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By the time of the Flavians there were large reductions in the supply of slaves, both those peacefully imported from outside the Empire and those captured in military campaigns. It was a time of decline for every large latifundia farm-households and, a little bit later, during the Antonins' rule, slaves became purely luxury items, not a source of profit. So, I'm interested: if the Romans noticed the shortages in slave supply, why didn't they set up some sort of breeding centers for slaves in order to maintain their population?
One reason was a gender imbalance, a lot more male slaves (captured in war), than female slaves.And of course, "breeding" requires both.
When slaves were shipped to from Africa to America, there was a reasonable balance of male and female slaves that were bought or captured, and taken across the Atlantic in ships.
Very few ancient ships carried large numbers of women.The carvels of the Middle Ages were sufficiently comfortable to accommodate women (some came over on the Mayflower, for instance).
Critical Social Justice Education and the Assault on Truth in White Public Pedagogy: The US-Dakota War Re-Examined [1st ed.] 9783030624859, 9783030624866
Table of contents :
Front Matter . Pages i-xxviii
Introduction: “Official Perspective” and the Two Senses of Justice (Rick Lybeck). Pages 1-39
J-Term Perspectives (Rick Lybeck). Pages 41-63
Framing the Discussion (Rick Lybeck). Pages 65-87
Reopening the Wounds of 1862 (Rick Lybeck). Pages 89-113
Regional Genocide Denial and Contradictory White Selves (Rick Lybeck). Pages 115-142
The White Public Pedagogy I: Suspending Moral Judgment (Rick Lybeck). Pages 143-170
The White Public Pedagogy II: Taking the Justice-as-Fairness View to History (Rick Lybeck). Pages 171-210
Managing Perspectives, Keeping History “Good” and Safe (Rick Lybeck). Pages 211-239
From Below in Theory, from Above in Practice: Whites Provide Dakota Perspectives (Rick Lybeck). Pages 241-276
Conclusion (Rick Lybeck). Pages 277-295
Back Matter . Pages 297-304
Critical Social Justice Education and the Assault on Truth in White Public Pedagogy The US-Dakota War Re-Examined Rick Lybeck
Critical Social Justice Education and the Assault on Truth in White Public Pedagogy “This book takes up the recent call to clearly explicate the ways in which public pedagogies actually work. Lybeck provides a clear analysis of how White public pedagogies operate by presenting excellent data, including observations in classrooms, interviews with students, letters to the editor, public speeches, and more, to show how particular White points of view come to be seen as natural and normal, and how they continue to perpetuate systems of White privilege.” —Jennifer A. Sandlin, Professor, Department of Justice and Social Inquiry, School of Transformation, Arizona State University, USA “Rick Lybeck’s book about the mass execution of thirty-eight Dakota men in Mankato, Minnesota in 1862 and the ways the event has been effaced by a rhetoric of ‘fairness’ to both sides vividly reminds us that justice is an action that rights a wrong and thus requires a moral judgment. The lesson is as timely today as it has ever been.” —James Paul Gee, Mary Lou Fulton Professor of Literacy Studies and Regents’ Professor, Arizona State University, USA “How does one develop an appropriate and effective pedagogy of the privileged, one that would educate white American students into recognizing their country’s white-supremacist history and motivating them to help bring about a racially just nation in the future? Lybeck’s detailed and compelling account of his efforts to challenge conventional Minnesota white-settler framings of the 1862 US-Dakota War provides both a sobering realization of the multiple obstacles to such an undertaking and a valuable and inspirational guidebook, nonetheless, from which educators across the country can learn and continue striving for that laudable goal.” —Charles Mills, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY), USA “This is a painful, brilliant account of yet another ugly chapter in the history of the American genocidal treatment of Native Americans. Lybeck’s critical pedagogy calls for a critique of the practices that keep the violent past alive. A must read.” —Norman K. Denzin, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Research Professor Emeritus of Media and Cinema Studies, University of Illinois, USA
“Lybeck’s grain of sand is a short, month-long college course on the US-Dakota War of 1862. And he helps us see the world in it—including how, in classroom and white-settler public pedagogies, the war against Indigenous peoples continues under the banners of neutrality, objectivity, fairness, and balance. Lybeck’s book is startling for its intellectual and moral clarity. Please read it.” —Timothy J. Lensmire, Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Minnesota, USA, and author of White Folks: Race and Identity in Rural America (2017) “In a moment when the defense of white supremacy and the attack on teaching truths about injustices and anti-oppressive struggle are blatant and vicious, it might be easy to overlook the subtle, everyday, normalized ways that those happen, both in and out of educational institutions. Lybeck brilliantly and lucidly connects the dots between history, rhetoric, and curriculum as he traces the entrenchment of American nationalism in the genocide of indigenous peoples and the legacy of such contingent identify politics in contemporary debates. It is difficult to imagine a more timely and important intervention than this book as it illuminates the insidious ways that appropriating the commonsensical lexicon of democracy and justice gives force to the public pedagogy of whiteness.” —Kevin Kumashiro, author of Surrendered: Why Progressives are Losing the Biggest Battles in Education (2020)
Critical Social Justice Education and the Assault on Truth in White Public Pedagogy The US-Dakota War Re-Examined
Rick Lybeck Department of Teaching and Learning Minnesota State University, Mankato Mankato, MN, USA
ISBN 978-3-030-62485-9 ISBN 978-3-030-62486-6 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-62486-6 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland
If you are neutral on situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. —Desmond Tutu
I’ve lived in Mankato, Minnesota, for fourteen years. In case you don’t know, Mankato is the site of the largest simultaneous mass execution in U.S. history. It once made the Guinness Book of World Records for this distinction.1 On the second day of Christmas, 1862, thousands gathered in what was then a town of only a few hundred residents to witness the event—38 Dakota men hanged together at the cut of a single rope. Some of the 38 reportedly grabbed each other’s hands and clothing as they struggled in their nooses and died. They hung there that way for nearly half an hour, clinging to one another in solidarity for all to see (Coleman & Camp, p. 48 Bessler, p. 61). Two sesquicentennials have come and gone since I moved here, one for the state’s founding in 1858, the other for the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. It goes without saying that these events are closely related but details telling how are often startling. The official whose job it was to signal time to cut the rope at the hanging, Joseph R. Brown, had once been a trader in the territory, well known for dealing whiskey to Indians (Green, 2007, p. 24). Historians tell that he had “a penchant for young Sioux girls” and that he “kept” Indian women (Anderson, 1984, p, 227 Green, 2007, p. 107), pleasurable for him, to be sure, but also advantageous for building kinship ties and expanding his networks of trade. Brown served for a time as an Indian agent for the U.S. government, appointed to the position by Minnesota’s first governor, Henry Sibley. He played an instrumental role in assimilation strategies that had split the
Dakota into white-like “cut-hair” and traditionalist “blanket” factions, a fissure that led to the threat of civil war among the Dakota people by 1862 (Lass, 1995). By the time of the Mankato hanging, Brown had served as a founding state legislator along with William Duley, the man who took Brown’s signal and cut the gallows rope. Both were signers of the state’s first constitution in 1857.2 Among Brown’s many accomplishments was assisting to draft Article 7,3 delineating the franchise according to the racial hierarchy of the day: 1. White citizens of the United States. 2. White persons of foreign birth, who shall have declared their intentions to become citizens, conformably to the laws of the United States upon the subject of naturalization. 3. Persons of mixed white and Indian blood, who have adopted the customs and habits of civilization. 4. Persons of Indian blood residing in this State who have adopted the language, customs and habits of civilization, after an examination before any District Court of the State, in such manner as may be provided by law, and shall have been pronounced by said Court capable of enjoying the rights of citizenship within the State.4 As historian William Green (2007) notes, blacks were nowhere to be found in this configuration. For Indians, whose rural votes were needed to keep Sibley’s Democratic Party afloat, increasing restrictions moving down the ladder virtually excluded them from civic life, not simply because empowered whites objected to the color of their skin but to their presumed lack of literate ways. While Indians “could never be white enough to be equal,” (Green, p. 109), only in rare instances were Dakota men deemed fluent enough in Anglo-American language and social practices to qualify as citizens in their own homeland. Not long before the fighting broke out in 1862, Joseph Brown completed a mansion for himself and his family. Situated across the Minnesota River from the Upper Sioux Reserve, “Farther-and-Gay Castle”5 sat on reservation land recently confiscated through treaties whose terms were essentially dictated to the Dakota (Meyer, 1967). Brown stocked his castle well with food, sumptuous furnishings, and other luxuries shipped from New York and Washington D.C. (Lindeman &
Nystuen, 1969). Close at hand, Dakota people scraped by under increasingly impoverished conditions that attended their less-than-equal status. Farther-and-Gay Castle was plundered and burned on August 19, 1862, the second day of fighting in Minnesota’s six-week “U.S.-Dakota War.” Every winter since I’ve lived in Mankato, horse riders have come to the hanging site from Lower Brule, South Dakota, to honor the 38 hanging victims (Fig. 1). For approximately two weeks, dozens ride through cold and snow, covering 330 miles to hold ceremony downtown on December 26. They sometimes bring political messages for wašicu (white) culture as well. In 2014, a ride leader told the crowd, “I want to encourage all my non-Indian relatives by saying that a culture driven by profit is contrary to natural law” (Field Journal, 12-26-2014).6
Fig. 1 38+2 Memorial Riders (2010) (Source Photo courtesy John Cross, Mankato Free Press )
I am a relatively privileged white male from Marietta, Ohio. Although I learned about the U.S.-Dakota War and hanging as a University of
Minnesota college student in the early 1990s, I could afford not to know about it before that time and continue not paying attention to its significance afterward. My wife and I purchased a house in Mankato in 2006 without giving any thought to the violence that had made the transaction possible. It seemed only natural to take this next step in our lives as career educators. That we were entitled to do so seemed beyond question. We simply didn’t think about it. Since moving here, I’ve learned that Mankato carried a stigma for many decades into the twentieth century (“Powwow Overcoming History’s Stigma,” 2012). Perhaps it still does. Dakotas have told of their people avoiding the place for over a century after the war, not just for being the site of the hanging but for whites’ tendency to celebrate the event and to glorify regional conquest prior to the civil rights era. In 1935, the Mankato Teachers College (today’s Minnesota State University) made “the Indians” its mascot. At one point in the College’s history, tepees went up on the football field during homecoming week, or what was variously called “powwow” and “uprising” across the decades. As shown in Figs. 2 and 3, white students performed “Indian” dances the night before the game and an “Indian Princess” was crowned.7 In 1958, aptly named Governor Orville Freeman attended a game and received his own headdress (Fig. 4).8 Coverage of Mankato State games sometimes conjured historically palpable headlines in the local sports pages, for instance this billing for the 1971 matchup against the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux—“Indians geared for Sioux uprising Saturday” (Bandrup, 1971). Of course, the town’s white-supremacist celebration didn’t pass without critique. A Ho-Chunk woman visiting the hanging site in 1959, for example, told a Mankato Free Press reporter about the terror that whites playing Indian could evoke—“She said many Indians believe white men masqueraded as Indians and attacked the white settlers near New Ulm. She explained they did this as an excuse to excite the white men to drive the Indians from southern Minnesota” (Heinzman, 1959). Her remarks echo reports mounting as I write about white supremacists stoking “uprisings” close on the heels of George Floyd’s outrageous murder in Minneapolis (Nelson & Sepic, 2020 Mogelson, 2020). Such developments beckon scholars to center white supremacy in any reexamination of a “regional” history like the U.S.-Dakota War and bring it into direct conversation with other seemingly larger histories of race that continue to plague the U.S.
