Local Briefs
Year of the Blood-fest
Monday, January 09 2017
Written by Ricey Wild,
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Wow. Just wow. This past year has been quite the blood-fest, ennit?  I am soooo looking forward to this New Year. 2016 was like running with the bulls in Pamplona in a packaging bubble suit and still getting gored. On a positive note I was enlightened to peculiar peoples’ true nature by their exposing themselves as thieves, liars, betrayers and just general ickiness. For that, I am grateful.

Now that they are not in the way of my progress, what oh what shall I do? My goal is to continue to fight the good fight in the gory face of Trumpism. I became complacent in many ways because I was under the soft blanket of President Obama. I thought that if he could make it there, the rest of us could make it everywhere.

The truth? Not so. There is no post-racist society in the U.S. just because a black man was elected president. In my opinion we created a path for a disgusting megalomaniac to become elected POTUS. The ugly, dark underbelly of white supremacy was fermenting for the past eight years in response to Obama and has now exploded like a meth lab. Now we have to adorn ourselves with haz-mat suits and begin the cleanup for our children’s sake.

I have to take responsibility for my granddaughter’s environment, in all aspects, so they can thrive and raise their children in a clean, forward-seeing world. I was traumatized by the election and still am. However, it has motivated me (in my mind anyway) to activism and a hope for the future. Hope? Really? YES.

This is the time when we scattered people evolve into a powerful BEING that cannot be stopped even in the face of oppression, downright evil and all the ‘isms’ you can name. We have more power than we can conceive and with it, do or undo all the hateful crimes against humanity.

Seriously. I mean what I say and say what I mean. There is an entire world out there that we don’t think has anything to do with us going about our daily lives that someone hasn’t suffered to make our clothing. And that’s just one thing. I wonder who made my “HELLO KITTY” slippers I’m wearing right now. They’re so cute. I  speculate who actually made them and how much they were paid to do so.
I’m just pouring out my heart here. I do want to add to the previous December 2016 column where I wrote a much abbreviated history of world events. I’ve admitted before I’m a news junkie and even been called out as a Liberal ‘Wonk’. Whoa.

So the western Europeans slash and crash into homelands other than their own; set up shop by force of weapons and let the natives serve them tea. Some Whites return to their native land and bring the brown ones who served them. Meanwhile, the brown slaves save money to bring their families to them. Aha!

The so-called immigration crisis is a farce. Here we have a whole lotta Brown/Black People living in their respective communities. Along comes invaders and they enslave and corrode their culture. Being left with nothing, the natives want a better life for their children so they emigrate to the colonists’ lands. They open restaurants, shops that cater to their community and don’t bother anyone except their former invaders who deeply resent their presence. I don’t say ‘conquerors’ because THEY never have done so. Beaten us down to where we don’t exist. We have more than survived, WE ARE STILL HERE!!!

The Best of the Best.
What I’m tryna get across here is what did the Europeans think was gonna happen when they turned everything upside down? They raped and exploited human beings for profit and now those same people are seeking refuge from the war-torn countries the aggressors made uninhabitable. I ask, what would you do?

I pray every day for this gorgeous, plentiful little planet we live on and for humanity, too. I even pray that the most hardened, hateful white supremacist to get a real life. Ya’ll have something better to do I think. Not all brown people want to pro-create with yooz so that’s not an issue. We don’t have an agenda to breed yooz out of existence, so what now? What is so threatening that yooz use your political power and gross lies to demonize we equal human beings?

Ya’ll ain’t getting away with nothing on my shift. JS.

It’s like my Unk Gene always used to say, “Call it out for what it is!”

My big plans for this New Year are getting Lenny Kravitz Shotley de-balled. He’s a kitten and I haven’t tole my Gram I have him becuz she won’t even let me have a Panda Bear. Sheez. 

Bad Hunter: The Inner Thinkings of the Rare Native Vegan
Monday, January 09 2017
Written by Maggie Lorenz,
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In March of last year I made a decision that had been a long time coming and has changed the course of my life. It’s something that I avoided doing for a long time because it threatened my sense of identity as a Dakota woman – it set me apart from some of our deepest and longest held traditions. But typical to my personality, I did it because I want to have my (vegan) cake and eat it, too. In March, I became an Indigenous Vegan. A Bad Hunter. Like a unicorn, I became something people didn’t think existed in real life.

