A week ago, one of my colleagues brought up the Dakota Conflict as he reminded us of today’s Indian struggle. Minnesota suffered a great conflict due to IOU’s causing starvation. The conflict ended with the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Thirty-eight men, some of them even being mistaken identities, were hanged.
If someone would have kept his or her word, and sent a few dollars like they said they would, the conflict might not have ever happened. Most likely we wouldn’t have then interned Indians at Fort Snelling, and I could go as far as to say we might be further in our efforts to be one Minnesota. Today we even have a few oddballs near the Red Lake reservation calling for an end to Indian voting rights, and we still have reservations which don’t seem to thrive.
Recently, I walked next to a Vietnam vet as I walked in the Rondo Days parade for Jeremiah Ellis, candidate for MN House 65a. I didn’t bore him with my father being deferred from Vietnam three times, once because of his status as a student at the University of Minnesota. I just listened. He hardly ever looked at me, but he did as he said “I still wonder why we went there in the first place.” I asked if he meant Iraq or Afghanistan? He said “Iraq. We should have been doing a better job in Afghanistan long ago.”
I’m a peace lover, but not a pacifist. I believe we sometimes need war, or at least a good strong arm, to keep greater peace. And I believe our efforts in Afghanistan, America’s longest war, are noble. Those were my Twin Towers, and those were my American neighbors, and taking no action can lead to dire consequence. That said, I’ve heard 5 years is our new exit goal, and I’m very sure we need to work towards that goal. But as we fight, let’s be sure to keep our word and pay our debts. In Minnesota, we’ve seen what lack of payment can do.