Fig. 2 Mankato State College Coronation dancer (1963) (Source Image courtesy of the University Archives at Minnesota State University, Mankato)
While Mankato State College’s Indian mascot fixation may be typical in the annals of many white American communities, the hanging provided occasion for peculiar forms of civic racist expression. Images of the mass hanging once adorned products like commemorative spoons and cigar packages. Figure 5 shows a beer tray whose artwork used the hanging victims as a backdrop to enhance notions of white, bourgeois leisure and prestige, foregrounding the event with white ladies and gentlemen in fine Victorian dress. Some versions showed soldiers sitting on the porch of a nearby house, enjoying drinks just before the gallows drop.
Fig. 3 Mankato State College Homecoming Princess finalists (1955) (Source Image courtesy of the University Archives at Minnesota State University, Mankato)
As local capitalist fetish, the execution found perhaps its most macabre form of public display when the operator of a gas station situated near the hanging site painted 38 used tires red and strung them up with ropes in an advertising campaign. According to a former Mankato Free Press editor, an accompanying banner proclaimed, “38 red ‘skins’ bite the dust—get your new tires now!” (Berg, 1975). Since the 1980s, local coverage of reconciliation activities has brought out stories of racism shared for years among Dakota people. In 1997, Ed Godfrey, identified by the newspaper as a descendant of one of the hanging victims, told the Free Press about a confrontation that took place in a Mankato restaurant in the 1950s between a small group of Dakotas passing through and white youths who warned them, “We hung 38 of you here before, maybe we can add six more” (Lindberg, 1997). In short, locals used the hanging
Fig. 4 Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman in headdress (1958) (Source Image courtesy of the University Archives at Minnesota State University, Mankato)
as a teaching tool for mediating white identity for a century after the event, constructing notions of superiority for themselves while dishing out violent messages of inferiority for others, thus feeding the town’s stigma and keeping Dakota people away until the 1960s. Much has changed in recent decades to make things like a real annual powwow, the Mahkato Wacipi, possible in Mankato (Andrews, 2010). Today, many whites turn out every December 26 to welcome the arrival of the 38 + 2 Memorial Riders, as well as ceremonial runners from Fort Snelling (Fig. 6) who meet them near the hanging site in Reconciliation Park (Fischenich, 1991). Reception and news coverage are generally positive. In making room for Dakota ceremony and joining with Dakotas at annual events like the Mahkato Wacipi, the Mankato community has recently been held up as “a model for what is possible” in efforts to “heal the wounds of 1862,” as told in the Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) documentary The Past Is Alive Within Us:The U.S.-Dakota Conflict (2013). Just before pointing to the Mankato success story, however, this documentary quotes a recently deceased a member of nearby Lower Sioux
Fig. 5 Mankato Standard Brewery Co. beer tray (ca. 1912). (Source Image courtesy Blue Earth County Historical Society)
Indian Community, Sandee Geshick,9 who troubles what otherwise might pass for a rosy multicultural picture: There’s still a lot of racism, discrimination, and I always ask myself, why? Why? Is it because we fought for what was ours? Should we have just given up and said take whatever you want? It’s in all indigenous people to give, to share, you know, what we have and we thought we were doing that in giving so generously, sharing the things that we had, and we were taken advantage of. (“The past is alive,” 1:35)
This book takes Sandee Geshick’s claim about current racism and discrimination seriously. By giving an overview of the white public pedagogy 10 of the U.S.-Dakota War that prevailed regionally in 2012 and then proceeding to analyze its reproduction in classroom pedagogy, this
Fig. 6 Dakota 38 Memorial Run participant (2010) (Source Photo courtesy John Cross, Mankato Free Press )
volume explores the question of why racial discrimination persists here to the detriment of Dakota people. But before attempting to theorize any reasons why, this work first attends to where such discrimination circulates and how. As I eventually show, current racist practices working to the civic exclusion of Dakota people do not just manifest themselves in straightforward expressions of bigotry that readily come to mind at the word “racism.” This exploration is not necessarily about celebratory white-supremacist expressions of the past nor does it primarily concern the kind of hate speech one may find on the internet or in angry e-mails and letters-to-the-editor today, although it does sometimes include such forms. Rather, this work concerns subtle uses of language and day-today social practices that are often not seen as discriminatory for their being perceived as normal, natural, and commonsensical to the people who engage them. My goal with this book is not to try to call out individual racists or refute the Mankato success story. My goal rather is to show how current
commonsense refrains around commemoration that seem to exude multicultural progress when compared to those of the racist past still manage to reconstruct racial divides how mantras like “reconciliation,” “mutual healing,” “listening to all perspectives,” and “forgiving everyone everything” provide political cover for white-supremacist social practices that continually reopen the wounds of 1862. In the process of analyzing and historicizing the dominant discourses that frame public commemoration of the U.S.-Dakota War, I hope to disrupt the public pedagogy (Sandlin, Malley, & Burdick, 2011) whites currently engage to teach one another to be “neutral,” “objective,” “fair,” and “balanced” about a history that has forged starkly unequal material legacies for today’s descendant groups. This work seeks to understand teaching-and-learning processes that make “neutrality” widely appropriate even as Buffalo County, South Dakota, home of Crow Creek Indian Reservation where Minnesota authorities “removed” noncombatant Dakota families to in 1863, is sometimes identified as the nation’s poorest county (Hetland, 2002 “Buffalo County,” n.d.). Further, this work seeks to understand ways of knowing that make “balance” broadly appealing in a state noted as having the second lowest poverty rate in the U.S., partly based on its status as a top-five agricultural producer that has grown rich on land confiscated from Dakota people in the nineteenth century (Collins, 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2017). In short, this book analyzes everyday teaching-and-learning practices that reproduce white “neutrality,” “objectivity,” “fairness,” and “balance,” drawing out ways these conceits are sustained across time despite all evidence of imbalance, unfairness, and injustice. Ultimately, my purpose with this work is to help move empowered white educators and public commentators away from what I call white justice as fairness toward a critical pedagogy that both acknowledges and resists ways of teaching that make the imbalanced seem balanced, the unfair seem fair, and the unjust seem just. Grounded in messages shared by critical Dakota voices in 2012 as well as in the learning experiences of 15 college students who co-designed a public-history project on the U.S.Dakota War during its sesquicentennial, this work advocates for making resistance to white “objectivity” normative, especially for people working in historically colonial institutions like newspapers, museums, historical societies, schools, colleges, and universities. Understanding critical social justice education as a prerequisite for antioppressive social change, this volume openly supports Dakota historian
Waziyatawin’s vision inWhat Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland (2008), that is, a vision for a truly democratic, humanizing, and environmentally sustainable society predicated not merely on a truthful accounting of the past but on a sorely needed collective effort to bring the region’s white-supremacist legacy to an end. If “the past is alive within us,” as the title of the 2013 TPT documentary claims if the U.S.-Dakota War amounts to a “living wound” for today’s descendant communities, as the students featured in this book heard in a public lecture11 if the past is “not even past,” as the their instructors told them in the classroom,12 then the ideology nineteenth-century whites once engaged to “justify” the extermination of the Dakota people likely lives as well, albeit in updated ways that can be difficult to see. As readers will find, this book levels much criticism at a loosely affiliated but powerful network of journalists, historical-society representatives, lay historians, and educators who preside over the region’s dominant pedagogical narrative about U.S.-Dakota War study that says proper consideration of regional “facts” is bound to lead the reasonable white citizen to take up “objective,” “neutral,” “fair,” and “balanced” positions on 1862. By focusing on how this narrative was put to the test among the college students I followed, this volume reveals not only the historical irony of regional demands for “objectivity” but the white-supremacist ideology that drives the objectivist attitude itself. In the end, my work looks to these students’ own testimonies for guidance on how to develop a transformative pedagogy in solidarity with critical Dakota educators. Contrary to the cultish regional demand for objectivity on the war, the empirical process of reading and representing information from existing early and primary sources on the U.S.-Dakota War sparked a range of fact-based moral reactions for the students, including sadness, guilt, and sometimes even anger at whites. As I eventually show, these well-informed emotions brought some of them even to take “sides” in the face of a classroom pedagogy that directed them toward balance at every turn. The criticisms delivered in this book comprise not just my effort to sort out contradictions that arise whenever human beings are taught to deny forms of self-expression rooted in critical consciousness. More than anything, this book seeks to encourage white citizen-scholars of the war to embrace emotion and judgment, both interpretive and moral, when teaching and learning about Minnesota’s founding. As I argue, this process necessarily involves questioning whose interests the privileged regional “facts” serve