Why? Is it because I didn’t grow up with my ways? Is it because I am half white? Is it because I have some class privilege that allows me to be super picky with my food? I mean, maybe. Maybe those things have something to do with it. I yam what I yam (and yams are a great vegan food). But the thing is, as I think about our beautiful traditions and teachings, I don’t see being vegan as blasphemous to our culture, and I’ll tell you why.

Most people choose to go vegan for one of three reasons: environment, ethics, and health. My reasons for being vegan are in this exact order. Being a typical Indian woman, I put everyone else before me. Like our incredible Water Protectors holding ground at Standing Rock, you can be sure they aren’t there for themselves. They are there for their kids, their people, the millions of people downriver, the generations to come, and the plants and animals that also depend on a clean river system. As Indian people, our circle of compassion has always included non-humans– the four legged, winged, finned, the plants, water, earth and sky. It is in adhering to this tradition that being vegan makes sense as a Dakota woman.

Right now, animal agriculture is responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s right. More than half! It dwarfs the entire transportation system’s 13% impact with a staggering 51% of emissions being a direct result of raising animals for food. As a vegan, you can literally cut your carbon footprint in half. If you want to save this planet for future generations, reducing your shower time just ain’t gonna cut it.

For example, to produce one hamburger, 660 gallons of clean water was used in the process. That’s the same as showering for 2 months. For everyone’s sake, take your showers and just skip the burger. And think about this: the waste from a mid-size diary operation creates as much annual waste as a city of over 400,000 people. And here I am rinsing out my dairy milk jug to recycle it because I care about waste. It just wasn’t adding up. I knew the environmental impact was incredible, but if I went vegan, I’d be THAT lady. I did NOT want to be THAT lady.

Talking about the environmental impact of animal agriculture has gone over pretty well with non-vegans, but nothing shuts down a conversation quite like bringing up the ethical implications of eating animals. Stick with me here, I promise not to be THAT lady. But here’s the thing I have come to realize. The way our meat gets to our dinner plate today is nothing like the process our ancestors used. On a basic level, we all know this. Most of us urban, and even rez Indian’s aren’t out there hunting our own free roaming buffalo, elk, deer, and rabbits (although some of us do). But let’s face it, even if we do eat wild hunted game, for most of us, it’s not where most of our meat comes from.

So let’s think about that for a second. And I should say, I am not one of those vegans who think that killing is immoral. I am not vegan because I believe killing animals is inherently wrong. This kinda ticks off a lot of other vegans, and sometimes they tell me that this belief means I am not really vegan. Even so, there are societies of people who still survive by hunting and gathering and I don’t find any ethical problems with that. I don’t find any ethical problems with the fact that our ancestors were a hunter-gatherer society. Some vegans even think it’s a problem that lions eat zebras. Well, I don’t. So, if I don’t find killing animals to be ethically problematic, then what is the problem?

I strongly believe that if you don’t have to take a life, you shouldn’t. This belief is in line with our Dakota ways. For example, the highest honor one could receive in battle was counting coup on your enemy, not taking their life. Obviously our ancestors ate animals to survive. They used the furs and skins, bones and teeth, flesh and organs. Nothing went to waste. The animals we depended on for survival were honored and revered. Fast forward a couple hundred years, and we don’t have to eat animals to survive. We don’t need meat to get protein and iron. We don’t have to drink milk for calcium and vitamin D. We have fully stocked grocery stores year round, and black beans are a beast of protein. We don’t need the skins of other animals to stay warm and sheltered. We don’t need horses and dogs to do our work for us, that’s what that old pick up truck is for. So, there is the problem of taking a life when it’s unnecessary for our survival.

But wait, there’s more. Once you allow yourself to see the reality of life for these animals on Factory Farms, and what kind of death they meet at the slaughterhouse, you can’t un-know that reality. They are treated as mere units of production, not the living, breathing, feeling creatures that they are. No honor, no reverence. These animals are treated worse than dirt. The complete lack of regard for their lives is so far out of line with our teachings of respect, compassion, humility – but the industry is good at hiding what happens in those big, stinking, windowless animal warehouses. Hate me for it, but I am here to remind you of what happens in there. Because as Indian people, we know more than anyone what it feels like to be voiceless and treated as if your life doesn’t matter.

