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A gag order on White Earth's Chairwoman on talking about reform efforts leads her to tell her side of the story.

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For Minnesota's American Indian Month, columnist and recent TEDx presenter Nick Metcalf writes about the realities of being Native in today's society.

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The Art of Resistance

Twin Cities Native community members come together for an evening of defining the Native experience through art.

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Minnesota’s tribes face threat from currency markets
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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On the beautiful North Shore, citizens of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe often keep one eye looking out over the horizon of Lake Superior and another eye on traffic coming down the shore from Canada.

The U.S. dollar is rising against most of the world’s hard currencies and widening the exchange rate gap with the Canadian dollar as well. From past experience, any imbalance in the exchange rate of currencies can distort trade volume and direction of trade flow; it can certainly influence where people go for tourism and shopping.

Eight out of 10 cars, vans and coaches parked outside the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino most days have Canadian license plates. Other hospitality industry enterprises operated by Northern Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and other border state tribes and bands are nearly as dependent on international trade as Grand Portage.

But Grand Portage may top them all, said former Minnesota Trade Office director P. Richard Bohr, recently retired from the College of St. Benedict and St. Johns University. He continues to monitor global markets while teaching in the master’s of international business (MIB) and the master’s of international development (MID) programs for St. Mary’s University graduate school in Minneapolis.

“It’s hard to image there is another Minnesota enterprise as dependent on international trade as them,” he said.

The State of Minnesota’s Indian Affairs Council notes that 80 percent of Grand Portage’s hospitality industry revenues come from Canadian visitors. The reservation at the tip of the Arrowhead Region is Cook County’s largest employer, with about 300 people holding jobs in its hospitality industry enterprises. Of them, the Council estimates 18 percent are international employees – First Nation Ojibwe from Thunder Bay – who cross the border each day from their homes in Ontario.

Dayton: Mille Lacs walleye woes require special session
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Tim Pugmire, MPR News,
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DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a special legislative session in August to consider an emergency financial aid package for resorts and other businesses in the Lake Mille Lacs area. But House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, says he thinks it may be too early to talk about bringing back the Legislature.

Dayton is concerned about the economic hit that the popular fishing destination will suffer if state officials close the walleye season early due to a dwindling fish population. He discussed the idea with Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, on July 28, and they agreed to the following week to begin planning.

No decisions have been made, but Dayton told reporters on July 29 that the state assistance could include zero interest loans, property tax abatements and additional tourism promotion. He said “time is of the essence” to address a potentially “catastrophic” situation.

“We need to get the loan program under way,” Dayton said. “The resorts up there need working capital so they can pay their employees and just keep open, especially if the walleye fishing has to be closed beginning next week.”

Before a special session area legislators, lawmakers who oversee natural resource issues and state commissioners should meet to talk about the problem and ways to respond, Daudt told MPR News.

“We’re very concerned about the situation. We want to make sure we do what’s right by these resorts. We don’t want to see them suffering because of this closing of the season early,” Daudt said. “But we also want to make sure we’re doing the right thing. And we want to look at all options.”

Dayton met on July 29 in St. Paul with Mille Lacs area officials and business owners. He plans to visit the area later in the week.


Appeals court upholds DNR decision to deny permit to bear researcher
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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A three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld a state agency's decision to keep researcher Lynn Rogers from putting radio collars on black bears.

But Rogers is claiming partial victory, saying the ruling allows him to once again place cameras in bear dens to broadcast the hibernating animals over the Internet.

Two years ago, the state Department of Natural Resources declined to renew Rogers' research permit to feed bears in Eagles Nest Township to gain their trust so he could observe their behavior. DNR officials argued that his work threatened public safety by making the bears comfortable around humans and teaching them that people can be a source of food.

At issue before the appeals court was whether Rogers needed a DNR permit to place tracking collars on bears. Rogers first applied for a research permit in 1999, and the DNR granted him one.

In the court's ruling, Judge John Rodenberg concluded that "feeding a bear and habituating it in order to keep it in one place while a radio collar is affixed to it" amounts to legal "possession" of the bear, which under Minnesota law requires a permit.

DNR Communications Director Chris Niskanen said the agency is "very satisfied" with the court's decision. It "confirms the agency's belief that it's the responsible agency for permitting wildlife research, and managing wildlife populations," he said.

But Rogers also praised the ruling, which stated that he does not need a DNR permit to place cameras in bear dens while they are hibernating.

"I am just thrilled that the judges saw the value of the den cams, and gave me the right to broadcast them to the world again this winter," he said.

Rogers conceded that it would be more difficult to find active bear dens without the use of radio tracking collars. But he said he already knew the locations of many dens, which bears often reuse.


