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Clan Animals Workshops with Lumhe Sampson
Create 3-D artworks to be featured at MN Indian Month 2017 Kick-off Parade and Celebration. Every Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 – 9 pm at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis. For info, call 612-235-4970 or email:
On the Red Road AA meeting
Speaker and pot luck meal. Every first Tuesday of the month. The event is free. Minneapolis American Indian Center Auditorium, 1530 E Franklin, Minneapolis. For info, contact Betty Moore at 612-387-4463. Future dates include:
• May 2
• June 6
Restoring the Sacred Trails of Our Grandmothers
Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition with Sacred Hoop Coalition & Men As Peacemakers. April 4: 9 am – 5 pm. April 5: 9 am – 5 pm. April 6: 9 am –noon. Self Care Carnival: Tuesday April 4 at 7 pm. Honoring Survivors Traditional Pow-Wow, Wednesday at 7 pm. Free event. Meals, mileage and lodging will be at your own expense. Registration deadline is March 17. Prairie Island Indian Community, Treasure Island Casino, 5734 Sturgeon Lake Road, Welch, MN. For info, contact MIWSAC at 651-646-4800 or
"Motivational Interviewing: A Counseling Approach that Fits with Native Values." This training is intended for social service, substance abuse, education, and other professionals who work with Native American clients. 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Cost is $220 per person, but scholarships are available. Training will take place at Eddy’s Resort on Lake Mille Lacs, 41334 Shakopee Lake Road, Onamia, MN. For info, contact Jo Lightfeather at
White Earth Urban Office Spring Event Days
The White Earth Urban Office will have Tribal picture IDs, and harvest permits available. Logo clothing and wild rice will be sold. April 6 from 10 am to 6 pm. April 7 from 9 to 11:45 am. MN Chippewa Tribe Building, 1308 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls. For info, call 612-872-8388.
April 6-June 22
Indigenous Women’s Life Net
Support group for Native American survivors of sexual assault. Every Thursday from 1 - 3 pm. Registration required. Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For info, call Jessica at 612-879-1784.
MWIRC Spring Feast
The MN Indian Women’s Resource Center’s Annual Spring Feast will be held from 11 am to 2 pm. There will be prayers and a drum group. We will be serving meat chili with a vegetarian option. Hot sauce will be provided. Cornbread, beverages and cake will also be on the menu. MIWRC, 2300 15th Ave. S., Mpls. For info, call 612-728-2000 or see: www.miwrc.org
24th Annual AIC Powwow
Grand Entries at 1 and 7 pm. Hand Drum Contest and meal at 5 pm. Free event. Halenbeck Hall, main gym, 1000 4th Ave. S. St. Cloud, MN. For info, contact
33rd Annual CNIA Powwow
The University of Minnesota, Morris Circle of Nations Indigenous Association (CNIA) Powwow. Contest-style powwow. MC: Jerry Dearly. Host Drum: Eyabay. AD: Gabe Desrosiers. Head dance judge: Clay Crawford. Honor Guard: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Desert Era Veterans. Dance contest categories include: Golden Age (55+ men/women) combined/separate; Adult Men (18–54 years) Traditional, Grass, Fancy; Adult Women (18–54 years) Traditional, Jingle, Fancy; Teen (12–17 years) Traditional, Grass, Fancy; Teen Girls' Traditional, Jingle, Fancy; Junior (6–11 years) Traditional, Grass, Fancy; Junior Girls' Traditional, Jingle, Fancy; and Tiny Tots (0–5 years). Specials include UMM Brave. Drum payout: first 10 drums (must have five registered singers). Feast and arts and crafts. Registration begins at noon. Doors open at 9:30 am. Grand Entries: 12 and 6:30 pm. 12:00 pm. Regional Fitness Center, 626 E. 2nd St., Morris, MN. For more info, contact Darren Cook at:
, or 320-589-6095.
