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Local Briefs
Dec. From the Editor's Desk
Tuesday, December 06 2016
 
Written by Cat Whipple,
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Donald Trump won the election, much to everyone’s surprise and in many cases, horror. I personally thought it could happen, even though many said it was not possible, given the amount of hatred he spewed out toward every group that wasn’t white, Christian and male. But having grown up in South Dakota in the 1960s, I know just how racist some white Americans can be. So even though I hoped and prayed that he would not get elected, I was not all that surprised.

At it’s core, America has always had a large faction of white people who believe this country is “theirs”. According to those white people, they built this country with their blood, sweat, tears, and superior brain power. And why wouldn’t they think that? Look at what is taught in history classes across the U.S. It’s all about the “discoveries” and achievements of white men. Rarely do people of color (or women) get mentioned in school text books, and when we do, we are side-notes, short chapters (if any at all) that are quickly passed over.

During his campaign Trump threatened to deport millions of immigrants, make Muslims register so they can be tracked and watched, promised to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S., and made other racist and xenophobic promises.

People and the media laughed at him and did not take him seriously. They did not understand just how terrified many white Americans are of anyone who is not “them”. Trump tapped into a whole subculture of racism that has existed in this country since its founding. And we now know just how large those numbers are. Trump is a serious threat to all Americans who are not white, male, and Christian. And he and his almost-entirely-white, millionaire cabinet members will move into the Oval Office on January 20th.

The Republican party has continued to lurch further and further to the right, having been taken over by religious extremists who believe that everyone should believe what they believe, if not by choice, then by political force.
One of the first, and scariest, things Trump did was to add Steve Bannon to his transition team. Chief White House strategist and senior counselor to the president, Bannon is an white supremacist who runs Breitbart.com, an ultra-right-wing website that routinely posts racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic trash to its readers. This is the man who will have Trump’s ear, counsel him on national policy, and have an office just down the hall from him.
Another scary person that Trump will bring into his administartion is Jeff Sessions, who was deemed to be too racist to be a federal judge under the Reagan administration. Sessions is Trump’s choice for attorney general.
All of Trump’s talk about deporting Mexicans and registering Muslims has embolden the neo-nazis and other white supremacists, who are now attacking people of color, and anyone wearing a head scarf, while shouting out Trump’s name as justification for such open hostility.

The “Ten Days After” report from the Southern Poverty Law Center,  says that “we document[ed] 867 bias-related incidents in the 10 days following the presidential election. Among them: multiple reports of black children being told to ride in the back of school buses; the words “Trump Nation” and “Whites Only” being painted on a church with a large immigrant population; and an elderly gay man being pulled from his car and beaten by an assailant who said the “president says we can kill all you faggots now.””

A friend told me these attacks are now dying down. Are they? Will it all fizzle out? If not, then as people of color, we will have to figure out how to protect ourselves, and each other, from these white supremacists who believe they now have Trump’s blessing to engage in hate crimes throughout the country.

I was saddened to see some Native American people on Facebook in favor of sending Mexicans back to Mexico. We have forgotten that Mexicans (the brown skinned ones) are Indigenous to this continent and are our brothers and sisters. The only difference between us and them are the borders that the U.S. government has created.

Now that Trump is the President-elect, we need to all come together in solidarity with everyone who is now (or soon will be) under attack. That includes all people of color, the LGBT community, Muslims and people of other religions, women, refugees, Jewish people, and our white allies who see Trump and his pals for what they really are – a clear and present danger to democracy, equality and freedom.

If we allow ourselves to be divided by this new administration’s scare tactics, we will all fall. And they will try to divide us, that is how they came to power, after all. They made the brown people of Mexico, and the brown and black people of Muslim faith into “the threat”.  

Trump has also pledged to get rid of Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) which would also cut the Indian Health Improvement Act. He doesn’t believe in Climate change, is appointing oil and gas lobbyists to his cabinet and administration, and has promised to lift “roadblocks” so that oil pipelines can be completed. He also plans to increase the age for social security and would like to privatize it. And even though Trump promised to keep Medicare, his selection of Georgia Congressman Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary sends a clear message that Medicare will be on the chopping block in one form or another.

I think about my 83-year-old mother who lives on $14,000 a year from her social security. She has diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. She has had numerous surgeries over the past five years, and the only reason she is not massively in debt – or worse, dead – is because of Medicare. She is one of millions of elderly who will lose a much needed service that is vital to their health and lives.

