Local Briefs
Deconstruction for Mother Earth
Friday, February 05 2016
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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deconstructioncoverweb.jpgThe ground may be covered with snow, and temperatures wintertime cold, but an entire new “green” industry with job training is being created in both cities and rural areas here in the Northland. Native American workers for Miigwech Aki Deconstruction (Co.), based at Bemidji, recently completed deconstructing a commercial building in downtown Minneapolis and a large Twin Cities suburban home. They have also started deconstructing two abandoned properties in the Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota.

Salvage businesses have been around for centuries to rescue and reuse metals from sunken ships and old automobiles to wood and brick building materials. But creating social enterprises for environmental and employment training purposes is a new twist, and a new industry, built on old salvage practices.

Deconstruction is an environmentally friendly alternative to demolition, said project director Chris Bedeau (Leech Lake Ojibwe). The purpose is to keep from 85 percent to 95 percent of building materials from simply being destroyed and dumped into landfills.

That objective fits the company name Miigwech Aki, (“Thank you Earth” in Ojibwe) and is consistent with Native American values and culture, Bedeau said.

The deconstruction company is a year-old creation of the Northwest Indian Community Development Center (NWICDC) at Bemidji and simultaneously provides construction training, financial literacy, work readiness and personal well-being training programs for its participants.

uleah Palmer, the NWICDC executive director said that training and work experiences are important for unemployed and underemployed Native Americans who aspire to meaningful jobs.

The Jobs Now Coalition nonprofit group estimates northern Minnesota jobs in the Bemidji area would require $17.55 per hour for a worker to support a family of four. Average pay for jobs in that area is currently $9.95 per hour.

Miigwech Aki Deconstruction can do some of that work. “I believe this initiative fits what we do as Native people,” Bedeau said.

"Our [company] tagline says it all: ‘Preserving our greatest resource, Mother Earth, one building at a time.’ Our social enterprise gives us the opportunity to have hands on experience on a daily basis, contributing to the preservation of our planet,” he said.

Deconstructing homes and commercial properties is emerging just as the U.S. is slowly turning to ways to convert wastes into energy, recycle materials for new uses, and change American culture away from being the world’s most wasteful society.

Feds to Assume Jurisdiction at Mille Lacs Ojibwe Reservation
Friday, February 05 2016
Written by Jon Lurie,
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Things have gotten so bad on the Mille Lacs Reservation that Melanie Benjamin, the Ojibwe band’s chief executive, closed the doors to her annual State of the Band address last month. She wanted to address her people, and only her people, admitting band members, essential tribal employees, and invited guests to the exclusion of all others. Benjamin used the occasion to speak about justice – economic, social, and criminal.

Her impassioned rhetoric reminded attendees of the great strides the Mille Lacs people have made since the dimmest days of the European invasion; how the people had fought to retain sovereignty and restore the band’s spiritual ways and economic base. She warned, however, that all progress would be lost if the band didn’t take immediate and unflinching measures to abate criminal activity on the reservation – the latest threat, Benjamin said, to its continuing existence.

Benjamin announced that beginning January 1, 2017, the federal government will assume concurrent criminal jurisdiction on the central Minnesota reservation. Under the new agreement, federal authorities will be able prosecute crimes such as rape, murder, felony child abuse and felony assault in cooperation with state and tribal law enforcement.

Benjamin said the move is intended to send a message “to drug dealers, gang members and anyone intent on committing violent crimes on our lands. We will catch you, and when we do, you are going to Leavenworth, not Stillwater, and you are not getting out for a very, very long time.  Tell the dealers,” she said “if you don’t want to go to federal prison, get off our lands now, and stay out.”

Some band members have decried the new agreement as a surrender of tribal sovereignty. Benjamin said she doesn’t see it that way. Unless the band restores peace on the reservation, she said, there will be no nation left to exercise its rights. “The circle of life needs to be restored in a manner that permits the integrity of the individual to be maintained so that the community will continue to grow and prosper.”

While the Mille Lacs Band’s two casinos have benefitted by their proximity to the Twin Cities, Mille Lacs Solicitor General Todd Matha told the StarTribune in January that tribal communities have paid a heavy price in the form of increased crime. “Mille Lacs is basically the first stop from the [Twin] Cities going north,” he said. “When there’s gang activity and control of the drug trade, there’s obviously the violence that goes along with that.”

