Local Briefs
Political Matters: U.S. Steel vs. manoomin
Friday, March 27 2015
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpgIn late March, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said that the state’s environmental standard for protecting manoomin (wild rice) was outdated scientifically and was threatening industrial development Up North.

At issue is state permitting for U.S. Steel’s Minntac plant, in Mountain Iron, the largest taconite operation in the U.S.

The facility’s taconite waste pit has been polluting the local watershed for decades; and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed state officials in January that the company is violating the Clean Water Act.

In a March 24 interview with Minnesota Public Radio News, Gov. Dayton addressed the state’s sulfate standard for wild rice waters.

“U.S. Steel has made it very clear — and they closed down the Keewatin plant, they’re still operating the Minntac plant — but they made it very clear that they’re not going to agree to a permit that has a standard of 10 [milligrams of sulfate per liter],” Dayton told MPR reporter Tom Scheck.

The governor said that the allowable sulfate level for wild rice waters “was posted in 1940, and established in the 1960s and ’70s, as the standard, which is not even applied to most other projects in Minnesota or any other place in the country. So, MPCA [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency] is going to be coming out shortly with a way of taking the updated scientific information and applying that to protecting the wild rice in the waters, which we certainly want to do, but it’s got to be done in a way that is based on current science and current information, and not something that is antiquated. We can talk with the EPA about collaborating with us in doing that and going through a public process to work that out.”

Weekend Calendar: March 20-22, 2015
Thursday, March 19 2015
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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March 20

Aliveness Project NNHAAD HIV Testing Day

In observance of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, local organizations serving Native American communities will be offering free HIV testing and educational events to raise awareness about the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on American Indians and to honor those who are living with or have died of the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Native communities currently have the fifth highest rate of new HIV infections in the U.S. when compared to other population groups. Factors contributing to higher disease occurrence and lower life expectancy among American Indians include disproportionate rates of poverty, discrimination in the delivery of health services, limited access to quality health education, cultural differences and social stigma. The Minnesota Department of Health encourages HIV testing.

10 3 p.m., The Aliveness Project, 3808 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN. For more information, call 612-824-5433.


March 21

What's Our Plan? A Teach-In on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in MN

Co-sponsored by Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, MN350 and the International Forum on Globalization. Speakers include Winona LaDuke, Rep. Frank Hornstein, Victor Menotti, and regional leaders in movements to stop frac-sand mining, bomb trains, and oil pipelines.

Minnesota is being besieged with new fossil fuel infrastructure that violates the treaty rights of indigenous people and endangers the health of our communities and we are not prepared. Let’s come together and find common spiritual ground from which to address this public policy crisis and protect ourselves and the earth. Unlike most teach-ins, "What's Our Plan" will be interactive and solution-focused, drawing on the diverse assets of the group to create plans for action. Participants will leave not only better informed, but better equipped, connected to allies and ready to take next steps

Free, 9 a.m. to noon; Lunch, noon, $10 featuring The Sioux Chef Sean Sherman. First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, 3400 Dupont Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN. For more information and to register, visit


March 21

First Time Homebuyer Workshop

A Native American based curriculum will cover topics including: Steps to becoming a homeowner; How to prepare financially; What can you afford?; The importance of credit; How to choose the right mortgage loan and get it; Responsibilities of homeownership; and more!

HomeStretch Workshops meet the National Industry Standards of Homeownership Education

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open to the public; Lunch Provided. Bii Gii Wiin CDLF, 1113 E. Franklin Ave., Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN.

For more information or to register call 612-354-2249, email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit

White Earth Strategic Planning Meeting

Light lunch served; Elder Luncheon will be canceled for the meeting.

10 a.m. to noon. 1308 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN.

Empty Bowls

Join us at this family-friendly event featuring a contemporary powwow performance from the student group, Ta Oyate Ota (Lakota for “many nations of people”) from American Indian Magnet School, while also enjoying a tasty bowl of homemade soup and fresh baked bread. Empty Bowls is a fundraiser for the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches Department of Indian Work Food Shelf.

11 a.m.-2 p.m., White Bear Lake United Methodist Church, 1851 Birch Street, White Bear Lake, MN.

