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Synthesis: Paintings by Aza Erdrich
In her premiere solo exhibition of paintings, Erdrich shares works that pull from her life as a young woman of mixed Native and non-Native ancestry growing up in Minneapolis. She draws influence from Anishinaabe artistic traditions and personal experience to create uniquely coded works of self and familial narrative. Guest curated by Dyani White Hawk. All My Relations Gallery, 1414 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. Hours: Tues-Fri: 10 am - 5 pm; Sat and Sun: 11 am - 5 pm. For info, call 612-235-4970, email
or see www.allmyrelationsarts.com.
Thru July 2016
Why Treaties Matter traveling exhibit
This exhibit explores relationships between Dakota and Ojibwe Indian Nations and the U.S. government in Minnesota. Learn how treaties affected the lands and lifeways of the indigenous peoples of this place, and why these binding agreements still matter today. For info, see: http://mnhum.org/treaties.
• Thru May 15: Metro State University, St. Paul.
• June 27 - July 17: Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Detroit Lakes.
Thru May 20
Two spirit Exhibition
The art show “The Many Faces of Two-Spirit People” will show at Two Rivers Gallery. Reception will be May 14 from 5-8 pm. There will also be a reading by Two-Spirit writers during the reception. Gallery Hours: Mon., Tue.: 10 am - 4 pm; Wed. 11 am - 3 pm. MAIC, 1530 Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. For info, email:
Dakota Language Mini-Camp
Hiyú po! Dakhóta iá wouŋhdakapi kte! Come and speak the Dakota language in a family learning enviroment. This Dakota language mini-camp encourages families to use the Dakota language in the home on a daily basis. The language that will be covered is everyday conversational topics that can be used at home with your family. All ages welcome, lunch provided. Adult and youth class. 11 am - 3 pm. Neighborhood Early Learning Center, 2438 18th Avenue South, Minneapolis.
Indian Month Kick-off Event
10 am: Opening Ceremony at Cedar Field at Little Earth (25th and Cedar Ave. S.) 10:30 am: Parade of Nations will go from Cedar Field to the Minneapolis American Indian Center. 11:30 am: Community speakers at MAIC. Noon: Community Feast. Free. For info, see: www.facebook.com/ 2016AmIndMonthMpls.
Join us in welcoming Metis choreographer Rulan Tangen to Mni Sota Makoce. Rulan Tangen, Founding Artistic Director of Dancing Earth based in New Mexico, is in residence in the Twin Cities as a part of Oyate Okadakiciyapi: A festival of Native dance and music events by The Ordway Theater and Rosy Simas Danse. All are welcome. 9 -10 am: Lite breakfast and social time. 9:30 am: Welcoming by Janice Bad Moccasin. All Nations Indian Church, 1515 E. 23rd St., Minneapolis MN. For info, contact Jenea Rewertz-Targui at 651-282-3017 or
Alaskan Native Drum, Dance and Story Telling
Alaskan Native Drum, Dance and Story Telling event at North Hennepin Community College. Join Yupik and Cupik artists and performers Ossie Kairaiuak and Polly Andrews in the Black Box Theater (upstairs in the Campus Center) at North Hennepin Community College, 7411 85th Av. N., Brooklyn Park. Free.
Fertile Ground II
“Fertile Ground II: Growing the Seeds for Native American Health” will address several crucial dietary and cultural issues that have made Native American communities susceptible to health problems. Held at the JW Marriott hotel, Mall of America. Topics include: nutrition, access to healthier food, and Native America food production. Also on the agenda are youth leadership and intergeneration holistic health in order to encourage cultural changes that can lead to improvement in eating and health habits. Tribes, health experts and funders are encouraged to participate. For info, email:
Registration is $350. Registration fee includes: conference, evening networking reception, breakfast on May 3rd and 4, Lunch on May 3rd and 4th, Dinner on May 2 and 3. There will be no on-site registration, register at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/Fertile-Ground-II_UCM_483360_SubHomePage.jsp.