ADY Cherish the Children Powwow
Doors open and registration at 11 am. Grand Entries: Saturday at 1 and 7 pm, and Sunday at 1 pm. Feast on Saturday at 5 pm. Co -Emcees: Jerry Dearly and Reuben Crowfeather. Host Drums: Oyate Teca and ADYC Singers. Head Dancers: Gabe Red Kettle and Summer BlackHawk. Only the first 10 registered drums with a minimum of 5 singers will receive an honorarium. $5 Entry fee for ages 7+. Free entry for Elders and Vets. Free entry per person with donations to the Roy Roberts “Family in Need” Drive. Contests and specials: Youth Drum Special – 1st-2nd-3rd place cash prizes. Youth Dance Specials — youth 17 years and under, cash prizes. All Ages 2 Step Special — 1st-2nd-3rd place cash prizes, and more. 6th Annual Ain Dah Yung Center Royalty Contest. For info contact:
April 8-May 4
HOBT Puppet Workshops
Public workshops for this year’s May Day parade begins April 8th and runs through May 4th. Everyone is welcome to attend these parade-building days, and construct their own wonders, free of charge. Wear "painting" clothes. Bring recycled items (if you can): small plastic tubs with lids, brown paper bags, newspapers, fabric, sheets, latex paint, bamboo, scissors. No reservations required. Workshops will be held: every Tuesday from 7-9 pm, every Thursday from 7-9 pm and every Saturday from 9 -11am and 1-3 pm. Avalon Theatre, 1500 E Lake St, Mpls. For more info, see: https://hobt.org.
Jazz with Native roots
Few people are aware that jazz was also influenced by Native American music. Bringing these styles together, Jazz88 FM presents an afternoon concert featuring the music of jazz legends with Native roots, including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie. Bobb Fantauzzo, who plays jazz on an American Indian flute, arranged the compositions for the concert and will be joined on stage by pianist Javi Santiago, drummer/percussionist Mac Santiago, bass player Jeff Bailey and Lyz Jaakola, an enrolled member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who adds traditional Anishinaabe vocals and percussion. 2 - 3:30 pm. Cost: $20 adults, $10 ages 5-17, $4 discount MNHS members. Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul. For info, contact 651-259-3015 or
Native Specific 40-Hour Sexual Advocacy Training
Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition Staff, hosted by Mille Lacs Band Family Violence Prevention Program will host the training. Advocates, Service Providers, Educators, and the community are welcome. Training is FREE! Training materials provided. Meals, mileage, lodging at your own expense. Eddy’s Resort, 41334 Shakopee Lake Road, Onamia, MN. For info, contact Cristine Davidson at
Territoriality, Sovereignty & Water: Indian Rights & Law
A panel of Indigenous scholars and practitioners will discuss water and land rights issues, using Indian law and contemporary issues. They will address such questions as: How do American Indian sovereignty and tribal law intersect with federal law? Panelists include: Dr. David E. Wilkins, McKnight Presidential Professor in American Indian Studies at UofMN; Dr. Joe Watkins, anthropologist/archeologist, ACE Consultants; Tamara St. John, archivist for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Archives. Moderator: Joe D. Horse Capture, director of American Indian Initiatives, MN Historical Society. 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm. Free. Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St., Minneapolis. For info, contact 612-341-7582 or
Foster Care and Adoption Information Meeting
Learn more about the ways you can help children though foster care or adoption. No registration needed. Free. 12:30 to 2:30 pm. Hennepin County Library–Hosmer, 347 E. 36th St., Minneapolis. For info, see: www.hennepin.us/fostercare or call 612-348-5437.
New Native Theatre: Duke
New Native Theatre presents "Duke" by Moses Goods. Hawaii's first Olympic gold medalist and the father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku is unquestionably one of the most important and beloved figures in Hawaiian history. Duke lived through Hawaii's transition from an independent Nation to a U.S territory and on to statehood. In many ways his extraordinary life served as a guiding light for Hawaii's people in their struggle to find identity in a changing world. Tickets are $25 or Pay As You Can at the door at show time. Open Eye Figure Theatre, 506 E 24th St., Minneapolis. For more info, see: http://newnativetheatre.org.
• April 12 at 7:30 pm
• April 13 at 7:30 pm
• April 14 at 7:30 pm
• April 15 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm.
New Life Beginning
“New Life Beginning” Gatherings for young or pregnant Native American women and their partners or family support members. Free. Registration required. All materials for activities are provided. Bring pot luck item if you want. Limited to 20 participants. 4 - 8 pm. Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center, 2300 15th Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN. For info, contact Jo Lightfeather at
Umbilical Cord Safe Keeping
The umbilical cord is a life source between a pregnant woman and her baby which brings constant nourishment through blood. Ojibwe Elder Maria McCoy will talk about this shared connection and give participants teachings on the sacredness of the umbilical cord. Maria will present teachings of the importance of and safe keeping of this part of the cord. Activity will be creating a leather amulet bag in the shape of a turtle or a lizard. All supplies provided. No Cost. All materials for activities are provided. Bring pot luck item if you want. Limited to 20 participants. 4 – 8 pm. Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, 2300 15th Ave S, Minneapolis. For info, contact: Jo Lightfeather at 612-728-2031.
