Local Briefs
Political Matters: Killing Phil Quinn
Thursday, January 07 2016
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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Killing Phil Quinn

The Nov. 15 fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old black man, in north Minneapolis, triggered an upsurge in activism directed by Black Lives Matter. There was an occupation of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct, which went on for more than two weeks before police dismantled the encampment on Plymouth Avenue in an early morning action.

And the Fourth Precinct occupation gained national attention when a group of white supremacists showed up one evening; as they were moved away from the encampment, one of them opened fired and shot five people with the Black Lives Matter group. Fortunately, none of the gunshot injuries was life threatening.

Another climactic event associated with the #Justice4Jamar movement took place Dec. 23, when Black Lives Matter returned to the Mall of America (where a Dec. 20, 2014, protest drew more than 2,000 supporters), then traveled via light rail to the nearby airport terminals and snarled traffic for about two hours.

An incident that has received much less press attention is the fatal police shooting of Philip Quinn, a 30-year-old member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, which occurred late September in St. Paul. According to family members, Quinn suffered from schizophrenia and was in the midst of a psychotic episode – he had been cutting himself with a knife – when police came to the house he shared with his fiancée and three children in the West Seventh neighborhood of St. Paul.
As is usually the case in this type of police shooting, accounts by police and witnesses diverge.
Darleen Tareeq, Quinn’s fiancée, told St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Mara Gottfried, “The first set of officers [who came to the house earlier in the day] gave him space and he fled. The next set of officers... came to my house with guns drawn, made a perimeter, called him and shot him.... Obviously, if I felt endangered, I would have been in my house, but I was standing right there with our daughter in my arms when they did it.”

Gottfried’s story in the Dec. 23 edition of the Pioneer Press ( reviews the troubling incident and its aftermath. Members of Quinn’s family who witnessed the shooting say that the police opened fire too quickly, rather than using a non-lethal weapon like a Taser. Dave Titus, president of the union representing St. Paul cops, told the Pioneer Press that Quinn, who had run from officers earlier in the day, “made a conscious decision to run at police with a screwdriver in his hand,” which led to the deadly outcome. St. Paul police officers Joe LaBathe and Rich McGuire reportedly fired the fatal shots.

Quinn’s friends and family members are searching for answers, “They’ve been gathering most days in December at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center, holding signs such as ‘Justice For Phil Quinn’ and ‘Stop Police Brutality,’” according to Gottfried’s story.

The relatives and friends called for an independent investigation into Quinn’s death, during a demonstration at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) the day after Thanksgiving. The BCA investigates case at the request of law enforcement; but the St. Paul police have not made such a request, Gottfried wrote. The St. Paul Police Department conducted an investigation, and the case will go to a grand jury, which is normal procedure in shootings involving cops. Police critics – including those involved in the justice for Jamar Clark effort – contend that fatal officer-involved shooting cases go to a grand jury to die.

The killing of Phil Quinn brings together the issues of controversial police killings of people of color and of those afflicted by mental illness.

Native Americans are killed by police at a higher rate than any other ethnic group, according to a July report by Al Jazeera America, which focused on the fatal police shooting of Paul Castaway, a Rosebud Sioux tribal member, in Denver. He was holding a knife to his own throat when the cops opened fire. It is a case that seems eerily similar to the shooting of Quinn.

As to the mental illness aspect, I reported on the 2000 fatal police shooting of Barbara Schneider, who was in the midst of an acute paranoid episode when police shot her to death in her Uptown apartment. That killing led to the formation of the Barbara Schneider Foundation, which has advocated for Crisis Intervention Teams in Minnesota. Apparently, there’s still a need for further police training to deal with individuals in the midst of mental health crises.
The Facebook group Justice for Phil Quinn has announced a Jan. 9 gathering. Details to be posted soon.

