Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that our vigil is held on stolen land.  The Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building and every existing colonial structure at Fort Snelling has been built on land that was lived on and is still sacred to generations of Dakota tribal nations, who believe that the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers is the place where all of life began.   Just a half mile east, the island called by the Dakota, “Wita Tanka”, or “Big Island”, sits in the middle of the confluence.  As colonists and the U.S. military moved west in the mid-1800’s, they enslaved, displaced, and murdered the Dakota people, ultimately turning the sacred island into a prison for more than 1600 Dakota.  Policies and borders were created that have labeled the Dakota “illegal” on land that they had occupied for generations.  We remember the sacred history of this land and the stewards of this land who still fight to protect it and still fight to be recognized as fully human by our government today.  In addition, we remember that this building was named after an Episcopal Priest whose advocacy on behalf of the Dakota resulted in hundreds being freed and dozens being spared the death penalty.  Despite his advocacy, following the US-Dakota War of 1862, thirty-eight Dakota were condemned in the largest mass hanging that has ever occurred in our nation’s history. 

ICOM holds vigil at the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building to stand in solidarity with our immigrant neighbors who are in detention and face deportation and to show our opposition to policies that dehumanize our neighbors and separate families.  The Whipple Building is a five-state, regional headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whose mission to arrest, detain and deport immigrants.  This building is an immigrant’s last stop before they are put into an unmarked ICE van and taken to the airport 5-minutes away and deported.  We hold vigil at this place to confront an ICE organization that increasingly operates outside of basic humanitarian norms and without accountability, that tears children from the arms of their parents and puts them in cages, that ignores court orders to reunite families, that has required toddlers to stand before immigration judges, and that has allowed detainees to live in unhealthy and overcrowded facilities resulting in dozens of deaths.  No one is illegal on stolen land.