April 15 (deadline)
Dakota Iapi Continuing Education scholarship
The University of Minnesota Department of American Indian Studies & Dakota Language Programs are accepting applications to the Dakota Iapi Continuing Education scholarship program for the 2017-18 Academic year. The Dakota Iapi Continuing Education Scholarship Program is a financial aid program for individuals who want to take courses in the Dakota Language Program as continuing education (non-degree) seeking students at the University of Minnesota. Applicants must demonstrate dedication to learning and/or sharing the Dakota language. Applications are due April 15. For info, contact Brittany at
Water Walk 2017
For the Earth & Water fundraiser. Silent auction and local food tasting event highlighting the foods and artists of Lake Superior. All proceeds to fund the 2017 Water Walk which begins April 20. $10 per ticket. 5 -8 pm. Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, 2101 14th Ave., Cloquet, MN. Donations are still being accepted. For info, contact Roxanne DeLille at
or 218-428-0215. waterwalkersunited.com.
Winona LaDuke: The Winona LaDuke Chronicles
Join Birchbark Books for an evening with Winona LaDuke in celebration of her new book The Winona LaDuke Chronicles: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for Environmental Justice. Chronicles is a collection of current, pressing and inspirational stories of Indigenous communities from the Canadian subarctic to the heart of Dine Bii Kaya, Navajo Nation. LaDuke is a rural development economist and author, known globally as a leader in cultural-based sustainable development, renewable energy, and food systems. Books available for purchase at the event. 7 pm. Free. No ticket required. Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church, 2020 W Lake of the Isles Parkway, Minneapolis. For info, contact 612-374-402 or
Blues-rock band, Indigenous, led by Mato Nanji from the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Their latest album, “Time is Coming” is dedicated to the indigenous youth and all young people on the indigenous reservations. Post-Show Party in Target Atrium: This performance is part of an Ordway community engagement series, Oyate Okodakiciyapi: a unique celebration of Native music and dance. For the full list of happenings, including exhibitions, conversations, and workshops, surrounding this performance, visit: ordway.org/oyate-okodakiciyapi. Ordway Theater, 345 Washington St., Saint Paul. Tickets: 651-224-4222 or https://ordway.org.
Call for Jingle Dress Dancers and Drums
Lakota language teacher, storyteller, men’s traditional dancer and singer, Barry Frantum, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma in January. Join Barry, his family, and community for an evening of singing, dancing, hope and prayer. There will be an Anishinaabe jingle dress healing dance, a Mexica healing dance offered by the Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli Mexica Dancers, a blanket dance for the family, taco sale, raffle, and community vendors. Head elder dancers: Maria McCoy and Richard Wright. Head youth dancers: Rose Whipple and Nolan Berglund. Host drum: Oyate Teca. MC: Matt Thornhill. AD: David Gilbert. 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Harding High School, 1540 6th St E, St Paul. For more info, contact Maggie at:
2017 Teen Job Fair
Meet employers, talk jobs, internships, volunteering and training. 9 am. - 1 pm: Teen Prep Rally on-site. 10 - 11 am: Interactive Workshop: Top Tips for Teens. 11 am to 2 pm: Job Fair. Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Mpls. For info, see: minneapolismn.gov/cped/ MinneapolisTeenJobFair.
The Native American blues band Bluedog will be one of six bands competing to represent MN at the International Blues Challenge at the Wilebski's Blues Saloon starting at 1 pm (TPT Native Report will air an interview with Bluedog on April 13th.) Wilebski's Blues Saloon, 1638 Rice St., St. Paul, MN. For info, see: www.wilebskiblues.com.
AIFCS foster parent info
American Indian Family and Children's Services is hosting a foster parent informational session. Come learn the application process, requirements, and ask questions you may have regarding becoming a foster parent. We are always in need of additional foster homes. 2 - 3 pm. St. Paul, 25 Empire Drive St Paul. RSVP by calling Kelly or Lucy at 651-223-8526.
