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Local Briefs
National Briefs: August 2014
Thursday, August 07 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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WASHINGTON TRIBE LEGALIZES GAY MARRIAGE

PUYALLUP, Wash. – The Puyallup Tribe of Indians became the latest tribe to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian citizens.

While the state of Washington has recognized gay marriage since 2012, the tribal council unanimously passed an amendment to the tribe's domestic relations code on July 9.

Council member Maggie Edwards cited equality and tradition for the passage of the amendment. "It's really about equal treatment of all your members – all your members should have the same rights and under the circumstances prior to the enactment of the resolution, they didn't all have the same rights. In the outer culture, people can be mean if you're different. We embrace each other regardless of our lumps, bumps and whoever we love – that's just how it is here."

 

KEEPSEAGLE SETTLEMENT NO LONGER OFFERING PAYOUTS

CATOOSA, Okla. – Despite several pleas from claimants and would-be claimants, there will not be another round of payouts in the Keepseagle v. Vilsack class action settlement.

Settled in 2010, Keepseagle v. Vilsack was initially filed in 1999 by a group of Native American farmers who claimed the USDA discriminated against them while applying for farm loans. Some were denied loans that were given to white farmers with similar histories while others received loans but received little if any service in the process.

The plaintiffs have received $760 million in the settlement, but with fewer claimants successfully able to prove their case than expected, $380 million remains to be spent, prompting a series of listening sessions across Indian Country throughout August, including one July 30 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Catoosa that drew more than 100 farmers and ranchers from as far away as Alabama. Attorney Joe Sellers said at the session that the USDA will not agree to any more payours or claimant classes and neither would the court.

The proposal presented at the session would place $342 million in a trust fund that would be overseen by 11 court-appointed trustees. Those trustees would have up to 20 years to distribute the money to non-profit organizations that have provided advocacy or some form of help to farmer and business owners in Indian Country. Individuals could not directly receive funds from the trust but could be an indirect recipient, such as through a grantee’s scholarship program.

The proposal would also make the remaining $38 million available to non-profit organizations within six months of the settlement’s final approval via a “fast track” portion. Those funds could only be allocated to non-profit organizations that existed prior to October 2010 and provided advocacy or assistance to farmers and business owners in Indian Country.

No funds will be distributed until the court approves the settlement plan.

Additional listening sessions are scheduled for Aug. 12 in Rapid City, S.D.; Aug. 14 in Bismarck, N.D.; Aug. 19 in Spokane, Wash.; Aug. 21 in Billings, Mont.; and Aug. 26 in Raleigh, N.C. All in-person sessions are scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. local time.

Webinars and conference calls are also scheduled for Aug. 6, Aug. 16, and Aug. 20. Participants are asked to sign up in advance and registration links are available through www.indianaglink.com.


From the Editor's Desk: Why we continue Native journalism
Thursday, August 07 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgIn the Lakota culture, there is a position that I've always found fascinating. It's called eyapaha. Traditionally, the eyapaha was effectively the spokesman for every tiospaye (extended family), and encampment in our nation. The eyapaha shared the decisions our councils made and fostered discussion where it was needed with information not everyone may have known. In essence, the eyapaha was analogous to our modern-day journalist.

It's often my wont to tell anyone who asks that I am not an elitist journalist … but I was educated by elitist journalists. When I attended the American Indian Journalism Institute and continued to study journalism at the University of South Dakota, the term “gatekeeper” was still bounced around with pride and zeal. We were being educated on how to find a story, getting others to tell the story and making sure the story was fair to all parties involved. Then came the real world.

Before accepting the responsibility of this position (one I still regard with the highest esteem, mostly because The Circle is older than I am), I was the editor for my tribal newspaper, The Sicangu Eyapaha and began to understand the dynamics of reportage in a tribal setting. Nothing we reported was good enough, fast enough or had enough of what everyone wanted. Cynicism set in as I fell back on my education, wondering if keeping alive a seemingly static journalistic tradition in a changing world while being a Native person on a reservation was too much irony for me.

But was is not.