U.S. Justice Department statistics show overall crime rates on reservations are typically twice as high as they are elsewhere. A respite in criminal activity was noted on Minnesota’s Ojibwe reservations, however, following a federal indictment in January 2012, which charged two-dozen suspected members of the Native Mob with crimes ranging from conspiracy and racketeering to drug trafficking and attempted murder.

January 2016
Thursday, January 07 2016
Written by The Circle,
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Thru July 2016
Why Treaties Matter traveling exhibit

This exhibit explores relationships between Dakota and Ojibwe Indian Nations and the U.S. government in Minnesota. Learn how treaties affected the lands and lifeways of the indigenous peoples of this place, and why these binding agreements still matter today. For info, see:
• Jan. 11-24: Winona State University, Winona.
• Feb. 1 - 21: Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, Winona.
• Feb. 29 - March 23: Alexandria Technical and Community College, Alexandria.
• March 30 - April 17: Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minneapolis.
• April 25 - May 15: Metro State University, St. Paul.
• June 27 - July 17: Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Detroit Lakes.

Thru Jan. 16  
Dimensions of Indigenous: Storytelling

Dimensions of Indigenous: Storytelling is a multi-disciplinary all nations art exhibition featuring both contemporary and traditional work of Indigenous artists of the Americas whose work evokes decolonization, resistance, and cultural identity. Curated by Gordon Coons (Ojibwa)  and Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra, (Xinka-Lenca). Artists include: Colleen Casey (Dakota), Dakota Hoska, (Lakota) Maggie Thompson (Ojibwe), Cole Jacobson (Cree), Gordon Coons (Ojibwa), Julie Boada (Anishinabe), Gustavo Boada (Moche), Xilam Balam, (Mexica), Zamara Cuyun (K'iche/ Kaqchikel), Gabriela Erandi Spears (Matlatzinca/P'urhepecha), Rebekah Crisanta (Xinka-Lenca), Gustavo Lira (Mixteco/Zapotec). Closing reception: Jan. 16 from 2-5 pm. Join artists and curators for a closing reception to celebrate the work and artists. Music performance by Gustavo Lira & Xilam Balam. Exhibit runs Nov.19 to Jan. 16, 2016. Gallery hours: Monday-Friday from 10 am to -6 pm, and Saturdays from 12 to 5 pm. Admission: sliding scale; $3-10 per person suggested. Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis. For info, call 612-871-4444, email: Info@, or see:

Thru Jan. 19
Mazinaakizige: Am. Indian Teen Photography Project -What Brings Us Together

Two Rivers Gallery and the Minnesota Historical Society present the Mazinaakizige: American Indian Teen Photography Project exhibition. "What Brings Us Together”. A culmination of bringing together six American Indian youth artists to develop their digital photography skills in a guided, supportive, and culturally sensitive environment. The artists show a selection of photographs that they have taken through a ten-week program utilizing the skills they learned. This exhibition will travel across the state of Minnesota throughout the 2015-2016 program year. Artists: Esmarie Cariaga, Wihinape Hunt, Ivan Mckeithan, Lupe Thornhill, and Austin Verley. Two Rivers Gallery, MAIC, 1530 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis.

Thru Feb. 21
Arriving at Fresh Water: Contemporary Native Artists from Our Great Lakes

What is Native art today? It’s witty and warm, colorful and critical. It celebrates the past while challenging expectations. And some of the best art is being made right here and now in the Great Lakes area. This exhibition presents 14 of the region’s most visionary artists. They’re boldly tackling the biggest, most universal issues of the day, exploring truth and justice, community and self. They’re chronicling their own histories and the sweep of societal change. They’re pushing past assumptions into the realm of revelation—the promise of beauty to change the way we see. Free admission. Runs thru Feb. 21 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gallery 255, 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. For more info, see

