Local Briefs
Valerie Gertrude GreyEagle Obituary
Friday, September 09 2016
Written by The Circle,
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Valerie Gertrude GreyEagle
November 19, 1982  - August 14, 2016

grey-eagle-obit.jpgValerie Gertrude GreyEagle, “Taḣca Ska Win” (White Deer Woman) age 33 of the Lower Sioux Community, entered the Spirit World on Sunday, August 14, 2016 at her home. Valerie was born November 19, 1982 in Redwood Falls, Minnesota to Dan GreyEagle and Wanda Blue. She was baptized at St. Cornelia’s Episcopal Church.  Valerie attended school in Morton and later completed her schooling. She married Martin Mayotte in 2003. Valerie was Senior Girls Princess when she was 18 years old. She was a fancy dancer and enjoyed sewing and making fry bread.  She practiced her traditional Dakota ways. Valerie was a good hearted, soft spoken soul who was a friend to all. She was a full-time mom and raised her three children. Valerie loved to visit with her relatives and friends.

Valerie is survived by her father Dan GreyEagle of the Lower Sioux Community; mother Wanda Blue of Phoenix, AZ; children Tru, Mya, and Leah of the Lower Sioux Community; grandfather Dennis Blue of the Lower Sioux Community; sisters Danielle, DeeDee, and Lydia GreyEagle; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives, and friends.  She is preceded in death by her sister Debbie Schoen, grandparents Tom and Iola Columbus and Sylvia Blue, and many other relatives. 

Funeral services were held August 18 at the Lower Sioux Church Hall. Burial was in St. Cornelia’s Episcopal Cemetery.  Online condolences may be sent at 

Friday, September 09 2016
Written by The Circle,
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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.

Sept. 16-18
Battle Point 19th Annual Traditional Powwow
Battle Point Pow Wow Grounds, Battle Point Drive, Federal Dam, MN. For info, call Leah Gale Monroe at 218-760-3127.

40th Annual St. Joseph's Indian School Traditional Powwow
St. Joseph's Indian, School Football Field, Chamberlain, SD. For info, call 605-234-3313 or 605-234-3366.

Sept Ricey Wild
Friday, September 09 2016
Written by Ricey Wild,
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An amazing man passed on recently. You all know him too, Jim Northrup from Sawyer, Minn. He was a raconteur, author, poet and playwright and he was my friend. I will always miss him but before he left he was at peace and I believe that was a monumental gift from the Creator. I saw Jim weeks before at the Rez clinic and I said “This is not goodbye, I will see you again” and I believed it.

I didn’t actually…that will have to wait until I go too, and then Jim and I can have laughs like we did in this life. I can still hear in his deep voice saying, “Ricey Wild!” We are enrolled in the same reservation, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, but what ties us together is we both got our columns started with The Circle newspaper.

He had his own unique voice and I have mine. In no way was I ever in competition with Jim. We each have our own life experiences and were happy to share them with one another. I miss Jim’s smile, his way of finding the funny in people who take themselves too seriously. We knew a lot of people in common and our wit ran deep. Hehe. I’ll never tell Jim, that was our time.

No one who ever met Jim Northrup will ever forget him. His amazing legacy will last forever. Giigawaabamin Minaawa Niijii.


I’m so proud of the Protectors, the Water Warriors who are currently at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. Some family and friends of mine have traveled there to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Tribe. Dakota Access Pipeline construction has been halted pending a ruling on whether the Tribe was consulted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers properly. People! That is huge news, wonderful news. 85+ tribes from across the U.S. and non-Indians are camped out there and staying despite the North Dakota Department of Health cutting their water supply and arresting non-violent protectors.

I read that the FBI is getting involved in getting rid of the protectors and all I have to say about that is if genocide, assimilation and systemic oppression didn’t work over the past 500 years it sure won’t now. My heart is with the Water Protectors and my prayers are for their continued safety and well-being. Now I’ve read that they are going to begin pumping water out of the Great Lakes but that won’t happen either when we all stand together.
Much love and respect to the Water Protectors. NO D.A.P.L!!!!!


Exciting times have come to my home in Rezberry. My old friend and co-worker Mark Anthony Rolo has come to visit and design my website and help write a compilation of my almost 18 years of columns. In the book I intend to write about just how I came to be this way and my adventures and misadventures, which are many. The website will include a monthly horoscope column and some videos of my absurd reality. I’m finally in a place where I can focus on my writing and new ideas.