We will need to be very vigilant in watching what the new Trump administration will be doing in the legal and political realms, because they will have total control over the executive, judicial and legislative branches of our government. They (Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in particular) are talking about getting rid of the Senate filibuster, the same tool they used to obstruct Obama in almost everything he tried to accomplish. Their reasoning? So that Trump can do his work unobstructed. If they get rid of it, the Democrats will be powerless to stop them on almost everything they want to push through.

After the election, a friend said to me, “Each generation must fight for freedom.” Our time has now come to fight. Yes, we Indian people have been fighting for hundreds of years. And we were making progress. All of that is now in jeopardy. If we do not pay attention to what Trump will be doing over the next four years, we will find ourselves back in the 1950s, where Jim Crow-type laws and a supreme court packed with extremist Christians will have complete and total control over our lives and bodies.

I am not talking about taking up arms. We must fight with our minds and hearts, our wallets and our voices. We must get involved, we must organize, we must defend every freedom we have won over the past 50 years. We need to stand with all people who will be targeted under Trump.

So how do we fight Trump? There are a lot of ways, and we have millions of allies, private citizens and politicians, on our side. America is more progressive then it is conservative. But the first thing we must do is realize that the threat is real. “Alt-right” is just a new word for white supremacy, regardless of what the media will try to tell you. Do not listen to those who say, “everything will be ok”. The only way things are going to be ok is if we educate ourselves on what is happening politically, and if we take action when we see dangerous and discriminatory laws trying to be enacted.

We can also fight with love and compassion, we can fight by smiling at people we see on streets and in stores. We can fight by stepping in when we see Trump supporters attacking people. We can fight by not allowing them to silence us. We must not allow them to leave us standing in silence with our heads down in fear while they verbally and physically attack people around us (if that is what is in store once Trump is in office).

This is OUR  COUNTRY, each and every one of us. If we don’t want Trump’s white supremacist cabinet turning us into second class citizens again, we must organize and fight. Like we have been fighting for the Missouri River in North Dakota (NoDAPL), we now must fight to keep America from being completely polluted and poisoned by hate.

Dec. What's New in the Community
Tuesday, December 06 2016
 
Written by The Circle,
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MHS Announces New Director of American Indian Initiatives

The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) has appointed Joe D. Horse Capture as the new director of American Indian Initiatives. MNHS created the leadership position to help develop and implement a vision and strategy for American Indian programs and services in collaboration with American Indian communities throughout the state and beyond.

“MNHS has been building relationships with American Indian communities,” said Stephen Elliott, director and CEO. “We welcome the leadership Joe Horse Capture will provide in developing existing relationships and building new ones between MNHS and American Indian communities to better interpret and share our history.”
Horse Capture is an enrolled member of the A’aninin (Gros Ventre) Tribe of Montana. Since 2013 he has been a curator for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Prior to that he served for 15 years as a curator of Native American arts at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. His work history has allowed him to build strong working relationships with many tribes. “This type of collaborative work is what I enjoy the most, and I have come to believe collaborative efforts should be paramount among the priorities of cultural institutions,” he said. Horse Capture’s start date is Dec. 5, 2016.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. For info, see mnhs.org.

Watermark hires Native Am. Gallery Program Director  

The Watermark Art Center in Bemidji, Minn. has hired Karen Goulet (White Earth Ojibwe) as Program Director of the Native American Gallery. Goulet recently completed her role as the program coordinator of Gizhiigin Arts Initiative, a tribal entity serving artists on the White Earth reservation. In addition to her work as an arts leader, Goulet is also a multi-discipline artist who has been showing art both nationally and internationally for twenty years.

Goulet has longstanding ties to the region, with both her parents growing up and attending school in Bemidji.
As Program Director of the Native American Gallery, Goulet will be responsible for the development and orientation of Watermark’s Native American Gallery and related programming. She will also act as community liaison to cultivate relationships with Native American artists and tribal members.

Goulet earned her BA in Fine Arts and Cultural Education from The Evergreen State College, her MFA in Sculpture from The University of Wisconsin – Madison, and her M Ed from University of Minnesota Duluth. Throughout her career, she has worked primarily in education, most often with Indigenous institutions and programs.