Thru March 4
Re-riding History: From the Southern Plains to Matanzas Bay

Artists respond to the historical journey of the Fort Marion prisoners through the creation of one original work on paper. Featuring work from dozens of artists including, Norman Akers, Edgar Heap of Birds, Georgia Deal, Jim Denomie, Shan Goshorn, Dyani White Hawk, Tom Jones, America Meredith, Hoka Skenadore, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and many more. Emily Arthur, Marwin Begaye and John Hitchcock present a curatorial project which metaphorically retraces the history of seventy-two American Indian peoples who were forcibly taken from their homes in Salt Fork, OK, and transported by train to St. Augustine, Florida. The United States war department imprisoned Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, and Caddo leaders under Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt from 1875-1878. The curators asked seventy-two artists to respond to the experience of imprisonment by creating an individual work on paper. The artists selected include Native American, non-Native and descendants from both periods of imprisonment. Free and open to the public. All My Relations Gallery, 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For more info, call 612-235-4970, or see:

Jan. 8
Native Arts & Crafts Sale

Native Arts & Crafts Sale First Friday of the Month. First Friday of each month the Native Art and Craft Sale takes place. Stop and shop for unique handmade items made by local Native American Artists. Shop local and support the local community. 1308 Franklin Ave Mpls MN. For more info, call Jacque Wilson at 612-871-6618. See Facebook page at :

Jan. 8
Sobriety Friday Monthly Celebration Dinner

Come and join us for an evening featuring special speakers, testimonials of sobriety, great food, gospel music and door prizes. Sponsored by Overcomers Ministries. This is a monthly event on the 2nd Friday of each month. 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. At The American Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin Ave. Mpls.

Jan 8, 22
Phillips Indian Educators

Upcoming meeting for the Phillips Indian Educators will be held beginning at 9:00 am. All meetings are held at Migizi Communications, 1516 E Lake St #300, Minneapolis. Meetings for 2016 include: 1/8, 1/22, 2/12, 2/26, 3/11, 3/25, 4/8, 4/22, 5/6, 5/20, 6/10, 6/24, 7/8, 7/22. For more info, contact Joe Rice at Nawayee Center School at: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Jan. 13
Free Writing Class for Writers of Color

This free, informal class is a preview of the free, craft-centered creative writing class David Mura will teach for writers of color and Indigenous writers at the Loft beginning February 3. In this preview class, Mura will introduce basic craft elements for writing poetry and fiction, engage students in one or two writing exercises, discuss issues related to the writing process, and touch on issues facing writers of color and Indigenous writers. Only open to writers of color and Indigenous writers (defined as people who are of Native American, Indigenous, Pacific Islander, Asian, Asian American, Arab, Middle Eastern, African, African American, Afro-Caribbean, Latino/a, Chicano/a, and mixed descent). No preregistration necessary, come as you are. 7:00 -8:30 p.m. Cafe SouthSide, 3405 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis, 55407. The full class schedule will run Feb. 3 through Aug. 10, 14 sessions total.

Jan. 15 (deadline)
First Nations Development Institute Grants

First Nations Development Institute will award up to six grants of up to $30,000 each to strengthen the organizational, managerial and programmatic capacity of Native American-controlled nonprofit organizations and tribal government programs that have existing efforts in place to serve the field of Native American arts and artists in tribal communities in four states – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Mountain Time on January 15, 2016. Eligible applicants must have existing program initiatives in place that emphasize strengthening the field of Native American arts and building the capacity of Native American artists in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. All applicants must fully complete the First Nations online grant application, including the submission of all necessary attachments. For-profit organizations and individual artists are not eligible. First Nations does not require federal recognition for tribal governments to apply, but they must have state recognition. More information and the online grant application can be found here:

Jan.16, 23, 30 Feb. 13
Science Fusion: celebrate diversity in science

Connect with the diverse community of scientific professionals from the Twin Cities through science experiments and activities. Show young people of underserved communities the incredible career opportunities available in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Come to one of our four annual Science Fusion events, tailored for kids and adults alike. Up to four children get in free with each full price adult ticket purchased. Science Museum of Minnesota,  120 W. Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul. For more info, call 651-221-9444 or see:
• Jan. 16: African Americans in Science, 1 to 4 p.m.
• Jan. 23: ¡Amantes de la Ciencia!, Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m.
• Jan. 30: American Indians in Science, 1 to 4 p.m.
• Feb. 13: Asian Americans in Science, 1 to 4 p.m.