and pursuing with intellectual rigor all the affective states that well up in the process. Yes, even guilt. Even anger. Of the many critical educators whose work I consult in this attempt to disrupt the region’s official pedagogical narrative, Paulo Freire (2004) perhaps best explains the role that anger or “just ire” must play for education to work for social change (p. 59). In his final book, Pedagogy of Indignation (2004), Freire writes, “if we dream of a less aggressive, less unjust, less violent, more human society, [our testimony] must be that of saying ‘no’ to any impossibility determined by the facts and that of defending a human being’s capacity for evaluating, comparing, choosing, deciding, and finally intervening in the world” (p. 37). With the importance of “just ire” in mind, criticism simmers in this book, drawing from detailed testimonies recorded during complex classroom and public learning experiences this criticism often rises to the level of saying “no,” especially when educators have invoked the regional “facts” in attempts to cut independent thinking and moral judgment short. Such teaching does nothing but render white-settler interpretations of the past most “appropriate,” “mature,” natural, and seemingly inevitable for white learners. Ultimately, my analyses amount to a defense of 15 students’ right to develop their critical voices about the problem of living well on stolen land, in a violently founded white-man’s state. Mankato, USA
Notes 1. The Guinness Book of World Records. (1993). Quoted in Waziyatawin (2008, p. 40) and Yellow Bird (2004, p. 37). 2. Constitution of the State of Minnesota. (1857). The wording of both versions reads identically. Brown’s signature occurs on p. 37 of the Democratic version, Duley’s on p. 40 of the Republican version. 3. Brown’s contribution to Article 7 concerned suffrage restrictions on people in categories three and four (Wingerd, 2010, p. 389, n. 75). 4. Article 7 reads identically in both documents (“Constitution of the State,” p. 19 [Dem.] p. 20 [Rep.]. 5. The name is believed to have been a play on England’s Fotheringhay Castle (Lindeman & Nystuen, 1969). 6. Information from field journals remains in the author’s possession. 7. Katonian, 1955, pp. 280–281. 8. Katonian, 1958, p. 99.
9. Geshick passed away in 2016. 10. My theorizing of a regional “white public pedagogy” takes public pedagogy to mean the educational function of dominant discourses circulating in communities, including conventional classroom settings but, more importantly, extra-institutional spaces beyond the confines of formal education (Sandlin et al., 2011). 11. Author Thomas Maltman (2007) used this phrase in a public lecture on the U.S.-Dakota War attended by the students on January 17, 2012. Students and instructors subsequently incorporated the phrase into a traveling museum exhibit they co-designed. Maltman’s influence on the project is discussed in Chapters 6 and 7. 12. Dictum read in a classroom scene analyzed in Chapter 3, taken from lines in William Faulkner’s novel Requiem for a Nun (1951/1994): “The past is never dead. It’s not even past” (p. 73).
References Anderson, G. C. (1984). Kinsmen of a different kind: Dakota-white relations in the Upper Mississippi Valley, 1650–1862. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Andrews, M. (2010). The U.S.-Dakota War in public memory and public space. In A. Atkins & D. L. Miller (Eds.), The state we’re in: Reflections on Minnesota history (pp. 50–60). St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society. Bandrup, M. (1971, September 24). Indians geared for Sioux uprising Saturday (p. 18). Mankato: Mankato Free Press. Berg, K. (1975, November 12). ‘62 revisited (p. 23). Mankato: Mankato Free Press. Buffalo County, South Dakota. (n.d.). OMICS international. Retrieved from http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/Buffalo_County,_South_Dakota. Coleman, N., & Camp, J. (1988, April 26). The great Dakota Conflict. In St. Paul Pioneer Press dispatch: A pioneer in education supplement. St. Paul, MN: Pioneer Press. Collins, J. (2016, September 13). Minnesota has second lowest poverty rate in U.S. Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved from https://www.mprnews.org/ story/2016/09/13/minnesota-census-data-low-poverty-uninsured-rates. Constitution of the State of Minnesota. (1857). Minnesota Historical Society Website. Retrieved February 26, 2015 from Republican version: http:// www.mnhs.org/library/constitution/pdf/republicanversion.pdf, Democratic version: http://www.mnhs.org/library/constitution/pdf/democraticversion. pdf. Faulkner, W. (1951/1994). Requiem for a nun. New York: Vintage. Fischenich, M. (1991, December 27). Run continues Owen’s memorial to 38 hanged (p. 11). Mankato: Mankato Free Press.
Freire, P. (2004). Pedagogy of indignation. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers. Green, W. (2007). A peculiar imbalance: The fall and rise of racial equality in early Minnesota. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press. Heinzman, D. (1959, July 18). Indians still trying to get ‘Kato back (p. 25). Mankato: Mankato Free Press. Hetland, C. (2002, October 1). Nation’s poorest county. Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved from http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200 210/02_hetlandc_census-m/. Katonian. (1955). Mankato, MN: Mankato State College. Katonian. (1958). Mankato, MN: Mankato State College. Katonian. (1963). Mankato, MN: Mankato State College. Lass, W. (1995). Joseph Brown and his times. Henderson, MN: Joseph R. Brown Interpretive Center Task Force. Lindberg, S. (1997, September 22). City takes a moment to reconcile (p. 1). Mankato: Mankato Free Press. Lindeman, C. G., & Nystuen, D. W. (1969). The Joseph Brown house: Final report on archaeological excavations. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society. Maltman, T. (2007). The nightbirds. New York: Soho Press. Meyer, R. (1967/1980). History of the Santee Sioux. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Mogelson, L. (2020, June 15). The heart of the uprising in Minneapolis. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/ 06/22/the-heart-of-the-uprising-in-minneapolis. Nelson, C., & Sepic, M. (2020, July 28). Warrant: White supremacist instigated lootig at George Floyd protest. Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved from https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/07/28/warrant-white-suprem acist-instigated-looting-at-george-floyd-protest-in-minneapolis. Powwow overcoming history’s stigma. (2012, September 17). Mankato: Mankato Free Press, p. A4. Sandlin, J. A., Malley, M. P., & Burdick, J. (2011). Mapping the complexity of public pedagogy scholarship: 1894–2010. Review of Educational Research, 81(3), 338–375. The Past Is Alive Within Us: The U.S.-Dakota Conflict (2013, December 26). Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) website. Retrieved from http://video. tpt.org/video/2365142131/. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2017). Economic research FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.ers.usda.gov/faqs/#Q1. Waziyatawin. (2008). What does justice look like? The struggle for liberation in Dakota homeland. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press. Wingerd, M. (2010). North country: The making of Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Yellow Bird, M. (2004). Cowboys and Indians: Toys of genocide, icons of American colonialism. Wicazo Sa Review, 19(2), 33–48.
I wish to express gratitude to everybody listed below. Without their openness, support, guidance, willingness to share knowledge and wisdom, this work could not have been completed. The J-term students and instructors. Melodie Andrews, Sam Grey, Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair, William Lass, Bud Lawrence, Tim Lensmire, Chuck Lewis, Cynthia Lewis, Malinda Lindquist, Karen Lybeck, Marti Lybeck, Mark Vagle, Wa Duta Winyan (Pamela Halverson), Glenn Wasicuna, Waziyatawin, Gwen Westerman, Sheldon Wolfchild.