40- Hour Sexual Assault Advocacy Training
Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition’s Fundamentals of Sexual Assault Advocacy Sexual Violence in Indian Country. Topics include: Sex Offenders - What Advocates Need to Know; Core Skills of Advocacy; Social Change Advocacy; SARTS-Sexual Assault Response Teams; Advocacy Self Care and Burnout; Medical Response; Law Enforcement Response; and more. Meals will be on your own. Free, includes materials and Certificate of Completion upon completion. Who should attend: Advocates and Service Providers. Community is welcome. Limited to 30 Persons. Trainers: Cristine Davidson and Amanda Watson. Training is at Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Building,15542th State 371 NW, Cass Lake, MN. Register:
May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
On the Red Road AA Meeting
Please join us celebrate recovery: 12 step, Big Book, Ala-non. Meets every Tuesday from 7 - 9 pm. There is a potluck the 1st Tuesday of the month. Minneapolis American Indian Center (Auditorium), 1530 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis.
Wiiazhegii Wem: There is a returning
The White Earth Band of Ojibwe recognizes the importance of acknowledging all its relatives and wishes to provide a time of healing. It is time to welcome our adoptees back home, to come together and provide healing and reconnecting. White Earth will be offering a community forum and healing including, spiritual teachings, education, and the opportunity to learn more about our history. Thursday: 8 am - 5 pm. Friday: 8 am - 5 pm. Shooting Star Casino, Mahnomen, MN. For more info, contact Sandy White Hawk at 651-442-4872 or
Veterans Plant Fundraiser Sale
Honoring Native American Veterans Plant Fundraiser Sale. 9 am - 2 pm. To donate plants for the sale please drop them off at the MCT Building, 1308 E. Franklin Ave, Minneapolis on May 5. Fundraiser will be held at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. For info, call 952-703-3104.
Kids Day at NACC Dental
Kids can come and decorate a mother’s day gifts for their moms. No appointments needed, just walk in. Anyone who makes an appointment in dental will get a free electric toothbrush. 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. NACC, 1213 E. Franklin Ave. Minneapolis. For more info, call 612-872-8086.
Thesis: an Artist-Curator Talk
Artists talk with Aza Erdrich, Dyani White Hawk, and other guests. Refreshments from Powwow Grounds. 7 pm. In conjunction with Synthesis: Paintings by Aza Erdrich, on view until May 27. All My Relations Gallery, 1414 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. For info, call 612-235-4970 or see www.allmyrelationsarts.com.
2016 Indian Law Conference
The 2016 Indian Law Conference will be held at the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. Speakers: Senator Al Franken (invited), Anita Fineday, Professor Janie Simms Hipp, C. Bryant Rogers, Phillip B. Wilson. Professor Sarah Deer will be honored at the reception on Friday afternoon. Co-sponsored by the Minnesota CLE. Mystic Alek Casino, 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd NW, Prior Lake, MN. For more information see: www.minncle.org/
2nd Annual Dakóta Oyate Language Bowl
The language bowl is working to increase the number of Dakota language speakers. Age Groups: Grades 6-12, Adult Novice and Adult Advanced (at your own discretion). Cost to Participate: $100/team. Cost to Attend: Free. Harding High School, 1540 6th St., East Saint Paul, MN. 8 am - 6 pm. Register at: http://ande9484.wix.com/dakotaiapi. For info, contact Brittany Anderson at 612-626-5759 or
Am. Indian Family Center Open House
Please join us for food, door prizes, bingo, crafts, and lots of fun! 11 am - 3 pm. American Indian Family Center, 579 Wells St, Saint Paul. For info, call 651-793-3803 or email:
Monthly Celebration Dinner: Special speakers, testimonials of sobriety, great food, Gospel music and door prizes. 6:30 - 9 pm. Sponsored by Overcomers Ministries. The American Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin Ave. Minneapolis. For info, call 651-690-3891.
Circle of Life Open House
Circle of Life H.C Anishinaabe & Mashkiki Waakaaigan “Honoring Those We Serve”. Join Us for an Open House. MC: Dave Larsen. Kalpulli Ketzalcoatlicue/Aztec Dancers, Red Bone Drum Group, Famous Dave’s food, bingo, free drawings, face painting, balloon twists. 11 am - 3 pm. Franklin Business Center, 1433 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For info, call 612-871-2474 or Mashkiki Waakaaigan at 612-871-1989.
