Students hope to spark apology to Amerindians

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Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

An old saying, it came to mind as University of Minnesota lecturer Carter Meland talked to me about a thought-provoking video project of the 60 students in his introductory “American Indians in Minnesota” class.

Maybe the documentary they premier May 1 will in the end be little more than a classroom exercise. Or, maybe it will spark some kind of official, mighty-oak apology from the state of Minnesota.

At any rate, the exercise has already jump-started discussion among students about the tumultuous history of Indians in Minnesota, from their treatment after the bloody Dakota Conflict, to boarding schools for Indian children where they were often forbidden to speak their native language and many say stripped of their culture, to tribal land ownership issues.

Students earning required social justice and diversity credits are producing the 60-minute video that also explores a possible apology for what Meland calls “colonist policy and practices,’’ as well as reparations to the state’s Dakota and Ojibwe people, Meland explains. The public is invited to the premier, as well as Gov. Mark Dayton and University president Eric Kaler, though both are unable to attend. Find details at story’s end....

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