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Local Briefs
Fred Armel
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by Catherine,
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Fred Armellobit_fred_armel_web.jpg
June 13, 1948 - November 4, 2015

Fred Armell, of the Ho-Chunk Nation, was born in Winnebago, Nebraska and spent most of his life in Minnesota. Fred was a well-known artist; his paintings and drawings were always of a spiritual nature. He was a long-distance runner and took part in countless spiritual runs and walks, including the 1992 Peace and Dignity Journey.

Fred was a sun-dancer at Pipestone for many years. In the Twin Cities he volunteered serving free meals at the American Indian Center and helped with a gardening program in the Little Earth Community.
Fred bonded with people from all walks of life. He is survived by his son, Joaquin Armell, his sisters, Kay Jensen and Patty Armell and many other relatives.

William Roy St. John
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by Catherine,
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William Roy St. John
January 8, 1968 - November 15, 2015.
obit_william_st_john.jpgWilliam Roy St. John, age 47, formerly of Sisseton, South Dakota Journeyed to the Spirit World on Sunday, November 15, 2015. He was born on January 8, 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of William LaCroix and Patricia St. John. He is survived by a son: Anthony Philbrick; a grandchild: Wakan Philbrick; a brother: Richard Byington and by a sister: Netnuqua Martin; Nieces and nephews; other relatives and lots of friends. He is preceded in death by his mother Patricia St. John Renner, and father William LaCroix, brother Mark Byington.

William enjoyed to do artwork like pencil drawing, portraits, and paintings, playing basketball, watching football and basketball. He enjoyed eating at Pizza Hut. He also enjoy spending time with his son Anthony St. John Philbrick. William loved his family, he was very caring and loving to everyone he met!

Funeral services for William Roy St. John was held on November 23rd at The Community Center in Old Agency Village, South Dakota. A Wake was held on November 21 and an all night wake was held on November 22nd at The Community Center in Old Agency Village, South Dakota. Interment was at St. Matthew’s Cemetery in Veblen, South Dakota.  

Honorary Casket Bearers: Chaske St. John, Kyle St. John, Dylan DeMarrias, Isaiah Dragswolf and Sequoyah St. John Casket Bearers: Richard St. John, Juilo Casarez, Carlos Casarez, Jeffery Moreno, Edward St. John and Fred Ducheneaux.

The Chilson Funeral Home in Winsted, Minnesota is serving the family.  Online condolences may be made to www.chilsonfuneralhome.com .

 

Native Artists
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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It is since the dawn of time that we’ve craved our own understanding. For as long as there have been people there has been art. Art is what inspires us. Art helps us grapple with our humanity. It gives us a sense of our smallness in this vast universe. It is through storytelling, writing, drawing, painting, drumming, singing, etc., we express our humanity. Art bellows from our innateness of being.

How has art changed my life?

I began writing during my tumultuous adolescent years. I kept a journal documenting the struggle of being a Native teen growing up on a reservation. I found solace in writing. I was able to rumble about in my mind. I was able to wrestle down demons.

My journal is the place that I explore different ideas. I am able to mimic people that I admire. I am able to be critical of the world around me. I am able to sit in awe. I am able to grapple with pain. I am able to give meaning to what I am feeling.

Writing continues to give me an opportunity to appreciate the grace of God. It is in these quiet moments that I am able to commune with God. I am able to reconnect myself to the broader universe, and to maintain my perspective on this human experience that I am on.

Now, I write for my kids. I write my stories, my family stories, and advice so that one day when I’m not here, they will be able to read my words. I won’t be very far away from them. I remind my kids to use what they can and leave what you don’t need. One day, your children may need it or their children may need it. I write so that they know that I think about them now. I dream of them. I long for them. I want to reach across the chasm of time and space to comfort them. I don’t want them to cower from the light. I want them to be bold. I want them to be brilliant. I want them to be everything I know they are capable of being. It is from here, in this time and this place, that I see them and I dream of them. And, I love them.
If I could wish anything for anyone is to do something creative. At first, you may feel insecure and doubtful about your ability, but continue past it. Try different mediums of art that you want. You will succeed at some and you will fail at others, but keep trying to find what feels right. Do this art for yourself, not anyone. Do it for your own mental health, spiritual health, physical health, which in turn will be overall health. As you ignite this spirit of creativity, you will find yourself appreciating life more fully. You will breathe deeper and the hues of the world will be more brilliant. You will experience life to the fullest.

