Local Briefs
Weekend Calendar: Feb. 14-15
Friday, February 13 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Feb. 14
1st Annual Women’s Memorial March: Sing Our Rivers Red Twin Cities
Join us alongside many communities across Turtle Island to honor our life givers and raise awareness of the ongoing epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Please bring hand drums. We will sing the Women's Warrior Song (from the St'at'imc Nation of Interior British Columbia, Canada) throughout the duration of the march in solidarity with our relatives across Turtle Island.
11 a.m.: Opening Ceremony; 11:30: Water Ceremony by Lisa Bellanger; Noon: Introduction to March by Karlee Fellner and Nancy Bordeaux; 12:15 p.m.: Karlee Fellner will start the Women’s Warrior Song to begin the walk; 12:20: Walk.
Route: Minneapolis American Indian Center, south on Bloomington Avenue, east on 24th Street, south on Cedar Avenue, west on Lake Street, north on Bloomington Avenue. March will be approximately one hour.
Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN. For more information, visit

Feb. 14
2015 Tanner Albers Round Dance Memorial
Whipmen: Charles Lasley, Sr., Wanbill Charging Eagle; Invited Singers: Marlon Deschamps, Nathan Rikishi Pelly, Sonny Eagle Speaker, Nakoa Heavy Runner and Arnold Alexis.
Hand Drum Contest: $2,000 and Pendleton blanket (first place); 3 consolations prizes; Best Dressed Contest: $300 (first place). Local Invited Singers: Ople Day, Hokie Clairmont, Keveen Kingbird, Pete Gahbow and Mike Sullivan.
Schedule: Hand Drum Contest, 2 p.m.; Pipe Ceremony, 4 p.m. (Wokiksuye to follow); Round Dance, 5 p.m. $5 entry fee (all proceeds go to the singers).
Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN. For more information, call Marcus Denny or Dylan Jennings at 303-842-5012 or 715-348-6594.

'Drunktown's Finest' set for theaters nationwide
Tuesday, February 10 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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drunktowns_finest-web.jpgALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Drunktown’s Finest,” a film by Navajo filmmaker Sydney Freeland, will be released to theaters across the country this spring.

According to a press release, the film’s executive producer Robert Redford will present the film in New York City at the Quad Cinema on Feb. 20 and in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinema on Feb. 27 and in the following weeks to select markets across the nation.

"Drunktown's Finest" premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and has since won a number of awards, including the Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Narrative and HBO Best First Feature awards at Outfest 2014, as well as Best Film at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco. The film has screened at over 50 film festivals around the world, hailed by Twitch as “a compelling snapshot of contemporary Navajo life.” Filmmaker Magazine lauded Navajo writer/director Freeland for her “authentic voice.”

The film follows three young Navajo — a college-bound Christian girl raised by white parents, a rebellious and lost father-to-be and an aspiring transgender model — as they struggle to escape the hardships of life on the reservation. As the three find their lives becoming more complicated and their troubles growing, their paths begin to intersect. With little in common other than a shared heritage, they soon learn that the key to overcoming their obstacles may come from the most unlikely of sources, each other.

Weekly Calendar: Feb. 9-13, 2015
Saturday, February 07 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Feb. 9

Community Art Night

The Art of Indigenous Resistance: Inspiring the Protection of Mother Earth

Join us for a night of painting and community exchange. Canvas provided, paint and brushes included! Come paint and express your activism through art. Each participant will have the opportunity to have his or her canvas included in The Art of Indigenous Resistance exhibition.

The exhibit is a traveling exhibition of work by 20 Indigenous artists co-curated by All My Relations Gallery and Honor the Earth. The exhibition is made of both prints and original works of art that highlights Honor the Earth's 31 years of Indigenous outreach and community resistance. We are excited to also include paintings from the Minneapolis community.

6 to 8 p.m., All My Relations Gallery, 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN. For more information, visit


A Powerful Awakening: Understanding Historic Trauma for Native Abuse Survivors
Friday, February 06 2015
Written by Jon Lurie,
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a powerful awakening-nancy bordeaux-web.jpgAs attention turns to relationships this time of year, for some Native American women, the reality of their lives is less than loving.

According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, Native American women are victims of domestic violence or physical assault at more than double the rate of other racial group. An estimated one in three Native American women are assaulted or raped in their lifetimes and three out of five experience domestic violence.

The White House proclaimed January National Stalking Awareness Month and the U.S. Department of Education declared the same month as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Both issues have an impact on Native women on and off the reservation. But for one women's advocate in the Twin Cities, the goal is to heal the root of the problems through traditional methods, addressing historical trauma.