No one will be spared my razor tongue just so yooz know. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahhaahahahaha!!!!! (Laughing maniacally while rubbing my palms together.) Believe me, some people have it coming. My purpose is not exposing the dastardly deeds of hypocritical people that literally cause me nausea but simply to write the truths of my life. There will be a lot of hilarity too, because that’s what sustains me and how I get through this crazy life.

When the projects are completed I will post it on Facebook and in my column. I hope you all check it out and share widely. I’m having fun with this and want you to do so too.

Purrince is sitting on the desk next to me and it’s a fall-like shadow that lights him. I like September but not so much what follows…Winter. Brrrrr!!! Until then I’m gonna be outside as much as I can and get browner n browner. Ay!!!

If you have a favorite column I wrote please contact me at the email address at the bottom of my column. I need your input and suggestions about what made you laugh, think, become aware or just generally enjoyed. As I said before I’m finally in a space where I can do what I want to do and I intend not to waste it. It has been such a privilege to be able to write, and gratifying that so many people appreciates what I have to say.

See yooz all next month when Moosie may make an appearance as he likes to do on an odd frequency. Take care, stay well and laugh a whole lot. Mwah!!

Education and the white world
Friday, September 09 2016
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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This month, I’d like to talk about education. In the past, I’ve been a big supporter of going to college, but a few decades and several degrees later my opinions have matured. I’d like to share my educational journey.

My tribe paid for me to attend college, but they didn’t have a job for me when I returned. As a young person I was confused. My Elders talked about going to college and encouraged kids to go to school. They spoke of school and college as though it was salvation. Yet, when it was time to go home as a college educated person, they couldn’t find a place for me.

Over the years, upon reflection, I’ve learned what changed, I did. A college education changed me. I was indoctrinated into western thinking, values, and behavior. Ultimately, I changed too much. I didn’t sound the same. I thought differently. My attitude reflected the oppressive white society that surrounds the reservations.

In 1994, I moved to Minneapolis and began to work as a Case Manager for Native people living with HIV/AIDS. At that time, death and dying because of AIDS-related complications was common.

In my first job, I knew everything, or at least that is what I believed for an eager 22-year-old college grad. I had a degree, so I was going to change the world and people. Oh, how I was wrong.

‘Work’ never felt like it because I was where I was called to be. I knew that. I helped people know how to help themselves, or reconcile if they didn’t want to. I connected people to resources.

I sat with people as they cried about their diagnosis and I sat with people as they grappled with their mortality. I sat with people as they were dying. I held family members as they grieved. None of this felt like ‘work’. It felt like such a profound honor that these people would allow me an opportunity to share many of their sacred moments.

Early in my professional life I realized that Native people didn’t fit neatly into the categories that I learned in college. Ok, this lesson was more like I tripped, lost my balance, and then crashed hard, face first, into the earth. The people I worked with (clients) taught me more about service and helping people.

Over the years I’ve learned to live on the edges of parts of the Native world and white world. It’s rather a lonesome place living in between. It gets lonesome living amongst people who view you as different because of your education. I learned how to be a chameleon to fit into a variety of places.

Don’t assume that Native boarding schools are something of the past. Native people and schools and education have a complicated relationship, but it’s changing as people heal from trauma. Historically Native kids were taken away from families and then sent to schools to become indoctrinated.   Native Boarding schools still exist.

Recently I came upon a picture of me and my Mother at my graduation from college. I was getting my diploma for a Masters in Social Work. I remember this day well. It was the only time I’ve ever seen her in a dress. I remember as I walked across the stage to get my diploma I heard her. I heard her lone scream in the packed auditorium. It is always with her strength that I’ve gotten through the difficulties in my life. Her fundamental belief in me. Her being my champion.

Children rise up to what is expected of them. I expect a lot of my kids. Education is a must. College is expected. I learned to be involved with my kids’ education. I volunteer. I show up to meetings. I contribute my opinion. I stay engaged.  Part of my parenting is being involved with my kid’s educational lives.

In the end, I fundamentally believe education can change the world. It has for me. I wouldn’t change any part of my journey.
Be the change you wanna see in the world. Education really does create opportunities. It has been instrumental in my ability to grow confident, to have many experiences, and now it has created opportunities for my kids to travel the world.     