Letter to the Editor: Former SPPS Indian Education Supervisors speaks out
Thursday, August 07 2014
 
Written by Kathy Denman-Wilke,
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To the editor

I am writing concerned about the article on June 19 entitled, “American Indian parents demand changes in St. Paul School programs. It seems to me that the article was written with information from one source and that information was not checked for accuracy. As the former supervisor of the Indian Education program I have listed the inaccuracies that I am aware of and the documentary source to check them out.
Angie Thorn hill’s comment on “the JOM board is a governing body, where parents decide how Indian Education funding can be spend.” The JOM committee only is a governing body of the JOM funding and JOM program, which in 2012/2013 was approximately $24,000 of the full Indian Education budget.

Documentation: Margaret Vanderhoff, accountant at SPPS for budget figures. The contact person for JOM funding and guidelines is Billie Annette.
Angel Thornhill comment on “ Grants have not been in compliance for some time.” All grants have been in compliance which SPPS yearly Federal audits can support (St. Paul Public Schools can speak to this). SPPS has never received a non-compliance letter from any funders in my 13 years as a supervisor. In fact in our SFTF, Chemical Prevention (DHS) grant we were asked to speak at their conferences since they viewed the program as one of their exemplary programs. In addition, in 2013 the JOM program received an award for being the exemplary JOM program across the state, in which Angie, the JOM parent committee member and I accepted.


Honor the Earth Launches ‘Love Water Not Oil’ Northern Tour
Thursday, August 07 2014
 
Written by Alyssa Hoppe, Honor the Earth,
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love water not oil tour frank waln.jpg DULUTH, Minn. – From August to September, Honor the Earth will sponsor an organizing and outreach tour in northern Minnesota, aimed at engaging communities and summer residents along the Enbridge proposed Sandpiper pipeline, one of many tar sands and fracked oil pipelines proposed to cross the North Country.

The 610-mile Sandpiper pipeline, projected at running 375,000 barrels per day, would cut through the chain of lakes south of Park Rapids and Walker, towards Brainerd and McGregor and snake back up to the Duluth and Superior area.

The company is proposing to transition from the northern corridor along Highway 2, which presently has six pipelines, to a new corridor, led by their proposal for the Sandpiper Line, through important and sensitive territory. The Enbridge Company is determined to move oil from places where there is no infrastructure and is showing determination in ways which Northerners may not like.

To support the mounting resistance to the Enbridge proposals, Honor the Earth has a two week drive of literature, events, press, music and action planned from Aug. 14 to Sept. 5 through the Lakes region and then on to North Dakota.

Musical performances to begin on Aug. 14 at Tom’s Burned Down Café on Madeline Island. The event will feature three Native musicians: Frank Waln, Sonny Johnson, Pura Fe and Allison Warden. Their performances will launch the musical portion of the tour, with the larger organizing component stretching from East Lake/ Rice Lake Refuge on the Mille Lacs reservation to Rice Lake on the White Earth reservation. The organizing campaign will feature educational and outreach presentations on the Enbridge pipeline proposals.


The Age of AIM:The American Indian Movement turns 46
Thursday, August 07 2014
 
Written by Jon Lurie,
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the age of aim the circle.jpgClyde Bellecourt was naked, locked in a dark, solitary cell in the bowels of Stillwater State Prison. Almost two weeks had passed since the 32 year-old Anishinaabe inmate had been forced into that cold concrete dungeon; he awoke contemplating suicide.

Bellecourt's path to Stillwater had begun long before, while still in the fifth grade. He ran away from school on the White Earth Reservation, where he was often beaten for acting out. Even as a child, Bellecourt rebelled against a system that denied the history and culture of his people. He was judged incorrigible by local authorities and sent to the Red Wing State Training School, a juvenile correctional facility.

Years later, lying raw against his stone bunk at Stillwater, Bellecourt remembered the cries of boys pleading for help as they were sexually molested by the Red Wing reformatory's priest.

As he considered taking his own life, Bellecourt heard someone whistling “You Are My Sunshine” outside the cell door.

He wondered: Who the hell whistles a song like that inside a prison?

He heard someone call out, "Is there a Clyde Bellecourt here?"

It was the voice of Eddie Benton-Banai, an Anishinaabe prisoner from Round Lake, Wisconsin. Benton-Benai asked Bellecourt for help organizing Native prisoners for an Indian folklore group.

Their eyes met through the peephole of the cell door seeding a partnership that would eventually blossom into the American Indian Movement, perhaps the most influential indigenous organization of the 20th century. Bellecourt and Benton-Banai succeeded in convincing a majority of the prison's nearly 200 Native prisoners to join their group.


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