Indigenous Peoples Protest at D12 Day of Action in Paris, France
Thursday, January 07 2016
Written by Dallas Goldtooth,
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pariscradleboardsm.jpgWhen the official UN climate negotiations took place in December in Paris, France, thousands of people took to the streets of Paris to protest. Holding red flowers, umbrellas and banners, they created red lines along the boulevard Avenue de la Grande Armée and other streets to state their opposition to climate-damaging fossil fuels. The red line symbolically points from the victims to the perpetrators of the climate crisis – the fossil fuel industry.
Indigenous Peoples were among those who took to the streets for an Indigenous Rights action on the closing day on Dec. 12th, hours before the final agreement was to be presented.

Representatives from Indigenous nations of Circumpolar, Amazon, South Pacific and North America joined for an early morning sunrise ceremony at the foot of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral. The ceremony was disrupted by Paris Police who came to the square and begun to remove banners.

We, Indigenous Peoples, are the redline. We have drawn that line with our bodies against the privatization of nature, to dirty fossil fuels and to climate change. We are the defenders of the world’s most biologically and culturally diverse regions. We will protect our sacred lands. Our knowledge has much of the solutions to climate change that humanity seeks. It’s only when they listen to our message that ecosystems of the world will be renewed,” said Tom Goldtooth (Dakota/Dine), Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, based in Bemidji, MN, U.S.A.

parisgroupsm.jpgThe morning prayer circle was moved down the street to the Pont des Arts, also known across the world as the ‘Love Lock Bridge’ where Indigenous Peoples staged a direct action. Their collective message was clear,  “People discuss ‘red lines’, we are the red line. We are the keepers of the land, protectors of animals, the seas, the air. We are the solution.”

“Our planet is hotter. The seas are rising. Our communities are facing reality that we may have to move, we have winter wildfires happening in the Arctic. We are out of time. Any solutions that do not talk about cutting emissions at the source, or keeping fossil fuels in the ground, are false solutions. We don’t have time to talk about carbon markets, carbon trading, REDD+ projects. We must act now,” said Goldtooth.

“The seas are rising, our communities have nowhere else to go,” said Sina Brown-Davis, a Maori activist.
At noon, Indigenous peoples joined in solidarity with the global D12 REDLINE action at Arc de Triomphe. At the front of action, Indigenous Peoples held a conference condemning the failed leadership of nation states for their exclusion of Indigenous rights and human rights in the operational text of the Paris agreement.

parisbridgesm.jpg“Here at the COP21 they are proposing false solutions to the climate crisis, they are proposing a commodification of the sacred, they want to put a price on the air we breathe. They want to go into other countries, displace our Indigenous brothers and sisters, so that they in the US can continue killing our people. We are the frontlines, we are the red lines,” said Kandi Mossett (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, North Dakota).

During the march, a traditional Ponca cradleboard was presented to the people of Paris. The cradleboard represents future generations and was carried by Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca Nation) who spoke at the march, “We come here with a present for Paris, we know what happened on November 13. We Indigenous people know how that feels to have someone kill the innocent ones. We offer this symbol in memory of lives lost, and we thank-you for hosting us on this sacred day.”

Over 50 Red Lines solidarity events were organized worldwide in North America, Europe, South Africa and Nepal.

Reprinted with permission of the Indigenous Environmental Network .

Power fight could cost White Earth chairwoman Vizenor her job
Thursday, January 07 2016
Written by Tom Robertson / MPR News,
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A power struggle over constitutional reform on the White Earth Reservation could cost longtime tribal Chairwoman Erma Vizenor her job.

The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) removed Vizenor from its governing board in December. The MCT governs six Minnesota bands, including White Earth, and is led by a board made up of tribal chairs and secretary-treasurers from each band. Vizenor sat on that board for the past 18 years, but lost her seat when the MCT voted to censure her.
White Earth Secretary-Treasurer Tara Mason said the censure was sparked by Vizenor’s efforts to reform the tribal Constitution. Mason has opposed Vizenor since taking office in 2014.

