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Local Briefs
Guest Opinion: White Earth constitutional reform and leadership questionable
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Jeff Armstrong,
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Anyone with a fleeting knowledge of the troubled history of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota will understand that questions over the legitimacy of tribal membership and leadership, along with the more recent controversy of absentee voting, are at the core of more than a century of internal conflict. It is, perhaps, a tribute to the public relations skills of White Earth Chair Erma Vizenor that she has been able to push through a constitution in violation of the one, under which she governs entirely by mail-in ballots with provisions to open reservation enrollment to anyone with remote tribal ancestry, to the universal acclaim of reporters, academics and activists who should know better.

It was reported in the Fargo Forum the day before the election that 2,000 ballot requests had been received and sent out over the course of a month, fairly typical of White Earth election turnouts. But when the ballots were being tabulated, the vote count had suddenly nearly doubled in the course of one day, to 3,492. None of the press reports the following day took note of this mysterious spike, though some suggested the higher-than-average turnout was evidence of heightened interest in the historic election. If so, one would be hard pressed to find evidence of it in the sparsely-attended public meetings, at which the vast majority of attendees expressing an opinion spoke out against the draft constitution. Social media sites such as the White Earth's Voice for a Nation reflected broad and deep opposition to the proposed constitution.

From the Editor's Desk: White Earth Blood Quantum Reform a Courageous Act
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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from_the_editors_desk_alfred_walking_bull.jpgThere is a courage to be admired by those who take an action first. The White Earth Band of Ojibwe recently voted in a constitutional reform effort to effectively remove its blood quantum requirements for citizenship. Of the Ojibwe that I have come to know here in Minnesota, there's been mixed reaction ranging from hopeful joy about the future to immediate calls for the dissolution of the tribal government for taking what they regard as an unwarranted action.

Having covered my own tribal council for just over two years, it wasn't a question if – but when – a tribal citizen or fellow council member would allege constitutional violations, followed by long executive sessions where the press and members of the public were required to leave the room for hours at a time.

Political Matters: Go PolyMet?
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Mordecai Spektor,
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Go PolyMet?

In early December, PolyMet Mining will release its supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its NorthMet copper-nickel project near Hoyt Lakes, Minn. In October 2009, the first draft EIS was released; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that report inadequate and sent the Toronto, Canada-based firm back to the drawing board.

Four years later, with the new EIS set to arrive, the controversy over the environmental risks from sulfide mining – a new industry in Minnesota – will ramp up. The mining firm is behind a public relations effort dubbed “Go PolyMet,” which is aimed at winning public support for the NorthMet project. This is a “slick, high-production values ad campaign,” according to Nancy Schuldt, the water protection coordinator for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.


Fond du Lac Follies
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Jim Northrup,
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What a move the voters from White Earth made. I think the future of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe which is a Federal Corporation, is in Jeopardy. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe does not have treaty rights. To think the Bands can make up their own Constitutions without Tribe approval is quite the big leap for democracy on the reservations.

White Earth will finally get rid of the blood quantum rule. No more one quarter requirement to be considered Anishinaabe. I have grandchildren that can’t be enrolled. Who came up with that idea in the first place?


Navigating MNSure and Indian Health Services
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by By Sommer Dey Rosette-Poolaw, Indian Health Board of Minneapolis,
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The Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) is a federal law that provides health insurance coverage options that are more accessible and affordable. Minnesota, like all states, was given three options to deliver insurance to its citizens. Minnesota chose a state-based exchange where the state runs its own Healthcare Marketplace, now called MNsure.

Open enrollment for MNsure began on Oct. 1 for most Minnesotans. American Indians of Minnesota, tribally-enrolled or documented lineage, have no closing date to enroll in a healthcare plan; more information will be provided in regards to proof of enrollment and lineage. We are also exempt from the federal mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance that includes tax penalties.

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