Questions of Innocence and Righteousness

Social Justice in the Aftermath of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

Tuesday, April 2, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm Anderson Center Room 112 Hamline University

Waziyatawin (University of Victoria), a leading Dakota writer, educator and activist from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe (Yellow Medicine Village) in southwestern Minnesota

The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 is a significant event in the history and development of the state of Minnesota and in the long and complex history of the Dakota people and the United States. The Dakota War of 1862 still leaves deep consequences today. Hundreds of people died on both sides of the conflict which eventually led to the largest mass execution in U.S. history when 38 Dakota were hanged in Mankato, MN. By commemorating this event, the Hedgeman Center for Student Diversity and Initiatives, hopes to inspire students and the university community to become more aware of historical and contemporary social justice issues and to take action to address injustice wherever it is found.

Commemorative events, as well as conceptions of justice, continue to be shaped by competing and contested narratives regarding the innocence of both Dakota people and White settlers, and the righteousness of Dakota warfare in the context of the 1862 war. This presentation will explore the complexities of these issues in the Minnesota colonial context and address their implications for achieving social justice today.

Recommended by the Native American Awareness Task Group of the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates.

Posted by:  Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

“The Die Has Been Cast” and Leaning-In

Julius Caesar has come to mind this week as we mark the date of his assassination, today, the Ides of March. Legend has it that when Caesar led his army across enemy lines marked by the River Rubicon, he declared that the “die has been cast,” meaning that they had gone beyond the point of no return.  

As I have been reflecting on Caesar’s words, I have been thinking of them in the context of the women’s movement here in the U.S. There has been a great deal of coverage lately of a new book, Lean In by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg. In her work, Sandberg contends that women need to “lean in” more at the workplace and demand a spot in leadership with men. The press on Sandberg’s manifesto, has been supportive and skeptical,  with some of the harshest critics being other women.

It is true, as critics have noted, that Sandberg’s perspective is that of a highly educated, privileged, corporate executive, and that her experience does not necessarily translate to the realities that many women in this country face. That said, it seems to me that women ought to be encouraging each other to build on this conversation, rather than tear it down. As Shriver notes in her blog, with 100 million Americans living below the poverty level, 70% of those female-headed households with dependent children, we do not have the luxury of dismissal. We need all the good ideas we can to empower more women to be financially and professionally independent.

My hope is that like Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon, we have crossed the point of no return. It is unacceptable that millions of women live in poverty here, and it is inexcusable that women make 72% of what men earn. As women we need to stand together and move forward, continuing the conversation.