Local Briefs
August and Sept
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by The Circle,
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Aug. 12-14
Grand Portage Rendezvous Days Program and Powwow
Music, dancing, craft demonstrations, and hands-on workshops will be held at the Grand Portage National Monument Rendezvous Program. The Stockade, reconstructed buildings and historic encampment are open  from 9 am – 5 pm. The event is held in conjunction with the annual Grand Portage Powwow, an American Indian cultural gathering focusing on dance, song and family celebration. Admission is free. Everyone is invited to watch and participate in the powwow. Free. National Monument Heritage Center, 170 Mile Creek Rd., Grand Portage, MN. For info, see: entry/?id=3738.

Aug. 19-21
SMSC Contest Powwow

Dancers of all ages will gather at the annual Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wacipi. Flag Raising: Saturday and Sunday at 9 am. Grand Entry: Friday at 7 pm., Saturday at 1 pm. and 7 pm., Sunday at 1 pm. $10 for entire weekend with button purchase. Adults 60+ are free. Children 10 and under are free. 2016-2017 Wacipi Grounds, 3212 Dakotah Parkway, Shakopee, MN. Directions: north of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and south of County Road 42, between county roads 83 and 17 (Marschall Road). Ample parking: golf carts are available at no charge to transport guests from the parking lot to the grounds. For info, call 952-445-8900 or see:

Aug. 19-21
50th Annual Mille Lacs Traditional Powwow

Shaw Bosh Kung Pt., Onamia, MN. Directions: West side of Mille Lacs Lake, 12 miles North of Onamia on Hwy 169, follow signs. For info, call 612-440-6526.

Aug. 26-28
Cha Cha Bah Ning Powwow
36th Annual Traditional Pow Wow, Inger, MN. For info, call Dorothy at 218-556-7590.


Sept. 2-4
Wii Gitchie Ni Mi Dim

Labor Day Contest Powwow at the Leech Lake Veterans Grounds, located next to the Palace Casino on Palace Drive. Cass Lake. For info, contact Rod Northbird at 218-308-3120 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Or Leah Gale Monroe at 218-760-3127 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sept. 8-9
47th Annual United Tribes International Contest Powwow 

Lone Star Arena, Bismarck, ND. For info, call 701-255-3285, ext. 1293

Sept. 9-11
Mendota's 17th Annual Traditional Wacipi

Mendota Heights, Mendota, MN (Highway 13 & 110, by Mendota Bridge). For info, call Sharon Lennartson at 651-452-4141 or 612-913-1903. Cost: $5.00 donation, no one turned away.

Sept. 9-11
Indian Summer Contest Powwow

Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee, WI. For info, call 414-604-1000.

Sept. 10-11
Great Dakota Gathering, Homecoming & Powwow

Traditional Powwow and specials for tiny tots, youth, teens, and adults. Parks Ave, Winona, MN. Camping: Free Tent Camping only (no hookups) at Unity Park, RV and Travel Trailer Camping available at Prairie Island Campground.

Sept. 16-18
Mahkato 44th Annual Traditional Powwow

MCs: Jerry Dearly and Danny Seaboy. AD: Richard Milda. Host Drums: Mazakute Singers  Oyate Teca. Grand Entries: Friday at 7 pm; Saturday at 1 pm and 7 pm; Sunday at 1 pm. General Admission $7.00 for the entire weekend, Children 12 and under get in free, Seniors 60 and older: $5.00 Dakota Wakisue Makoce (Land of Memories Park), Mankato, MN. Directions: Coming from 169 heading south into Mankato: Cross over the Blue Earth River on 169/60 and proceed down the short incline. There is a sign on the right side of the road saying Land of Memories Campground with an arrow pointing to the right. Right hand turn lane and turn right. Then take the first left. Go up a small hill, over railroad tracks and into the campground. For info, call Dave Brave Heart at 507-514-5088 or Dan Zielske at 507-387-3572.

Finding Our Way Home Through Healing Trauma
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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It’s that time of year that many healing ceremonies are happening. I find myself contemplating where home is. This month, I’m going to explore why I left the reservation. We all leave home for a variety of reasons.

I have many incredible memories of home. I was born and raised on Rosebud reservation in the rural south central South Dakota. I grew up between a couple of small communities – Two Strike Community and Spring Creek Community.

This month it's been 26 years since I left. After all these years, home still calls to me. I hear it. I miss it. I long for it.

I am beginning to understand I left for very selfish reasons. I left in search of myself. I left in search of someone to save me. I wanted to run away from the pain and misery of sexual abuse. I hoped to find solace someplace else, and maybe, just maybe, someone to save me.