Quotes taken from study participants and printed in this text use standard punctuation. The quotes do however include symbols marking aspects of participant speech important to my analyses. The symbols used are adapted from a system developed by Gail Jefferson and published in J. M. Atkinson and J. Heritage’s Structures of Social Interaction: Studies in Conversation Analysis (1984, pp. ix–xvi).  (.) (2.0) yes °yes° (hhh) ((cough)) (yes) ↑yes
brackets indicate overlapping utterances dash indicates self-interruption period within parentheses indicates micropause number within parentheses indicates pause of length in approximate seconds underlining indicates emphasis degree marks indicate decreased volume of words between h’s within parentheses indicate laughter items within double parentheses indicate some sound or feature of the talk which is not easily transcribable parentheses indicate transcriber doubt about hearing passage arrow indicates upward intonation of sound it precedes
Introduction: “Official Perspective” and the Two Senses of Justice
Reopening the Wounds of 1862
Regional Genocide Denial and Contradictory White Selves
The White Public Pedagogy I: Suspending Moral Judgment
The White Public Pedagogy II: Taking the Justice-as-Fairness View to History
Managing Perspectives, Keeping History “Good” and Safe
From Below in Theory, from Above in Practice: Whites Provide Dakota Perspectives
Fig. 1.2 Fig. 1.3 Fig. 6.1 Fig. 7.1 Fig. 7.2 Fig. 7.3 Fig. 7.4 Fig. 7.5 Fig. 7.6 Fig. 7.7 Fig. 8.1 Fig. 8.2
Mankato Hanging Monument with paint (ca. 1970) (Source Image courtesy Blue Earth County Historical Society) Dakota 38 Monument (2012) with park bench (Source Author’s photo) Features of the two senses of justice (Source Author) Untitled Buffalo, sculptor Tom Miller (1997) (Source Author’s photo) Blue Earth County Courthouse “Lady Justice” (1889) (Source Photo courtesy Jordan William Green ) Mankato Free Press building façade with The Land (Source Author’s photo) Mankato Hanging Monument (1912) (Source Image courtesy Minnesota Historical Society) Dakota (Sioux) Memorial (1980) (Source Author’s photo) “Winter Warrior,” sculptor Tom Miller (1987) (Source Author’s photo) “Commemorating the U.S.-Dakota War” panel sidebar (Source Courtesy Sarah) “Commemorating the U.S.-Dakota War” panel image of Fort Ridgely Monument (Source Image courtesy Sarah) “Press and Panic on the Frontier” exhibit panel (Source Image courtesy Jennifer) Detail from “Press and Panic on the Frontier” exhibit panel (Source Image courtesy Jennifer)
12 20 24 166 172 180 183 193 194 204 205 229 231
“The Dakota Declare War” exhibit panel (Source Image courtesy Stephanie and Tom) Detail of narrative from “A Bitter End” exhibit panel (Source Image courtesy Rachel and Tracy)
Introduction: “Official Perspective” and the Two Senses of Justice
“Official Perspective” For white Minnesotans working in historically colonial state institutions, suspending moral judgment about the U.S.-Dakota War rose to the level of an urgent collective need in 2012. Whether balancing perspectives from points of no perspective or presenting “the facts” so that majority-white audiences could decide for themselves what happened in 1862, empowered producers of public knowledge routinely modeled ways of remaining neutral on a situation of injustice and, thus, choosing the side of the oppressor. Below are some examples of white justice as fairness at work: We’re not going to get into who was right and who was wrong. We’re trying to stay as neutral as we can. (in Ojanpa, 2011) —Jessica Potter, Blue Earth County Historical Society, December 22, 2011 There is no great benefit in trying to weigh who was more at fault during the times that led up to and during the conflict. […] Learning and discussing the facts, as best they can be found and as fairly as possible, should be the goal in this sesquicentennial year. (in “Dakota-U.S. War history,” 2012) —Mankato Free Press, January 10, 2012
© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 R. Lybeck, Critical Social Justice Education and the Assault on Truth in White Public Pedagogy, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-62486-6_1
There’s still a lot of people looking for the villain here. But if we can move a little bit closer to recognizing that nobody came out of this well, everybody lost something, then I think we will at least have moved a little step in the right direction. (in Picardi, 2012) —Kate Roberts, Minnesota History Center, July 10, 2012 I hope what people get out of this is there are lots of different perspectives. That doesn’t make someone right and someone else wrong — people just have differing perspectives about the same events. (in Krohn, August 12, 2012) —Ben Leonard, Nicollet County Historical Society, August 12, 2012 We are not looking at this from the perspective of who’s right and who’s wrong, but simply what happened here. (in Ojanpa, 2012) —Darla Gebhard, Brown County Historical Society, August 19, 2012
∗ ∗ ∗ In January 2011, the Mankato Free Press printed an editorial “thumbs up” to a project going on at North Dakota State University (“Dakota Translations Welcome”). Retired Dakota Presbyterian ministers Clifford Canku and Michael Simon were translating selected letters written in 1863 by Dakota men originally sentenced to hang in 1862 but who had received pardons from President Lincoln. Prior to their eviction from Minnesota, these 265 men sat detained indefinitely in a Mankato prison. Approximately 120 of them ended up dying not long afterward in a prison in Davenport, Iowa (Meyer, 1967, p. 144). Canku and Simon’s work has since been published by the Minnesota Historical Society as The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters (2013). Within a week of its “thumbs up,” the newspaper printed a rebuke from David J. Gray, a local who positioned himself as a descendant of a white who had fought against Dakotas in their siege on the town of New Ulm in 1862. Titled “Why is the White Side in Conflict Ignored?” Gray took issue with all the negativity being heaped on settler society in coverage of Canku and Simon’s work: But let us not forget that those wonderful letters that were translated were written with Latin letters brought by white Christians. They would not be here today if not for those kind enough to have taught writing or transcribed the words spoken to them. I guess some people just tend to
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forget that when writing about “a terrible moment in Native American history.” (Gray, January 28, 2011)
In going back to the original Minnesota Public Radio News story about the translation project that had provided the Free Press occasion for its thumbs up, I learned of disappearances of Dakota prisoners who would not convert to Christianity and of rapes of Dakota women at the hands of white prison guards (Gunderson, 2011). Gray’s letter seemed to cast all this as part of a larger humanitarian effort. The day this letter ran, I happened to be reading British professor Brian Street’s book Literacy in Theory and Practice (1984), an important text in Literacy Education, my field of study. In that volume, Street critiques the “autonomous model” of literacy where the capacity for abstract reasoning in a group of people is supposedly best evidenced by their development of alphabetic technology for Western-style reading and writing practices, what anthropologist Jack Goody once called “the technology of the intellect” (Street, p. 65). As Street points out, such cultural conceits have historically led to a failure among researchers to identify literacy practices already present among the allegedly “pre-literate” people they have studied. Street’s book shows how Eurocentric notions of literacy tend to go hand in hand with other white conceits about civilization, Christianity, reason, and race that regularly cast nonwhite people in terms of their alleged deficiencies. Reading Gray’s letter to the editor on a morning when I was just beginning to absorb Street’s analysis made me wonder about the subtle ways old colonizing beliefs about race and literacy might still be circulating around me. On one level, the letter’s racism was easy to see. I didn’t need a doctorate to know that the “white side” to colonization had not been ignored in white American communities like Mankato. Growing up in Marietta, Ohio, a town that boasts of being the “first settlement in the Northwest Territory” despite its founding on an ancient village or “earthworks,” I had learned at an early age that the opposite was the case, that the Indian side to colonization had literally been graded over and its people all but erased from the official white public narrative. As I have come to understand more deeply, literacy provides some of the most powerful tools of conquest, a point underscored by the locations of the public libraries in my two hometowns—Marietta’s elevated on an ancient “Hopewell” mesa (White & White, 2004) and Mankato’s positioned at the hanging site.
The intersection of Street’s book and Gray’s letter invited me to consider white supremacy on more subtle levels, however, connecting it to aspects of literacy previously benign to me like the alphabet. Not even in my former days as an English teacher in the Minneapolis public schools had I really been urged to think this carefully about the relationship between race and letters. Finding it stated so starkly in the newspaper sparked curiosity for me in multiple directions. If I continued to collect pieces of public discourse about the U.S.-Dakota War as I studied, would other connections emerge as rich as this one? Was the literacy-racism link circulating among people seemingly more reasonable than Gray? On what felt like an entirely different front, why would the newspaper even bother to run a letter like Gray’s? The editor probably received racist letters and e-mails all the time, or so I figured. Why would he run this particular one just then, designed as it was to spread salt on the wounds of 1862? Put another way, why would the editor seem to take those wounds seriously in Saturday’s edition only to turn around and subject them to denigration the following Friday? This question grew more troubling to me as time passed. No further columns or letters were printed on the subject. Gray got the last word on the Dakota prisoner-of-war letters in Mankato. The remainder of this Introduction chronicles the early part of my work actively pursuing these questions while witnessing high-profile commemorative events unfold during the sesquicentennial in Mankato. In the process, I continue to characterize the regional white public pedagogy on the war as one strongly urging citizen-scholars to take up “neutral,” “objective,” “fair,” and “balanced” positions indicative of those listed in the “Official Perspective” framing this Introduction. Analyzing more examples from the pubic pedagogy will enable me to identify two competing senses of justice in play: (a) critical social justice which is equity oriented, seeking educative redress and material reparations for ongoing injustices forged by the U.S.-Dakota War, and (b) white justice as fairness which is equality oriented, asserting notions of sameness or “balance” in the here and now and seeking no concessions of either the white psyche or white property, thus serving to uphold the unjust social status quo. Theorizing the two senses of justice will help me contextualize teaching-and-learning moments analyzed later in the book’s chapters where instructors and students negotiated choices between critical social justice and white justice as fairness and ultimately reconstructed racial dilemmas and divides historically rooted in both regional and personal white identities.
