Local Briefs
REVIEW: "The Road Back to Sweetgrass"
Wednesday, March 11 2015
Written by Rachel Hill, Mille Lacs Ojibwe,
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the road back to sweetgrass review-web.jpgBy Linda LeGarde Grover

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

September 2014

194 pages




Anishinaabe author, Linda LeGarde Grover (Boise Forte Band of Ojibwe) contributes to the nation’s literary achievement in historic fiction. Her novel, “The Road Back to Sweetgrass,” published in the fall of 2014, explores the realm of Indigenous thought through historic, Anishinaabe circumstance from 1970 to 2014. This book begins in the fictional, Ojibwe reservation of Mozhay Point, located in north Minnesota.

From a chance encounter during a summer wild rice harvest in 1973, protagonist Margie Robineau of Mozhay Point finds herself falling head over heels for Michael Washington, described as a debonair, Jay Silverheels-meets-Marlon Brando figure of the Miskwaa River Band of Ojibwe.

Michael and his father, Zho Washigton, of the Wazhushkag (Muskrat) family, were erased from the BIA rolls by an Indian agent during the allotment period, who reassigned them a last name of Washington. Zho becomes a powerful analogy of inspiration and transformation in this novel.

The character of Dale Ann Dionne brings a new perspective to the Federal Indian Relocation Program, when she finds herself in the metropolis of Chicago in 1970 working as a telephone operator.

Remedy of craft in satire is found through Grover’s use of parody, which evokes humor from her presentation of characters like American Indian Studies Professor, Dr. Roger-Head, who teaches a course entitled, “Indians of America” (18-19). At other times, laughter is provoked by characters like Teresa Robineau, who sports a 70’s version of emo glasses, compliments of her local IHS clinic.

From Grover’s artistic organization of novel sections, to her use of Ojibwemowin and English, The Road Back to Sweetgrass is clearly the product of Indigenous thought and experience in the modern era. Readers of this novel are sure to find resilience in that moment when you know your “own story”

Celebrating George Morrison, the founder of Native modernism
Wednesday, March 11 2015
Written by Cathy Wurzer, MPR News,
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Artist George Morrison was born in a Native American fishing village near Lake Superior, but his art career took him all around the world.

He studied at the Minneapolis School of Art and the Art Students League in New York City. He befriended Willem de Koonig and Franz Kline. He worked in France and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design — and finally came back home to Minnesota to teach at the University of Minnesota.

Morrison, who passed away in 2000, is considered a founder of Native modernism. His work will be on exhibit at the Minnesota History Center from Feb. 14 to April 26, 2015.

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Top left: Artist George Morrison. Photo by Dick Bancroft, Courtesy of the Minnesota History Center.

Top right: "Spirit Path, New Day, Red Rock Variation: Lake Superior Landscape" by George Morrison was created in 1990. The acrylic and pastel on paper is among Morrison's works that will be featured at a Minnesota History Center exhibit. Courtesy of the Minnesota History Center

Bottom: "Cumulated Landscape" by George Morrison was created in 1976. The piece is among Morrison's works that will be featured at a Minnesota History Center exhibit. Courtesy of the Minnesota History Center.

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What's New In The Community: March 2015
Wednesday, March 11 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Four tribal students win big at MN High School League Dance Tournament

students win big at mn high school dance-web.jpg

Left to right: Jordyn Spry, Jensen Spry (both Grand Portage Band), Clarissa Pederson (Lac Courte Oreilles) and Camryn Towle (Mille Lacs Band).

The Duluth Marshall Dance Team won first place at the 2015 Minnesota State High School League Dance Team Tournament in the Jazz Competition on Feb. 13 at Target Center.

The team dedicated time and energy to learning choreography, endurance training and cardio. The win is especially exciting, as this team has four tribal students who participated.


Regional and Local Briefs: March 2015
Wednesday, March 11 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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DULUTH, MN – The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians will spend $3 million on upgrades at its casino in Duluth, Minnesota.

The Fond-du-Luth Casino will get a more modern look. Work will start this summer and take about four months, WDIO reported.