Jan. 27 (deadline)
Harvard’s Honoring Nation­

The Honoring Nations 2016 awards cycle is now open for nominations and applications. Honoring Nations will award up to six exemplary tribal programs. High Honors programs will receive $5,000 and Honors programs receive $2,000. Honoring Nations invites applications from American Indian governments across a broad range of subject areas, including, but not limited to: Economic, Social & Cultural Programs; Natural Resource Management; Governmental Policy Development & Reform; Intergovernmental Relations; Education, Justice and Health. To nominate a program or apply for an award, visit the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development website at or call 617-495-1480. The application deadline is January 27, 2016.

Jan. 27
The Native American Cancer Support Group

If you or someone you know is a cancer patient or survivor, we encourage you to join us for a meal and good company. This month we meet Wed. Jan. 27th from 6 to 8 pm, at East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center, 2307 17th Avenue South, Minneapolis. For more information, call Joy Rivera at 612-314-4843 or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Feb. 1 (deadline)
College Scholarship Opportunity for TC High School Students

Wallin Education Partners has been providing financial and advising support to guide local Twin Cities students to college completion and is now accepting applications from current high school seniors. Wallin Education Partners selects students with high potential and financial need from 28 Twin Cities high schools to receive financial aid, professional advising and additional scholar services – providing not only the money for college, but the tools and resources to help students make the most of the experience. This unique program has resulted in more than 90% of scholars graduating from college. Selected scholars receive: Committed financial aid – up to $4,000/year for four years to augment grants and financial aid; Professional advisors—to help navigate college every step of the way; College to career programming – corporate mentors, internships, specialized career nights and more to help lead scholars toward fulfilling careers after college; ual, and foundation partners. Financial need is determined by family taxable income (must be less than $75,000 a year) and low to moderate assets. Any majors are accepted, but students are required to attend an eligible four-year public or private college within Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wisconsin or one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Applications will be accepted until February 1, 2016 and can be submitted online at Additional information about eligibility can be found on Wallin’s website: 

March 19—20
18th Annual Cherish the Children Traditional Powwow

Doors Open at 11:00am. Registration at 11:00am. Grand Entries: Saturday 1:00 & 7:00pm, Feast: 5:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm. Co -Emcees: Jerry Dearly and Reuben Crowfeather. Host Drum: Tomahawk Circle. Invited Drum: Oyate Teca. First 10 registered drums with a minimum of 5 singers will receive an honorarium. $5 Entry fee for ages 7+ Free entry for Elders & Veterans. Free entry per person with our Roy Roberts “Family in Need” Drive - donate a household/ family item. Youth Dance Specials—youth 17 years and under—(cash prizes). All Ages 2 Step Special—(1st-2nd-3rd place prizes). Junior Hand Drum Contest—(1st-2nd-3rd place prizes). 5th Annual Ain Dah Yung Center Ambassador Contest. For details contact This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Central High School, 275 Lexington Ave. St. Paul, MN.

Marcus Lee Roberts
Thursday, January 07 2016
Written by The Circle,
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Marcus Lee Roberts
September 4, 1980 - December 9, 2015

marcusrobertobituarysm.jpgMarcus Lee Roberts, age 35 of Bloomington, entered the Sprit World unexpectedly Wednesday, December 9, 2015. Funeral services were held December 14 at St. Cornelia’s Episcopal Church at the Lower Sioux Community.  Visitation was Saturday evening at the church hall.  There was a prayer service  and visitation up to the time of the service on Monday. Burial is in St. Cornelia’s Episcopal Cemetery. Online condolences may be sent online at Stephens Funeral Service - Redwood Valley Funeral Home in Redwood Falls assisted the family with arrangements.

Marcus Lee Roberts was born September 4, 1980 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the first born son of Timothy Roberts and Elaine (Smith) Pierce. He attended South High in Minneapolis and Redwood Valley High School. Marcus worked in the manufacturing industry and the gaming industry. He was a family man, a fun loving man, and beloved son, father, brother, cousin, and uncle. Marcus was the kind of man you wanted on your side in any occasion. He enjoyed playing disc golf and spending time with his kids, family, and friends. If it meant going broke to have fun, he didn’t sweat it. 