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Getting Involved with the J-Term Course Conflict and Remembrance Continuing to think through relationships between David J. Gray’s letter and Brian Street’s book on literacy, I began collecting everything I could find being written and said publicly about the U.S.-Dakota War. As a Mankato Free Press subscriber, I began clipping out everything relevant to 1862, amassing over 100 articles and letters printed between 2011 and 2013. As the largest daily newspaper in south-central Minnesota, the Free Press provided stories and reports on commemorative activities and upcoming events held not only in Mankato but in surrounding communities also affected by the war like New Ulm and Gotland 1 where I eventually conducted my fieldwork. The paper also features a weekly “Glimpse of the Past” series to which six regional county historical societies contributed articles during the period in question. At the same time, I combed the internet, capturing articles from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press , and regional newspapers like the Redwood Falls Gazette, New Ulm Journal, and Le Sueur Herald, printing or bookmarking over 60 pieces relevant to war-related themes like healing, reconciliation, balance, neutrality, and perspectives emerging in my primary focus on the Mankato paper. I captured Minnesota and National Public Radio stories, accessed oral histories published on the Minnesota Historical Society website, and viewed documentary films. In cases where transcripts were not available from radio stories or films like Dakota 38 (2012) and The Past Is Alive Within Us (2013), I transcribed segments related to my emerging themes. In addition to this work, I attended public lectures and commemorative events like the public discussion on reconciliation at the 2012 Mahkato Wacipi and the arrival of the Dakota 38 + 2 Memorial Riders every December 26 in Mankato, taking notes in field journals. I even went so far as to attend a drama in a local church basement where the war and Mankato mass hanging were reenacted by a Mankato children’s theater company, “Lincoln’s Traveling Troupe” (Kent, 2012). In my efforts to learn as much as I could about white orientations toward race and literacy in context of the U.S.-Dakota War, I attended a regional History conference held in Mankato in the fall of 2011. There, I sat in on a workshop and panel discussion concerning a course on the war being developed at St. Lucia College2 in nearby Gotland, Minnesota. Course designers, Dr. Judith Lenz, Professor of English,
and Mr. John Harwell,3 Director of the Blankenship County Historical Society (BLCHS),4 presented their working syllabus and discussed instructional approaches they planned to take in just a few short months.5 Unknown to me at the time, I would be joining the course as well, following its daily proceedings as a researcher taking field notes, collecting artifacts, and interviewing everyone involved. As explained at the workshop, Lenz and Harwell had spent more than two years designing this one-month, January-term (J-term) experience titled Conflict and Remembrance: The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. In this course, students would engage with the community in a kind of service-learning project aimed at educating the public about the war. The instructors had arranged for St. Lucia to host a widely advertised six-part lecture series featuring Dakota and white historians, authors, and educators. They had lined up three field trips for students, including stops at the Mankato hanging site6 Fort Ridgely and the Lower Sioux Agency historical site near Morton, Minnesota Fort Snelling and the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. In addition to reading six books7 and hearing from guest speakers in the classroom, the students would produce a traveling museum exhibit to inform the region about this little-known and often-neglected war. The conference presentation that day was organized according to an approach emphasizing the importance of listening to and representing multiple perspectives. As explained in subtitles printed in the conference bulletin, Dr. Lenz would tell about “Creating the Course from the College Perspective” Mr. Harwell would speak on “Creating the Course from the Community Perspective” and fellow panelist Anthony Morse, curator of the Lower Sioux Agency Historical Site, would speak more generally about “History from a Dakota Perspective.” Already, this configuration reveals signs of racial and political divisions central to upcoming chapters of this book. First comes the broad separation of Dakota perspective from the implicit yet overwhelmingly white perspectives of “Community” and “College.” The Gotland community represented by Mr. Harwell, for example, reports 90% white and 0.6% Native populations (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). U.S. Census Bureau estimates show an even starker contrast for the county his historical society serves—94.6% white and 0.4% Native populations. Student demographics at St. Lucia College reflect those of the surrounding community: 86% white and less than 1% (unspecified) American-Indian populations.8
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Next come perceptions of unity and division for the respective racial groups represented. College and Community perspectives appear in the definite singular form (the perspective), positioning Lenz and Harwell as speakers of white consensus. Dakota perspective appears in the indefinite singular (a perspective), suggesting the existence of differing Dakota perspectives that would go unrepresented. Mr. Morse, who publicly acknowledges having little firsthand experience with Dakota culture,9 would only speak for one individuated Dakota perspective—his own. Handed down from a regional history telling of a largely unified whitesettler collective eager to champion “friendlies” and spurn “hostiles” while gaining ground from a divided Dakota society, this configuration provides an early glimpse into a defensive form of pluralism (Bernstein, p. 336) that unfolds gradually over the course of this book, a pluralism only able to go so far in seeking out perspectives, often resorting to tokenism in the meantime and ultimately granting privilege to uncritical voices, both Dakota and white, as it strives to teach the public about the war. With the workshop session underway, Dr. Lenz distributed copies of the course syllabus and read through hoping to solicit feedback from audience members possessing expertise on the U.S.-Dakota War. The syllabus opened with two epigraphs reflecting negatively on settler society, one by Indian Agent Thomas Galbraith that read, The [beliefs] and habits of the Indian must be eradicated habits of industry and economy must be introduced in the place of idleness … the peaceful pursuit of home life must be substituted for the war-path, the chase, and the dance and more than all, the hostility of the Indian opposed to this policy must be met on the threshold.
and one by Wambditanka (Big Eagle) that read, The whites were always trying to make the Indians give up their life and live like white men … If the Indians had tried to make the whites live like them, the whites would have resisted, and it was the same way with many Dakota.
Dr. Lenz proceeded to cover parts of the syllabus containing language suggestive of a critical approach to the war. The course description, for example, mentioned the Mankato hanging as occurring “the day after Christmas, 1862.” It went on to say, “The bloodshed and its aftermath
left deep wounds that have yet to heal. It also resulted in the eradication of much of the heritage of the Dakota in this land. What happened here continues to matter today.” Among course goals, students would “understand the context in which St. Lucia College was founded in 1862.” They would also “study the ‘linguistic turn’ in history,” a phrase indicating that relationships between language and ideology would be examined. The purpose of the museum-exhibit assignment stated, “The hope is that this exhibit will raise awareness of the treatment of indigenous people in the 19th century as white settlers poured into Minnesota.” In addition to the syllabus’s epigraphic quotes emphasizing ethnocide and white double standards, the list of texts included Waziyatawin’s What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland (2008), a book arguing that settler society perpetrated genocide against the Dakota people in the 1860s as genocide is currently defined in international law. Dr. Lenz happened to have much expertise in this area having researched, taught, and published for many years on the experiences of women during the Holocaust. Following the presentation of the syllabus, audience members asked the co-instructors a series of questions suggestive of the “Official Perspective” used to preface this Introduction: – What do you plan to do about students simply passing judgment on people of the past from their modern perspectives? – How can you keep students from falling into paralyzing guilt over the state’s history? – Do you plan to teach the course from a neutral perspective? (Field journal, September 22, 2011) Among the panelists, including Mr. Morse, only Dr. Lenz resisted expectations of suspending judgment, saying she didn’t think there was such a thing as teaching this history from a neutral perspective. Soon, a man sitting by the door near the back of the audience stood up and took issue with Dr. Lenz’s references to genocide when discussing What Does Justice Look Like? “Are you going to have your students read Richard Fox’s book, Archaeology, History, and Custer’s Last Battle?” he asked. “No, that’s not on the syllabus,” Dr. Lenz replied.