Remember, your art is for you. If you choose to share it with others, do so with full thoughts that they may not like it, but it is not their job to. There is a vulnerability to showing your work. Take your time doing this.

Be careful who you show your early, unsophisticated work to because they may do more harm than good. This may be unintentionally, but it may be intentional because they are see that you are changing and they want you are unfamiliar to them. You art is for you.

You will find that people who have similar interests will be drawn to you and you will find that you crave being in those places that they are. You will want to understand more fully the depth, breadth, and the fullness of what your art is capable of. Go with it. Look at it with a wide eyed wonder. Take a childish wonder about it. Have fun. Experience joy with it.

Don’t burden your art with the responsibility of being a source of income. That may, or may not, come in time. Build a body of work that you can look back upon. Try different aspects of your art. Mimic others until you feel confident or capable of doing what is distinctly you. This is all about you, not anyone else.

You will find that people will be inspired by what you are doing. Don’t live your life in regret. Use art to be able to unleash the possibility of you. You’ll be amazed and be impressed by what you discover. You are pretty amazing…

It was through writing, art, that I was taught about being alive. It gave me an emotional language. It gave me an imagination. It gave me inspiration.

Art heals. Art if given the effort has the ability to heal and transform.

Mining and the Indian bands
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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The public has been invited to comment on the final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine south of Babbit, in northeastern Minnesota.
The report, which can be downloaded from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website is fairly huge – 263 MB, 3,576 pages; the chapter on environmental consequences from what is known officially as the NorthMet Mining Project and Land Exchange is 812 pages. There also is a 60-page executive summary available.
The summary document features some fairly impenetrable technical language; and the Minnesota Ojibwe bands that were designated as “cooperating agencies” in the environmental review process, which has been rolling along for the past 11 years, were mainly shut out of the NorthMet Final EIS, according to Nancy Schuldt, water protection coordinator for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Fond du Lac, along with the Bois Forte and Grand Portage bands, has been involved in the NorthMet mining project review, since the mine area and land exchange parcels are located within the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory. The Ojibwe bands ceded these lands to the U.S. government in the 19th century, but reserved hunting, fishing and gathering rights. The Ojibwe bands have a federally-recognized interest in maintaining the health of the land and water for the survival of their future generations. Generally, the Indian bands have been concerned that sulfide mining, a new industry proposed for Minnesota, poses a serious environmental threat. The pollution of wild rice waters is just one of the possible adverse consequences from mining.

Getting back to the NorthMet Mining Project Final EIS, Nancy Schuldt told me that “there aren’t going to be any public hearings, and at this point we don’t apparently have any more public standing than the general public.”

Schuldt pointed out that there have been additional tribal scientific analyses done to support “our positions of dissent about what’s been presented for this project, and the co-lead agencies declined to include those in the [Final] EIS.” She added that both the Draft EIS, in 2009, and the Supplemental Draft EIS, in 2013, included footnotes and appendices detailing the tribal research – “supporting information” – and “major differences of opinion.”

However, the co-lead agencies responsible for the NorthMet Final EIS – the Minnesota DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service – “didn’t allow us to elaborate and add any new information or supporting evidence, or even present our perspective on whether those major differences of opinion still remained, or were there some more… which there are,” said Schuldt.

She said that the only nod to the Ojibwe bands, the so-called “cooperating agencies,” was allowing them to see the preliminary version of the Final EIS this past summer.
After the Minnesota DNR approves the EIS adequacy for the NorthMet project, the operators still have to obtain a variety of permits before they can start digging for ore. The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also have to issue decisions on the project.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who has professed a neutral position on the proposed copper-nickel mine, recently toured what was characterized as a bad mine, the Gilt Edge gold mine in South Dakota’s Black Hills, which is now a Superfund site, and a good mine, the Eagle Mine, an underground copper-nickel mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Nancy Schuldt mentioned that Keweenaw Bay Indian Community officials wanted to meet with Dayton when he visited the UP, but the governor did not take the meeting.

“Subsequently, [Dayton] had his commissioners, the DNR and MPCA commissioners, and his mining liaison… he had them conference with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to talk about the tribe’s experience with that mine.”

After the consultation with the Keweenaw Bay leaders, according to Schuldt, the Michigan tribe sent a message back to Gov. Dayton and his commissioners suggesting that they also reach out to the tribal cooperating agencies with the PolyMet project.