Two Spirit Community Celebration
Community celebration of Two-Spirit and Native LGBT people at MAIC from 9:30 am -- 4:30 pm. Includes four speakers, kid-friendly events, vendors, food, and drum. MAIC, 1530 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls.
Mazinibakajige: Birch Bark Biting
The art of birch bark biting. Join us for an evening discussion and demonstration with birch bark artist Denise Lajimodiere (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe). 5 - 8 pm. Free and open to the public. All My Relations Gallery, 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For info, call 612-235-4970, email
or see www.allmyrelationsarts.com.
Minneapolis American Indian Center Open House
The Minneapolis American Indian Center hosts their Open House with lunch and raffles. Free and open to the community. (Lunch served until gone.) Noon to 2 pm. MAIC, 1530 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. For info, call 612-871-4555.
Information Fair on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Pipe Ceremony, Keynote Speaker, Information Tables, raffles and door prizes. Noon to 4 pm. Feast at 1 pm. Sponsored by the Upper Midwest American Indian Center, 1035 W. Broadway Ave., Minneapolis. For info, call 612 522-4436.
Coming Home (Bi-azhe-giiwewin) Potluck
Coming Home is a new group offered by the Indian Health Board for men. It provides recidivism prevention and recovery support for Native American men who are (1) Completing treatment, (2) Returning to the community from confinement, (3) Wanting cultural traditions to support their healing journey. Monthly potlucks will be held on the third Thursdays for the month (6:00-7:30) to increase positive community support and relationships. All are welcome. For more info, visit: www.facebook.com/indianhealthboard or call Tom at 612-721-9836, or Richard at 612-721-9814.
Ice Cream Social & Dessert Bar
MCT Building Ice Cream Social & Dessert Bar. Please join all the programs housed within the MN Chippewa Tribe building to celebrate the May Indian Month with an ice cream social and dessert bar. Door prizes too. MN Chippewa Tribal Offices, 1113 E Franklin Ave Ste 211, Minneapolis. For info, call 612-871-6618, 612-872-8388 or 612-871-1574.
AIOIC Founder’s Day and Career Fair
American Indian OIC’s Career and Resource Fair. The Resource Fair will have agents from a variety of agencies. Lunch and prizes. Free parking. 12 pm - 3 pm. AIOIC, 1845 E Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For info, see: http://aioic.org or call 612-341-3358.
NACC Open House
Join us in celebrting American Indian Month. Noon to 3 pm in the Native American Community Clinic parking lot. The theme this year is “Keeping Tobacco Sacred”. In the event of rain, the location will be announced. NACC, 1213 E. Franklin Ave. Minneapolis. For more info, call 612-872-8086.
Have a laptop that is running slow? A virus on your PC? We can help. American Indian OIC, the City of Minneapolis, and its’ partners are hosting a free clinic to help repair your broken technology. You will also be able learn more about technology maintenance and security and connect to job training programs that can lead to careers in technology. 1-5 pm at the American Indian OIC, 1845 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis. For info, call 612-341-3358.
Homeland: Native Artist Create on the Ave
Native artists of all backgrounds, including beaders, storytellers, quilt makers, craftspeople, makers, performers, muralists and others, are invited to join the creative peacemaking movement. Artists will work together to share $20,000 to create public art on Franklin Avenue. Artists workshop will be held from 9 am to 5 pm. Breakfast and lunch will be served. All My Relations Arts Gallery, 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For info, call 612-235-4970.
Youth Lacrosse Tournament
The Maanico Horuzra Caabnaikiisik Youth Lacrosse Tournament will be held at Harding Senior High. This is a Free event, sponsored by the Ho-Chunk Nation. All American Indian youth are invited: All ages and skills. Organized teams are not required, but welcomed. Individuals are welcome to join in age brackets. Wooden sticks will be provided for individuals who do not have sticks. All participants will receive t-shirts. Free food, prizes, fun, traditional teachings. Saturday: 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. Harding Senior High Schoo, 1540 6th St. E., Saint Paul, MN. To register, see: www.eventbrite.com/e/maanico-horuzra-caabnaikiisik-youth-lacrosse-tournament-tickets-24437088991. For info, contact Danielle DeLong at:
Bii Gii Win Open House
Bii Gii Wiin CDLF will be hosting its Open House/Indian Month Event at the Minneapolis American Indian Center from 12 pm-4 pm. This event will be an informational event focused on the Housing Sector of our community. MAIC, 1530 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. For info, call 612-354-2249.
