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The Progress

The Progress (White Earth, Minn.) 1886-1889 Browse the title

After the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, agreements between the federal government and the Mississippi bands of the Chippewa (Ojibwe) united the scattered bands onto a reservation in central Minnesota. Encompassing lands in Becker, Clearwater, and Mahnomen counties, the White Earth Reservation was established by treaty in 1867. On March 25, 1886, the first Minnesota newspaper published on a reservation by its members appeared under the title the White Earth Progress. A weekly, four-page, English language paper, it advocated for the political interests of members of the reservation.

Although the first American Indian newspaper in Minnesota–the Saint Paul Dakota Tawaxitku kin, or, The Dakota Friend–dated back to 1850, the Progress was no less significant due to the revolutionary vision of its publisher and its editor, Gus H. Beaulieu and Theodore Beaulieu, respectively. After its debut, the next issue of the Progress appeared on October 8, 1887. The gap in publication stemmed from the seizure of the press after the publisher was ordered off the reservation by the local Indian agent, Timothy J. Sheehan. After a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., decided that distributing the paper was a "lawful occupation" without the need for "surveillance and restrictions," the Progress resumed publication. Re-energized, the Beaulieus continued to challenge the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the local Indian agent. The paper analyzed the full text of the Dawes General Allotment Act of 1887 in both the October 29, 1887, and July 6, 1889 issues and published scathing front-page editorials such as "Is It an Indian Bureau?" on June 9, 1888. Another interesting series of articles appeared between December 17, 1887, and May 12, 1888, and was titled "The Ojibwas, Their Customs and Traditions: As Handed Down for Centuries, From Father to Son, etc., etc.," which is dedicated to local history and folklore.

The phrase "A Higher Civilization: The Maintenance of Law and Order" was printed on every front page of the paper, announcing the Progress’s radical political views and its dedication to improving the life of the people on the White Earth Indian reservation. In its final issue of July 13, 1889, the newspaper explained that it had to suspend publication while negotiations about the allotment of tribal lands were taking place between the U.S. commission and the tribal council. In 1903, the Beaulieus re-introduced their paper as the White Earth Tomahawk.

Sources

Vizenor, Gerald Robert. A Brief Historical Study and General Content Description of a Newspaper Published on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Becker County, Minnesota. University of Minnesota Graduate Paper (M.A.), 1965.

Vizenor, Gerald Robert, ed. Escorts to White Earth, 1868-1968: 100 Year Reservation. Minneapolis, MN: The Four Winds, 1968.

The White Earth Reservation Curriculum Committee. White Earth: A History. Cass Lake, MN: The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, 1989.