What was I searching for? I was searching for something to make me feel complete. I longed. I yearned for wholeness. I ran away from my pain.  I wanted to forget being sexually abused. 

Also, I was looking for someone to solve my problems, or soothe my emotional aches and pains.  I wanted someone to protect me. What I came to discover was that I was responsible for myself. 

I forged my way into a place that was far away from home. I’d hoped I’d be safe.  Unfortunately, my unhealed pain would follow me. Life continued to teach me lessons, I’d be a victim in abusive relationships and sexually assaulted.

When I began to believe there wasn’t a God and I was damned, heaven opened up. My beacon out of my darkness was the birth of my son and my grandson. My son was what I dreamed of – being a parent.  It is his perfection and his unconditional love that brought me back to life. 

Also, it was when the shell I stayed in became too painful. The shell I built around me to protect me. It is when I broke out of it. I grew.  I sought therapy. I changed my circle of friends. I avoided mean and hurtful people. I learned to protect myself and my family.

We come to our ‘life changing’ moments at various points in of our lives. I did this when I was young. I had opportunities and people who helped me along the way. I’m grateful to my parents and my family who helped me heal. They endured hard conversations and truth telling, but they held on.  

We all have the capacity to change.  That was a belief that was cultivated in me. My mother encouraged me.  She soothed my homesickness and emotional pain, but didn’t yield to me.  She wanted me to find my place in the world. 

It’s hard to leave the luxury of home. Home is safety. Home can be crazy.  Yet, home is familiar. Home is filled with family and friends. Home is filled with people that look like me, sound like me, and think like me. Yet, I left.  

Part of me is home on the prairie of South Dakota, I'm still sitting on my Mother’s porch in Two Strike looking at the stars wondering about the world. The other part of me is here in Minnesota, I am amongst my chosen family and friends and live in the many beautiful communities I adore.
I left home a few decades ago to pursue school and a better life. My parents urged me along. They were my biggest cheerleaders. They understood the struggle of growing up on the reservation. They wanted more opportunities for my life beyond the reservation borders.   

At the end of my life, I want to look back on a life well lived. I know this, my healing has helped my family and the future generations to come. My healing is bound to theirs. They will not bear the burden of my pain, nor the pain we’ve inherited. My grandson and his children will be eager about the world. The future generations of my children will boldly meet the world on their terms. 

My story, parts of it, is a cautionary tale but most of it is filled with hope. It’s always been steeped in hope. It’s my story and my search for my wholeness. My English name is Nick. I am Sicangu Oyate. I am one of the Burnt Thigh People. Cetanzi  (Yellow Hawk) is the name my family has given me. It is the name my ancestors will know me as. Home is where I make it. It is where healing happens. It is where my heart is.

Protecting our water
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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In my May column, I promised to write more about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) investigation into Minnesota’s compliance with the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

As the state prepares to consider a number of permits sought by PolyMet Mining Co. for its copper-nickel mine and processing plant in northeastern Minnesota, it appears that Minnesota has been asleep at the switch in monitoring pollution from taconite mining and other industrial facilities – over several decades.

The environmental group WaterLegacy petitioned the EPA last year (July 2, 2015), calling on the agency to withdraw the state’s authority to enforce industrial pollution permits under the CWA. WaterLegacy argued that some 25 mining facilities in the state are operating with expired permits, putting water resources and wild rice at risk.

The EPA launched an investigation into the allegations of lax environmental oversight, and has now asked the Minnesota attorney general to respond to its questions by Aug. 12. The EPA wants to know how the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) can protect our waters, especially after the Legislature passed measures in 2015 and 2016 that essentially exempted taconite mining operations from complying with a 40-year-old sulfate standard for waters that contain wild rice. Scientific studies have found that sulfide in lake sediment starves wild rice.

“This is about time, it’s been decades, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has just refused to enforce the wild rice sulfate standard,” said Paula Maccabee, WaterLegacy’s advocacy director and counsel, regarding the EPA deadline.

“The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has operated in a vacuum where the only real participants have been the mining companies,” Maccabee continued, during a phone interview in late July. She said that there has been a “complete failure to comply with the Clean Water Act” in Minnesota.

The 2015 state law that instructed the MPCA not to enforce the standard on sulfate pollution was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” according to Maccabee. She said that WaterLegacy had been amassing evidence of the state’s environmental performance for some months, then decided the time had come to “call out the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Legislature for failure to respect the Clean Water Act and failure to enforce laws limiting mine pollution.”

In addition to failing to enforce pollution regulations, the MPCA and legislators have succumbed to the “undue influence of mining industry lobbyists.”