Finally, let’s get selfish and think about our own health. Did you know that milk and hamburgers are responsible for more than 30% of all breast cancer cases? (Research Bovine Leukemia Virus and breast cancer). Did you know that milk actually leaches calcium from your bones, which is why America consumes the most dairy and yet, has the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world. Did you know that quinoa and wild rice are complete proteins? Did you know that three out of the four leading causes of death are related to diet, and that a plant based diet can prevent and in many cases, reverse, those diseases? Did you know there is plenty of evidence that a plant-based diet can reverse type 2 diabetes? 

I forced this diet on my husband because I don’t want to see him suffer. I want to grow old together. I am forcing it on my kids too, because I love them and want them to be healthy and happy. Did you know that the hormones in meat and dairy are linked to early onset puberty, childhood cancer, and an array of developmental problems? Don’t take my word for any of this, do your own research. All the information is out there.

First thing: Get educated. Got Netflix? You can start by watching Cowspiracy, a documentary about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. Or Forks Over Knives, which delves into the health benefits of a plant-based diet. If you want to know what’s happening to the animals on Factory Farms, you can check out Earthlings on YouTube, but be warned, it has been called “The Vegan Maker” because it’s really hard to watch and continue eating animals. Another YouTube channel that provides short videos with great info on all areas of veganism is Bite Size Vegan, or you could check out the health related videos by Dr. Greger from

Second thing: Get cooking. Need some vegan recipes? Try or I get most my recipes from those two websites. Or you could just friend me on FaceBook, because I am always posting recipes. Just google “Vegan Recipe for _________” and you’ll see that being vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your favorite foods.

So here’s the thing. I’m vegan, and I think you should join the club. But if you aren’t ready for that leap, do what I did for years before taking the plunge. Take steps. First thing I did was cut out dairy. Most Indian’s are lactose intolerant, so giving it up will save you from some GI distress, and save your family from your cheese farts.

After that, you might want to cut down on how often you eat meat, or maybe you start only buying grass-fed, organic, or free range meat and eggs from a local farmer. Maybe you cut out eating eggs and chicken because you love birds and want to start there. But I am asking you to start making changes towards a plant-based diet because it is the ONLY sustainable option to feed the 7+ billion people on this planet.

The world has changed so much in the last two hundred years it is barely recognizable. Indigenous cultures, however, are slow to change, but they can and do when it makes sense to do so. Women never used to sundance or wipe down in sweat, but circumstances changed, and with that, we changed our traditions. So too, have the circumstances changed with our population, food, and health. With those changes, we have to consider what is the best thing we can do to for the Oyate, Unci Maka, and Seven Generations.

January Calendar
Monday, January 09 2017
Written by The Circle,
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Thru Jan. 20
On Fertile Ground

Celebrate the wealth and diversity of contemporary Native artists from the upper Midwet region. On Fertile Ground is the third and final segemnnt of this regional exhibition and providers comprehensive overview of 45 artists from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Features work from: Cannupa Hansak Luger, Dyani White Hawk, Gwen Western, Andrea Carlson, Jeffrey Chapman, James Autio, Chholing Taha, Dwayne Wilcox, Keith Brave Heart, and more. All My Relations Arts, 1414 East Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For info, call 612-235-4969 or see:
• Jan. 20: Artists Talking Circle: from 6 - 8 pm. Hosted by Dyani White Hawk and a variety of exhibited artists featuring the debut of the On Fertile Ground 2014 - 2016 catalogue.

Thru Jan. 27
Mazinaakizige Exhibition: POWER(FULL)

Two Rivers Gallery and the Minnesota Historical Society present Mazinaakizige: American Indian Teen Photography Project. This exhibition brings together six young American Indian artists to develop their photography skills in a guided, supportive, and culturally sensitive environment. The artists will be showing a selection of photographs that empowers their indigenous identity by focusing around the theme “Power(full)”. Artists include: Nolan Berglund, Amoreina Espinosa, Joe Ettawageshik, Shaw Handley, Marco Hunt and Angel Swann. Two Rivers Gallery, MAIC, 1530 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 10 am - 4 pm. For info, call 612-871-4555 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Thru Feb. 4
Dimensions of Indigenous & Cultural Identity Politics

