Fair Market Value for homes.
3. Depress the freeway below street level.
4. Requested that they be able to buy new homes anywhere they could afford them. (Open Housing Law)****
Residents won the first three of these requests, but failed to enact the Open Housing Law. In fact, even the city of Saint Paul declined to honor the Open Housing Law within its boundaries. It’s City Attorney denied O.H.L. on the basis that it conflicted with Minnesota’s constitution; sellers could legally choose to whom they sold their property. ****
Shall we pray? Eternal Father, we are reminded of your words of promise today as we sit and watch this snapshot of history that physically divided the Rondo neighborhood with an Interstate.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Matthew 19:29-30 BSB *
We love that we can always come to You for a hearing, and that Your Hearing and Presence bring justice! Be forever praised!

As a starting point, we acknowledge that You provided two paths for Interstate I-94. We acknowledge that the outcome of following the less disruptive “northern route” may never be known. Yet, there was a solid opportunity to choose a route that had less impact on human lives and relationships. Did we miss You in this? Maybe so. In any case, we acknowledge that we chose the road that wrecked neighborhoods. Will You forgive the seeds of division sown in this moment by the proponents and opponents of running the highway by the railway? Where we judged our neighbor, we have offended You; will You heal the past, free the present, and bless the future in this decision of 1959?

Next, we see the depth of consideration and the data collected to resolve this issue. We remember that the DOT and civil engineers went out into the neighborhoods between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and actually observed where our people drove, how many, and how long it took them to arrive at their destination. Like Your message to the prophet Isaiah, You continually invite us to “come now and reason together”. You are not threatened by our observations, science, data, or investigations!

We thank You that the numbers don’t lie, or in this case, the numbers don’t lie about where we drive; we voted with our wheels. Yet, we fully acknowledge that though “numbers don’t lie”, we are often skewed by our own biases as we interpret them! Will You lift the suspicion of these studies up, out, and onto the Cross? Will You be with us as we reconsider this moment with You?

To continue, we see this data filtered through the distorted looking glass of banking. As a short backstory, we find that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) had created a system of segregation, real ethnic and racial division, and negated facts that challenged their narrative. It is here, if I can be so bold Lord, that I see some of the ugliest acts of racism and ethnocentrism committed in St. Paul of this era. It is a fact that the FHA created maps based on ethnicity and race. It appears that though the FHA commenced with noble pursuits, in reality it fostered and reinforced the racialization of space.

Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy! We allowed these dreams of placing a home within reach of all to take a wrecking ball to those deemed not worthy by bureaucrats! We give You the damage caused by our State and Federal government’s judgments contained in the word “slums”. We acknowledge to You all the pain and falsehoods spoken over the residents of Rondo like, “a black family will not be given a home loan west of Lexington Avenue.” We acknowledge the defilement of this land through judgment and counter-judgment: from the Mississippi River to Marion Street, from University Avenue to Marshall Avenue; this land is Your land! Will You take these lies, curses, unbeliefs, and misbeliefs up, out, and onto the Cross?

Conversely, will You speak truth to cursed ears and broken hearts? Will You impart life where it has been crushed and stunted? Will You uproot those who have negated human choice because it interferes with their vision of what “helping” looks like? Will You release Your Holy Spirit, and replace the memory of wrecking balls with “Welcome” mats in this Rondo corridor forever?

“Do not afflict your countrymen, but let every one fear his G-d: because I am the Lord your G-d.” Levitcus 25:17 Douay-Rheims Bible

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19th Century, 20th Century, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Logging, Men, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Lumbering Maximum 1900

Unknown

1900

“At the height of the lumbering era, 40,000 lumberjacks are cutting timber in the north woods. Minneapolis is the sawmill capital of the world, cutting enough lumber to fill 65,000 freight cars. But Minnesota is running out of pine; within twenty years the lumber industry will be dead in Minneapolis.” *

This interesting oral history by Jim and Bernard Pearson describes the day-to-day lives of the men logging in Northern Minnesota during this era. 

“The Pearsons showed their audience old tools of the logging camps.  There was the pickaroon the camp blacksmith made from a worn-out ax which was used to pull logs by hand.  There was also a grub hoe for removing brush by hand, a broad as to square up logs for building log structures, a cant hook for turning logs, and a come-a-long for lifting logs by hand.

The cutting of the logs was done in the winter when sleds could be used to pull the logs from the woods to a river to float them downstream to a sawmill in the spring when the water ran fast.