Birchbark Books Reading: Denise Lajimodiere
Denise Lajimodiere, Margaret Hasse, Denise Low and Thomas Pecore Weso will read from their works. Lajimodiere’s (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) poetry books include Thunderbird, Dragonfly Dance, Bitter Tears, and an academic book Stringing Rosaries, Stories From Northern Plains Boarding School Survivors. Curated by Michael Kiesow Moore and Ardie Medina. 7 pm at Bockley Gallery, 2123 W. 21st St., Minneapolis (a couple doors down from Birchbark Books). For more info, see: www.bockleygallery.com.
AIFACS forst parent session
American Indian Family and Children's Services is hosting a foster parent informational session in Minneapolis. Come learn the application process, requirements, and ask questions you may have regarding becoming a foster parent. 2 -3 pm. American Indian Center, 1530 E Franklin Ave Minneapolis, MN. RSVP by calling Kelly or Lucy at 651-223-8526.
Native American Day
Parade Float Competition
This year the Native American Day Parade will include a float competition. The Native organization or group with the best float during the Kick-off March will be featured on the front page of The Circle newspaper. Planning meetings for the day will take place on Thursdays in April from 3 - 5 pm at All My Relations Gallery, 1414 Franklin Ave E., Minneapolis. For info, call 612-235-4970 or email:
May 1 (deadline)
National Native American Ten-Minute Play Festival
New Native Theatre is accepting ten minute play scripts from Native American writers on any subject. Minnesota and Upper Midwest stories are encouraged. Plays will be chosen for full production at the festival. Writers must be enrolled tribal members or recognized members of your urban/rural Native community/family. We’re looking for plays that will be performed to a majority Native American audience, so in-jokes are encouraged and Indian 101 educating isn’t. Early consideration deadline is April 10. Final deadline is May 1. Send scripts by mail to: New Native Theatre, PO Box 40118, Saint Paul, MN. Or email a pdf of your script to:
, with the subject line “Ten Min Play Submission”.
|Written by Ricey Wild,
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I’ve been waiting for 45 to be impeached. Sigh. Been waiting too long – like for the warm bus to show up at 4:45 am on a bigly blizzardy morning and save me from certain and complete poverty. No headlights in sight, cigarette is wet, no matches anyway. My diabetic nerve pain is flaring up and my earmuffs can’t drown out the horror of the current US administration’s war upon The People.
This misery, and by that I mean 45, and its cabinet has it in for we American People. So many great citizens over the years made it their business to speak up for the downtrodden, the…you get it. Us. I praise the collective activists who now gather and take up the cause for everyone. Us. Except for my Cat Purrince the sneaky little fur ball who is trying to prevent me writing this column. He’s been napping on the sofa until this moment and here I thought he was with us. (He just jumped on the keyboard in an attempt to delete my previous words) I don’t know whose payroll he’s on but I’ll get to the bottom of it. Purrince IS gray and white.
I have been super-glued to ‘news’ stations which I have now separated from news, semi-fake news, alleged news, super news, and super fake alleged news…you see my dilemma. Some guy I friended on Facebook posted an absurd piece by an author plugging his book, saying 45 is a victim. IKR????
I almost peed mah knickers laughing. Then I looked at it again and the author did have a point. Stay with me here. The craven deplorables who surround poor ole 45 are the real ones in charge. They’re all like, “Leave this to us (not so gently pushing 45 out the White House) you just go golf and it will all be all right! Gwan ‘den!”
That’s all the wasted time I have for those white devils.
Here at home, in my HUD house I’m waiting for the frogs to begin singing. I live in a semi-swamp which is btw-the land left over to we Rezberrian’s after the white people took the best. Gawd, I just depressed myself until I recalled our swamp is now re-named “wetlands” which makes it sound better, to white people. And now they want that, too.
I go back and forth in history in my lone life so I’m never really bored. I ask “Why?” and seek the answers. Heh. A white woman asked me, “Well, don’t you like electricity (as if she invented it)?” and I had to laugh saying “Well yeah!” Her point was the benefits of colonization, and mine was that we did just fine without it. At the time, I didn’t feel like spouting my own belief about ‘civilization’ in European terms. That we Natives had been there, done that, and found it unsustainable. We simply preferred camping.
I am sick whenever anyone, no matter how much I like them, spouts such an entitled, racist ignorant view. I’m very tired of fighting too. I gotta leave that to you young ones who are not so battle weary and cynical as I am.
