Local Briefs
From the Editor's Desk: Health and wellness in one another
Friday, June 05 2015
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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alfredwalkingbull-web.jpgWhether we like it or not, addiction continues to be a theme in the Native American experience. Either by stereotyping of the “drunken Indian” or the daily struggles we endure, it has come to define our lives, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.

We may have personal stories of our misadventures with alcohol and drugs or we may know a seemingly endless litany of relatives and friends who were claimed by their addictions through death or incarceration. It's easy to fall into the trap of victimization, to blame a substance or colonization for the effects, there are plenty of reasons to be angry and self-righteous. However, the difficult path, always less trodden, is to look at our problems holistically, traditionally and with a measure of compassion for everyone in our lives affected by their addiction.

There is a popular meme on social media, “A sober Indian is a powerful Indian.” It is meant to empower those who have lived their lives, thus far, substance-free or those in recovery. What has always struck hollow for me about it is that, traditionally, we acknowledged our powerlessness. In Lakota culture, we understand that power is derived from the great mystery, the great power or god. We humble ourselves in front of god as atonement and encouragement. The ideal to strive for is the concept of the common man, never too high in status, never too important for others.

Other people are who we are called to live our lives for, in service and gratitude for the relationship. We are compelled to uplift one another so that we all may achieve a sense of unity and joy, in order to share it with others.

In his speech before a group of Minneapolis American Indian community members, Gerald Cross, explained what was the initial cause of his addiction: loneliness and a lack of belonging. “What got me going is that I didn't have no love, my parents' addiction to alcohol and we were in foster homes. We had decent [foster] parents who were white but we knew we were different and they made us feel different. So we ran away and stayed with people who accepted us.”

He continued his addiction as a solution to feeling outcast. “We didn't have any spirituality, we were empty inside. The drugs made us feel better. I didn't care about nothing.” With time and recovery, Cross has been able to put together sobriety. But it's never easy and the commitment to it is often misunderstood that once one is sober, one will always be sober.

It Ain't Easy Being Indian: June 2015
Friday, June 05 2015
Written by Ricey Wild,
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riceywild-web.jpg Last month me and the ‘gals’ had a funktastic night out at a George Clinton concert at the famous Cabooze in the Big City. I insisted that for one night we refer to each other as D-Funk, M-Funk and K-Funk because I’m weird like that. Yah George, Bootsie and Parliament and Funkadelic were awesome as usual but oddly looked very young … as we three Funk Sisters agreed. Or were we just feeling the years in our bones? I know I did but I managed to wobble in time to the familiar beats and not fall down. I wore my sunglasses. You got to have your sunglasses … so you can feel cool.

It was a gorgeous night in the Big City where we three used to live but we now reside in small rural towns so it was a huge treat for me to be there. I felt happy just seeing the skyline and jostling for stage view with people who weren’t my cousins. Ya’ll Indians know what I mean; it’s why before snagging up we recite our lineage as we know it before applying any hickeys. So I was feeling da Funk and partying as hard as my old carcass could handle. When Bootsie came my way I reached for his hand and licked the back of it. He just laughed. That man is still fine!!!! M’wah!!!!

So it was a funktastic night out; no one needed to get bailed out and M-Funk was still with us and not aboard the band’s bus. We ended the night at a place the locals call “The Smelly Deli.” The late night boogitus emissions sleeping at the hotel proved that to be an apt name and the next day I insisted going to Popeye’s Chicken so I could bring some home, I gotta have red beans n rice.

The night before the show I got to hang out with my lovely friend Rachel sitting on her porch and watching humanity walk by. Rachel burned sage and sweet grass so the entire neighborhood was smudged. She and my ex, Dan, live in my old ‘hood’ so it was like going home for me; Rachel and I talked like we just saw each other and I so love and appreciate having good friends I share that with. Plus she and Dan spoiled me with the T.L.C. I needed and my Dear Daniel gave me $40 for drinks for us gals!!! It was money well spent my love!!! Miigwech!

Political Matters: Burial mounds bulldozed
Friday, June 05 2015
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecaispecktor-web.jpgBurial mounds bulldozed

Whiteford’s Indian Burial Pit was a popular tourist trap in central Kansas, from 1936-1989. On open display were 147 skeletons of Indians.

The privately owned roadside attraction was closed after American Indians protested the disrespect being shown to their ancestors. The State of Kansas negotiated an agreement with the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, in 1990, and the 700-year-old skeletons were given a dignified burial.

The state of Minnesota recognized many years ago that ancient Indian burials deserve the same protection accorded to newer cemeteries. Section 307.08 of Minnesota’s Private Cemeteries Act “affords all human burial grounds and remains older than 50 years and located outside of platted or identified cemeteries protection from unauthorized disturbance,” according the Web site of the state archaeologist. The law applies to “prehistoric Indian burial mounds.”

Unfortunately, a Hennepin County road construction project near Lake Minnetonka succeeded in bulldozing a number of Indian burial mounds. The incident, which occurred in October 2014, was reported in the local press in May.

After the discovery of human remains, Hennepin County officials stopped work on what was to be roundabout at County Road 101 (known to locals as Bushaway Road) and Breezy Point Road, south of Gray’s Bay, in Minnetonka.

The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) has assembled a team to gather bone fragments for reburial.

“I’m working with the four Dakota tribes within Minnesota, in collaboration with the Hamline University alumni students. They all have an archeology background, including the tribal members working on site with me,” Jim Jones, MIAC cultural resources director, said in a story by Meghan Davy in the Lakeshore Weekly News.

Flanagan announces run for Minnesota House
Friday, May 22 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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flanagan named co-chair of cradle-to-k cabinet.jpgST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. – White Earth citizen and DFL activist Peggy Flanagan announced her candidacy for the Minnesota House of Representatives for District 46A on May 22.

In a press release, Flanagan gave her reasons for running for office. “This community has given me so much. My mom and I moved to St. Louis Park when I was a baby. As a single mother, she chose this community because of the opportunities that it provided for good public education, stable neighborhoods, and economic security, and she was right. My family and I settled in my hometown for the same reasons, and now I want to give back.”

Flanagan, 35, currently serves as executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota. She also worked for eight years at Wellstone Action, including as director of external affairs. In 2012, she worked as the Director of Community Outreach for Minnesotans United for all Families; and she was co-chair of the Raise The Wage campaign in 2014.

A citizen of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe, Flanagan lives in the Bronx Park neighborhood of St. Louis Park with her husband Tim Hellendrung and 2 year-old daughter Siobhan. She is a graduate of St. Louis Park public schools and the University of Minnesota.

Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL) announced his retirement from the Minnesota House of Representatives on May 21, after serving more than eight years. A special election will likely be held later this year for the remainder of his term. District 46A includes parts of St. Louis Park, Golden Valley and Plymouth.

PHOTO: Flanagan with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges in 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Sights & Sounds: Two Rivers Gallery Re-Opening
Tuesday, May 19 2015
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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MINNEAPOLIS – The Two Rivers Gallery in the Minneapolis American Indian Center re-opened on May 15 to the welcome of many in the community.

Highlights of the evening included poetry by R. Vincent Muniz, Jr., Ardie Medina with music by drum group Red Bone as well as a silent auction off some of the gallery's previous shows.


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