Featuring work by Gordon Coons (Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe) and Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra (Xinka-Lenca, El Salvador). The impacts of colonization can still be felt today in our communities, manifesting in different but similarly meaningful ways for Indigenous Peoples living in the Midwest. The tension, distrust, and trauma from generations of relocation, cultural appropriation, assimilation and genocide make unity difficult for those who have survived. As Dimensions of Indigenous seeks to unite Indigenous people of the four directions and as tension around immigration and who can claim to be Indigenous make it difficult, in a stripped down version of the exhibition curators Gordon Coons and Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra explore dimensions of Indigeneity through an intimate view of their practice. In conversation with one another, their installation work explores Indigenous cultural identity politics through the modern expression of color and paper cuttings. Curated by Electric Machete Studios. Sliding scale; $3-10 per person suggested. Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave South, Minneapolis. For more info, see:

Jan. 7
Corn Husk Dolls

Learn how to make a corn husk doll to take home. Corn husk dolls are made out of the outer covering of an ear of corn. Allow an hour to make the craft. Recommended for ages 8 and up. 1:00 - 3:00 pm. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Cost: $6/kit, museum admission not included. Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, 43411 Oodena Dr., Onamia, MN. For info, contact 320-532-3632.

Jan. 7
Story Time

Enjoy a story time exploring American Indian tales. All ages welcome; light snacks will be available. Noon - 1:00 pm. Free, museum admission not included.Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, 43411 Oodena Dr., Onamia, MN. For info, contact 320-532-3632 or mil This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Jan. 7-8
Ojibwe Mitten Workshop

Learn techniques of leather working to make a pair of Ojibwe style mittens to take home.  A light lunch and refreshments will be provided both days. The workshop is scheduled from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.  Cost is $65 for the public and $60 for Minnesota Historical Society Members and Mille Lacs Band Members, there is also a $40 supply fee. A minimum of five participants is required. Children under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Registration is required three days prior to workshop. Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, 43411 Oodena Dr, Onamia, MN. For info, see website at or call 320-532-3632.

Jan. 9 - Feb. 1
Tradition Not Addiction

Come and learn about traditional tobacco and the truth about commercial tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Now recruiting youth ages 12-18. Starting: Jan 9, through Feb 1, Mondays-Wednesdays from: 4:30-7:30 pm. All Nations Indian Church, 1515 E. 23rd St., Minneapolis. Stipend: $120.00 gift card. Must attend all 4 days. For info, contact: Suzanne Nash at 722-6248 or Curtis Kirby @ 428-7692.

Jan. 11, 18, 25
AIOIC services

American Indian OIC-Employment Services offers employment and short-term job training assistance. Information sessions are held on Wednesdays at 9:00 am. For info, see or call 612-341-3358. American Indian O.I.C. & TAKODA Institute, 1845 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN.

Jan. 13
American Indian Magnet School Powwow

The American Indian Magnet School’s traditional powwow will be held from 6 to 7 pm at 1075 3rd St East, St. Paul, MN. Cost: Free. For more info, call 651-293-5191.

Jan. 14
Gichi Manidoo Giizis Powwow

The Gichi Manidoo Giizis traditional Powwow will be held at Black Fear Casino Resort, Otter Creek Event Center, 1785 Highway 210, Carlton, MN. MC: Les Gibbs. AD: Dan Houle. Host Drum: Cedar Creek. Free Admission. For more info, contact Nikki Crowe at 218-878-7148.

Jan. 16 (deadline)
Call for artists of color

Northern is accepting proposals for all-night projects in any medium for Northern Spark 2017 Climate Chaos|Climate Rising. For artists of color and indigenous artists who have a cultural connection to the following communities: Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood (West Bank Station), Little Africa District (Snelling Station), and Little Mekong District (Western Station). The festival will be held in neighborhoods along the Light Rail Green Line spanning Downtown Minneapolis and Lowertown Saint Paul. This call is for individual artists of color and indigenous artists. Artists living anywhere are eligible to participate. Artists may submit proposals with budgets at the $1,000, 3,000 or 6,000 level. Deadline is Jan. 16th, 2017 at 9 pm CST. For more information, see:

Jan. 21-22
Beading 101 2-Day Workshop

Learn basic beading styles and techniques by creating a project, like a necklace or bracelet, to take home in this two-day workshop. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided both days. The workshop runs: Saturday: Noon-4 pm and Sunday: 10 am-2 pm. A minimum of five participants is required. Children under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Registration is required three days prior to workshop. Cost: $60/$55 MNHS and Mille Lacs Band members, plus $25 supply fee. Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, 43411 Oodena Dr., Onamia, MN. For info, contact 320-532-3632 or mil This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Jan. 25
Winter Feast

