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Local Briefs
Culture/History Underlies Freedom to Marry
Friday, August 02 2013
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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cover_story_culture_history_underlies_freedom_to_marry.jpg Members of the Minneapolis Two Spirit Society are celebrating along with other LGBT (Lesbian/ Gay/Bisexual/Transgender) Minnesotans and preparing for the state’s Freedom To Marry law which takes effect August 1st.  
 
Sue GoodStar and her soon-to-be wife, Cherilyn Johns, were overwhelmed when news first broke in May that the legislature had passed the marriage equality bill. “I was crying. We were going to go down to Des Moines to get married but something told me to wait,” GoodStar said. The two have been together for 13 years and have always been out to their families.
 
GoodStar, who is Dakota from Sisseton-Wahpeton, said her tribe and family are generally supportive when she is confronted with any kind of discrimination. “People would try to make comments while I was home, but my cousin Chuck would say, ‘This one’s special, leave her alone.’ I asked him what he meant by that and he said, ‘I say that because you’re winkte, they’re powerful people.’” In Dakota and Lakota, the term “winkte” is a contracted form of the word “Winyanktehca” meaning “to be as a woman” and previously applied – disparagingly – to gay men or transgender women in Dakota and Lakota society. Activists and allies have recently reclaimed it to reflect its traditional roots on the larger LGBT Dakota and Lakota community.

Red Lake encampment battles pipeline on tribal lands
Friday, August 02 2013
 
Written by Andrea Cornelius,
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red_lake_encampment_1.jpgSince 1949, Enbridge Energy has been transporting crude oil through its more than six pipelines from Alberta, Canada through northern Minnesotan reservations and across the US. These pipelines, which transport tar sands oil, pass directly through the Leech Lake Reservation, the Fond du Lac Reservation, and the Red Lake reservation.
 
Through the combined efforts of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), MN350.org, and the Sierra club, Marty Cobenais of IEN began an encampment on the Red Lake reservation to halt the current pipelines running through tribal land, as well as stop the expansion of said pipelines.
 
On June 26th, members of MN350.org, an advocacy group committed to climate change, organized a bus tour to the Red Lake reservation to see, first hand, the pipelines that run through the lakes, marshes and vast stretches of land.
 
Cobenais served as the tour guide as we were lead from pumping stations to the tank farm in Clearbrook. We stopped at the site of the 1979 oil spill, and walked along exposed pipelines –  both on and off the reservation. Our last stop was the encampment.
 
Across from the lake and directly off the highway sits a trailer, the frame of a tipi, and a fire pit. All of which sits in a large clearing on top of the four original pipelines built in 1949. The spot was chosen because it was a spot where maintenance was conducted on the pipelines and it is Red Lake Reservation land.

WHAT'S NEW IN THE COMMUNITY
Friday, August 02 2013
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Flanagan Named Executive Director for Children’s Defense Fund
whats_new_peggy_flanagan_named_executive_director.jpgPeggy Flanagan, an experienced community organizer, advocate, teacher and trainer, has joined the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota (CDF-MN) as its executive director.
CDF-MN is a nonpartisan, nonprofit child advocacy organization that seeks to ensure a level playing field for all children by championing policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education and a solid foundation for success.
 
“I am thrilled to join such a well-respected organization like Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota,” said Flanagan. “I am passionate about ensuring that all of our children have what they need to be happy, healthy and successful young people. I can’t wait to get to work on behalf of all kids in Minnesota.”
 
Flanagan joins CDF-MN after eight years with Wellstone Action, first as director and founder of the Native American Leadership Program, and most recently as director of External Affairs. She also serves as adjunct faculty for George Washington University’s Native American Political Leadership Program.
Walker's DNR Pushes Tribe Out for Strip Mine
Friday, August 02 2013
 
Written by by Rebecca Kemble,
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walkers_dnr_pushes_tribe_out.jpgOn July 23rd the Iron County Forest Committee in northern Wisconsin voted unanimously to recommend that the Iron County Board pursue criminal and civil charges against the Lac Courte Oreilles Treaty Harvest and Education camp for violating county ordinances and provisions of state County Forest Law. The vote took place with no discussion after the committee emerged from closed session with their corporate counsel.
 
The decision comes two months after the same committee voted unanimously to approve a request by the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for a waiver to the county’s 14-day camping ordinance to allow the camp to remain established on Moore Park Road for one year.
 
On May 8, 2013 the Iron County Forestry department granted LCO Treaty Harvest and Education Camp host Melvin Gasper a Native American Gathering permit to gather plant materials and tap trees for syrup, and a firewood permit to collect down trees on Iron County forest lands. Both permits are valid through December 31, 2013.
 
According to the official minutes of the May 14 meeting, the committee voted unanimously, “authorizing Joe (Iron County Forester) to work with Corporate Counsel, Michael Pope, to write a land use permit for Lac Courte Oreilles members and their guests for camping, harvesting and educational purposes. The permit will also address sanitation issues and be one year in length.”
 
An official statement by camp organizers says the camp was established, “to make a presence in the Penokee Hills and do research in the region… To host LCO tribal members and other guests who are doing an inventory of resources, trail blazing, archaeology work and harvesting.”
New Native SMSC scholarship recipients graduate, plan to give back
Friday, August 02 2013
 
Written by By Brandon Largent, The Minnesota Daily,
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new_native_smsc_scholarship_recipients_graduate_jason_champagne.jpgAlthough Jason Champagne didn’t grow up on a Native American reservation, he visited relatives on them growing up and saw nutrition was a major issue. Now, the 37-year-old University of Minnesota graduate student wants to change that. Like many Native American students in Minnesota, Champagne relied on tribal-funded scholarships to help pay for his college degree.
 
The fall of 2009 marked the first year University students were awarded the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Endowed Scholarship, which aims to increase Native American students at the University and is offered in part on students’ intent to serve native societies when they graduate.
 
Now, many University students, like Champagne, are graduating and plan on improving their communities.
 
After working as a chef for several years, Champagne decided to use his knowledge of traditional Native American dishes to improve the health of tribal communities. As a result of increasing rates of diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related complications, he said, one of his biggest fears is that Native American communities will cease to exist.
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