Loggers didn’t rely just on the frozen ground to sled out the logs, according to the Pearsons, but constructed troughs of ice for the runners.  The troughs were made by hooking a plow to the side of a sled to make troughs in the snow in which water was poured to form ice.  These troughs had to be continuously built up throughout the winter, the Pearsons said.

The Pearsons also talked about the care of horses, which were vital to the logging.  Jim told how some of the loggers would carry a ballpeen hammer to tap snow out of horseshoes.

“My uncle especially loved animals, and his horses were very big,” Jim recalled.  “If any teamster (driver) mistreated his horses, they went down the road (were fired) so fast they didn’t now what happened.”

(Jim) described the lumberjacks as hard working and very honest individuals, who had always given their best. But Bernard, during the interview last week, also portrayed some of the lumberjacks and logging camp operators as not so honest.

Bernard said, for example, that in the worst camps, the operator would hire someone to gather up workers for the winter season that included dropping a knock-out pill into a man’s drink in a saloon.  “The next thing the man would know he was in a logging camp way up north,” said Bernard.  “There were rascals on both sides.” “ **

Father, a lot of time and thought has gone into recording the history of the wealthy and powerful “lumber barons”, but it seems not much is known about the men who actually did the work. Will You guide the author into the stream of Your thoughts on the subject? Will You give us a new frame of reference for these Minnesota loggers, and the effect of this massive harvest of trees?

As for the workers, the physicality of their respective jobs inspires awe: cutting huge trees down by saw or axe, squaring logs by hand, loading them on sleds, and moving them to the river. Once at the river, prepped logs were managed on their journey south by the “river pigs”. These were crews of men men who were responsible to float the logs to their proper destination at a plethora of sawmills. 

As with many things, logging seems simple in principle, but requires incredible endurance, skill, and risk in practice. Eternal Father, will You honor those who poured their soul into this labor? Will You remember their broken blisters, and aching backs? Will You remember those who took joy in working outside, all day, in the numbing cold? 

Will You bless them and their inheritance from this era, to the present, and on to the future? 

Another thought, men often feel validated in their masculinity by performing an epic task together. They sail into the unknown, each man privately harboring reservations, but going beyond those self-imposed limitations by the strength that comes when men are part of a team. Lord, thank You for past loggers’ example of this teamwork. Will You strengthen the bonds of men, and forgive us for emasculating our brothers?

In the present, we may sit in judgement of these people for their contribution to exhausting magnificent forests through clear-cutting. “What were they thinking? Didn’t they know they were acting like shock troops executing millions of innocents? Why would you kill mother earth over a job?” However, we have the historical vantage point of witnessing that natural resources can be used up, and that human interaction with the environment may yield unseen and unintended consequences.

As a witness to such present attitudes, the author wishes to address with You our use of the term “exploitation” as it applies to past Minnesota logging. Will You forgive us the casual use of this label? Will You forgive us if we unfairly apply present environmental and economic standards on our forbearers? Will You forgive our common humanity in Minnesota of viewing Your forests, that You graciously allow us rights of temporary stewardship, as “our forests” or “our property”? We do not often think of property rights as a continuum of which we are a temporary subset. 

Truly, we all are parties in “exploiting” Your forests! We breathe air daily! We live in houses of wood. We write with pencils of wood on paper of cellulose. We use toilet paper, and simultaneously write graffiti on the walls criticizing the “exploiters” of the environment! We apply standards to others that we do not apply to ourselves! We fail to see the log in our own eye, and browbeat others about the speck of sawdust in theirs! 

Furthermore, contemporary history does not often enter the mindset of these predecessors. Perhaps in their age, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people exercised a different logic than ours. They had a much stronger sense of agriculture than those who buy 2×4’s at the lumberyard, or food from a grocery store. If they wanted food, they had to plant it, tend it, and harvest it. 

When their corn reached fruition, they harvested it, and took everything. When they saw forests full of mature trees, they brought in the harvest. Is it possible that they trusted that such a generous yield would surely supply their generation? 

In the life experience of most of these workmen, most commodities gathered locally were used locally. Is it possible that such workmen did not conceive of the national or international cravings for the White Pine of Minnesota? Were the men working in these logging camps aware that they tree they just felled was to become a floor joist in an English factory? If they were aware, did that make their labor’s reclassify from “sustainable” to “exploitive”? Hear my questions, Lord, and forgive us all our attempted harvests without Sabbaths of Your forests!

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

**  Stottrup, Joel. “Logging White Pine.” Princeton Union-Eagle, May 1993. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.baldwintownship.govoffice.com/index.asp?