Dayton has expressed his view that PolyMet Mining must provide adequate financial assurance to cover reclamation costs before a Permit to Mine is issued. And in November, Dayton discussed the need for the state Health Department to conduct a review of health risks from the proposed NorthMet project.

Perhaps Gov. Dayton also should invite concerned officials from Fond du Lac, Bois Forte and Grand Portage to a meeting in St. Paul.

“We are a constituency of the governor’s that he has completely declined to engage with over this project,” said Schuldt, regarding the Indian bands that are being sidelined as the PolyMet project gains traction.

Rolling Rez Arts helps artists on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by The Circle,
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rollingrezartsweb.jpgThe colorful herd of buffalo roaming down the roads of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota this fall brought both tears and cheers to a group of artists, supporters and federal partners gathered together for a cultural assets and creative economy learning tour hosted, in part, by First Peoples Fund, a national nonprofit based in Rapid City, South Dakota, dedicated to the preservation, advancement and well-being of American Indian arts and culture.

The buffalo herd was really Rolling Rez Arts, a new state-of-the-art mobile arts space, business training center, and mobile bank. In the coming months, Rolling Rez Arts will be seen all across the reservation as it delivers art, business, retail and banking services that up until this point have been inaccessible to many of the artists and culture bearers who live and work on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The arts space on wheels has been years in the making, and is the result of a group of people – from First Peoples Fund, Artspace and Lakota Funds staff to nonprofit partners to foundations supporters – coming together to infuse new energy into the creative economy.

“This is a remarkable milestone for First Peoples Fund, yes, but even more so, for the artists we have an opportunity to work alongside here in our home community and all across the country,” said Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota), president of First Peoples Fund. “Rolling Rez Arts will give access to the tools and support artists both need and deserve to overcome barriers that they may face. And, it will also represent what happens when good people come together to creatively find solutions to decades-long challenges.

The first-time seeing Rolling Rez Arts was especially poignant for Donald Montileaux (Oglala Lakota), a renowned ledger artist and an artist success coach for First Peoples Fund. The buffalo imagery that appears on both sides of the bus was drawn by Montileaux, and the graphics that accompany it were designed by Walt Pourier (Oglala Lakota) of Nakota Designs.

As Montileaux sat on the bus for the first time, it was a full-circle moment.

“Back in the early seventies, I was just a semester away from getting my college degree and we traveled North and South Dakota for three years in an art van, but ours was a bread truck – like a UPS truck. We had room to sleep, but we also had art supplies in it, and we’d go to schools, use their cafeterias, and create art with the kids,” Montileaux said.
More than 40 years later, Rolling Rez Arts was now poised to extend his work in new, meaningful ways.

The concept of Rolling Rez Arts comes, in part, in response to a market study conducted by First Peoples Fund, Artspace, Colorado State University, Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) and Northwest Area Foundation. The study explored the challenges and successes experienced by Lakota artists on Pine Ridge. It found that more than half of Native households on Pine Ridge are engaged in home-based businesses, and 79 percent of those businesses are in the arts. It also found that 61 percent of emerging artists have incomes of less than $10,000, but through participation in workshops and trainings – like what will be offered through the mobile art unit – that percent plummets.

With the availability of mobile outreach to a large cross section of the reservation population, Rolling Rez Arts will engage artists to create a significant opportunity for building assets. The success of artists is the heart of this project, explained Pourier.

Lakota Funds, the first Native-led Community Development Financial Institution on a reservation, has been a critical partner in the creation of Rolling Rez Arts. Since their founding more than 30 years ago, they have helped to create more than 1,400 permanent jobs on the reservation, many of them led by artists. They led the initiative to obtain the charter for the first federally insured financial institution on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Lakota Federal Credit Union. The credit union will be on the bus helping artists to open savings accounts, and building relationships that can help tribal members reach their financial goals, and their dreams.

Rolling Rez Arts was funded through grants from ArtPlace America, The Bush Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, and USDA Rural Development, all of whom have partnered with First Peoples Fund in the planning, community outreach, and research that makes this innovative mobile unit a reality. Additional funding was provided to Artspace by The Ford Foundation.

A video of the Rolling Rez Arts is available online at: www.firstpeoplesfund.org/rollingrez . For more information, call Lori Pourier at 605-484-7767. 

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