An invitation to the community to attend a Winter Feast, hosted by Wicoie Nandagikendan and DIW. 6 pm to 8 pm. Division of Indian Work, 1001 E. Lake S. Minneapolis. For info, call 612-721-4246 or email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Jan. 25
FAN Wellness Support Circle

Are you Native American and looking for chronic illness support? Here is a good News Years Resolution! Join us, the Native FAN Wellness Support Circle, for a meal and good company every last Wednesday of the month, from 6-8 pm at MAIC, 1530 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls. For more information contact Val Lafave at 612-879-1722 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Jan. 26
Retirement Ceremony

Join us as we celebrate and honor over 30 years of service for Dr. Lydia Caros of the Native American Community Clinic. In lieu of gifts we kindly suggest a donation to your favorite charity. 4 - 7 pm at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For more info, call 612-872-8086.

Jan. 28
Fix-It Tech Event

Come with a question and/or bring a device for repair or a FREE TUNE-UP! Bring your laptops, desktop towers, smartphones, or tablets WITH power cord. Our volunteers will teach valuable repair skills, answer questions, and give technical advice about your device. First come first served! Labor will be free! If parts are needed, volunteers will provide consultation on items and various sources. Fix-It Tech is a Twin Cities community technology education event led by a dedicated group of volunteers, educators and community organizations. 11 am - 3 pm. Free.     Neighborhood House, Wellstone Center, 179 Robie St E., St. Paul, MN. For info, call     651-789-2500  or see:
•  March 10: 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm     at the TAKODA Institute of Higher Ed-American Indian OIC, 1845 East Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN.

Jan. 29
Storytelling Bus and Talking Circle

Dimensions of Indigeneity in Minnesota: A Storytelling Bus will pick you up at locations around the Twin Cities (see schedule below). Travel on the bus to the Talking Circle and Potluck feast while listening to and sharing stories by Al Gross, Lupe Castillo, and more. Jessica Lopez Lyman, PhD and Ashley Fairbanks, White Earth Nation, moderate a talking circle with a diverse panel of artists, educators, and cultural community organizers. In a poignant conversation, we will get honest about dimensions of Indigeneity and cultural identity politics as it relates to our shared liberation. Co-presented with the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota, Ce Tempoxcalli, Electric Machete Studios, and The Ordway. Storytelling Bus Pick Up Schedule: 2:00 pm — Electric Machete Studios, 777 Smith Ave S, St Paul. 2:30 pm —PowWow Grounds, 1414 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. 2:40 pm — Little Earth, 2495 18th Ave South, Minneapolis. For more info, see:

Feb. 10
American Indian Magnet School Powwow

The American Indian Magnet School’s traditional powwow will be held from 6 to 7 pm at 1075 3rd St East, St. Paul, MN. Cost: Free. For more info, call 651-293-5191.

Feb. 17 - 19
Bois Forte Powwow

The Bois Forte Midwinter Traditional Powwow will be held in Nett Lake, MN. MC: George Strong. AD: Lance Kingbird. Host Drum: Drift Traditional. For info, call Louise Isham at 218 757-3261.

Feb. 26 – March 5
AMR Artist-in-Residency

All My Relations Gallery is holding its first Artist-in-Residency Program. In partnership with The Ordway Center For Performing Arts and Rosy Simas Danse, All My Relations Arts presents Tanya Lukin Linklater. Tanya Lukin Linklater’s performance collaborations, videos, photographs and installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally. She is compelled by relationships between bodies, histories, poetry, pedagogy, Indigenous conceptual spaces (languages), and institutions. 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For info, call 612-235-4970.

Feb. 27
LEAP into the Fight Against Hunger

The Division of Indian Work (DIW) invites you to attend LEAP Into the Fight Against Hunger, the annual fundraiser for DIW’s food shelf, Horizons Unlimited. Enjoy the incredible talents of Maria Jette, Bradley Greenwald, Jearlyn Steele and Tall Paul as you partake of fabulous hors d’oeuvres provided by D’Amico. The Silent and Live Auctions will be incredible with chances to score vacation homes in New Mexico and Wisconsin, tickets to the Chanhassen and Jungle theaters along with many other fantastic items. 5:00 pm to  8:30 pm at the Metropolitan in Golden Valley, 5418 Wayzata Blvd, Minneapolis, MN. Ticket info at: For info, contact 612-279-6325 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

