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Black Snake-Enbridge Returns, Tribes Take Action
Wednesday, February 08 2017
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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As Enbridge unrolls it’s plans for Line 3 and the beginning of the largest web of tar sands pipelines in the world, tribal leaders and communities are challenging both the long term and expired leases of the corporation, and the need for new lines.
Line 3, the heart of Enbridge’s profit plan, would bring 760,000 barrels of oil down the same pipeline as the ill fated Sandpiper, last year’s now defeated Enbridge Line. Tribal environmental  hearings are being held in February in Cass Lake, Bena and Ball Club, and 60-year-old pipelines are being questioned for safety.

The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s (comprised of six Ojibwe member bands in Minnesota) Cumulative Impact Assessment process will provide tribal governments, harvesters and members the opportunity to discuss the full impacts of the proposed pipelines.

The Bad River Tribal Council passed a formal resolution January 4th that established the Tribe’s decision not to renew its easement for rights-of-way of Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 crude oil, 64-year-old pipeline through the Bad River Reservation. Furthermore, it calls for the decommissioning and removal of the pipeline from all Bad River lands and watershed.

“As many other communities have experienced, even a minor spill could prove to be disastrous for our people. We depend upon everything that the Creator put here before us to live mino-bimaadiziwin, a good and healthy life,” said Bad River Tribal Chairman Robert Blanchard. He said on the Tribal Council’s decision, “We will work with our native and non-native communities to make sure that Line 5 does not threaten rights of people living in our region, and we will reach out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how to remove Line 5. And we will work with the same communities and officials to continue developing a sustainable economy that doesn’t marginalize indigenous people.”

The Band has directed Tribal staff to begin planning for the Line 5 removal project development and the environmental issues and hazards that exist with removal of old pipelines, including hazards response and health study, pipeline contents recycling and disposal, and surface restoration.

“These environmental threats not only threaten our health, but they threaten our very way of life as Anishinaabe. We all need to be thinking of our future generations and what we leave behind for them,” said Tribal Council Member Dylan Jennings
The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe is beginning tribal hearings on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 plan. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, 1855 Treaty Authority and tribal governments have deemed it necessary to conduct their own environmental hearings, after the state of Minnesota dismissed tribal concerns and jurisdiction in the previous hearing process. This includes the abandonment of Line 3 in place, and would set a precedent for the abandonment of the five other pipelines in the same Highway 2 Corridor.  

Native Women in MN Legislature
Wednesday, February 08 2017
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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nativewomeninlegislature.jpgNative American women doubled their presence in the Minnesota Legislature’s House of Representatives this January, but it may be far too soon to declare that the “glass ceiling” holding back women has been shattered.

With the election of Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn and Mary Kunesh-Podein from suburban Twin Cities house districts, the number of Native women has increased to four.

This apparent accomplishment occurred as Minnesota voters actually reduced the number of women serving in both houses of the Legislature by four, from 68 in the previous two sessions to 64 for this term.

Meanwhile, Rep. Peggy Flanagan, who won a special election in 2015 and was reelected to a full term this past November, told The Circle she will seek U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s seat in Congress if the Minneapolis congressman is chosen chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Ellison has said he will resign his congressional seat if elected Feb. 25 to the contested DNC post. The Minnesota Fifth Congressional District includes Minneapolis, Edina, Richfield, Crystal, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Fridley and Flanagan’s home city of St. Louis Park.

Flanagan (White Earth Ojibwe), Kunesh-Podein (Standing Rock Lakota), and Becker-Finn (Leech Lake Ojibwe), now make a Native American caucus in the Minnesota House with their pacesetter, Rep. Susan Allen (Rosebud Lakota), the Minneapolis lawyer and lawmaker first elected in 2012. All four are Democratic-Farmer-Labor party lawmakers.

“There is still much work to do,” said Allen, while acknowledging that the gains by Native women in the past election does signal greater acceptance of Natives and women in general for leadership roles.

Their collective successes at the polls coincides with Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Anne McKeig’s appointment to the high court in August 2016.  McKeig, of White Earth Ojibwe descent, is the first Native American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court and is believed to be the first Native woman to serve on any state’s highest court.

Both Allen and Flanagan said Gov. Mark Dayton deserves credit for advancing women’s opportunities. He appointed McKeig, who had earlier been appointed to a Hennepin County state district court judge by former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2008.