Federal officials reject threatened status for wolves
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on June 30 rejected a petition to classify the gray wolf as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

In most states, wolves are listed as endangered and can only be killed for threatening a human life. But in Minnesota, where there are about 2,400 wolves, they are listed as threatened, and federal trappers can kill wolves within a half mile of a verified attack on pets or livestock.

In 2012, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections for the wolf in the Great Lakes region. But in December a judge reversed that decision.

When proposals emerged in Congress to remove wolves from endangered species protection altogether, the Humane Society of the United States asked the federal government to classify wolves everywhere as threatened.

The group called that a compromise between the more restrictive endangered listing for wolves and removing wolves from that list.

"This is something that we think you could extend throughout the country," said Ralph Henry, a Humane Society attorney. "It would alleviate a lot of the pressure that we're seeing, especially in the most populated areas like Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin."

The Fish and Wildlife Service said the petitioners didn't demonstrate that reclassifying the wolf was warranted.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR’s statewide radio network or online at www.mprnews.org.

Confronting Calhoun: a bike ride meets the living legacy of white supremacy
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Junauda Petrus, TC Daily Planet,
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confronting calhoun 1.jpgIndependence Day 2015. We were Indigenous, Eritrian, Nigerian, Korean, Sudanese, Black-American, White, Puerto-Rican, Columbian, parents, dancers, teachers, artists, queer, avid cyclists, borrowing bicycles for the day, babies riding in the bicycle chariot of a parent.

And we were Minnesotans. We believed that the beautiful waters previously known by the Dakota of this land as Mde Maka Ska should no longer honor John C. Calhoun. This charmer enslaved Black people and fought to protect enslavement in the south. We were riding to change the name and we were beautiful, unexpected, and powerful.

Jeremy Little is the director of the Minnesota Black Riders Association. He is a dynamic young man in love with bicycling and the community. Little reached out to me and other activists and artists to help him organize a “Freedom Ride” on the 4th of July to Lake Calhoun in order to bring attention to this issue. We also had a culminating community BBQ.

We didn’t have much time to plan but once we got the ball rolling, the support and interest was amazing! We had beautiful bicycle caravans hailing from north and south Minneapolis as well as St. Paul. Volunteers were ready with food at Lake Calhoun for hungry riders and games for children. We wanted it to not only be revolutionary, but celebratory and joyful.

After we sang a protest song together, an older white man who approached the crowd and told us to “get over it,” that “George Washington owned slaves,” “those were the times” and all sorts of other white supremacist brainwashing that is used to justify naming public places for celebrated murderers, rapists, and enslavers.

“It shouldn’t surprise us that white supremacy has arrived to rear its ugly head,” said with elegance and earned wisdom by Nekima Levy-Pounds, Minneapolis NAACP president, activist and lawyer to the diverse group of peaceful and joyful bicyclists enjoying the day as we were interrupted by the irate and hateful bystander.


A Goldilocks show at Bockley Gallery: Not too big, not too small
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Mason Riddle, TC Daily Planet,
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a goldilocks show at bockley gallery-denomie 1.jpgSince opening his first gallery in the Minneapolis warehouse district’s Wyman Building in September 1984, dealer Todd Bockley has carved out an idiosyncratic and activist vision for art in the Twin Cities, one that is recognized not only by the local cultural complex, but also far beyond. His unique and personal purview on what art needs to see the light of day includes that by a dozen Native American artists, both living and dead, whose work finds consort with that of an equal number of other artists, a broad-based cache of work that is largely defined by a distinctive narrative stance or tinged with an untrained artist sensibility.

Consequently, Bockley Gallery’s summer offering “Artists Singular: A Group Show” in his modest storefront space on the west side of Lake of the Isles, is more anticipated than unexpected. With eight works (really nine) by eight artists, “Singular” follows the art world tradition of summer shows being group shows that adhere to the Goldilocks principle — not too big, not too small, but just right. As such, “Singular” is a spirited mix of mostly untitled work both stylistically figurative and abstract, by Bruce Anderson, Frank Big Bear, Jim Denomie, George Morrison, Norval Morrisseau, Dietrich Sieling, Elizabeth Simonson and John Snyder.

Sieling’s work just keeps getting better in his provocative synthesis of figurative form and abstract space. Working with marker on board, the artist has concocted an oblique narrative that is rooted in a personal karaoke experience, one that is riveting to observe. Multicolored abstract shapes, suggesting a disco ball’s reflected patterns of light, hover above, on and through mysterious figures in a spatially flat composition that is remarkable in its complexity.

Jim Denomie’s untitled ink on paper drawing is a departure from his typically color-laden work. Combining Indian symbols and traditions with those of contemporary American culture as he typically does, Denomie’s bawdy narrative references the Wizard of Oz acted out by a rough-around-the-edges Kabala of creatures and characters. Unexpectedly there is a visual clarity to the work – which is not to suggest the narrative is easily understood – in its straightforward graphic presentation, a quality that not always defines his more vividly hued works.

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