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With some intensity, the man proceeded to explain that a book like Fox’s would teach students something important that seemed to be missing altogether from the course plan, the fact that Dakota warriors had mutilated the bodies of their fallen enemies on the battlefield believing they would enter the afterlife that way, incapacitated and unable to do battle there. “Are you going to have your students learn about that?” he asked. Silence ensued. Dr. Lenz thought for a moment before saying she wasn’t planning to include that on the syllabus and didn’t see how it would be relevant. The session chair looked uneasily around the room as if waiting for someone else to speak on the matter. No one did. The Q & A continued and the man left. I stopped this man between conference sessions the next day and asked if I could speak to him. I told him I was researching the U.S.-Dakota War and thought he had made an interesting point the day before. I wanted to learn more about why he felt it was important. Although he didn’t introduce himself, his nametag told me he was a professor at a regional state university (Field journal, September 23, 2011). He said he thought Dr. Lenz didn’t seem to know very much about the history of the war since she was omitting a whole body of knowledge related to the settler experience. Specifically, that experience included fears in the aftermath of the war that the Dakota would band together with other tribes out west and return to Minnesota with the intention of sweeping whites out of the state for good. He asked me in a friendly, rhetorical sort of way whether I knew what it was like to live out on the prairie. I told him I didn’t. He quickly said that he did. He said he came from a small town in western Minnesota and that he had “walked that ground,” the settlers’ ground, many times before. He explained that theirs was an uncertain and tenuous existence on the frontier and isolated families were vulnerable to attack. Most settlers owned guns but few really knew how to defend themselves in combat. Fear of mutilation was part of their daily experience. I have come up empty checking Richard Fox’s book for details about Dakota fighters mutilating their fallen enemies. The book, Archaeology, History, and Custer’s Last Battle: Little Big Horn Reexamined (1993), shares what the title suggests, an archaeological analysis of the battle site in Montana that does not highlight such practices among the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho people who went to war against Custer’s troops. Fox devotes only a single paragraph of his lengthy book to mutilation, telling first that accounts vary among Indians and whites as to whether
mutilation occurred at all. He points to other scholars’ archaeological evidence in concluding that it did happen, but adds, “Acts of mutilation were, in part, a result of anger and were a practice not restricted to one or another group” (p. 221). That is all. Fox is simply not interested in mutilation as a potential contributing factor to the panic and terror experienced by Custer’s troops whose tactical unity disintegrated in the chaos of combat. Interestingly, Fox uses archaeological evidence from the battle site to challenge “white beliefs” and “hearsay” (p. 241) about the soldiers’ gallantry under fire, refusing in his discussion to shy away from their likely lack of gallantry, or “psychological debilitation” (p. 228). In the body of literature covered for the present volume, I have read mutilation-of-the-fallen tales in a number of works both antiquated and modern, among them Charles Bryant and Abel Murch’s A History of the Great Sioux Massacre by the Sioux Indians (1864) where they are included in selected military reports, Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861–1865 (1890), where they come in the same type of documents, and Duane Schultz’s Over the Earth I Come: The Great Sioux Uprising of 1862 (1992) where the practice is referred to without reference to a source (p. 60). Considering the frames these works set for telling mutilation tales—the first two establishing them as proof of barbaric acts committed by “savages” (Bryant & Murch, p. 219) and “red devils” (Minnesota Board, p. 544), and the third as cause for terror in a novelistic history— the prospect of locating reliable information from prominent sources close at hand is not good. Rather than any plausible picture of Dakota “savagery,” what emerges from early U.S.-Dakota War historiography, examined further in Chapter 6, is a long procession of graphic images symptomatic of what historian Peter Silver (2008) calls the anti-Indian sublime, that is, formulaic scenes of murder, torture, mutilation, and rape used throughout the history of American “Indian-war” literature to make readers suddenly forget the causes of violence. Long indebted to the age of sensibility when white-settler conquest coincided with a gothic trend in literature designed to stir strong emotions like terror among readers, America’s anti-Indian sublime, as Silver explains, provided colonizers an “unanswerable” political rhetoric (p. 85), making white conscientious objectors look insensitive to the sufferings of “the people” (fellow whites) living on the frontier. Regardless of the offended professor’s dubious conjuring of settler fears, most important for my purposes is the socially symbolic act (Jamseon, 1981) he performed at the conference session, an act designed
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to address and perhaps even try to resolve the unresolvable contradictions white-settler identity poses to its devotees—settlers as innocent victims versus settlers as exterminationists. Taking a slightly calculated risk that no one would have read a marginally related and somewhat obscure history like Fox’s, the professor established authority to speak on a specialized topic he only seemed to know from a biased point of view. But even this is not necessarily what aligned the act with its ideological heritage. By ignoring the long history of mutilations whites have exacted upon their “enemies,” from taking heads of the fallen back to the English king for proof of success in battle to the ritualized public dismemberment of lynching victims well into the twentieth century,10 the professor established a double standard suggesting that the practice of mutilating bodies on the battlefield belonged solely to indigenous fighters. Reports of mutilations carried out by whites against Dakotas are, of course, easy to find in the sources as well and indicative of the multidirectional violence that occurs in wartime (Bessler, pp. 65 Clodfelter, pp. 160–161 Heard, pp. 177–178). Disturbingly, the day before I eventually made a presentation to the Conflict and Remembrance students about the Mankato hanging—an event that involves whites desecrating Dakota bodies before, during, and after the hanging (Lybeck, 2015)—an international story broke about U.S. Marines filming each other urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan (“Afghan leader Karzai condemns,” 2012). By raising the specter of Dakota “savagery” even as whites’ allegedly more civilized methods of warfare raged abroad in 2012, the professor’s socially symbolic act of protest to critical teaching can be said to fit an illuminating definition of racism put forth by scholars Karen and Barbara Fields in Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life (2012), a definition this book makes recurring use of, namely, “the theory and practice of applying a social, civic, or legal double standard based on ancestry, and to the ideology surrounding such a double standard” (p. 17). Identifying strongly with white settlers, having “walked that ground” in western Minnesota and strongly imagined if not sensed the fear of mutilation himself, this ideological descendant felt obliged to remind everyone of a neglected form of knowledge that would presumably counterbalance talk of genocide against the Dakota people. Like with David J. Gray’s letter to the editor, most troubling for me was that no one in the audience or on the panel, not even the Dakota spokesperson, seemed prepared to contest the assertion in the moment. This of course
included me. While some may well have identified the double standard to themselves, no one raised it in an effort to challenge the claim. It did not help that the conference workshop took place in the Blue Earth County Public Library auditorium. The building partially covers the 1862 execution site and the auditorium itself must be situated very near where “the exact spot” of the mass hanging was retrospectively determined in 1911 by a group of white military veterans, key members of the local business class, as they prepared for the U.S.-Dakota War’s coming semicentennial (Andrews, 2010 Lybeck, 2015). The monument they dedicated in 1912 quickly became a source of controversy for the way it flaunted execution by hanging with the bald inscription, “HERE WERE HANGED 38 SIOUX INDIANS.” Historically carried out through hangings, the death penalty had been outlawed in Minnesota only a few months before the monument committee first took up its work. Public acts of protest against the marker, shown in Fig. 1.1, began during the Vietnam era and often included Native activists calling for its removal (Andrews, 2010). One year before the Trail of Broken
Fig. 1.1 Mankato Hanging Monument with paint (ca. 1970) (Source Image courtesy Blue Earth County Historical Society)
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Treaties tour would come through Mankato in 1972, Eddie BentonBanai, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), warned a Free Press reporter that he was thinking of taking matters into his own hands (Woutat, 1971). That same year, Russell Means, Field Director for AIM, proposed that a replacement monument be raised to “the barbarity of Abraham Lincoln” (“Indians rap hanging marker,” 1971), the final authority who approved the 1862 mass killing. Forthrightly approaching the hanging site as nothing short of a crime scene, Native spokespeople have voiced counter-memory at the site for at least the past fifty years (Carlson & John, 2015), reminding locals of inconvenient perspectives willfully ignored since the 1860s, for instance, that Mankato land “still belongs to the Indians” (Heinzman, 1959) and that many see the 38 hanging victims as “patriots, as defenders of a land from invaders” (Fischenich, 1991). Whether or not participants of the Conflict and Remembrance conference session were fully aware of the site’s contested history, the offended professor’s challenge to Dr. Lenz and her fellow panelists felt palpably congruent with many white-descendant public letters defending the monument I had been reading in local archives, some of which I analyze in Chapter 7. While only Mr. Harwell pointed back to this moment in my subsequent interviews with the instructors in 2012, and then only to tell me he too had learned that mutilations did not occur to the degree the professor had suggested (Fieldnotes, January 6, 2012), I nevertheless took the exchange as a formative one establishing a cautious tone for the instructors whose attempts at neutral and balanced pedagogy especially on the topic of genocide provide focus for much of what follows, Dr. Lenz’s pedagogy in Chapters 3 and 4, and Mr. Harwell’s in Chapters 8 and 9. When Lenz and Harwell wrapped up the conference session, I immediately approached them requesting permission to follow the course as a participant-observer. After meeting with them later that fall to discuss my purpose and potential role in the J-term, that of an educational researcher embedded with the students using ethnographic methods to research questions pertaining to literacy, language, and social power (Field journal, October 10, 2011), they graciously welcomed me to the course.