Marcus is survived by his father Timothy Roberts; mother Elaine Pierce; children: Chance, Makaylee, Alexis, Techa, and Elisa; grandmothers Lillian Wilson and Ardythe Smith; siblings: Jeremy, Paul, Kenny, Krista, Nokoma, Wakinyanna, and Jasmine; and many other relatives and friends.  He is preceded in death by his infant daughter Chasity and two grandfathers.

Change is Hard but Inevitable
Thursday, January 07 2016
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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As I reflect on 2016, I’d like to share a few experiences of change. What I’ve come to know about living is that change is inevitable. Change is hard. Change, it’s a part of life.

A few months ago I was reminded that everything that I believed to be secure isn’t. I realized it was time to venture on from my job once again. The time came to wander onto the next place. I’d learned everything that I was going to in my job. I was hurt because I believed in the security, I bought into the safety. I believed I could see my life into the distance with the same job. I saw ordinary days, piled on ordinary days.  

Eventually, my last day at work came. I was alone in my office. My going away party was done, with all the well wishes and promises to stay in touch. I sat there and packed my thoughts and gathered my things. I prepared for where life was gonna take me next. I was kind of afraid, but I was excited for another adventure. I’d learned as much as I could at that job and I know, change is inevitable.   

Recently, my sister and I spent some time talking about when we left home, the Reservation. Leaving was one of the hardest decisions we made. We left the familiarity of family. We left the environment we knew. Change was necessary. We moved to pursue the opportunities for work. With the blessing of our parents, we embarked on making our lives here in Minneapolis.

It has taken us awhile to get settled into our lives here in Minneapolis. Initially we were home sick and went home often. After a while, we established our lives here. We have friends who have become family. We found a supportive community. Our lives are filled up with many things here, so we don’t go home as often as we’d like. As my sister and I sat visiting, we fell into quiet reflection remembering how difficult the change was, but how far we’ve come. We both agreed that we’d do it again.

In times of change, the content of a person’s character is revealed. If you unprepared for it then it’ll be a difficult. I say this because some people use alcohol or drugs to numb the quandary of change.    

People get caught up in addiction. Addiction is heart wrenching and devastating to witness. It’s a horrible experience when it’s someone you love, or someone who is fundamental to who you are, ie. parents, siblings, relatives, a partner, a lover, your best friend, etc. You listen. You help. You offer support. You assist. Until one day, you realize that you are drowning with them. You’re gasping for air. You stand up while they continue to thrash about. They tug and pull at you. You’re desperate to hold them up.

It’s instinctual, it’s you or them. Letting go feels like failure. Letting go feels like loss. Letting go is filled with guilt. When you finally let go they interpret this as betrayal. They scream at you. They say horrible things to you. They say horrible things about you. They tug on your values to get back in your good graces and to rejoin them. Sometimes, you falter then find yourself caught up in the throes of their addictive cycle.

Eventually, you mourn the loss of them. Their words haunt you. Their addiction becomes too much to bear. It’s a difficult lesson when you realize that their darkness, their dark day of the soul, their struggle belongs to them.

Guilt from abandonment becomes your unwelcome friend. Sometimes, there are momentary glimpses of the person you know. They are vibrant. They are alive. They are themselves. It is momentary. The day they die everything comes crashing down. Often times, their death is at their own hands, or as a result of a lifestyle they are caught up within, or as a result of someone who is caught up with them in that lifestyle. You pray they finally found comfort in death cause their life was wrought up in pain.

n time, you sit along their grave, so to speak, then you tell their story. You share the times they were awe inspiring, life changing, and the person you knew before addiction. Their story becomes a cautionary tale. Drugs or alcohol took them way too soon. Their story, their life, changed you.  

I’ve learned that change begins to ignite each time a person lives their ordinary lives doing extraordinary acts to be themselves. Those moments occur without public fanfare. Each and every moment you are becoming who you are called to be, now that is revolutionary.   

2016 is gonna be another incredible year, another opportunity, another chance to be better, to do better, to accomplish more, to hold my loved ones closer…Change is amazing. Change is inevitable.

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