 

 

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19th Century, Agriculture, Business, Dakota, Governors, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Minnesota, Native Americans, Ojibwe, omnipresent history, railroad, State Government, Treaties

Nelson Becomes Governor 1893

unknown-1

January 4, 1893 to January 31, 1895

“Norwegian immigrant Knute Nelson becomes the state’s 12th governor in 1893, the first Scandinavian to hold the office. A fighter for farmers’ interests against the railroads and grain merchants, he resigned in 1895 to run successfully for the United States Senate, where he remained until 1923.” * 

Thank You for the life of Knute Nelson and his leadership in Minnesota. He became a prominent leader roughly 25 years after becoming a citizen. Negative attitudes about Scandinavians were tempered by his success.

Looking back at his career, the area of greatest contention were probably those issues concerning railroad interests. On one hand, the rails offered new markets to farmers and also supplied them with manufactured goods from the east. This relationship fueled western land development, and modernized communities along the way.

However, like all new technology, railroads were often the vehicle of economic bondage for immigrant settlers, and greedy for Native Americans’ land. Farmers became dependent on the rails to bring grain to market, but having a product with limited shelf life, were subject to the manipulations of the market and shipping costs charged by the railroad companies.

But how did the railways effect the Native Minnesotans? It is understandable that a sitting Governor wants to further the economic growth and standard of living in his state, but at what cost? These questions point to his writing of the Act cited below: 

“The Nelson Act of 1889 was a United States federal law intended to relocate all the Anishinaabe people in Minnesota to the White Earth Indian Reservation in the western part of the state, and to expropriate the vacated reservations for sale to European Americans. [1]

Approved by Congress on January 14, 1889, the Nelson Act was the equivalent for reservations in Minnesota to the Dawes Act of 1887, which had mandated allotting communal Indian lands to individual households in the Indian Territory, and selling the surplus. The goal of the Nelson Act was to consolidate Native Americans within the state of Minnesota on a western reservation, and, secondly, to encourage allotment of communal lands to individual households in order to encourage subsistence farming and assimilation. It reflected continuing tensions between whites and American Indians in the state. Especially after the Dakota Conflict of 1862, many Minnesota white residents were eager to consolidate the reservations, reduce the amount of land controlled by Indians and make the surplus available for sale and settlement by European Americans.

Minnesota congressmen Knute Nelson pushed for the allotment of Ojibway lands in Northern Minnesota and sale of “surplus” to non-Natives. He and others intended to force the Ojibway to relinquish most of their reservation lands. The intention was to relocate the peoples to the westernmost White Earth Reservation. All would receive individual allotments, with the remainder to be available for sale to European Americans. These actions were illegal and violated the treaties which the US had made with the tribes, but the government proceeded anyway. The Red Lake Band of the Ojibway were able to keep the southern portion of their Reservation.”**

Father, this story brings to mind the desire of King Ahab for his neighbor’s vineyard.

1 Kings 21:1-16

New International Version (NIV)

Naboth’s Vineyard

1 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”

3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”

4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”

6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”

7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”

15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

These verses tell of an authority figure who is complicit in the annexation of his neighbor’s land. The part that stands out to me are the words of verse 3; “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” Naboth did not want to sell away an inheritance.

Lord, there are many nuances that I do not know about this Act. I don’t know the Governor’s heart, his motivations, or the pressures on him. I simply see an action that is typically the breeding ground of bitterness and contention.

Will You forgive the injustice of this Act towards Native Minnesotans, their inheritance, property, and generations’? Will you release them from any binding counter-judgments that may hold them captive from receiving an inheritance from You? Will You reverse any curses on the lands specifically mentioned in this Act, and restore a right relationship between all Native Minnesotans and government?

Will You teach this state to have neither a tyranny of the majority or the minority? Will You enable us to neither feel the shame of asking for the help of our state, nor shame those who have graciously helped? Will You teach us about boundaries, property, lands, and inheritance?

Will You give honor to the just actions of Knute Nelson, his heritage, and generations? Will You forgive us in our judgments of the humanity and motive conflicts within our own natures’? Will You give us internal peace, contentment, and satisfaction in our hearts so we do not want another’s possession?

** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Act_of_1889

*** For more depth on Governor Knute Nelson see the “Biographical Directory of the United States Congress”. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=n000040

**** More on property rights of the ancient Middle East. https://tifwe.org/resource/ownership-and-property-in-the-old-testament-economy/

 

 

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19th Century, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Mining, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Gunflint Trail 1893

homeslide4

1893

“The American Realty Company and the Gun Flint Iron Company rejoice at the completion of the Gunflint Trail. They will use it to transport iron ore from inland mines to Grand Marais, where it can be moved by ship.