I will never quit writing because that’s who I am. I am very appreciative of those who are taking up the banners to fight for what’s right. The truly sad ones are those who will work for our common enemy and don’t care. No judgment here, just saying.
Tupac Shakur Shotley, the cat, is by my side just purring up some serious songs. I want to be more like him and just groove but get in some sweet lyrics too. His might be like, “don’t try ta save meh, I’ve been a shelter cat bay-beh” or something like that. Hehehe. I got a new gig writing lyrics for my five cats and one dog, Mitzi.
(Someone named Amanda or Daniel or Rachel or Lorri PLEASE HEEEELLLPPP MEEEEE!!!). I’m dreaming of lilacs, margaritas and scones. I have to break out of the Rezberry tractor beams.
Now I’m hearing purring in stereo, Tupac and XiXi, the two elder shelter cats I have given a forever home to. Both had their paws mangled but they love anyway just the same. I encourage yooz to get a cat or dog from a shelter, they will love you unconditionally for it.
Hey. Can someone adopt me, too? I’m so sad from being alone. But no jerks, users, thieves, stinky people, blamers or…never mind. I yam what I yam. I can be alone and happy. Last year certainly proved that to me in spades, yo. Never once have my Fur-amily back-stabbed me! Well, I do have to keep a sharp eye on Purrince.
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The Thunder Before the Storm: The Autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt
By Clyde Bellecourt and Jon Lurie
Minnesota Historical Society Press
November 1, 2016
At the start of his fast and furious story, “The Thunder before the Storm: The Autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt,” the famed American Indian Movement leader is quick to point out that while his detractors may dispute historical facts, this is first and foremost the iconic activist’s own story to tell.
Told to longtime The Circle journalist, Jon Lurie, Bellecourt is clearly in a rush to tell not only his story, but the story of the American Indian Movement (AIM) from his very inside perspective. And in the light of previous published accounts of the Movement’s beginnings and influence, AIM co-founder Bellecourt’s version greatly helps in bringing this muddled narrative of Indian activism into clearer focus.
In reading Bellecourt’s story, the seeds of activism on behalf of one of the most oppressed groups of people in this country starts with his days of growing up on the White Earth Ojibwe Reservation in northern Minnesota. Bellecourt recognized early on the reality of racism, and that racial violence came in the form of the white man’s religion. In the book, Bellecourt says, “I missed a lot of church, and my hands were beat bloody. They would whack me with the metal side of the ruler and split my knuckles wide open. Of course, I started running away from that, too. If you look at my knuckles today, you’ll see they all have scars on them.”
Bellecourt’s scars have never fully healed. One can easily surmise those scars brought him into the fight for Indian rights and continue to serve as a physical reminder of why he got into that civil fight.
Beginning with the occupation of the abandoned prison isle of Alcatrez in San Francisco in the late 1960s, to the Trail of Broken Treaties to Washington, D.C., to the long standoff at Wounded Knee at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in the early 1970s, Bellecourt was at the heart of each of these storms. He credits his thunderous passion for Indian activism to his days of living on a punitive youth work farm in Red Wing, Minnesota and adult years spent in prison for burglary.
In response to his mother’s concern about his life – getting arrested, beat up and shot – she urged him to focus on the future. Bellecourt said, “Mom, if we ever forget our past we’ll never have a future – our past is our future.”
Before he would become a founding member of AIM Bellecourt found his future in an elder Anishinabe named Eddie Benton-Banai who was serving time in the same prison as the activist. Benton-Banai became Bellecourt’s spiritual mentor and life-long friend, and would be there to guide him through the challenging efforts to advocate for Indian people. But even more than that, Benton-Banai taught Bellecourt the power of the drum. And in page after page of his story, the drum beats loud through the decades of trial and triumph that have defined Bellecourt’s story.
Beyond the very public actions such as occupying Wounded Knee, Bellecourt was fighting a private battle at home in Minneapolis. The call of constant travel to address wrongs against Indians was proving to be a crippling burden on him. For a man so proud of his sacrificial activism, he still harbors one critical heart pain, “The only thing I regret as far as the Movement is concerned is that I didn’t spend enough time with my family, taking care of my children.”
If there is one true hero in this story it is Bellecourt’s wife, Peggy, an Ojibwe woman who has stayed with the activist for more than four decades. To endure celebrity, scandal and the shame of imprisonment of her husband for a cocaine charges, this must be a testament of genuine devotion. And it is in speaking so affectionately about his wife that lends the most sympathy and sincerity to Bellecourt’s storied journey.
