The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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July 1, 2013

Poem at memorial an insult to historians

This is a comment on the new poem for the Dakota memorial, written by non-native Katherine Hughes supposedly to honor the 38 Dakota Nation citizens who were executed Dec. 26, 1862.

I am a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. I have grandparents buried at Grace Mission. The cemetery has been there since 1863, one year after the Minnesota atrocity.

The poem by Hughes is called Reconcile” and is an attempt to say we are all in this together. An insult to historians, yet, an admission that all poetry is sincere.

Hughes speaks as an occupier, giving us a theory of democracy in America as it concerns the Indigenes, and it continues the state of Minnesota’s crusade to say it is OK to invade and occupy other people’s lands. We are all guilty, she says, and we are all innocent.

What kind of history is this? Well, it’s not history. It is an act of speech on the part of this white person who is allowed to treat our concomitant history with contempt, an expression that is unsupportable by the facts.

We know that all poets express ideologies: Dante rejoices in the external torments of enemies, Tolstoy exhorts Christianity, the Illiad teaches the glory of armed victory, even Dostoevsky gets into ant-seminism. They at least had the good grace to knlow what poetry is (rather than doggerel) in terms of writing skills.

This awful poem teaches white people in America to behave with insolent triumph while weeping in false regret, and it is nothing new.

The shame is that it is now acceptable as history in the great state of Minnesota.

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn

Rapid City, S.D.

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