Tickets can also be purchased with cash or check at the door. Attendees will have a chance to participate in a Free Will Offering. For ticket price and more information, contact Connie Johnson, Development Outreach Coordinator at 651-789-3857, email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit

Weekend Calendar: March 14-15, 2015
Friday, March 13 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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March 14-15

Cherish the Children Traditional Pow Wow

Co-emcees: Jerry Dearly and Reuben Crowfeather; Host Drum: Oyate Teca; Head Dancers: Kyle Bear Heels and Trina Fast Horse. The first 10 registered drums with a minimum of five singers will receive an honorarium. Contests and Specials: Madison Frantum outgoing Princess Girl’s/Women’s Traditional, 6 years and older (1st, 2nd, 3rd place); Men’s Traditional 18+ Special (1st, 2nd, 3rd place); Trina Fasthorse Head Woman-All Ages 2 Step Special (1st, 2nd, 3rd place); 2 Man Hand Drum Contest(1st, 2nd, 3rd place); Junior Hand Drum Contest; 4th Annual Ain Dah Yung Center Ambassador Contest (for details, email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

50/50 Drawings; door prizes; join our “Family in Need” Drive, in honor of Roy Roberts by donating a household/family item. Grand Entries: Saturday, 1 and 7 p.m., Sunday, 1 p.m.; Feast, 5 p.m.

Entry fee for ages 7 and older; free for elders, veterans and Family in Need participants. Central High School, 275 Lexington Ave., St. Paul, MN. For more information, call 651-227-4148 or visit

March 15

Minnesota Two Spirit Society Potluck Social

Join us for our monthly social!

Event is free and open to all that identify as Two Spirit and Allies. Noon-3 p.m., All My Relations Gallery, 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN. For more information, visit or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

March 15-16

Visual Art Exhibit: A Tribute to Native American Culture

Yuonihan (Lakota): “honoring or paying tribute to something of value”; Manaabjiidiwin (Ojibwe): “respect for each other.”

Open to the public, no charge; bring canned good donation for the Department of Indian Work Food Shelf. Friday, 7-10 p.m. with Opening Circle at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 1-8 p.m. with Closing Circle at 7 p.m. 1671 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN.

From the Editor's Desk: Remembering identity across generations
Thursday, March 12 2015
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgThe weather, as is its nature this time of year, brings up memories of things past and the things without which, we continue to live.

The news from Rosebud is that we've lost another one of our elders. Marty Makes Room For Them was one of the tribe's singers and song keepers who composed the Oceti Sakowin Olowan (Seven Council Fires Song).

In school, we learned the Lakota Flag Song. It is still even referred to as the Lakota National Anthem. It was a song composed to mark our guardianship of this country that sprung up around us, when the American flag fell at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn) and we assumed control of it, making it ours. It's still rendered at Lakota wacipi along with the Victory Song.
What I love about the Oceti Sakowin Olowan (and from my limited understanding of its meaning) is that it marks our return to defining ourselves as our own nation. It calls back to us as a people to take strength from our own reawakening, politically and spiritually. It reminds us that we are our own nation with our own culture, heritage, language and spirituality that – despite colonization's best efforts – has not died out but has grown and evolved over the centuries of oppression; and that we as a people will continue to do so, so long as we have breath to sing.

The last breaths my mother took were peaceful. At first, she labored after she was taken off the ventilator. As I began saying my goodbyes to her, I thanked her for being the mother that she was, all the lessons that she taught me and my family and all the knowledge she carried from her grandfathers' and grandmothers' generation, from her generation and to her children's, grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's generation.

The Lakota perspective on the Iroquois concept of Seven Generations is such: three generations before and three generations forward from us. That is how our knowledge, our culture and our way of life continues.

We are called to remember not just what we've lost, but what we've gained through the passing on of wisdom and tradition. When we apply those two things to our daily lives, we can see the line that binds us to our ancestors and ties us to our descendants and we feel that hope and promise passing onward.

Guest Column: Trahant Reports
Thursday, March 12 2015
Written by Mark Trahant,
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trahant_reports-web.jpgThe power of Native voters … beginning of a beautiful trend

I have been writing for years about the success – well, at least mostly – of Native American voters. During recent presidential election cycles the turnout from Indian Country is inspiring, helping to swing elections from Arizona to North Dakota.

And just last year Alaska Native voters helped dump a hostile state governor and replaced him with Gov. Bill Walker, an ally, as well as electing Byron Mallott, a Tlingit leader, as the Lt. Governor.

But do you want to know something really cool?

The demographic shift that reflects Native voting power is only beginning. What’s more, the landscape is changing faster than expected and should bring about dramatic changes in states as “red” as Alaska and Oklahoma.

A new report looks at the numbers and the results are stunning. In 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected president the population of the United States was 80 percent white. Today that proportion stands at 63 percent and it’s likely to be less than 44 percent by 2060. The report, “The States of Change: Demographics and Democracy” is a collaboration of the liberal Center for American Progress, the conservative American Enterprise Institute and demographer William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution. One of the goals is to “document and analyze the challenges to democracy posed by the rapid demographic evolution from the 1970s to 2060.”

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