Hagedorn, Republicans and racism — an Indigenous perspective

To the editor:

I read with a great deal of interest the comments re: Indigenous Peoples, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Aug. 23, (and Independent Aug. 25) by Jim Hagedorn, the GOP-endorsed candidate against Tim Walz in the First Congressional District. I was particularly interested in his comment, “Leave it to liberals to ruin John Wayne’s WISDOM (writer’s emphasis) of the only good Indian being a dead Indian.” This quotation is from General Phil Sheridan who said, “The only good Indian I ever saw were dead.” As Brandon says, this statement “was the extermination philosophy epitomized, and given the sanction of high rank.”

As I read the genocidally racist statement of Hagedorn, I thought of other similar remarks made by many U.S. Euro-Americans throughout the 522 years that western Europeans have been here in the Americas, with Hagedorn the more recent genocidal racist. First of all, there is Thomas Jefferson who used such words and statements as “exterminate,” “extirpate,” “we shall destroy all of them,” and “pursue the Indians to extermination,” etc. Then, there is Andrew Jackson who recommended that U.S. American troops “specifically seek out and systematically kill Indian women and children . . . in order to complete their extermination” (Stannard). L. Frank Baum, west of us in South Dakota, and author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” said re: the Lakota and Dakota, “why not annihilation?”, and ” . . . wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.” Of course, I do not wish to leave our state of Minnesota out of the picture. Here, we have governor Alexander Ramsey calling for the “Extermination or Removal” of the Dakota People of Minnesota (the writer’s people). Then, to be gender inclusive, we have Jane Swisshelm, an editor from St. Cloud, an abolitionist, and an early feminist in Minnesota expressing her sentiments about the Dakota People, “Exterminate the wild beasts,” and “Kill the lazy vermin.” There are so many more genocidal racists who could be quoted, who held a philosophy of extermination re: the First Nations Peoples.

And now, here in Minnesota, we have Jim Hagedorn, in August 2014, in the 21st century, a Republican-endorsed candidate for congress, and the “state Republican Party” which is standing “by its candidate.” What does this say about the Republican Party of Minnesota? I agree with Ken Martin, the chairperson of the State Democratic Party who is quoted as saying, “Mr. Hagedorn’s outrageous, offensive comments make him unfit for office.” I would add that Hagedorn is certainly unfit to represent the Indigenous Peoples of Minnesota.

If anyone is interested in the documentation for the above-mentioned quotations of the genocidal racists, here is my email address: chrismatonunpa@gmail.com

Chris Mato Nunpa

Granite Falls