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Jerald Loud: Historical assembly planned to commemorate treaty signing

The peace and friendship now existing between the United States and the Red Lake and Pembina Bands of Chippewa Indians shall be "perpetual."

These are the words in article one of the 1863 "Old Crossing Treaty" where the Red Lake and Pembina bands of Ojibwe chiefs, headmen and warriors signed a treaty under formidable conditions 150 years ago.

The 1862 mass execution of 38 Dakota Indians on Dec. 26, 1862 was only nine months in history and our leaders stared at Calvary Gatling guns across the river during the negotiations — these are the conditions and a few facts we must never forget to pass on to our children.

On Sept. 10, 2013 the Red Lake Tribal Council passed a resolution establishing a Red Lake Nation tribal holiday recognizing our chiefs and leaders who under great duress negotiated the only treaty with the United States government, "The Old Crossing Treaty" of 1863.

The Red Lake and Pembina Band leaders reluctantly ceded 11 million acres of premier farmland in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota for $400,000 — the treaty states $500,000, which $100,000 was for retribution but to hold the whole nation accountable for a few frustrated band members who, in their defense, were only reacting to the intrusion of expansion in the Red River Valley.

When you do the calculations it comes to .036 cents an acre at the $400,000 amount. I found an article in the North Dakota AGWEEK publication dated Nov. 8, 2012 that proclaimed the acreage in the Red River Valley broke $10,000 an acre? That equates to a meager $110,000,000,000 — that’s right, $110 billion.

This commentary is not intended to rehash any injustices done or stir up any bad feelings to what occurred on Oct. 2, 1863, but to acknowledge one of the prominent contributions the Red Lake and Pembina bands of Ojibwe have made to the United States and to never forget our leaders who had the utmost concern for the safety and security of their children and future generations.

One of the critical aspects of Resolution No. 140-13 is to create awareness every Oct. 2 in all of the Red Lake Nation’s educational institutions of the history of the Red Lake people, the Old Crossing Treaty of 1863, the 1889 agreement (Nelson Act) and the 1902 agreement in activities of their choice.

The first historical assembly for this event will be held at the Red Lake Humanities Center beginning at 11 a.m. where Red Lake’s own, professor Brenda Child, will give a historic overview of the 1863 treaty and a brief history of the Red Lake Nation. A feast will follow and then the commemoration will continue at the treaty signing site in Huot, Minn., near Red Lake Falls at 4 p.m. (a map will be available at the Humanities Center).

At the site "Old Crossing Memorial Park" Red Lake’s Tribal Chairman will give an address and both the Pembina and Red Lake Nation flags will be raised by the Red Lake Honor Guard. A ceremonial drum will be present for the event.

As the resolution states:

"Therefore be it resolved, the Red Lake Tribal Council hereby proclaim that October 2nd will be a Red Lake Nation holiday ‘OLD CROSSING TREATY DAY’ recognizing our contributions to the UNITED STATES of AMERICA and honoring our leaders for their courage and sacrifices for the people of the Red Lake Nation.’


Jerald Loud is executive director of Red Lake Oshkiimaajitahdah, or New Beginnings.