Enbridge Round Two with Tanks?
Monday, January 09 2017
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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nodaplcops.jpgTribal unity is a lesson from Standing Rock. Thousands of people joined with the Lakota Nation to oppose the Dakota Access (AKA Dakota Excess Pipeline). That unity is spilling over into the Great lakes. Anishinaabe tribal governments and people put our bodies on the line, and not only sent flags and representatives, money, food, and wood (Menominee sent a semi load of wood at least), but political unity and commitment. In that, it would seem, we committed to follow the leadership of the people of Sitting Bull, and put our minds together. In mid December, the Enbridge Company found out that the lessons of Standing Rock were well learned by our people, but apparently the company was not taking notes.

While Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau approved permits for Enbridge’s largest project, a 760,000 barrel per day Line 3 tar sands pipeline, things on the ground were different. That pipeline is proposed for the same corridor as the Sandpiper, and also entails the beginning of abandonment of five or six 50-year-old pipelines down the Highway 2 corridor.

The Bad River Tribe in mid December announced it would not approve a continued easement for Enbridge across their reservation, and tribal members in Bemidji were threatened with arrest for asking corporate accountability questions. It turns out, the Canadian Premier can give a project a nod, but the Anishinaabeg have not.   Enbridge with the Minnesota Department of Commerce are proceeding in the environmental impact statement for the proposed Line 3 new corridor (the same corridor as the Sandpiper), as if nothing has happened.

The Ojibwe have long memories, and it turns out, can even remember November 20th, that fateful night on Backwater Bridge.
A December 13th landowner informational meeting in Bemidji was primarily aimed at white landowners and county commissioners. When Thomas Barrett (aka Thomas X) learned of the meeting, he shared the information widely, and Enbridge representatives found themselves in a room of 100 plus concerned landowners, many from Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth.  Asking a question in this forum, lead the Bemidji police and a security guard to ask me to leave.  The question was, “As one third owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, is Enbridge responsible for the injuries to our people?”  That’s enough to get you kicked out of a room, it seems.

Wondering where to go? Follow Adobe DeSigns’ lead
Monday, January 09 2017
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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adobedesigns.jpgIf you’ve wandered through the newer sports and entertainment venues in the Twin Cities, or parked in recently built business and educational parking ramps, you will find helpful signs pointing the way to seats, elevators, restrooms, or where you left your car.
It is easy to take this signage for granted. But showing you where to go is becoming a bustling business for Adobe DeSigns LLC, a Minneapolis enterprise owned by two Native American women.

Vivian Guerra, the chief executive officer, and Lisa Owen, the controller, started Adobe DeSigns in 2014 to provide signage for building projects, either alone on modernization projects or as a subcontractor with general contractor partners on major, new construction.
Some companies and institutions might contact the company directly for a project, Guerra said. More often, she added, Adobe DeSigns serves as a subcontractor for a major general construction company and often as “a third tier” supplier hired by a subcontractor to do the signage.

On a visit to their South Minneapolis offices and shop in December, Guerra and Owen paused during an interview to meet with an architect regarding replacement signage being installed in the Target Center that is home to the Timberwolves and Lynx.
This comes after their company did design, manufacturing and installment work on signage for the new Vikings stadium – US Bank Stadium – also in Minneapolis, CHS Field where the St. Paul Saints play baseball in St. Paul, and at major parking ramps throughout the Twin Cities and Duluth.

Other major projects over the past two years include signage for the Brooklyn Park Library, a part of the Hennepin County Library system; Metropolitan State University facilities; various elementary and preschool (Seward Montessori) educational facilities, medical facilities and parking ramps, and Little Earth exterior signage.

Three of Adobe DeSigns’ seven current employees are working at Grand Portage Lodge & Casino’s remodeling project undertaken by the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Owen said.
Four more employees work out of the South Minneapolis home base; most are Native American tribal members or descendants. “We are serious about minority hiring because that’s who we are and because (most) everything we do is going to require OJT (on-the-job-training),” Guerra said.

A walk through of the production facilities explains why. The various signage products combine a wealth of sciences and arts including chemistry, physics, metallurgy, graphic arts, engineering design and public policy/political science about laws affecting signage.
While experts are abundant in all those fields, they don’t usually come equipped across the spectrum. They may not have the manual dexterity to manufacture the standard letters, exposed neon, backlit, vinyl, sandblasted, painted, pylon, digital signs and letters for both interior and exterior signage that the company makes.