White Justice as Fairness and Critical Social Justice I developed my thinking on white justice as fairness after reading and witnessing many instances where whites’ sense of justice about 1862 encountered disruption during the sesquicentennial, the offended History conference professor and David J. Gray providing two memorable examples. Throughout my study, I have grown increasingly aware that when settler-friendly speakers angrily call for balance, or even when they more quietly attempt to stake out neutral zones for presenting multiple perspectives on the war, competing senses of justice are in play. On the one hand, there is critical social justice which operates in ways suggested by the Conflict and Remembrance course syllabus presented at the History conference workshop. This sense of justice, which would, for example, encourage straight talk about genocide and ethnic cleansing in Minnesota, involves engaging moral judgment in efforts to reveal the unjust workings of race and social power, the purpose being to educate for anti-oppressive social change. On the other hand, there is a countervailing sense of justice not so easy to name for its many iterations across a broad spectrum of white responses, from uncertain caution like that I participated in with audience members at the majority-white conference workshop to the certain backlash performed by the angry professor reenacting defensive notions of settler identity. I will refer to this sense of justice as white justice as fairness , borrowing most of the phrase from political philosopher John Rawls’s (1993) theory of justice as fairness, which I will explain below in greater detail and historicize further in later chapters. Quickly here, this sense of “justice” encourages citizens to temporarily suspend knowledge of social inequalities when interacting in public spaces so that the sense of mutual trust needed for transacting can prevail, an effect that simultaneously enables status-quo social arrangements to pass unquestioned. In this section, I discuss aspects of each sense of justice—critical social justice and white justice as fairness —in relation to U.S.-Dakota War commemoration in order to provide context for understanding the white public pedagogy that Conflict and Remembrance course instructors and students were facing in 2012. Informed by theory from a long line of critical educators that includes Paulo Freire (2010), Henry Giroux (2006), Sandy Grande (2004), Kevin Kumashiro (2015), Peter McLaren (2018), and many others, the critical social justice I refer to aims to reveal often-hidden or naturalized ways
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of thinking and acting that can make social hierarchies seem common sense. The hope here is that sustained counter-teachings against dominant commonsense narratives will make it possible for historically oppressed people to find emancipation. Beyond mere equality in a fundamentally violent settler-colonial state, critical social justice demands more humane social systems that will afford the personal and collective freedoms needed for everyone to realize self-determination. In the case of indigenous peoples, this would entail the freedom to exercise sovereignty free of racist torment, capitalist incursions, and imperialist domination. It would require non-Natives practicing solidarity with historically dehumanized and dispossessed people whenever and wherever they are seeking redress through land restoration, repatriation, and compensation for debts accrued over the history of their exploitation. Ongoing histories of oppression continually demonstrate that critical social justice does not push back against mainstream white ways of knowing simply for the sake of “criticizing” in the negative sense the word “critical” often suggests. Aligned with linguist James Gee’s (2011) description of what it means to be “critical,” critical-social-justice teachings examine whose interests are being helped, disregarded, or harmed by any socially symbolic act be it carried out through speaking, writing, (re)enacting, commemorating, and so on. Again, the aim of this kind of “critical” teaching is to expose ideology, or society’s commonsense ways of knowing and being that keep reproducing social hierarchies on a daily basis, thereby serving to “justify” social inequalities. Behind critical-socialjustice activity lies a tenacious hope for social change, that by identifying contradictions and double standards in oppressive words and actions, or by advocating for greater diversity of voices in creating less-partial visions of the past, present, and future, people may work together toward a more just social order. One of the strongest and most sustained expressions of critical social justice going on with 1862 commemoration in recent years has been the Dakota Commemorative March (Wilson, 2006). Begun in 2002, this roughly 150-mile walk retraces the route taken by U.S. military in November 1862 when soldiers forcibly marched approximately 1,700 Dakota noncombatants, mainly women, children, and elderly, from the Lower Sioux Reservation near Morton, Minnesota, to a concentration camp at Fort Snelling, near St. Paul. This event followed a kangaroo wartrial process where white officials had taken Dakota men into custody and condemned 303 to death by hanging. Although the purpose of
the Commemorative March has been variously defined by participants interviewed since its founding, its intent of “challenging the colonialist representation” of 1862 events, as Waziyatawin explains in her 2006 volume In the Footsteps of our Ancestors: The Dakota Commemorative Marches of the 21st Century, gives powerful evidence of critical social justice as a living practice in southern Minnesota. In 2012, for example, march co-leader Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan told a reporter about the ongoing history of persecution she and fellow walkers sought to draw attention to that year, saying, “we are still dealing with a lot of social justice issues that are the legacy of the internments” (Steinmann, 2012). While it’s beyond the scope of this writing to name and cover all such activities, readers will find critical social justice influencing Conflict and Remembrance teaching-and-learning moments at various points across coming chapters, for example, in public addresses delivered by Gwen Westerman, Sheldon Wolfchild, and John Trudell, as well as in interviews conducted with the J-term students who brought considerable prior knowledge of critical social justice to their learning experiences. Before discussing white justice as fairness as a contradictory sense of justice that might move one to ask what about the suffering of the settlers? when considering the Dakota Commemorative March, just as it might move one to proclaim white lives matter! or all lives matter! in the face of Black Lives Matter activity, I should note that settlerfriendly notions of justice regarding 1862 are not always espoused by white people alone. Nor do I mean to imply that critical social justice is a sole discursive domain of nonwhite speakers. Keeping in mind James Gee’s understanding of what makes anything “critical,” white speakers have occasionally shown the ability to see through official forms of 1862 commemoration to expose their double standards and locate the true powerful interests they have long represented. Examples captured by the local press include renowned criminal defense lawyer Clarence Darrow commenting on the 1912 hanging monument while visiting Mankato in the 1930s—“I can’t make myself believe that the people of a civilized community would want to commemorate such an atrocious crime” (Marker at hanging site,” 1937). They include historian Roy Meyer intervening in local monument debate in 1962, calling white victims of the war “the beneficiaries of a vicious system,” adding, “The Uprising was a direct result of the treaties of the Traverse des Sioux and Mendota, by which the Sioux were cheated out of their ancestral homes to fill the pockets of speculators and appease the land-hunger of European peasants pouring across
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the Atlantic” (Meyer, 1962). Examples also include many lesser-known whites like Rob Swart, a Mankatoan who wrote to the press in 2012 advocating for the repatriation of Dakota people to their homeland. A self-described descendant of a white Minnesota soldier injured in 1862, Swart commented, “The horrendous conditions that have been endured by every generation [of Dakotas] in the barren lands of South Dakota are/were an intentional form of genocide. The misery and poverty of 150 years needs to stop. We, the Americans who still hold the power, should act this year to stop punishing every generation for acts of those living in 1862” (Swart, 2012). Conversely, Native speakers occasionally agitate for forms of “social justice” that essentially grant empowered white interests a pass. In recent years, this has taken place through quasi-critical commemorative activities led by Natives in the name of “reconciliation,” a dominant yet slippery regional discourse that sometimes calls on settler society to redress past wrongs but often allows normative white ideology to go unexamined, much less disrupted. For example, the film Dakota 38 (2012) which chronicles the 2008 38 + 2 Memorial Ride to Mankato highlights Lakota ride-founder Jim Miller’s vision of reconciliation as an internal process— “We’ve gotta strive for that reconciliation. Let’s go home and reconcile our families, our differences. Let’s go home and hug our children, tell them that we love them.” According to this conception, reconciliation only makes demands of the colonized rather than demanding material reparations from whites and white institutions that continue to benefit from colonization. As Miller says in the film, “We don’t have to blame the wašicu-s [whites] anymore. We’re doing it for ourselves. We’re selling drugs. We’re killing our own people. And that’s what this ride’s about. It’s healing.” A proponent of critical reparative social justice, Dakota historian Waziyatawin explains that this type of internal reconciliation—what others have called “realist” reconciliation (Dwyer, 1999)—has understandably developed in response to white institutions’ persistent refusal to meaningfully acknowledge their own complicity in colonizing Dakota homeland or to adequately curb oppressive practices like championing white community builders from the nineteenth century who also happen to have been ardent exterminationists (Wilson, pp. 130–131). Another recent 38 + 2 Memorial Ride leader quoted in the film Dakota 38, Peter Lengkeek, casts reconciliation as an external process of mutual forgiveness and healing between Dakotas and whites, saying, “We’re trying to reconcile, unite, make peace with everyone.” Lengkeek