Ultimately, I’ve learned to raise my kids with a balanced view of the world. Believe me, I don’t send my kids to school to learn how to be Native men or white men. I find those sacred spaces for them to grow myself. They get involved with Native issues. I have zero expectation that the Minneapolis Public Schools will teach them how to thrive as Native people. I have an expectation that their school respects and honors their culture. I have an expectation that issues of race are competently dealt with. It’s 2016, and issues of culture, race, and class need to be talked about and dealt with.

September Political Matters
Friday, September 09 2016
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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Remembering Jim Northrup
Whenever I found a new issue of The Circle, I would turn first to Jim Northrup’s column, “Fond du Lac Follies.” There I learned about Ojibwe lifeways: the cycle of the seasons, from sugar bush through ricing; the language camps embraced by Jim and his wife, Pat, who also spent countless hours together weaving birch bark baskets. The Northrups also seemed to host an endless stream of visitors at their home in Sawyer, Minn.
Jim wrote about motoring around the country, to speaking gigs at college and university Native studies programs and to veterans’ reunions; he also jetted around the world, to places like Hungary, where people seem to know more about American Indian history and current struggles than do non-Indians in the United States. “Fond du Lac Follies” also included jokes, in Ojibwe and English.
Jim Northrup wrote his column for 25 years, hanging up his “spurs and computer,” in his words, about two years ago. This year, on Aug. 1, he walked on. He was 73.
I knew Jim casually, running into him at powwows and other Indian gatherings. I recall being greeted warmly by Jim, and his close friend Ray Earley, at a fundraiser for  The Circle some years ago in Minneapolis. Of course, Jim had wonderful stories to tell. He joined the Marines, at the age of 19, and was shipped to Vietnam. It was an experience that profoundly influenced his life. He told the story about a day out in the boonies of Vietnam, when a helicopter landed and out stepped John Wayne, “who killed Indians by the dozens with his movie six shooter,” as Jim wrote in a poem titled “The Duke.” Wayne was scouting locations for the horrible 1968 pro-war movie “The Green Berets” – but he declined an invitation from the “Indian patrol leader” to take a “walk with the grunts.”
Regarding the Vietnam War, in 2010, Jim told a huge crowd at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., that writing about his war experiences “helped with the trauma of combat.” If you’d like to get a taste of Jim reading his poetry, there’s a YouTube video from LZ Lambeau: Welcoming Home Wisconsin's Vietnam Veterans at:
The surreal and the heartfelt experiences of life mixed in Jim’s columns, plays and poems. He was one of our most talented storytellers, in Indian Country and in the wider world. The obituary published in the New York Times concluded with Jim’s comments about his impending death, in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio: “I know where I am going. I’m going to, as the Ojibwe call it in the language, the land of everlasting happiness. There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a different world. I’m changing addresses.”
May the memory of Jim Northrup always be a blessing for his family and friends.

“Songs” from Pine Ridge
My wife and I recently watched “Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” a gritty and affecting film about contemporary Indian life set on the Pine Ridge reservation. There aren’t many fictional narrative films that deal so compellingly with the struggles young Indians face, as far as staying or leaving the rez.
Director Chloé Zhao, a native of China who came to the U.S. alone as a young teenager, gets great performances from the young Native actors, especially John Reddy, a Pine Ridge native who plays the film’s protagonist, Johhny Winters. He’s a bootlegger who runs afoul of another group smuggling beer and liquor from the border town of White Clay, Nebraska. Johhny is contemplating leaving Pine Ridge for Los Angeles, where his girlfriend will be attending college. Veteran actor Irene Bedard (“Lakota Woman,” “Pocahantas”) plays Johnny’s mother.
“Songs My Brothers Taught Me” is available on DVD from Kino Lorber, and from Netflix.

A fight for water
The high profile story in Indian Country last month was the struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is planned to run underneath the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota.
Some 120 tribes from across the country have voiced support for the Standing Rock tribe’s stand for water and against the 1,200-mile pipeline that would carry oil from the Bakken field in western North Dakota to southern Illinois. 
In late August, Standing Rock chairman David Archambault II wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that put this struggle in the historical context of U.S. violations of the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties and other depredations against the Dakota/Lakota nation.
I will explore the issues here in a future column.
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