When I worked at the Legislature, more than 20 years ago, and covered the House environment committee, progressive environmental legislation was shredded to bits. It took me some time to realize that industry lobbyists were behind the gutting of these bills.

In response to my question, Maccabee explained that WaterLegacy makes all of its strategic decisions “in consultation with the tribal staff.” For example, the group’s 2015 petition to the EPA to withdraw Minnesota’s authority for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program under the Clean Water Act, was based on documents and investigations by the water quality staffs of the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage bands (this has been corrected from the print version, which listed Boise Forte incorrectly).

I wrote in my May column that the Ojibwe bands say that state officials for the past eight years have ignored their concerns about the PolyMet copper-nickel project. Since the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved the PolyMet environmental impact statement, Indian band officials have turned their focus to federal agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which still need to grant permits for the controversial sulfide mining project.

The Indian bands have to be consulted during the environmental review process, because the PolyMet project threatens the health of the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory, beyond the borders of the reservations. The Indian bands retain rights to hunt, fish and gather in this territory.

At the end of our conversation, Maccabee explained, “WaterLegacy was formed to address the new threat of sulfide mining, which is a threat to Indian country, and a threat to the Boundary Waters, and a threat to Lake Superior.”

She commented that “regular citizens” often told her that if sulfide mining was going to come into the state, “Minnesota is a place where there is such tough regulations and such good enforcement. What we realized several years into this research is that that’s a myth: Minnesota does not enforce pollution control standards.” And Maccabee added that there are no standards for many new pollutants.

“The last thing we should do in Minnesota is experiment with sulfide mining,” she concluded, in view of state regulators’ failure to control “the much less toxic pollution from taconite mining.”

Nimiikinaa: Riding for the land
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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In July Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, lead a horse ride along Enbridge’s proposed route for Sandpiper and Line 3 in Minnesota. The horse ride followed the Enbridge proposed route between two of the most important wild rice producing lakes for the Ojibwe, both called Rice Lake – which were established as federal wild rice refuges by Congress for the exclusive use of the Chippewa at the beginning of the 20th century.
winonahorse2.jpgThe road is interesting. Many of us do not travel these days. Opting instead to rest at home, often with the television or Facebook. We have become comfortable to view much of the world from the inside of our houses, sometimes our air-conditioned houses. That is until the big storms hit and there is no power. 
Let me tell you what it was like on the road for me. I’ve ridden horse for the past five days through the l855 treaty area, through Anishinaabe Akiing. I follow Dakota riders from the Santee Nation, who took their name in this world from this place – Isanti, the people of the knife. For eight thousand years, the people came to this territory to get good materials for knives – the primary equipment for feeding yourselves. Long before the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) our people used knives and knew the land. 
I am riding with Ojibwe people as well. We are riding together, through our territory, the territory upon which the Creator placed us. It is long after the l826 treaty, when the new white man, US government made a treaty between our nations. We had always made our own treaties and agreements before that. That is, after all, how nations govern themselves.
For many of the young men who joined us, this is the first time they have seen the lands of their ancestors. The riders  include Iyokpiya  Eastman, Monga, Matt, Jason (Skinny Bull) Garret, Westley and a little man of seven; Wakanhdi.
Many of these man have ridden with the Dakota 38 riders, those who commemorate the 38 plus 2 who were hung in Mankato in l864, the largest mass hanging in US History. These are the survivors of those families. And they are the most amazing riders, riding through minus zero temperatures for two hundred miles on horseback. They are strong riders.
The Ojibwe riders are led by Todd Utrech and Annie Humphrey. These are real riders, bronc and bull riders, thousands-of-miles-a-year-on-horse-back riders. Riders, with a big R. I am a rider with a little R, a “little C” cow girl. I tell the young men that, and we all laugh. Each, in our own way, is humbled by the horses and the beauty of the land. 
We began our journey at East Lake, Minisikaaning Minis, in the traditional territory of the Rice Lake Band of Anishinaabeg, home of several of the traditional drums of our nation, and the land near Sandy Lake. Sandy Lake is the place where hundreds of our people died. They died from starvation in the hard cold winter and their forced death march, brought about by the federal government – that was l850. We remember them.  
We stay at a place the Mille Lacs Band has purchased, and is now returning to a farm as a part of work to grow food for the community. Wolves are out at night, especially on a full moon, and the land is lush with the rains. Most of us camp but we keep a washing room at the local hotel, the Country Meadows. We can’t have more than a room there because the rest of the hotel is rented out to Canadian Mining companies, which have permits to explore for the miskwaabik, the copper ore.
The Tamarack Mine interests leased 35,000 acres of land not far from Big Sandy and Round lakes, and at last count had over l24,000 feet of drill core samples. The project is a venture of Talon Mining and Rio Tinto Zinc/Kennecott (the largest copper mining company in the world). A year ago, when I came to this village for the funeral of Mushkooub Aubid, the hotel was also booked by exploration crews. Geologists estimate more than 10 million tons of mineable ore lie below.
Dollar General and Enbridge Company take hits from courts
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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generaldollar.jpgIt may be time to work with Native people. Two court decisions, one at the US Supreme Court and another in Canada’s federal appeals court, came out against big companies who do business with tribes, and neglect tribal authority.

