More than a decade after their initial request, three Ojibwe Tribal Nations will have the boundaries of their 1854 treaty with the United States acknowledged on state highways.
Over a decade after their initial request, three Ojibwe Tribal Nations will have the boundaries of their 1854 treaty with the United States acknowledged on state highways.
Earlier this month, the Minnesota Department of Transportation installed the first of 12 signs acknowledging Native territory. The treaty area encompasses the northeast region of the state, approximately 5.5 million acres.
Anton Treuer, Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, hopes making treaty areas visible will hopefully remind people of America’s legal obligations to uphold its end of treaties.
The United States Constitution has very specific mention of treaties as, quote, the supreme law of the land. There’s a treaty at the end of World War Two that says Japan doesn’t get to have, you know, a full fledged military, but America is obligated to provide for its military safety and that’s binding on both parties. And it is likewise binding when Native people entered into an agreement changing the status of land to enable white settlement. And retaining, not being given new, but retaining their tribal sovereignty, land tenure, and rights.
Treuer said the 1854 treaty allowed for joint shared use with white settlers, not ownership. This is in keeping with the Ojibwe understanding of humanity’s relationship to land.
If you’re living up in this part of Minnesota, you are living on Native Land, land that Native people have never extinguished their right to, you know, inhabit, use, hunt, fish, gather, and so forth. Those rights were never extinguished. And so reminding people, Hey, you’re on native land. This is shared use territory, not territory from which Native people have been alienated.
Treuer pointed out that Native people continue to face challenges to tribal sovereignty. The highly contested Line 3 pipeline runs through the land covered by the 1854 treaty.
For the Racial Reckoning project, I’m Feven Gerezgiher.