In 2013, Vizenor and the tribal council drafted a new constitution for White Earth that would have drastically shifted the government structure and changed requirements for tribal membership.

The new Constitution was approved in a referendum vote but implementation stalled shortly after.

In May, Vizenor sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, hoping to jumpstart the effort. That letter, according to Mason, overstepped Vizenor’s powers as chairwoman.

“Her letter violated our current Constitution,” Mason said. “She didn’t have the authority to go outside the tribe.”
In a ruling handed down at the Shooting Star Casino, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe representatives agreed.
Vizenor said that she did send the letter to Washburn, but called the censure vote a move to crush constitutional reform.

“The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe has no separation of powers,” she said. “It’s open to corruption. We need change, but they don’t want to lose power.”

Vizenor still holds her office on White Earth, but the MCT vote leaves her job in the hands of the White Earth Tribal Council. Meetings have not yet been scheduled, but the council could vote to either force Vizenor out, hold a recall election or take no action at all.

Vizenor isn’t worried about her future with the tribe. If forced out, she said, 2016 is an election year and she’ll just run again.
“I have five degrees,” she said. “Two of them are from Harvard. I could be a lot of places, but I’ve been called by the Great Spirit to be here, because we need change.”

Calls to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe were not returned.

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

New Wisconsin bill threatens centuries old burial mounds
Thursday, January 07 2016
Written by The Circle,
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wismoundsindangersm.jpgA bill from Wisconsin Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and Representative Robert Brooks, R-Saukville, would remove protections for American Indian burial sites and force the Wisconsin Historical Society to allow the excavation of a centuries old effigy mound in order to prove there are human remains within the mounds on their land.

The bill stems from a company’s wishes to extract $10 million to $15 million in limestone aggregate from the site. Wingra Stone and RediMix, a concrete and stone producer, has mined extensively on the 57-acre plot surrounding the effigy mounds for years. The site is located inside the company’s Kampmeier Quarry, north of the town of McFarland.

Opponents of the legislation say the mounds are a significant cultural, religious, and spiritual site, and that the bill runs counter to the purpose of Wisconsin Burial Site Protection Act.

At a packed town hall meeting held at the Waukesha Public Library on December 14, Kapenga heard from numerous community members their opposition to the proposed bill. Ho-Chunk District 2 Legislator David Greendeer, said the issue is nothing new to the Ho-Chunk people. “Every place that we walk within the state of Wisconsin; every building that’s been built; every metro-city is built over all of our people. Everywhere around the entire United States, is over all of our Native people,” said Greendeer.

Greendeer was careful to emphasize that the Ho-Chunk presence was not to “oppose” Kapenga personally but rather to work cooperatively towards a favorable resolution for all.

Officers from the Waukesha Police Department were present at the public meeting. It is not clear if law enforcement is present at each of Kapenga’s monthly public meetings.

As mining has exhausted other parts of the 57-acre quarry, Wingra has challenged the existence of human remains at the site in an effort to prove it should be removed from the state’s registry of protected burial sites. That was in 2010 and in 2012, the State Historical Society ruled there was insufficient evidence to determine the mounds do not contain human remains. Since that decision, the issue has been tied up in litigation.

“The fact of the matter is there is no proof that there’s any burial materials there,” said Wingra President Bob Shea. “We certainly wouldn’t disturb a known burial site. But there needs to be some definitive means to be mostly certain – if not completely certain – that there are remains at the site.”
The mounds at Kampmeier Quarry are part of the once-larger Ward Mound Group, which has mostly been destroyed.

Wingra began operating the quarry in 1962, but the Ward mounds remained unprotected until a 1986 law gave the Historical Society the power to identify and catalog potential burial sites and their surrounding lands for preservation. Destruction of the remaining mounds was stopped when the Ward mounds were officially cataloged as a burial site in 1990.