We Wait In The Darkness Dance Performance
Rosy Simas dance choreographer will give a FREE performance of her solo work “We Wait In The Darkness” in a shared evening with Japaense-American choreographer Deborah Jinza Thayer. 7:30 pm. The Weitz Family Center for Creativity, Carleton College, 3rd Street East, Northfield, MN. For more info, see: www.rosysimas.com.
Safe Harbor Tribal Summit
This conference will be addressing the sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of Native youth in Minnesota. Attendees will gain an understanding of sex trafficking in Indian Country, working with survivors, and systemic responses to trafficking. This free event is hosted by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The intended audience includes tribal leaders, tribal agency employees, professionals who work with Native youth, tribal community members, and county and state employees who work in Indian Country. May 24: 8:00 am. May 25: 1:00 pm. Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, 2400 Mystic Lake Boulevard Northwest, Prior Lake, MN. For info, see: www.eventbrite.com/e/safe-harbors-tribal-summit-2016-tickets-20893852074.
Ain Dah Yung Center Open House
We look forward to taking this opportunity to acknowledge the great work that we are all accomplishing together...and how we can continue to strengthen our partnerships so that we all walk collectively with our children and families. 11 am - 2 pm. 11:00-11:45: ADY shelter tours and the ADYC Singers perform. 11:45: Feast. 12:30-1:00: Youth spokesperson and Ally of the Year Recognition. Door prize drawings from 11:30 - 2 pm.Ain Dah Yung, 1089 Portland Ave, Saint Paul. For info, see: http://adycenter.org.
Wanaisguni Hikurus Hajawi
Reclaiming our Health 5K Run Walk will take place at Lake Phalen. Please bring your family to participate in this free event. It is open to American Indians of all ages and abilities. There will be tshirts, dinner and raffle prizes available. Raise awareness of diabetes and obesity, and get some exercise. All ages and levels welcome. Wednesday: 5:00 - 7:30 pm. 1600 Phalen Dr, 1600 Phalen Dr. (Main Pavilion) Phalen Regional Park, Saint Paul, MN. To register, see: www.eventbrite.com/ e/wanaisguni-hikurus-hajawi-5k-runwalk-registration-registration-24239448844. For info, contact Danielle DeLong at: siga.delong@ gmail.com or 651-744-4018.
MAICC Saints Baseball Networking
Baseball season is here! We are excited to be hosting another networking event with the St. Paul Saints. Game Day event is at 7:05 pm. $30.00 for game ticket and barbeque while enjoying the company of the Minnesota American Indian Chamber members. Reserved area for the group. Seating is limited to the first 150 people so register early. All attendees will receive a group photo. For info, call 612-877-2117 or email:
To register, see: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07eclrxk1n69d81bae&oseq=&c=&ch=
IHB’s 9th Annual Indian Month Event
Stop by for a healthy lunch, free IHB-Branded Gift (while supplies last), health education and screenings, faffle (2:30 pm) to win bikes and other prizes (must be present to win), and a community walk immediately following the event. 12:30 - 3 pm. IHB, 1315 E. 24th St., Minneapolis. For info, call 612-721-9843 or email:
Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering
The 7th Annual Canoe Nations Gathering “Mde Maka Ska” will take place on the south side of Lake Calhoun. This event gathers hundreds of Native American youth to remember and learn about their history of storytelling, canoeing, lacrosse, art, and water through interactive activities. Lake Calhoun (south side), Minneapolis. 9 am - 2 pm. For info, see: www.facebook.com/Mde-Maka-Ska-Canoe-Nations-Gathering-194924923861619.
Leech Lake Enrollees Meetings
Leech Lake Twin Cities LIC invites Leech Lake enrollees to the Local Indian Council Meeting from 6 - 8 pm. Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center, 2300 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis.