Despite his personal demons, Bellecourt is frank in discussing his conviction that the American Indian Movement was plagued with meddling by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. According to the activist, the FBI was at the very least complicit in the death of AIM activist, Anna Mae Aquash, and the conviction of long-time prisoner, Leonard Peltier. To read of conspiracy theories from anyone who was never at the center of Indian activism would be suspect, but Bellecourt’s direct accusations of the feds meddling cannot be portrayed as mere theory.
There will be no doubt that detractors of Bellecourt and the practices of AIM through the years will raise their voices of protest upon reading his story, especially when it comes to Bellecourt’s boast that AIM played a key role in building a Minneapolis urban Indian health clinic, apartment complex, job training program and a legal defense organization. But those dissenters should remember the activist’s words that begin this tale, “Call me what you want, but I have my own story to tell, and I believe every man deserves the right to tell his story, at least once.”
And this activist might be on the mark with that comment. After reading his story one has to give him that much because Creator knows the man has the scars to prove it.
|Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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Politics – the stuff of this column in The Circle – merged with art in a film series called “INDIgenesis: Indigenous Filmmakers, Past and Present,” which was presented in March at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
I attended the screening of Missy Whiteman’s The Coyote Way: Going Back Home, which was filmed with a cast of young Native American actors at Little Earth and around the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. The heartfelt 30-minute film – billed as a “scifi/docu-narrative” – is about a boy who has to decide between joining a street gang or going on a journey to find the truth of his existence. Whiteman (Northern Arapaho and Kickapoo) and a contingent of actors, musicians and production staffers participated in a Q&A after the film screening.
And on March 25, I attended the program called “Views from Standing Rock,” which presented a video from Stacey Thunder’s web series Indigenous, and clips from the documentary in-progress Akicita, both of which concern the remarkable effort at Standing Rock to stop the Dakota Access pipeline.
Thunder’s video about the water protectors’ struggle (she said it will be on YouTube soon), and Akicita, directed by Heather Rae and Cody Lucich, put youth and women in the forefront of this amazing story of American Indian solidarity. Hundreds of Native nations, along with activists from around the globe, rallied to the cause at Standing Rock, and the Oceti Sakowin encampment, near Cannonball, No. Dakota, grew to a population of 11,000.
Rae’s 2005 documentary Trudell also was screened as part of the INDIgenesis series at the Walker. And she is listed as an executive producer for a segment of Viceland’s excellent documentary series about indigenous issues called Rise.
The first two Rise programs are about the stand at Standing Rock; and they are notable in providing context – such as the Indian boarding school atrocities, the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890, and Wounded Knee II and the American Indian Movement – for those viewers lacking a grasp of what has led us to these emotionally fraught times.
I also want to mention another program, “The Urban Rez,” from the Rise series. The segment focuses on Winnipeg, which is home to 80,000 Indians, and looks at the scourges of poverty, and violence directed at Native girls and women. The program, written and directed by Michelle Latimer, features Gitz Crazyboy, an activist from the Athabascan Chippewyan First Nations, whose ancestral land has been despoiled by the Alberta tar sands. Again, the residential schools come into focus as a source of intergenerational trauma in Canada’s First Nations.
Getting back to the INDIgenesis film series, I didn’t attend the screening for INAATE/SE/ (it shines a certain way. to a certain place./ it flies. falls./), but I was able to watch an online screener. This intriguing, experimental documentary film, by Zack and Adam Khalil (Ojibway), concerns the Seven Fires Prophecy of the Ojibwe. The filmmakers are from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and the 75-minute film looks at the destruction of the American Indian lifeway in this area of the northern Great Lakes.
And speaking of destruction, the so-called U.S. president, Donald Trump, declared war on the planet in March, with his executive orders approving construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, and dismantling former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was intended to shift the economy away from dirty coal. Trump and his crew of climate deniers and Big Oil proponents – including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil – are determined to ravage the natural environment in furtherance of maximizing corporate profits.
I doubt that Trump knows the particulars of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipeline projects – he’s a complete ignoramus in virtually every area of public policy. However, his executive orders will ignite popular resistance to the hard energy path.