“For us, our oral traditions and history tell us those are human remains,” said Ho-Chunk spokesman Collin Price. “These mounds, to our people, represent so many things. They are a huge part of our culture and what would essentially happen is they’d be destroyed. To excavate their remains is grotesque to even consider,” added Price.

Reprinted with permission from the Red Cliff Band of  Lake Superior Chippewa Indians’ Miisaniinawind “This is Who We Are ”.

Whats New In The Community For January
Thursday, January 07 2016
Written by The Circle,
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Honor the Earth awards $90,000 for sacred sites and culture
Honor the Earth has awarded $90,000 in new grants to Indigenous organizations in North America and the Pacific. “This year’s grants are particularly focused on protection of sacred sites, and the continuation of strong cultural traditions in our Native communities”, said Board Co-Chair Shannon Martin (Potawatami/Anishinaabe). The grants range from the work to protect sacred ceremonial grounds and traditions to the repatriation of Ojibwe birchbark scrolls to the White Earth band of Anishinaabeg.

Grantees include, Apache Stronghold (AZ), Earth Guardians (CO), Halau Hula Kealaonamaupua (HI), Native American Educational Technologies (WI),  Nibi Walks (MN), Horse Spirit Society (SD), Water Unity Alliance (Mohawk Territory), Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw (LA), the White Earth Tribe (MN) and many others.

“We are very pleased to be able to join with communities protecting their sacred sites, encouraging and nurturing their youth, and restoring cultural traditions,” Board Co- Chair Paul DeMain said.
Many of the organizations funded by Honor the Earth have successfully stopped projects, including this year’s victories over the Keystone XL pipeline (no presidential permit) and the GTAC mine proposed for Northern Wisconsin. “We hope there is justice for many of these communities,” Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls (Honor Board member) said.

Honor the Earth, based on the White Earth reservation, is a national Native organization which was founded in l993, working on environmental and cultural support for grassroots Indigenous communities.

22 selected to take part in Native Nation Rebuilders program
A woman from Leech Lake and a woman from White Earth were two of 22 people in Minnesota, and North and South Dakota, selected to take part in The Bush Foundation’s Native Nation Rebuilders program.

The program is designed for people who “share a passion for learning about governance and other nation-building practices,” a press release said.

Representing the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is Melissa Bowstring and representing the White Earth Nation is Margaret Rousu.

The Bush Foundation created the Native Nation Rebuilders Program in 2010 after elected tribal leaders from the 23 Native nations that share geography with Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota called for committed community leaders to help with nation-building work. Since it launched, the program has selected 128 rebuilders from 20 Native nations in the region.

FDLTCC wins marketing and communications awards
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) was honored with Gold and Silver awards for excellence in public relations, marketing, and communication in the 2015 National Council for Marketing and Public Relations District 5 Medallion Awards competition.

The Gold Medallion of Excellence first place award recognized the college’s new web site that was launched in 2015. The Silver Medallion of Excellence second place award recognized the 30-second television ad titled “The Journey” that has aired on local broadcast and cable television networks during 2015.

“The primary purpose of our marketing and communication projects always has been to convey messages about who we are, what we do, and the range of opportunities and benefits we offer to our students and the communities we serve,” said Tom Urbanski, Director of Public Information at FDLTCC.

The Gold Medallion of Excellence award-winning college web site is located at The new site features a responsive design, new site architecture, one-click navigation, new photography, integrated social media and video, news blog, and a behind-the-scenes content management system.
The Silver Medallion of Excellence award-winning television ad can been seen on the college’s YouTube channel that is integrated into the web site.

The National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) is an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges and represents marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges across the United States and Canada. The regional Medallion Awards recognize outstanding achievement in marketing communication at community and technical colleges in NCMPR District 5, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, the Canadian province of Manitoba, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands. It is the only competition of its kind that honors excellence exclusively among marketing and public relations professionals at two-year colleges. There were over 300 entries submitted across 36 categories in the 2015 NCMPR District 5 Medallion Awards competition.

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