March 1 (deadline)
Vision Maker Media Grants

Vision Maker Media invites applications for Projects intended for Public Media that represent the cultures, experiences, and values of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Projects should be accessible to a broad audience, have the potential for a national broadcast, and be used for effective outreach/community engagement activities to reach audiences beyond a Public Television broadcast. All completed Projects are required to meet the PBS Technical Operating Specifications and Production Guidelines as outlined in the PBS Red Book, online at Projects will be offered additional distribution opportunities through Vision Maker Media, including educational and home DVD distribution through deadline for receiving all application materials is March 1, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. PST. For guidelines, see: For more information, contact: 402-472-3122 or 402-472-0497 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

May 6
Powwow for Hope Teams Needed

The sixth annual Powwow for Hope will be held on Saturday, May 6, 2017​. Powwow for Hope is a community fundraising event that honors loved ones who have battled cancer or are fighting cancer and provides an opportunity to learn more about cancer prevention and resources. Your help is needed to address the cancer burdens faced by many American Indian families throughout Indian Country. As we approach our sixth annual event, check back to learn how you can organize or join a team. Teams will raise funds in many different ways before, during and after Powwow for Hope. All money raised will be used to support cancer education and supportive services for American Indians. For more info, contact the American Indian Cancer Foundation, 615 First Avenue NE, Ste. 125, Minneapolis, MN. 612-314-4848 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Change and Transformation
Monday, January 09 2017
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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It’s that time of year that resolutions are made and resolutions are broken.  Our resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, saving money, finding another job, pay off bills, spending more time with our kids, finding love, dressing better, and on and on and on… We want change. We crave it in our life. We want to be different.  

This month I want to talk about change and transformation. There is a moment in all our lives that we have an opportunity to change, or grow, but sometimes we choose to remain where we are. When you live long enough, you must learn to accept the consequences of those choices or make a different choice. Sometimes, being trapped in a circumstance can be soul wrenching, soul-draining, soul killing.    

My maternal Grandmother, Bertha Kills In Water, was a part of relocation in the 1950’s.  The Indian Relocation Act of 1956 encouraged Native Americans to leave reservations, learn a vocation, and assimilate. My Grandmother moved to Denver, Colorado. I grew up with my Grandmother until I was 4.  

I have many memories as a kid in the city of Denver. I remember her and my Grandfather, an elderly white cowboy, walking us to the playground. I remember playing with kids who didn’t look like me. I remember the excitement of it all.

I’ve watched many people in my life transform themselves. I’ve also seen those who are trapped – trapped in their own mind. Trapped in their own circumstance. It’s as though free will and choice have been taken away. It’s as though a message is told to them every day,

“This is it. This is all you’ll ever become.” Somehow this message sinks deep in their bones. Eventually, the shine in their eyes disappears. The youthful zest is gone. The hopeful stride vanishes. These people shrink into themselves. I look at their body. Shoulders slouched. They carry too much weight. The weight hides who they are. They wear too much make-up to hide. They pretend a confident walk. They speak loudly and disrespectful to their children, to other adults, and to themselves.  

It really is the saddest thing to witness when a person loses hope.  There is a bleakness about them. Their nature disappears into an abyss. They have no interest in themselves. They disappear.    

Ultimately, they’ve forgotten the hope they manifest. They forgot this truth, their ancestors longed for them.  Someone dreamed of them. They are the light that their ancestors held onto during a very dark time in our history. They are a manifestation of everything that is good. They longed for them.    

How do we get back to finding our purpose? It is with soul searching? It is with soul healing? It is reconnecting yourself to your soul?  
We all have a dark day of the soul. The day when it feels as if the odds are stacked up against us. When we feel the loneliest. When it feels as though God is gone. This is the day you are most connected to yourself and are called to be fully yourself. It is a turning point in your life.    

Leaving poverty is the most difficult task that I’m undertaking. I come from generations of poverty. Upon reflection, I’ve realized it was the women in my family that kept us together. It was their yearning for more that inspired me. They created space for me to grow. They held space for me to be who I was. They encouraged my transition off the reservation. They let me go. It was with their courage that I ventured forth.    

If it wasn’t for me leaving the reservation, then my siblings would not have left either. My leaving provided them an opportunity to escape poverty, as well. Don’t get me wrong, I have family who lives and thrives on the reservation.  

Sometimes being trapped is of our own making. It is fear that immobilizes us. We make assumptions about the world around us. We accept our circumstances as unchangeable. But, they aren’t.  

