TITLE: Support for the Preservation of Battlefields of the so called “Indian Wars” in the 19th Century and Earlier
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, the history of the Tribal Nations and their relationship with the United States is filled with places of sacred and cultural significance, with many places being identified only by a few citizens of the Tribal Nations, including places of overwhelming grief and tragedy; and
WHEREAS, the campaigns of the U.S. military against Tribal Nations were frequently marked by efforts aimed at complete annihilation of Tribal Nations, which would be considered genocide today; and
WHEREAS, the battlefields of such campaigns, often were not battlefields but simply “killing fields”, where many American Indians or Alaska Natives, including men, women and children, were killed without provocation, and often those who died were buried by the U.S. military, if at all, without customary and culturally appropriate ceremonies, sometimes in mass graves; and
WHEREAS, these places owned by private individuals include such sites as the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 in South Dakota and various battlefields in Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado, and elsewhere during the campaign against the Dakota following their uprising in 1862 and earlier; and
WHEREAS, recently, development of one of these sites for the purposes of an electrical transmission line in North Dakota has threatened the burial places of an unknown number of Teton Lakota victims killed by the military in a battle that occurred on July 28, 1864, at a place sacred to the Lakota and the Hidatsa in the Killdeer Mountains of North Dakota; and
WHEREAS, the private, non-Indian owner of the Wounded Knee massacre site of 1890 is seeking to sell his land on which that site is located.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI hereby supports the preservation in an undisturbed state of those sites now held by private landowners where significant numbers of American Indians or Alaska Natives were killed by U.S. military forces, or even by colonial military forces if such places can be identified and are still relatively undisturbed; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI urges the President and Congress to take such steps as are necessary, including the enactment of appropriate legislation and the appropriation of funds to protect the battlefield and massacre sites described in this Resolution from further development as a tribute to all American Indians and Alaska Natives who died trying to defend their homelands; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2013 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Cox Business Center from October 13 - 18, 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a quorum present.