May 31 (deadline)
Ethel Curry American Indian Leadership Scholarship
The Ethel Curry American Indian Leadership Scholarship program is accepting applications through May 31 for the 2016-2017 academic year. This scholarship program will support undergraduate students up to $2,000 per academic year and graduate students up to $4,000 per academic year. Applications must be postmarked by May 31. Applications and instructions can also downloaded from the Indian Education page of the Minnesota Department of Education website: http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/StuSuc/IndianEd/index.html
|Written by Ricey Wild,
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The year: 1975. Scene: Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the month of May. A young chubby brown Indian girl approches the newly opened Indian Center. It is a warm day and excitement fills the girl who was to see wondrous people and events she had never known before. There was a glorious Powwow in the gym and Dine’ (Navajo) Sand Painters in the atrium. Music filled the air while thousands of other people who looked like her were celebrating their own culture and being very proud of it.
That, my friends, was the first Indian Month I can recall and I have kept it close to me ever since.
That particular day I saw my own peoples’ resilient strength even though I could not have expressed it as such at my age then. I felt joy and pride and validation as an American Indian female, which I had never had before. That day changed my life and, as I realize just as of my writing this, made me who I am today.
My Indigenous culture means the world to me and if you have read any of my previous columns you know this.
Before moving to Minneapolis I lived in Bemidji, Minn., and was always on the periphery of any social circle and at the best of times was merely ignored rather than being actively bullied. After entering public school this was the norm and I passively accepted it because, well, that was just the way it was. It’s a white man’s world and my status didn’t matter.
In May the Spring season explodes again into fresh life, color and hope, and if I didn’t know the Lilac bushes would bloom again I’d have to give up. Indian Month is rejuvenation, new beginnings and the continuation of our Indian culture that refused to bow down and disappear into history books even if “They” would have you believe it to be that way. Nope! We are still here and will be even after the rest of yooz have gone to civilize the Moon or Mars.
This Is Our Land. It always has been and always will be. So I encourage you personally to celebrate with us because we are an inclusive type of people or yooz wouldn’t have made it this far, yanno? Understand that and keep it in your hearts that our Turtle Island, as we know it, has been our homeland for millenia – not merely a few thousand years as the historical liars would have it be.
We Indigenous people claim both continents of North and South America as our collective pan-Indian culture. We were here first and so we celebrate our existence despite the continuing agenda of genocide.
We have not merely survived.
My people are the heart and soul of this place and time, and some non-Indians are finally waking up to the reality of the dire situation of climate change and the poisoning of clean water that we all need to live. Ask yourself if moentary profit (not yours) is worth your children’s children’s lives. Think Indian.
Get involved in pro-human and -animal and -plant life groups. To me that would be the greatest honor you can do for the first people of this land. For those whom already do I say Chii Miigwech.
At 19 years young a gorgeous young man from Minneapolis made and played and produced an album “For You”. His name was Prince. We Indian girls were immediate adoring fans and he has been a part of my life since, and I have always loved him for him. Prince liked women who looked like me; dark eyes, black hair and an air of sassiness.
Once outside of The Oz nightclub in St. Paul he followed me upstairs and I was too intimidated to go for it. Regrets? You betcha. But I have a 1981 autograph from Prince signed, you guess it, in Purple from a felt pen I had. He said, “It’s purple” and smiled so even then that was his color.
I love that he was signing autographs recently with the tag, “Be Wild”. I take it personally. I will.
Since then I’ve seen him perform at many concerts and at Paisley Park where I saw him shred and was brought into another world of genius and pure love.
The day he died I was crying and listening to his “Come” album alone in the dark. At the very end he whispers, “I Love You”. I’ma keep that in my heart. I love you back my Sweet Prince.
My beloved Aubid and LaPrairie Family is suffering another great loss and I give my love and prayers for you all. Biisa, your Old Antie is here for you always. I love you.
|Written by The Circle,
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Vaccines are a very important part of protecting your children and yourself from some serious diseases. Anyone who has seen a person die or get very sick from a disease that could be prevented by a vaccine knows how important they are.
Immunizing your child is one of the most loving things you can do. Shots work. Shots are safe. They have very few side effects. The benefits far outweigh any risks.
Immunization starts before a baby is born when the mom gets shots to prevent whooping cough (pertussis) and flu when she is pregnant. These vaccines help keep the mom and baby from getting sick. It is important for dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and anyone else that will be spending time with your baby to get their whooping cough and flu vaccines too. This protects the newborn baby until they get their own vaccinations.