Heid Erdrich’s new collection named the 2016 Winter Book

Heid Erdrich’s (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) new collection has been named 2016 Winter Book by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. “every-blest-thing-seeing-eye” features poetry and prose, and explores the complex conversations between artists and viewers. “every-blest-thing-seeing-eye” features poetry and prose by Erdrich, a poet, writer, and faculty mentor for Augsburg College Low-residency MFA. The Winter Book was produced in two editions, with illustrations by Jim Denomie, Aza Erdrich, Eric Gansworth, Dyani Whitehawk, Louise Erdrich, Adrea Carlson, and Jonathan Thunder.

Artists, staff and board at MCBA will celebrate the handmade book on December 10. at 7 pm. Readings by Heid E. Erdrich will be followed by a book signing and public reception with light refreshments in MCBA’s Studios and Gallery. Free and open to the public.
MCBA’s annual Winter Book publication was created to preserve and promote the traditional crafts of bookmaking (hand papermaking, letterpress printing, printmaking and hand bookbinding), and the contemporary exploration of the book as art. Since 1988, Winter Book has engaged artists, designers, papermakers, printers, bookbinders and community volunteers in producing a handmade, limited edition artist’s book featuring poetry by a Minnesota author or editor. The hand craftsmanship of each Winter Book makes it a collected series, included in museum and rare book library collections across the country.


NoDAPL: The Beginning is Near
Tuesday, December 06 2016
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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nodapl-wall.jpgStanding Rock is an unpredicted history lesson for all of us. More than any moment I recall since Wounded Knee, the Vietnam War, or the time of Martin Luther King, this moment stands as a crossroads in the battle for social justice. It is also an economic issue, in a time of economic system transformation, and profoundly a question of the future of this land. The world is watching.  

As the US Army Corps of Engineers issues a December 5 eviction notice for thousands of people gathered on the banks of the Missouri River, we face our truth. Those people at the Oceti Sakowin and Red Warrior Camps, along with the 550 people who have been arrested so far, are really the only thing standing between a river and a corporation that wants to pollute it. That we know, because absent any legal protections, and with a regulatory system hijacked by oil interests and a federal government in crisis, the people and the river remain the only clear and sentient beings.  

In short, this is a moment of extreme corporate rights and extreme racism confronted by courage, prayers, and resolve. This moment has been coming. The violence and the economics of a failing industry will indeed unravel, and this is the beginning.  

The Deep North
North Dakota did not become Alabama – or the Deep North, as it is now called – overnight.   Native people in North Dakota have been treated poorly for more than a hundred years, whether by the damming of the Missouri and the flooding of millions of acres of tribal land, or by poverty and incarceration, North Dakota is a place of systemic and entrenched racism.

Two of the poorest counties in the country are on Standing Rock, Native people comprise almost a fourth of the people in prison, Native suicide rates are ten times that of North Dakotans, infrastructure (like the fifty year old hospital with four doctors for 8000 people, and a now blocked Highway l806, without a shoulder) is at an all time low, and people freeze to death and overdose in the shadow of the Bakken Oil fields. That’s the first layer of abuse, aside from the day to day racism, emboldened by Morton County and the incoming Trump government. It is visible for the world to see now.

Indian Country moves closer to the sun; takes Saga Solar with it
Tuesday, December 06 2016
 
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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Northern Minnesota’s Indian Country is reaching out to the sun for clean energy and is finding innovative ways to get it.

In the most recent development, upstart photovoltaic solar panel manufacturer Saga Solar SBC will move from St. Paul to Cass Lake in the second week of December to become the first indigenous-owned manufacturer of the 21st Century technology products on tribal land. Saga Solar was founded in St. Paul about a year ago by R. Marie Zola, a Minnesota solar energy leader of Cherokee descent.

Aki Development LLC, a newly formed company based at Cass Lake, acquired a 60 percent controlling interest in Saga Solar in September. It is one of three ventures for Aki, a Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe chartered corporation that is not tribally owned. One of the other startup businesses it is launching will construct housing. The third business is a new “green” industry venture, like Saga Solar, and will have a factory where employees assemble and test LED street lights.

Mike Myers, founder and chief executive officer at Aki Development, said the green companies could have as many as 24 employees within the next year. The LED light factory – LED is short for “light emitting diodes” lights – will have eight employees at the start of the coming year. Twenty jobs in the two businesses will be in manufacturing with pay starting at $12.80 per hour. Four additional jobs in marketing will be created along the way.

Aki Development recently received a $29,000 job-training grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to train employees for both businesses through the Leech Lake Tribal College at Cass Lake.