The casino has been the subject of numerous legal battles over a revenue sharing agreement that was invalidated by the federal government. The tribe paid $75 million to the city of Duluth before payments stopped in 2009.

In November, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments over an additional $12 million that is in dispute. A decision hasn't been announced.

In addition to the Duluth upgrades, the tribe is installing a one-megawatt solar panel near the Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.


ST. LOUIS, MO – The federal government can’t prosecute members of an Ojibwe tribe who gill-netted fish on a Minnesota reservation and sold their catch off-reservation, an appeals court ruled on Feb. 10.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that U.S. District Judge John Tunheim correctly dismissed charges against four Native men who were indicted in April 2013 for fish poaching. “We conclude that the historic fishing rights of the Chippewa Indians bar this prosecution of defendants for taking fish within the Leech Lake Reservation and selling them,” the appeals court said.

The four arrests came as part of a federal crackdown on poaching on some of northern Minnesota’s most popular lakes.

“The ruling affirms the traditional fishing rights that the Chippewa Indians have had for more than 150 years. The ruling upholds what they negotiated in 1837,” attorney Paul Engh said, referring to a treaty Chippewa Indians signed at Fort Snelling. Regrettably, he said, defendant Marc Lyons died a month ago, “before he could see his victory.”

Chris Niskanen, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said the DNR was disappointed by the decision. “These were very serious violations that involved the illegal and black market sale of protected game fish,” he said, adding that they would be encouraging prosecution of the individuals in tribal court.

Rich Robinson, natural resources director for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, said the cases are in tribal court. “We did not think the cases should be in federal court because we have our own laws here. One of them is that you cannot sell or barter game fish.”

Tunheim had ruled in November 2013 that the four federal indictments should be overturned because the 177-year-old Indian treaty trumped the legal case brought by the U.S. attorney’s office. Charges against four others were dropped last year at the request of federal prosecutors. Two other cases were put on hold, awaiting the outcome of the 8th Circuit.

Attorney Jan Stuurmans represented one of the two, Alan Hemme, a restaurant owner accused of aiding and abetting the Indians by buying fish. Stuurmans said he expected federal prosecutors will dismiss charges against Hemme “because the principal claim has been dismissed.”


National Briefs: March 2015
Wednesday, March 11 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate failed on March 4 to override President Barack Obama's veto of legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, leaving the controversial project to await an administration decision on whether to permit or deny it.

The Senate mustered just 62 votes in favor of overriding the veto, short of the two-thirds needed. Thirty-seven senators voted to sustain Obama's veto. The Senate action means the House of Representatives will not vote on override. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said pipeline backers will try again to force Obama's hand, by attaching Keystone approval to another bill this year.

The proposed TransCanada pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels a day of mostly Canadian oil sands crude through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, en route to refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast. It has been pending for more than six years over the objection of tribes, landowners and environmental activists.

Republicans support building the pipeline, saying it would create jobs. Obama questioned Keystone XL's employment impact and raised concerns about its effects on climate change.

Obama last month vetoed the bill authorizing the pipeline's construction, saying it had bypassed a final State Department assessment on whether the project would benefit the United States. The department is handling the approval process because the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

Once that State Department assessment is in, expected in the coming weeks or months, Obama is expected to make a final decision on permitting for the project.


PINE RIDGE, S.D. – Leaders of the Oglala Sioux Tribe are asking the Lakota Nation Invitational board of directors to move the popular event out of Rapid City, S.D.

Tribal leaders are upset by an incident, in which 57 students from the American Horse School on the reservation were allegedly had beer poured on them and racial slurs made about them by white patrons at a Rapid City Rush hockey game last month. They also believe city authorities have not handled the situation well, which resulted in only one misdemeanor of disorderly conduct charge against one person.

Bryan Brewer, a former OST president, founded LNI in 1977 and still sits on the board of directors, he believes leaving Rapid City isn't the right response to the controversy.

But current tribal leaders say they will encourage the tribe and its citizens to boycott LNI if it takes place in Rapid City this December. The tournament, which injects $5 to $6 million into the city's economy, is held at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, the venue where the children were victimized.


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