Be sure to get shots at the right ages. Kids get most of their shots by 2 years of age. But if your child is behind, they can still get vaccinated.
We don’t see some of these diseases very often anymore. That is because vaccines work. Vaccinations help keep children healthy so disease does not spread in our communities.
It is okay for a baby to receive several shots at the same time. It helps the immune system to grow stronger. Sometimes babies will be fussy or have a slight fever for the first day after shots– this is common. If you have any questions your health care provider will be happy to answer them.
Before you leave the clinic schedule the next appointment and ask your clinic to give you a shot record for each child. You will need them for the doctor, child care, Head Start, school, camp, and even college.
Sometimes parents are worried about how much shots cost. Free or low cost shots are available through the Minnesota Vaccines for Children program.
Find out if your child can get free or low cost shots at the website: www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/
|Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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As I reported in my April column, Gov. Mark Dayton recently instructed the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) not to authorize any new lease agreements for mining on state lands with Twin Metals Minnesota. Twin Metals has been moving forward on a $2.8 billion underground copper-nickel mine near Birch Lake in northeastern Minnesota.
Dayton expressed concern that mining activities might pollute lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), which he called “a crown jewel in Minnesota and a national treasure.”
Dayton’s move followed the DNR’s decision that the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for Polymet’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Babbit was adequate, and that project could move into the permitting phase.
I have written numerous columns about the potentially catastrophic environmental impacts from sulfide mining in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region.
I have noted that the Ojibwe bands (Fond du Lac, Bois Forte and Grand Portage), which retain hunting, fishing and gathering rights in the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory, have been raising objections to the PolyMet mining scheme for years.
How can Minnesota sign off on PolyMet’s mine and then object to the Twin Metals project?
Regarding Dayton’s decision not to authorize state mineral leases to Twin Metals, Nancy Schuldt, the water protection coordinator for the Fond du Lac Band, said that action was “at least, a step the governor could take to help protect important natural and cultural resources in the 1854 ceded territory, because there is a quite a lot of overlap between the Superior National Forest and the 1854 ceded territory.”
However, Schuldt remains troubled by “the comments that have been made about how we need to protect this ‘jewel’ of the Boundary Waters, as this federally-protected protected wilderness, and somehow it’s okay to let PolyMet destroy the Lake Superior Basin? I’m not sure I understand… that position, which seems to be what the governor is insinuating: that PolyMet’s one thing, but we can’t let sulfide mining destroy the Boundary Waters. I have a hard time with that.”
Incredibly, as Schuldt mentioned, “the governor has not met with the tribes at all on this issue, on either the Twin Metals leases or the PolyMet project.”
On this point, I called Dayton’s press secretary, Matt Swenson. “I do know that the DNR commissioner and all the folks who are working on the PolyMet issue communicate regularly with the tribes, and have met with them numerous times,” Swenson responded. “I would have to go back and check as to whether the governor has met with them.”
Swenson called me back after consulting with Dayton’s scheduler. There have been no meetings between the governor and Ojibwe band officials about copper-nickel mining.
As far as the DNR’s decision about the adequacy of the PolyMet environmental review, Nancy Schuldt said that tribal officials determined that “it would not be particularly strategic” to appeal the DNR decision, because such a challenge “would be heard in a state court, and we’re not really interested in trying to argue with the state over the adequacy of the EIS, when they haven’t listened to us for the last eight years.”
Instead, the tribal “cooperating agencies” in the EIS process have formally objected to the U.S. Forest Service’s Record of Decision (ROD) approving the land exchange, which is a crucial part of PolyMet’s NorthMet project.
PolyMet would get access to land in the Superior National Forest for its open pit mine, and provide other land in exchange. Schuldt said that tribal officials “were a little disturbed” that the Forest Service rushed its draft ROD on the land exchange, and published it before the final EIS on the PolyMet mine was approved by the DNR.
The tribes also are meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which must decide on whether or not to issue a wetland permit for the PolyMet mine. PolyMet’s project involves “almost a thousand acres of direct wetland impact and untold thousands of acres of indirect wetland impacts that have not had mitigation proposed for them,” said Schuldt, who added that issuing a permit to allow “this much wetland destruction” would be unprecedented in the lower 48 states.