Late June’s US Supreme Court decision let stand a lower court decision acknowledging tribal government authority to regulate a non-Native business on tribal lands.  The case involved Dollar General, the discount retailer, and a sexual assault charge. After a 4-4 split in the Supreme Court, the Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians decision left intact the Fifth Circuit of Appeals decision.

The decision upheld civil jurisdiction of a Choctaw tribal court to hear a suit against the retailer Dollar General concerning an alleged sexual assault by one of its employees against a tribal member in a store on tribal land. The suit now continue in tribal court against Dollar General, and we should all probably be watching that… it will be interesting.

Up north, in a Canadian court ruling, the Enbridge Company had a major set back when the Canadian Federal Appeals Court ruled that the $7.9 billion proposed Enbridge Gateway Pipeline (a pipeline proposed from the Alberta Tar sands to the west coast) would not go ahead because of lack of tribal consultation. On June 30, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeals overturned approvals for Enbridge pipeline, finding, the government fell short in its obligations to consult with First Nations groups.

The appeals court ruled that while the federal government designed a proper framework to consult with First Nations during the planning of the pipeline, the execution fell short in a critical phase of the consultation process. Frankly, the Minnesota PUC might take note.

What does this all mean for the White Earth band, and Native people of the US and Canada?  It may mean that the times are changing; the era of pushing pipelines, mining projects or retail stores onto tribal land, with immunity from tribal jurisdiction or consultation is over. We will see…  
It may also mean that if a corporation enters into a consensual  agreement with a sovereign jurisdiction; that corporation’s activities will be subject to jurisdiction by that tribe…aka the sovereign jurisdiction.  

Over time, there has been little regard for tribal jurisdiction by non Indians who come onto tribal land. In fact, until the passage of the federal Violence Against Women Act ( VAWA 2014) there was no recourse for a Native woman  in a domestic dispute by a non tribal member on the reservation.

Until 2014, the ability of tribes to protect our most vulnerable was not guaranteed. Consider these statistics: 34% of Native women will be raped,  39%  will be victims to domestic violence; 67% reported  assailants were non-Native individuals. This set of facts is paired with little or no justice: U.S. Attorneys declined to prosecute nearly 52% of violent crimes that occur in Indian country; and 67% of cases declined were sexual abuse cases.

Under the 2014 federal law, there is now some recourse, but it is far from perfect.

To the Native community, the debate remained a clear example of a discriminatory legal system. Since the Supreme Court’s Oliphant decision stripped tribal communities of criminal jurisdiction over non- tribal members, many reservations like White Earth, with over half the residents as non-enrolled band members, face complex jurisdiction issues, ie: which cops, which agencies and which courts… let alone the three counties which have entrenched themselves inside the reservation borders. In short, it gets pretty confusing.

In contrast, Native people are prosecuted under both tribal and non-tribal law, and are eleven times more likely to be in prison than a non Indian. Native people are subject to the laws of a different political entity, but non-Native criminals have found themselves free of charges in Indian country.

Times may be changing. In 2003, Dollar General leased land from the tribe and entered into an agreement with the Mississippi Band of Choctaws. In a youth opportunity program, Dollar General enrolled a then-13-year-old tribal boy member into its youth-opportunity program. He accused a store employee, non-member Dale Townsend, of sexual advances and sexual harassment. Unresolved, his family brought the case to tribal court in 2005. Dollar General was named as a defendant through vicarious liability, and it filed to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the tribal court did not have the authority to try it.

The relatively narrow facts of the Dollar General case illuminate a larger set of questions increasingly being reviewed by US, Canadian and international courts. The core issue revolves around the idea of sovereignty – the right of a people to govern itself – and order their own affairs. Buried in the questions about jurisdiction over a $2.5 million civil suit are deeper questions about how the US (or in the Enbridge case, Canada) recognizes tribal authority and how and where sovereignty arises. In short the times seem to be changing; although the Indian wars are far from over.   

For the people of White Earth and other tribes, both cases may mean that our tribal government and legal institutions may be able to protect citizens from non Indian businesses who break our laws. I would say it is about time.

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