The area lies on the eastern edge of the Mesabi Iron Range, but proves to be less rich in iron-ore deposits than prospectors had originally hoped. In the end, the road is used more by logging trucks and later by tourists.”* 

Thank You Messiah that You encourage and allow us to dream, and the strength to fulfill even part of those dreams. Lead me on the path of Your thoughts on the Gunflint Trail of Minnesota. What will You reveal today?

I share the joy of the American Realty Company and the Gun Flint Iron Company of the completion of this task. How could they know that their ore trail would become a logging trail, or one of the most lovely roads leading people to the peace of the Boundary Waters? How will You repurpose this road in the future?

I will assume that the motive of a realty company building a road is to create access to land, and make it usable for the needs of that generation. This hits a past and present wound; our judgement(s) of others’ land use. Each generation tends to judge or blame or assess the actions of the ones before.

 

So, here I will start; Lord, this piece of ground known as Minnesota is Your property. All treasures above, below, or on the surface of its boundaries belong to its Creator! Forgive our offense to You by judging the motives of this generation in 1893. Forgive our offense to You through the many battles fought in our courts over Your property. Our vision is short-sighted. We lack mercy. We hate what our brother does with the ground You’ve allotted him, and we sue him. We despise the generosity of resources You give to our sister, and we steal it from her!

Will You remove these curses on the Gun Flint Trail? Will You bless it thoroughly?       Will You break the cycle of judgment between those who want it for recreation, those who want it completely undeveloped and pristine, and those who want to use its resources?

Our state government has accrued land, or limits the use of privately held land through regulation. what are Your thoughts on that, Lord? Is that simply, “nothing new under the sun” because that is the way of rulers? Is it a wise idea to set aside land for  future use, and does it truly increase ‘sustainability’? Are we like the servant who buries our talents, in this case land resources, because we refuse to utilize them?

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** Need a primary source? Peruse the “Cook County Herald”? https://www.loc.gov/newspapers/?q=grand+marais+minn

***More on the Gun Flint Iron Company? http://www.padwrr.ca/iron.html

 

 

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19th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Indian, Intercession, Minnesota, Native Americans, omnipresent history, State Government, Treaties

The Dawes Act 1887

unknown

February 8, 1887

“Congress enacts legislation that allots 160-acre tracts of land to heads of households of American Indian families. The rest of the reservation land is thrown open to non-Indian  homesteaders. Eventually, Native-held lands are reduced by more than two thirds.” *

The act “was the culmination of American attempts to destroy tribes and their governments and to open Indian lands to settlement by non-Indians and to development by railroads.” Land owned by Indians decreased from 138 million acres in 1887 to 48 million acres in 1934.

Senator Henry M Teller of Colorado was one of the most outspoken opponents of allotment. In 1881, he said that allotment was a policy “to despoil the Indians of their lands and to make them vagabonds on the face of the earth.” Teller also said, “the real aim [of allotment] was “to get at the Indian lands and open them up to settlement. The provisions for the apparent benefit of the Indians are but the pretext to get at his lands and occupy them….If this were done in the name of Greed, it would be bad enough; but to do it in the name of Humanity…is infinitely worse.” **

Messiah, there is such a gap between intent and actions. One the one hand, the Dawes Act points to a desire to respect the property of Native Americans. On the other hand, it ‘gives’ them title to land if they accept the conditions. Is this freedom, or fiefdom?

First, as a human being and fellow Minnesotan, I want to acknowledge our sin of envy. We are not content with what we have. Lord forgive us the envy contained in the Dawes Act of Native lands! Will You heal the whole inheritance of envy, and heal the lands that were annexed unjustly?

Second, I want to acknowledge the mixed motives of our hearts! I acknowledge the honest desire of many at this time that Native peoples assimilate and become one people with the United States, and with Minnesota. Many were motivated by a desire to share ‘common ground’ figuratively and literally with Indians. As in “I’m a simple Norwegian farmer who is trying to start a new life in America. What does my indian neighbor have against me? I used to hunt and fish with him. I’m not a land man for the railways, or a representative of the Department of the Interior, but their actions make me the bad guy to my Indian neighbors.”

Many Natives did not want to not feel the pains of being a foreign enclave in their homelands. While they resisted many aspects of Western Culture, they also admired and even craved some of its fruits: new technologies and techniques, trade for useful products, positive interactions with new neighbors, etc. They seemed to both admire and fear the new culture in their land. Some Natives willfully accepted new ways, and others did not.

