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About UM…

UM…’s Points of Unity:

Unsettling Minnesota is a collective of non-Dakota people working in solidarity towards decolonization in Dakota homelands. We share these points of unity to guide our allyship and activism. 

  • All people not indigenous to North America who are living on this continent are settlers on stolen land. In particular, the vast land base surrounding the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers is the homeland of the Dakota Oyate–the original people of this land. We acknowledge that the state of Minnesota was founded through genocide and colonization of indigenous peoples–which continues today and from which settlers directly benefit. 
  • All settlers do not benefit equally from the settler-colonial state, nor did all settlers emigrate here of their own free will. Specifically, we see slavery, hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy, market imperialism, and capitalist class structures as among the primary tools of colonization. These tools divide communities and determine peoples’ relative access to power. Therefore, anti-oppression solidarity between settler communities is necessary for decolonization. We work to build anti-colonial movements that actively combat all forms of oppression. 
  • We acknowledge that settlers are not entitled to live on this land. We accept that decolonization means the revitalization of Dakota sovereignty, and an end to settler domination of life, lands, and peoples in Dakota territories. All decisions regarding human interaction with this land base, including who lives on it, are rightfully those of the Dakota Oyate and the Oceti Sakowin. 
  • As settlers and non-Dakota people acting in solidarity, it is our responsibility to proactively challenge and dismantle colonialist thought and behavior in the communities we identify ourselves to be part of. As people within communities that maintain and benefit from colonization, we are intimately positioned to do this work. 
  • We understand that allies cannot be self-defined; they must be claimed by the people they seek to ally with. We organize our solidarity efforts around direct communication, responsiveness, and accountability to Dakota people fighting for decolonization and liberation. 
  • We are committed to dismantling all systems of oppression, whether they are found in institutional power structures, interpersonal relationships, or within ourselves. Individually and as a collective, we work compassionately to support each other through these processes. Participation in struggle requires each of us to engage in both solidarity and our own liberation: to be accountable for all privileges carried, while also struggling for liberation from internalized and/or experienced oppression. We seek to build a healthy culture of resistance, accountability, and sustenance.

How UM… Came to Be

(“UM…”: The noise settler-folk make when first confronted with our ancestors’ legacy.)

In March 2009, Dakota activists Scott DeMuth and Wicanhpi Iyotan Win, along with activist and ally Paper Buck, offered a ten week course through the Twin Cities Experimental College entitled “DakotaDecolonization: Solidarity Education for Allies.”  The class met weekly andfrom the outset we were challenged to profoundly re-examine ourrelationship to the land we live  upon. The facilitators pushed us toaddress the genocide, colonial rule, and the  settler mentality ofillegitimate entitlement that has defined the recent history of  Minnesota. As people with an interest in solidarity with the original people of this land, we were asked to explore what it means to hold settler privilege on stolen land. The question posed to us on the first evening of class was “Why is there not a word for white ally in the Dakota language?” 

Our course material spanned a variety of topics as ourfacilitators moved us toward an understanding of allyship and solidarity. We explored spiritual appropriation, colonial history, and cultures of resistance and accountability, among other topics. Members of the class both talked and listened. We heard from each other, non-indigenous to this land, and from those who are indigenous to this land. We tapped into our own roots and histories as well as those of the state and its imposed rule. 

Since the class ended, a group of us have come together as a collective which we’ve named Unsettling Minnesota. Our name reflects both our political goals of decolonization as well as the personal processes of unlearning our colonizer mentalities in both heart and mind.  We strive to become the allies for whom there is no word in the Dakota language. 

We hope the resources we have to offer will motivate and inspire you toward the necessary action for justice. In remembrance that this land is Dakota land, 

Unsettling Minnesota