Local Briefs
From the Editor's Desk: Overcoming fatalism and claiming victory
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgThe greatest enemy we face as Native people is fatalism. It defines our historic, current and future struggles. From the moment the earliest European settlers put foot on our shores, it was because they believed it was their right to conquer our home. When they found us living here, millions-strong, it was their belief that we would eventually become extinct.

Throughout five centuries of wars, battles, plagues, relocations and government treaties, the occupation of our home and our culture was based on the misguided belief that we would eventually die out. But throughout all those wars, battles and broken promises, we continued to survive, thrive and flourish, our identity slightly altered, but ultimately intact. We hold true to our faith, our values and our traditions even when the outside world believes we are irrelevant.

Our current struggles are among culture, race and politics. Whether it is Dan Snyder's devious attempts to buy implied support by tribal nations through misdirected philanthropy, the government's glacial pace at addressing land rights for individual Indian landowners or multinational oil and gas corporations like Enbridge and TransCanada, attempting to damage our homelands in the guise of energy independence and monetary wealth, we face a myriad of troubles.

But over the arc of time, we see how we overcame our oppression and we keep the faith that we will continue to overcome this oppression. We do this by being thankful for everything we have – even if it's not much to begin with – we give thanks for every day that we live. We rediscover our family and tribal language, histories and roots; we nurture them as best we can by ensuring their survival.

This is evident in the Twin Cities by the opening of the Bdote Learning Center, a dream that is six years in the making. Immersion education in Ojibwe and Dakota are the first steps in the journey toward understanding our historic identity. While linguists debate the idea of whether language is formed by culture or culture is formed by language, we know that our language defines us as a people. Its roots hold the key toward understanding our world perspective and forming a new path for living in contemporary society.

In that society, we have suffered. After seeing the opening performance of Rhiana Yazzie's “Native Man The Musical, Phase I,” we understand how identity and experience form who we are as contemporary Natives in modern America. Whether we grew up on the reservations or in the urban setting, it has had an impact on us. The key toward moving forward is to acknowledge our individual and collective experiences, both good and bad, rather than being ashamed of them. When we can acknowledge our history and learn from it, we claim victory over our oppression.

Enbridge not good at math
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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Lorraine Little of the Enbridge Company keeps telling regulators and the public that 96 percent of the landowners along the proposed route of the Sandpiper Bakken oil pipeline are friendly and supportive. I don’t believe it.

That might be because of comments submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: Some 459 opposed the pipeline route, while 37 were proponents of the route. Of those opponents, 387 expressed environmental concerns, 131 expressed concerns about the tribal impact and 347 wanted an alternative route, outside of the lakes. (Remember Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., came out opposing the pipeline a couple of weeks ago and some 20 state representatives expressed deep concerns about the pipeline process at the PUC.)

So, not sure how Enbridge does math, but I learned my math differently. Let’s think about where Enbridge might have gotten its numbers. The support might be somewhat true in North Dakota, or at least almost, because the North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved the route of the pipeline. This is not surprising, for several reasons.

It Ain't Easy Being Indian
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Ricey Wild,
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ricey wild.jpgIf you are a regular reader of this column you must be familiar with my one of my major rants; the Bering Strait Theory. Yeah, I become an absolute monster spewing rage and fury anytime I come across that lie. I wrote some years ago how the white man’s own technology would prove what Indians of Native nations have said all along, that we were put here by the Creator as were the animals, waters and vegetation that truly is all we need to thrive here on Turtle Island.

So when I read that an arrowhead AND a mastodon skull were found close to each other off the coast of Chesapeake Bay I was all excited. Dang!!! We had some badass ancestors hah?! Eating mastodon steaks and all! My imagination is boggled by the idea of hunting mastodons but hey they found a way to hunt them cuz an Indian’s gotta eat right? More articles have also come out recently that we Indians of the Americas are genetically similar and very different from other people who migrated out from Africa.

TAKE THAT and roll it up in a bun you naysayers!!! Jeez I’m smiling just big as I write this.

There is also growing evidence that people can also inherit traumatic memories in their gene sequence and I believe that. I also believe that we, the descendants of the few who were left after the U.S. genocide are stronger because we have to be. BTW, I know some very strong women on Facebook who are organizing and yeah yooz better Wacha!!! Women will be the ones to pick up the ugly mess made by 21st Century idiots and those with their head stuck in the sand regarding climate change and dependence on fossil fuels.

Political Matters: Washington's 'R' word
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpgThe rhetoric is escalating in the run-up to the Minnesota-Washington NFL game. A new stadium is under construction downtown on the site of the former Metrodome, so the Vikes are playing their games at TCF Bank Stadium (“the Bank”) on the University of Minnesota campus.

As the Washington Post reported in early August, the Bank complex features a Tribal Nations Plaza, which honors “the 11 Native American tribes in Minnesota. It was built with a $10 million donation from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community — the largest private gift ever to Gophers athletics.” Last month, tribal officials released a statement expressing opposition to the Redskins’ name “and other sports-related logos, mascots and names which degrade a race of people,” according to the newspaper. The Shakopee band and other Minnesota Indian bands are working with the university to prepare “appropriate responses” to the NFL game and “minimize the damage that could be done by invoking the [“R”] name in a place that respects and honors the Minnesota Native American community.”

American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Clyde Bellecourt has threatened to organize mass civil disobedience to stop the Nov. 2 game, if Washington comes here with the Redskins name and logo. Bellecourt, who is the director of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media, also has threatened to sue the University of Minnesota if the Washington franchise doesn’t tone it down. The coalition organized a large march to the Metrodome last November, when Washington visited Minneapolis for a nationally-broadcast Thursday Night Football game.

Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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jpeg_pic.jpgAs Native people, from a diverse world views, we have a lot more in common than we don’t. ‘Am I Indian enough?’, ‘Living in an urban environment and on the rez, am I indian?’, ‘What is being Indian?’, ‘How do we reconcile our painful histories so we survive, as a people?’

For a culture to survive it must adapt. It must remain relevant with the sociopolitical community constructs that enable it to survive. Twenty years ago I moved to the Twin Cities; it was 1987 when I fell in love with The Cities. I was a wide-eyed kid from the rural Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, on the end of summer trip for a college prep program, Upward Bound. The Twin Cities pulsated with excitement and called for me to discover it.

With the blessing of my parents and the love of my family, I embarked on new opportunities and the challenge of attending college at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D. I would return back here to work for ValleyFair for a summer when my love affair with Minnesota deepened.

The vibrant community of social activism pulsated. I come from a family that is active in tribal politics and understands how essential it is to be an active community member. Once I completed my undergraduate, I dreamed of Minnesota. The Twin Cities, the place where AIM began and their call to action brought me here.

Little did I know that my rural reservation upbringing would challenge me. Generations of my family, as many Natives, grapple with assimilation and integration. Over the years, through social activism and being involved with community, I found myself being the lone Native voice at the table. Firstly, I needed to define my voice, pull apart the childhood lessons with the urgency of being in non-Native spaces, ‘speak when you are spoken to,' 'don’t speak over people when they talk,' 'wait your turn to speak,' et cetera.

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