Schuldt also hipped me to Water Legacy’s petition last summer to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which calls for a review of Minnesota’s negligent actions vis-à-vis the federal Clean Water Act. In short, some 25 mining facilities in state are operating with expired permits, imperiling our water resources, wild rice, etc.
In early April, the EPA launched an investigation pursuant to Water Legacy’s petition, and requested permit files from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on all of the mining operations.
The EPA investigation will be the subject of a future Political Matters column.
|Written by Nick Boswell,
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Historical trauma for American Indian peoples have encompassed wars, massacres, genocide, imprisonment, reservations, boarding schools and continued oppression and racism. The effects of historical trauma have had a horrific impact on the health and welfare of American Indian peoples for over 500 years – alcoholism and drug addiction, many health (including mental) issues, poor education, and poverty. All of this lands squarely on the shoulders of our children.
In September, 2000, Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs described the effects of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) handling American Indian boarding schools, “They forbade the speaking of Indian languages prohibited the conduct of traditional religious activities, and made Indian people ashamed of who they were. Worst of all, the BIA committed these acts against children entrusted to its boarding schools, brutalizing them emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. The trauma of shame, fear and anger has passed from one generation to the next, and manifest itself in the rampant alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence that plague Indian country.”
Alcoholism in American Indian communities nationwide is not only a critical health issue, but is the leading cause of death in these communities. In Minnesota between the years 2000 and 2007, according to the State of Minnesota Department of Human Services, 42% of American Indian deaths were related to alcohol abuse. These include motor vehicle accidents, suicide, homicide, alcohol poisoning, and heart and liver disease.
This stark picture has not changed for the past 20 years, and in fact is increasing with each new generation.
Our American Indian experience is the psycho-social impact, depending upon a particular tribe’s geographic location and historical experience, of from one to five hundred years of the most brutal genocide, ethnocide and forced acculturation the world has ever seen. The effect of this holocaustic experience for both the individual and the tribal group is, of course, trauma. The result of this trauma is a condition that has come to be known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD has a generic application and can be either acute or secondary. The secondary form is reactive and can have a major inter-generational effect or it can be passed on to children and grandchildren. Acute PTSD can be defined as the normal human reaction to severe trauma, shock or pain. Acute PTSD can occur within an individual as a result of dramatic environmental change, including involuntary displacement or relocation, or being in a natural disaster; as a result of physical, sexual, emotional or spiritual assault, abuse or neglect; as a result of war-like conditions, including experience in battle, experience as a prison-of-war, civil imprisonment, involuntary subjugation at a boarding school, experience in a concentration camp (which is what our reservations were at first), experience as a hostage (including experience with a violent, dominant spouse or suffering a long-term or terminal illness); or as a result of a loss of a close friend or relative to death.
Secondary PTSD can be defined as the normal human reaction by an individual who is in a close interpersonal relationship with someone who is suffering from acute PTSD. Usually this will include a member of the acutely traumatized individual’s nuclear and/or an extended family, a lover or a close friend.
Secondary PTSD can also have an inter-generational effect, and here is where it is most harmful. Those suffering from the reactive type of secondary PTSD often change their behavior patterns and actions in order to cope with the behavior of the person with acute PTSD. These usually negative reactive behaviors and actions can then become learned by the following generations as “normal” behaviors. People never know that what they have learned was not the way it traditionally was in their tribe. These patterns of behavior and actions are identical to those that are found in families of alcoholics and especially with adult children of alcoholics.
There are a number of phrases that persons go through and they are different for different kinds of trauma. For acute PTSD they include:
1. Impact, shock
2. Withdrawal, repression, submission, resignation, insensibility, emotional numbing
3. Regression, ambivalent anger, acceptance, acquiescence, unrealistic optimism, honeymoon
4. Compliance, anger, ambivalent anger, dependent aggression, disappointment, euphoria, emotional anesthesia
5. Trauma mastery, recovery, reconstruction, reorganization
There are a number of different psychological or behavioral symptoms that a person with acute PTSD will have and which ones they have and how severe the symptoms are depends upon what kind of trauma they experienced and how severe it was. In helping a person to face their experience and begin to heal themselves, you must let them know that some of these behaviors may get worse before they get better. Theirs is a normal reaction and the symptoms include: phobias, guilt, shame, blunted emotions, depression, anxiety, hostility, substance abuse, anger, fear, isolation, acting out, feelings of failure or helplessness, mental or verbal liability, increased or decreased sexual function, increased or decreased work function, paranoia, déjà vu, flashbacks, irritability, disassociation, or inefficiency.