brought this message to local media in 2013 during a screening of the film in New Ulm, a town that proudly enacts a white “defender” identity in its 1862 commemorative activities. A regional reporter wrote, “Along the way Lengkeek said he’s had ‘healing’ conversations with descendants of settlers killed during the war and even descendants of President Abraham Lincoln” (Dyslin, 2013). In line with this quasi-critical form of reconciliation as mutual healing, Vernell Wabasha, a Dakota elder from the Lower Sioux Community, endorsed the message “Forgive Everyone Everything,” at least according to the Mankato Free Press ,11 including the phrase in a design for the 2012 Mankato monument she envisioned to honor the 38 hanging victims (Linehan, March 4, 2012). The newspaper heavily endorsed this message, emblazoning it across the front page the day after the monument dedication ceremony. Coverage of the December 26 proceedings included mayor Eric Anderson’s proclamation of 2012 as “the year of ‘forgiveness and understanding’” (Krohn, December 27, 2012). Justifiably, these internally- and externally-oriented forms of “realist” reconciliation have seen resistance from Dakota public intellectuals well-versed in the meanings of critical social justice, most prominently Waziyatawin and her father, genocide scholar Chris Mato Nunpa, who have worked for decades as writers, professors, and human-rights activists to decolonize their homeland. In 2013, the Mankato Free Press reported on a roundtable discussion at a local college where Mato Nunpa challenged the prevailing, settler-friendly discourse of reconciliation which clearly appeals through messages benign to whites: Mato Nunpa says most of the “reconciliation” he’s seen between whites and Dakota Indians has been a superficial exercise. “We eat together, everyone is nice. We put on our feathers and dance for you, entertain. The white man feels good,” Nunpa said. “There’s more to do than that. There are things that need to be done.” (Krohn, 2013)
Among the things Mato Nunpa mentioned needing redress are “the taking of land, bounties put on Dakota scalps in the 1860s, ‘concentration camps’ at Fort Snelling and elsewhere, and the attempt to kill and banish Indians from Minnesota. Then a returning of lands and payments for violated treaties” (Krohn, 2013). Similarly, Waziyatawin’s writings reveal an acute awareness of whites’ eagerness to promote uncritical forms of “justice” that offer no challenges to whites’ legitimacy as landowners or
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occupiers of Dakota homeland. In the previously cited volumes, Waziyatawin (2008 Wilson, 2006) disavows realist notions of reconciliation for their tendency to suppress calls for restorative social justice, especially repayment for what whites have gained at Dakota expense (Wilson, p. 130). As seen in Chapters 3 and 4, discussing Waziyatawin’s proposals in the isolated context of the U.S.-Dakota War can quickly distort her vision, pathologizing what is a well-reasoned, evidence-based argument for equity seen in many contexts across American life including in my field, Education (Ladson-Billings, 2006). Part of my aim with this book is presenting a better understanding of white justice as fairness as a coherent, countervailing sense of justice that routinely poses barriers to critical social justice. To arrive at this better understanding, my re-examination of the U.S.-Dakota War dives deep into face-to-face teaching moments that reveal the persuasive power of dominant discourses like “objectivity,” “balance,” and “neutrality” and how they serve collectively to uphold a common sense of justice as “fairness” to whites, past and present. Central to my close analyses is the directive nature of white-justice-as-fairness discourses, not merely how they persuade people to withhold moral judgment about 1862, but how they teach people to do so, thus the white public pedagogy of my title. What this book most often analyzes then as discursive work performed in Conflict and Remembrance classroom teaching moments must also be analyzed at the community level for the phrase white public pedagogy to have effect. To this end, this volume offers recurring analyses of white justice as fairness working beyond the J-term experience. Below, I would like to investigate one high-profile example from the 2012 sesquicentennial showing how white justice as fairness functions as a public pedagogy (Sandlin, Malley, & Burdick, 2011), rising to direct the public away from critical social justice and the perceived threat it poses to the white social order.
White Justice as Fairness, White Property, and “Appropriate” Commemoration In March 2012, plans for the new monument envisioned by Vernell Wabasha were unveiled to the public through a series of Mankato Free Press articles. For the first time, the names of the 38 hanging victims would be prominently displayed for all to see, etched onto an elevated, ten-foot-high plaque fashioned to look like an unfurled scroll of buffalo
hide, shown in Fig. 1.2. The initial article included a social-justice poem that monument designers, all of whom were of Native descent, had chosen for engraving onto the backside of the plaque (Linehan, March 4, 2012 Luhmann, 2012). Referred to simply as “the Balfour poem” for its lack of a title, this previously unpublished piece had been performed aloud in downtown Mankato on December 26, 1971, by Conrad Balfour, Minnesota’s Human Rights Commissioner at the time. The Balfour poem emphasizes the hypocrisy of a supposedly Christian people who would carry out a mass execution the day after Christmas, one
Fig. 1.2 Dakota 38 Monument (2012) with park bench (Source Author’s photo)
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of their holiest times of the year. Equating Mankato’s early citizen-settlers to Christ killers, the poem includes the following lines: The day before the countryside had mourned the death of Christ the Jew Then went to bed to rise again to crucify the captured Sioux There were 300 due to die, this governor clearly knew Then washed his hands of this grim affair and said “Abe Lincoln it’s up to you” When Lincoln turned to 38 the screamin’ Romans set up the yew We don’t only want 38 we want 300 wicked Siouxs.12
Within four days, a new poem had been written by Katherine Hughes, a white descendant of a former Mankato State University historian, tentatively accepted for replacement by the City Council, and reported on by the newspaper (Linehan, March 8, 2012). Early the following week, the Free Press weighed in with an “Our View” column entitled “The Goal is to Reconcile.” In this piece, the editor sought to canonize realist reconciliation by asserting the power the city derived from its ownership of park property where the monument would eventually stand: But the city park, owned and maintained by the city, is named Reconciliation Park for a reason. The park, containing the buffalo statue across from the library, is to be a place where blame and judgment about the 1862 war can be set aside while Native Americans and area residents focus on commonality and learning more about each other. (“The goal is to reconcile,” 2012)
The directive phrase “is to be” carried a powerful message to the community, namely, that the newspaper in its alignment with the authority of the City of Mankato reserved the right to define the discursive parameters within which Dakotas and whites could congregate in the park, presumably to avoid either renewed racial conflict or, perhaps worse for local officials, a cross-racial solidarity that would seek critical social justice. On the contrary, Reconciliation Park was to be a space for seemingly apolitical gathering, where “judgment,” something presented by the editor as separate from “blame” (moral judgment), would be suspended. According to this separation, “judgment” must mean something close to discernment, as in the following dictionary definition: “the mental or intellectual
process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning or comparing” (Gove, p. 1223). Understood, then, as an appropriate text to fill Mankato’s commemorative neutral zone, Hughes’s replacement poem, “Reconcile,” now engraved onto the reverse side of the monument, exudes an equality mindset that could easily say “I think there’s blame on both sides […] but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides,” as Donald Trump did in the wake of 2017’s fatal Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (Keneally, 2017). With line numbers added to facilitate analysis, the poem reads, Reconcile
1 Remember the innocent dead, 2 Both Dakota and white, 3 Victims of events they could not control.
4 Remember the guilty dead, 5 Both white and Dakota, 6 Whom reason abandoned.
7 Regret the times and attitudes 8 That brought dishonor 9 To both cultures.
10 Respect the deeds and kindnesses 11 That brought honor 12 To both cultures.
13 Hope for a future 14 When memories remain, 15 Balanced by forgiveness. (Linehan, March 8, 2012)
According to the poem, the balanced moral judgment of today, i.e., the supposed equal assigning of “innocent” and “guilty” verdicts to both sides (lines 1, 4), will hopefully give way to a new kind of “balance” in
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future (line 15), one where forgiveness has rendered notions of guilt and innocence (moral judgment) obsolete. This process will unfold by casting off today’s judgmental acts of remembering. But with the future erasure of judgment comes an obvious contradiction in what it even means to “remember” or hold “memories” (lines 4, 14). Indeed, for the future balance to be achieved, a great deal of forgetting of things known through judgment (discernment) will have to happen, for instance, that the whitesupremacist “times and attitudes / That brought dishonor” (lines 7–8) significantly contributed to the violence, or, to take it further, that white settlers’ hunger for land and their duplicitous treaty system cheated the Dakota out of their ancestral homes, as historian Roy Meyer put it in his 1962 letter quoted above. Problematically for the poem’s resolution, anything known about 1862, any facts assigned to memory were originally constructed and can only be processed today through judgment in all of its inseparable workings, including both discernment and moral reckoning (Lybeck, 2018). Setting its spiritual tone aside and reading “Reconcile” as a political text mediating white justice as fairness , this contradiction of remembering by forgetting needs to be pursued precisely because what needs to be forgotten are the unfair relations that led to the violence of the past and produced the unfair socioeconomic relations of the present, knowledge of which could lead to either renewed racial discord, as mentioned, or a cross-racial political solidarity that could pose even greater threats to the white establishment. According to the white-justice-as-fairness view, knowledge of unfair relations in 1862 and today must be temporarily suspended or cast behind what political philosopher John Rawls once called a veil of ignorance so that a sense of fair dealings, mutual respect, and civic unity may prevail. As Chapter 7 takes up in greater detail, my use of white justice as fairness as an interpretive framework involves applying a set of powerful concepts developed by Rawls (1993) in his theorizing of justice as fairness and liberal society’s social contract.13 In my readings, socially symbolic acts like “Reconcile,” or the newspaper’s declaration of a political neutral zone for the public, function as mediative transactions designed to level identities to what Rawls called the original position, that is, a normative public un-position that temporarily assumes sameness, or equally free and rational identities in order to establish a sense of fairness, mutual trust, and working together for the common good. In order for this to happen, social contingencies like race, class and wealth, gender, etc., must
be temporarily cast behind a veil of ignorance to avoid knowing things that could undermine the sense of equal footing required for illusions of fair cooperation (Rawls, 1993, pp. 14–25). Suspending such knowledge is, theoretically, needed for social and economic transactions to take place under a shared sense of trust and obligation.14 With their basic features now preliminarily sketched, Fig. 1.3 presents ways the two senses White Justice as Fairness