These developments further Northern Minnesota Ojibwe commitments to green, or environmentally effective and sustainable enterprises. In August, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa opened a 1-megawatt solar farm projected to light 150 homes and 10 percent of the band’s electric power needs for its Black Bear Casino. While doing so, it is also projected to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-generated plants by 2.6 million pounds annually.

Earlier this past year, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa entered agreements with construction and engineering companies for an even larger solar farming project from rooftops of its largest buildings. Design plans call for 15-megawatts, or equal to 15 million watts, harvested by solar panels that should light the tribe’s three casinos, government buildings and the tribal college. The first phase to power tribal buildings is anticipated to save the tribe $2 million a year in energy costs.

Red Lake Band Chairman Darrell G. Seki Sr. said the goal over the next five years is to generate enough solar power on tribal land to meet the electricity needs for every home on the Red Lake.
Solar and wind generation both reduce harmful carbon emissions that come from fossil fuel burning power plants. LED lighting, meanwhile, is more energy efficient than compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and the incandescent light bulbs in homes and offices.

November It Ain't Easy
Monday, November 07 2016
 
Written by Ricey Wild,
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I’ve had a difficult time beginning this column but I feel I have to address what is so disgusting to me and draining on my spirit. The rape culture commentary in Trump and Billy Bush’s tape from 2005 has brought all my raw emotions to the fore of having been raped myself, and my immediate family members having been raped and victimized by close friends.

People who were trusted by our small family circle were the perpetrators of heinous crimes and have never had to answer for it. In fact, it is their closeness to the victims that make it much more likely they will commit rape.

Rape is rape no matter how old you are or what gender. I trusted and loved a person for 26 years and they preyed upon someone close to me who was very vulnerable. And that is beyond unforgivable no matter what protestations or reasons are given. That betrayal still causes me to retch when I think about it.

I have seen the damage up close and would turn back time if I could because it’s done irreparable damage to my family. Remember there are enablers who are every bit as responsible for the rapists themselves. One person made the devastation of another’s rape about themselves and sought to garner sympathy.  In addition, they blasted the victim’s heinous experience to anyone who would listen without their permission. Despicable.

Another person brought in a sexual predator to our circle and was well aware of that person’s disgusting actions, yet chose to stand with them. Sadly, these scenarios are not by any means unique to my family alone. This happens all the time and I believe it’s time to open up, being the victim carries no shame so let’s end it forever. This is not our collective Native American Indian culture. I ask you all to look out for the innocents and believe the victim when they tell you the truth.

I am going to keep on speaking up for the victims and I will not allow myself to become blasé or ignore it any longer. I’m angry and plan to write more about it. For more information please check the link below to learn more about Rape Culture.
http://www.vox.com/2014/12/15/7371737/rape-culture-definition

A sample: “And although rape culture has its roots in long-standing patriarchal power structures that were designed to benefit men, today’s rape culture burdens men too – for instance, by ignoring the fact that men can be victims of rape and sexual assault, and women can be perpetrators of it. That means that male victims are also left without legal protection and social support.”

On another rant, I am very concerned about the Water Protectors in Standing Rock, No. Dak. who are being constantly harassed by local, State and other police forces using armored vehicles and tactical equipment on innocent people. I know of many, many people, Native and non-Native, who have been to the encampments and have come away changed forever and whom plan to return there. To all of you I say chii miigwech and I’m grateful for your phenomenal loving stance in protecting our precious water for all to enjoy.

FYI: To all the money-grubbing, land grabbers – your people tried to kill us Natives off via gruesome massacres, intimidation, legislation and blood quantum quotas. That hasn’t worked in the 500+ years in the past and will not work now, and not ever.
I don’t know of any more tenacious people than Natives, and now we have allies that really get what our true message is. For me, it’s take care of our Mother and Her gifts to us in every way. We are responsible. We are strong and indefatigable. We are here to stay.

I can happily say that as of this month I’ve been writing my column for 18 years! It has been a wonderful time and some terrible times, like when I literally could not write because of depression and other illnesses. But here I am now. I wonder now what great future I have to create because I ain’t done yet by any means.

Of course, I will write about my experiences and trials in life and my hope is that all of you will do so too…begin by keeping a journal, submit story ideas, (note to self) and be present in your life. Easy to say, I know, but doing so is therapeutic and can be uplifting. If you don’t tell your own stories, who will?

Well…I’m preparing for another freezing, snowy winter season but hey, what else can I do? Rezberry is soon to become “Freezeberry” in a short time.  

Happy Native American Heritage Month!

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