There are also a number of psychophysiological symptoms that a person will experience. These symptoms may also get worse before they get better during the healing process and it is important that you let the person with acute PTSD know that this is normal. These symptoms include: Insomnia, nightmares, night tremors, bedwetting, sleepwalking or sleep talking, skin disorders, trembling, hypertension, hyper-alertness, sexual inhibition, diarrhea, digestive disturbances, back trouble, migraines, restlessness, distorted perceptions, fatigue, verbal-audio-speech disorders, weight loss or gain, anorexia, diaphoresis, or tachycardia.
The process of therapy for the acutely diagnosed individual is much like that done in grief therapy and the individual will follow the same stages of denial, acknowledgement, rage, acceptance and mastery. However, there are some important variables in each individual’s experience that must be considered:
1. Intensity of trauma
2. Type of trauma
3. Length of episode
4. Whether trauma is by human hand
5. Age of onset of trauma
6. Stage of individual’s development
7. Length of time since event
Once an individual is past the denial stage and acknowledges the episode(s) it is important that you validate the pain of the trauma, validate them as a human being and, let them know that is was not their fault and they are not alone. It is also important to remember that the experience of trauma creates a “victim mentality” within the individual that becomes part of their identity. You must always confront the individual’s behavior and thinking regarding this “victim mentality” or they will not heal.
With the secondary form of PTSD that is inter-generational, this “victim mentality” can become a part of the family’s, or overall tribal group’s, identity as well. This is especially true for tribal groups that experienced one or more group traumas or the group experienced a series of individualized traumas over the same period(s).
For the individual and the group it is extremely important to point out that they are not to blame for many of their behaviors, because they were learned from those suffering acute or secondary PTSD. It must also be pointed out that many of their parents and grandparents cannot be blamed for their behaviors because they too, were innocent victims who never received help for their own personal trauma.
At the time that severe trauma was thrust upon our Native peoples the group therapy capabilities of each tribal group was being destroyed as well – and there was nothing to replace these capabilities when they were most needed. This destruction of the healing process only exacerbated an already very wounded psyche by increasing the sense of alienation in a spiritual context.
All of this trauma was external to our Native peoples and we cannot “own” the behavior of those who brought this trauma to us. What we can do is heal ourselves and put the blame where it belongs – on the perpetuators. After all, it is common sense to know that a rape victim cannot be blamed for being raped and our people for many generations have been raped physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Because of this holocaustic experience we now suffer daily re-victimized, lack of self-esteem, the highest levels of substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies. We also indulge in many other forms of self-destructive behaviors, including high levels of suicides.
We can successfully treat acute PTSD if therapy begins soon after the onset of the trauma. It is more difficult however, the longer it has been since the onset of trauma.
Much more work is needed to serve the “victim mentality” from the individual’s identity. Secondary PTSD in its primary reactive form is treated much in the same way as acute PTSD. The inter-generational form, however, is much more of a problem for treatment since you are dealing with learned behavior, and although easy to acknowledge, behavior is learned over much of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood – this will take time to learn and relearn new ways of coping and being in the world.
It is suggested that for both individual and group work, a self-empowering form of therapy be used that is culturally reinforcing. The task is a difficult one that we are also in the process of healing our ancestors as we try to heal ourselves.
As we approach the future there remains a great need in addressing the idea of Inter-generational PTSD. The hope is that empirical and theoretical work in this area is encouraged, since presently we have more questions than we have answers – especially in the treatment area.
Western civilization has always assumed that radical change can be brought about by changing the environment. That is why emphasis has always been placed on change in structure. This approach has failed to produce proper results. It has ignored the need to bring about change within men and women themselves and has concentrated on change in the outside world. What is needed, however, is a total change – within American Indian people them-selves, as well as their social environment. The starting point must be the hearts and souls of American Indian men and women, their perception of reality and of their own place and mission in life.
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