Lord, have mercy on these hearts! Some on both sides of this divide, whether Immigrant or Indian, wanted to take a chance and embrace. Some were repelled by clashing with another culture. Lord forgive how we have feared our brother’s ways, and rejected what You have to teach us through him! Lord, forgive us our hesitancy to trust! Will you restore us to chesed? ***

Next, I want to acknowledge that both cultures succumbed to the “power men” within them. There were plenty of Minnesotans willing to capitalize on the imbalance of power the Dawes Act gave them! Too many tried to moralize the outright theft of property! They claimed desires to civilize native peoples to gain public approval for their land grab. Nothing changes. they are still among us. However, I mourn before you this day, and acknowledge this offense against my Native brothers! Have mercy! Will You reverse this curse? Will You restore these injustices?

Lastly, I want to acknowledge the counter judgments that some Native peoples made in response to these ‘land grabbers’. They chose to meet offense with counter offense. It is clear to see these fruits yielding a harvest of separation even today in our state. 

Will You have mercy on our natural desires for vengeance stemming from the Dawes Act? Will you give us a new common inheritance as Minnesotans? Will you take the bitter roots from our hands so that we can receive from You? When we must disagree, will You teach us to do it with understanding and respect? Amen.

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawes_Act

***  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesed

 

 

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19th Century, Culture, History, Indian, Intercession, Israel, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government, U.S. Government

Red Lake Reservation Created

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“The Red Lake and Pembina bands cede some land but retain a large portion and refuse to move anywhere else. Because this land is never ceded, it remains to this day as purely Indian land.”*

This makes me think of the example of land use You revealed to us through the children of Israel.** Each son, and therefore each tribe, was given specific lands in covenant with You and each other. They had the sense of private property, yet this land was redeemed back to You and tribal ownership in 7 or 49 year cycles. (See Leviticus 25) You offered them both a sense of place and of grace, avoiding the “boom-bust” cycles of our Westernized concepts of private property!

Thanks that Red Lake is “purely Indian land.” Thanks for all lands everywhere that have remained free from our collective contention! Bless this land today, Holy Spirit, in Your grace and truth. Bring Your life to this land and Your people whether of the Red Lake or Pembina bands! Surely, in You, all humanity will have a plan and a place to have a home!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out!
**http://www.bible-history.com/geography/maps/map_canaan_tribal_portions.html

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19th Century, African American, Black History, Faith, History, law, Minnesota

Slavery in Court: Dred and Harriet Scott

Dred Scott

Dred Scott

1857
“Dred and Harriet Scott, slaves who lived at Fort Snelling in the 1830s, claim they became free in Minnesota, where slavery was illegal. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that, because they returned to Missouri where slavery is legal, they are still the property of their owners.

In 1836, the African American slave Dred Scott was brought to Fort Snelling by his owner, Dr. John Emerson. While at the fort, Scott married another slave, Harriet. Later, Emerson moved to St. Louis, taking his slaves, the Scotts, with him. In 1846, Dred Scott sued for his freedom. He claimed that, since he had been taken to live at Fort Snelling–at the time part of Wisconsin Territory, where slavery was prohibited–he was a free man.

In March 1857, after 11 years of trials and appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court declares that because Scott isn’t a citizen of Missouri (a slave isn’t allowed to be a citizen), he’s not entitled to sue in its courts; and that slaves are property and that no law can deprive a person–that is, a white slaveowner–of his rights to life, liberty, and property.” *

Christ have mercy! We often want privileges under the law for ourselves, and not for others. This is not Your example. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1:1,2 Jesus, You submitted to the limitations of this world. You went from the total freedom of heaven to living in Satan’s jurisdiction. You know what it’s like to have Your rights curtailed! Thank you that You are able to relate to everyone who has endured under slavery, and that You never knelt to hatred of authority.

Firstly, bless Dred and Harriet Scott, their generations, and their dwellings in Jesus’ name! Thanks for giving him the boldness to challenge the system. Forgive our system for allowing human beings to ever be classified as ‘property’! May we inherit a heart to challenge falsehoods and misbeliefs of our state.

Secondly, forgive Missouri and the U. S. Supreme Court this offense against You, and the inalienable rights You’ve freely given to all people, everywhere, at all times. You made all men in your image! You’ve made all women in Your image! Is not an affront to one an attempt at mutiny? You are our God, and we are Your people!

Third, forgive the judgment made against the Scotts’, and counter-judgments made towards Minnesota, Missouri, or the U.S. in general. Will You release us from our heritage of bitter judgments and curses, and make the way for forgiveness and blessing?
http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

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