VII. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

On September 13, 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with an overwhelming majority. Not surprisingly, settler-colonial countries with subjugated Indigenous populations still struggling for self-determination were the only ones to initially vote against the declaration. This included the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, though all have since rescinded their previous positions. The declaration affirms both the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples for the world's 370 million Indigenous people and has been viewed as a means to help prevent human rights violations and combat discrimination. Article 8 of the Declaration is particularly relevant to the discussion of Minnesota history. It states:

1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.

2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;

(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;

(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;

(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration;

(e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.

All of these actions were conducted by the U.S. government and its citizens against Dakota people in the nineteenth century. White Minnesotans perpetrated actions that sought to destroy our culture, deprive us of integrity, dispossess us of our lands, and incite racial discrimination against us. As I have written previously, “Article 8 of the Declaration directly challenges Minnesota's right to establish itself at the expense of Indigenous Peoples. It dictates that the United States (as the State) and Minnesota have an obligation to acknowledge and ensure some kind of reparative justice for these harms.” The Declaration argues against the expendability of Dakota people.