If there is anything that I’ve learned is this, the power to change is ours.  Change belongs to us. If we want to change, then we can have it. We must accept responsibility for our own life.  

My Grandmother ventured out into the world. She wasn’t going to be trapped by her circumstance.  

It is from her example and the many people in my life that I’ve learned that change is possible. I see the possibility.  I consider my distant future and see my grandchildren and their children thriving.  

As each of us begins 2017, I wish that for you, to remain hopeful and to be bold, to be daring, to be everything our ancestors dreamed of. You are a manifestation of a dream. The choice to change belongs to you. I believe in you…

Twin Metals derailed
Monday, January 09 2017
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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In its year-end review of the Top 10 stories of 2016, the Mesabi Daily News ( nominated for its No. 2 selection the “War on Twin Metals.” The newspaper sketched out its year-long coverage of the simmering controversy over a massive underground copper-nickel mine near Ely. The issue came to a climax in December, when the Department of the Interior announced that it would deny Twin Metals Minnesota’s application to extend mineral leases, which were first issued in 1966.

The group Mining Truth (, a consortium of Minnesota environmental groups and supporters (including Protect Our Manoomin), noted that the “immediate impact of the decision [to deny extension of the mineral leases] is that Twin Metals no longer holds the mineral rights to a wide swath of their proposed underground copper-nickel sulfide mine. In addition to the decision on the leases, the Department of Interior also announced it was commencing a review of all federal mineral rights in the Boundary Waters watershed. This will mean a 90 day public input period and an up to two year ‘time out’ where no federal mineral leases will be issued.”
Mining Truth added, that the U.S. Forest Service “also submitted an application to the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw key portions of the watershed that flows into the BWCAW [Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness] from new mineral permits and leases.”

Northeastern Minnesota has seen a mining rush in recent years, as corporations angle to begin copper-nickel operations. The area has been the site of iron ore and taconite mining for decades, but sulfide mining is something new to the state; and the Ojibwe bands and environmentalists fear that mine waste run-off will pollute streams, rivers and groundwater – and that sulfate pollution will decimate wild rice beds in areas ceded in federal treaties. In the 19th century land cession treatie, the Ojibwe bands gave up vast tracts of ancestral territory, and reserved their rights to hunt, fish and gather in these areas in perpetuity. These subsistence rights will be of little value if the land and water are poisoned by toxic mine waste, as has happened with hard rock mining operations all across the American West.

As expected, Twin Metals, which is owned by the Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, decried the federal decision not to extend its mineral leases. On Dec. 15, the company said it was “greatly disappointed” by the decision of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S.Forest Service “to deny renewal of two of the company’s long-standing and valid mineral leases in Minnesota, and to initiate actions to withdraw federal lands and minerals from future exploration and development. If allowed to stand, the BLM-USFS actions will have a devastating impact on the future economy of the Iron Range and all of Northeast Minnesota, eliminating the promise of thousands of good-paying jobs and billions of dollars in investment in the region. Further, this unprecedented decision is contrary to the overwhelming majority of local and regional citizens and communities who support mining and believe mining can be done responsibly in this region.”
The Twin Metals statement noted that it has already invested $400 million in the mine project. The company’s website declares that Minnesota “has the potential to be a global epicenter for strategic metals mining. There are more than 4 billion tons of copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold and other metal resources contained in northern Minnesota’s Duluth Complex, the largest known undeveloped deposit of strategic metals in the world.”

While the feds have dealt a blow to Twin Metals’ mining scheme, PolyMet Mining, a Canadian firm, is still on track to develop a copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes. The feds expressed concern that the Twin Metals project could pollute the pristine Boundary Waters wilderness; but PolyMet’s NorthMet project poses the same threat to rivers and streams flowing into Lake Superior. Actually, hydrologists working with the Ojibwe bands have contended that the water flow models used in the NorthMet environmental review were flawed – mine wastewater could flow south toward Lake Superior or north into the Boundary Waters. In any case, Minnesota approved the final environmental impact statement for the NorthMet project last March, after reports and hearings that stretched back 10 years. The company still has to win approval for a numerous permits before it can start digging Up North.

Regarding the previously mentioned “war on Twin Metals,” the Mesabi Daily News predicted: “This issue isn’t going away quietly in 2017, as it sets up for a big fight between the environmental left and the incoming Donald Trump administration on the right.”

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