In regard to the Keystone XL pipeline, which will pass within 200 yards of the Rosebud reservation, a story in the Bismarck Tribune noted that “resistance camps similar to those occupied at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation through the fall and early winter will be formed again in South Dakota, where the Rosebud and Cheyenne River Sioux have already pledged physical space...”
The story quoted Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network: “We will carry forth the fire and unity we saw with Dakota Access against this next project. We learned solid lessons from Dakota Access and what is obvious is that this fight won’t be in one location, but throughout the entire length of the project.”
|Written by Mark Anthony Rolo,
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Two years ago, I woke up with what I thought was a pimple on the right side of my neck. In two days that pimple burgeoned into a major infection. I was rushed to a hospital in Duluth, Minnesota to undergo two surgeries to remove the infection. That deadly “pimple” proved to be the convincing evidence of what I already knew – Type Two Diabetes.
Before the surgeries, which left a hole the size of a golf ball in my neck, I was in complete denial to having one of the most common health scourges facing American Indian people. I had all the diabetic signs, numbness in my feet, unquenchable thirst and constant urination. For a so-called educated man, I was foolish in ignoring my symptoms.
Today, I take insulin injections each morning, pills to lower my high blood pressure and medication to relieve chronic pain in my feet and legs. And I have a cookbook for diabetics.
Before the arrival of Europeans and the forcing of Indian people onto reservations, we never experienced diseases such as Diabetes. Our ancestors lived a life off the land. But the introduction of lard and flour commodities altered our diets in a damaging way. In my research about eating foods that do not spike my blood sugar levels I learned that besides white flour, orange juice and white rice are two of the worst foods to consume. I learned that wild rice and blueberries are two of the healthiest foods to eat. This blew my mind. Wild rice and blueberries were staples of a traditional Ojibwe diet.
Like a terribly high number of Indians, denial of medical problems nearly ended my life. I don’t know why I refused to seek treatment for Diabetes. In fact, I would google other possible reasons for numbness in my feet and thirst, hoping that I simply needed more exercise to increase blood circulation.
So why the fear? I should have known and become vigilant about my compromised health condition. Why did I ignore the health signs?
Growing up, I don’t recall my Ojibwe mother ever seeing a doctor. Since my Diabetes diagnosis, I have often thought of my mother’s poor health. She died at the young age of 46 from a heart attack brought on by obesity, which was brought on by untreated Diabetes. My mother was terrified of doctors. After her last child was born (number 11) she underwent a hysterectomy. I suspect that surgery was performed without her consent.
I have never blamed my mother for fearing white doctors. It is historical fact that sterilization of American Indian women and men and women of color was a standard form of oppression in this country. It was never enough to ban Indian religious ceremonies and original languages, and never enough to assimilate Indian children through dehumanizing boarding schools. Attacking Indian women’s health was more than another form of violent assimilation. It was an attempt to obliterate future generations of Natives.
This spring, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is holding hearings on the dangers of Diabetes facing Indian youth. Funds allocated to fight Diabetes in Indian Country may dry up by September. What is unfortunate about this fiscal violation of treaty rights is that in recent years those funds have made a difference in stemming the spread of Diabetes among our people, mainly through education and preventive care.
But even if this Republican-controlled White House and Congress prevails in cutting these funds tribes must continue the hard work of health education. Sadly, denial has become part of the American Indian DNA. Whether it’s alcohol, smoking, mental and emotional problems or Diabetes, so many of us find ourselves hiding in the shadows of impending doom. Tribal health clinics must continue to call upon our people to address health issues before they become full-blown threats of life-long debilitation or death. Indian people still suffer the highest rates of mortality.
This is especially true of our young people. We all know how historical trauma plagues our people. But at what point can we find ways to break that cycle? Indian health professionals argue that this takes a holistic, cultural approach. Connecting with our traditions and values that speak of the circle of life, meaning all aspects of our life must be revered, must be a major part of preserving our health. It is clear that in order to secure the promise of healthy future generations of American Indians we must instill within our young people the importance of healthy living.
Late last year my nephew allowed me to test his blood sugar level. Given that he is slightly obese and addicted to sweets and fast food, I pricked the tip of his finger with my blood sugar device. My nephew’s blood sugar was high that day. I could only encourage him to curb his diet and engage in more exercise. I felt slightly hypocritical given my own poor health choices that led to my Diabetes. But that’s okay. Perhaps my hypocrisy will save my nephew’s life one day.
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