NoDAPL: The Beginning is Near
Tuesday, December 06 2016
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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nodapl-wall.jpgStanding Rock is an unpredicted history lesson for all of us. More than any moment I recall since Wounded Knee, the Vietnam War, or the time of Martin Luther King, this moment stands as a crossroads in the battle for social justice. It is also an economic issue, in a time of economic system transformation, and profoundly a question of the future of this land. The world is watching.  

As the US Army Corps of Engineers issues a December 5 eviction notice for thousands of people gathered on the banks of the Missouri River, we face our truth. Those people at the Oceti Sakowin and Red Warrior Camps, along with the 550 people who have been arrested so far, are really the only thing standing between a river and a corporation that wants to pollute it. That we know, because absent any legal protections, and with a regulatory system hijacked by oil interests and a federal government in crisis, the people and the river remain the only clear and sentient beings.  

In short, this is a moment of extreme corporate rights and extreme racism confronted by courage, prayers, and resolve. This moment has been coming. The violence and the economics of a failing industry will indeed unravel, and this is the beginning.  

The Deep North
North Dakota did not become Alabama – or the Deep North, as it is now called – overnight.   Native people in North Dakota have been treated poorly for more than a hundred years, whether by the damming of the Missouri and the flooding of millions of acres of tribal land, or by poverty and incarceration, North Dakota is a place of systemic and entrenched racism.

Two of the poorest counties in the country are on Standing Rock, Native people comprise almost a fourth of the people in prison, Native suicide rates are ten times that of North Dakotans, infrastructure (like the fifty year old hospital with four doctors for 8000 people, and a now blocked Highway l806, without a shoulder) is at an all time low, and people freeze to death and overdose in the shadow of the Bakken Oil fields. That’s the first layer of abuse, aside from the day to day racism, emboldened by Morton County and the incoming Trump government. It is visible for the world to see now.

Indian Country moves closer to the sun; takes Saga Solar with it
Tuesday, December 06 2016
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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Northern Minnesota’s Indian Country is reaching out to the sun for clean energy and is finding innovative ways to get it.

In the most recent development, upstart photovoltaic solar panel manufacturer Saga Solar SBC will move from St. Paul to Cass Lake in the second week of December to become the first indigenous-owned manufacturer of the 21st Century technology products on tribal land. Saga Solar was founded in St. Paul about a year ago by R. Marie Zola, a Minnesota solar energy leader of Cherokee descent.

Aki Development LLC, a newly formed company based at Cass Lake, acquired a 60 percent controlling interest in Saga Solar in September. It is one of three ventures for Aki, a Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe chartered corporation that is not tribally owned. One of the other startup businesses it is launching will construct housing. The third business is a new “green” industry venture, like Saga Solar, and will have a factory where employees assemble and test LED street lights.

Mike Myers, founder and chief executive officer at Aki Development, said the green companies could have as many as 24 employees within the next year. The LED light factory – LED is short for “light emitting diodes” lights – will have eight employees at the start of the coming year. Twenty jobs in the two businesses will be in manufacturing with pay starting at $12.80 per hour. Four additional jobs in marketing will be created along the way.

Aki Development recently received a $29,000 job-training grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to train employees for both businesses through the Leech Lake Tribal College at Cass Lake.

These developments further Northern Minnesota Ojibwe commitments to green, or environmentally effective and sustainable enterprises. In August, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa opened a 1-megawatt solar farm projected to light 150 homes and 10 percent of the band’s electric power needs for its Black Bear Casino. While doing so, it is also projected to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-generated plants by 2.6 million pounds annually.

Earlier this past year, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa entered agreements with construction and engineering companies for an even larger solar farming project from rooftops of its largest buildings. Design plans call for 15-megawatts, or equal to 15 million watts, harvested by solar panels that should light the tribe’s three casinos, government buildings and the tribal college. The first phase to power tribal buildings is anticipated to save the tribe $2 million a year in energy costs.

Red Lake Band Chairman Darrell G. Seki Sr. said the goal over the next five years is to generate enough solar power on tribal land to meet the electricity needs for every home on the Red Lake.
Solar and wind generation both reduce harmful carbon emissions that come from fossil fuel burning power plants. LED lighting, meanwhile, is more energy efficient than compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and the incandescent light bulbs in homes and offices.

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