Nancy Bordeaux ran away from the Rosebud Reservation in 1986, escaping an abusive husband who nearly took her life. She was 27 years-old when she started over in Minneapolis. There she met other Native people, refugees of government relocations programs and women like her. There were a lot of women like her; while Bordeaux’s circumstance was tragic it was, unfortunately, not uncommon. Nor is it uncommon now.

Bordeaux found work keeping books for the Mdewakantowan Dakota’s casino operations in Prior Lake, Minn. She established a peaceful home, but was unhappy in her professional life, counting money for the tribe. She wanted to help women seeking to put their lives back together after leaving abusive relationships.

After several attempts Bordeaux thought she had found a job doing just that when she was hired by the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. They put her to work, however, on Indian child welfare cases. Bordeaux’s duties included entering people’s homes, alongside county child protection agents, to investigate reported maltreatment of Indian children. “That’s when I started learning about the institutional racism that exists within the American system of justice,” she said.

The job, she says, started to eat her alive. “They were opening cases against Indian parents when they shouldn’t have, removing children from homes, transferring them into the care of non-Indian people. I no longer wanted to work for a system that perpetuated genocide – the forced removal and transfer of children from one ethnic group to another.”

After the realization that she “couldn’t continue to exist as if I was an assimilated Indian living in the city,” Bordeaux returned to the Rosebud Reservation where she sought help and healing among traditional spiritual people. “Looking back, I realize that the most powerful thing I did to help my people was return to our ceremonies,” she said.

Today, the 56 year-old Sicangu Lakota says she is optimistic about the futures of many of the women she’s helped through her work in women's advocacy. Bordeaux feels some satisfaction knowing that the extensive networking she’s done seems to be having an impact at the national level.

At the urging of Attorney General Eric Holder, congress passed the 288-page reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act last month, which included language proposed by the Justice Department that for the first time would allow tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians who assaulted native women on tribal lands. It would also allow the courts to issue and enforce protective orders, whether the perpetrator is Indian or non-Indian.

While Bordeaux welcomes the tightening of laws to aid in the prosecution of abusers, she is focused on healing the victims. Over the course of her career she has come to see that no law can mend the flesh, bones and psyche of Native women who survive assault. There is only one thing that can accomplish that, she says – a return to traditional spiritual ways, a practice that will not only heal the present generations, but future generations as well.

Growing the Herb: Marijuana and Indian Country
Friday, February 06 2015
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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“I think that decriminalizing recreational use would benefit our people greatly since so many of us use it and many have been incarcerated for possessing it. The tribes certainly could gain by better controlling how it exists within our communities as well as financially with sales and possible taxation … We have retained aboriginal rights to utilize medicines within our communities the way we see fit.”

Martin Reinhardt, Professor at Northern Michigan University

It’s time to reconsider the regulation of marijuana and hemp. With the Pineole Pomo Tribe of California initiating the first tribal commercial marijuana grow operation and the Department of Justice’s announcement that it would not prosecute for marijuana or hemp, the door has been opened to look at the regulatory scheme. This December, Justice Department Director Monty Wilkinson announced, “The eight priorities in the Cole memorandum will guide United States Attorneys' marijuana enforcement efforts in Indian Country, including in the event that sovereign Indian nations seek to legalize the cultivation or use of marijuana in Indian Country.”

In turn, the Pomo tribe, which is located in Mendicino County, one of the largest marijuana growing counties in the country, announced a commercial venture with two partners, Colorado-based United Cannabis and Kansas-based FoxBarry Farms. The 250-member tribe announced that it will grow thousands of plants for the medical marijuana business on its 99-acre reservation.

What’s the catch? There are a lot of them, especially in any states which have not yet legalized marijuana. U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole, for instance, said that the DOJ will retain the right to prosecute individuals who engage in the distribution of marijuana to minors, where revenue is going to criminal enterprises, drugged driving or diversion to a state where it is not legal.

While some tribes are looking to this as a highly lucrative business, others are considering just the local economics and pros and cons of the industry. In the least on the cautious side, tribal police are already pretty busy and under funded, so the keeping of marijuana to within reservation borders, may be a bit of a challenge for any regulatory authority. And that “ Driving While Indian” thing that occurs when you leave the reservation boundaries is, well, going to be supremely tested if tribes go ahead. There is, not an easy path in any case.

The Economics

I am told that 40 percent of my community smokes the herb. The fact is we’re spending millions of dollars a year importing marijuana from, largely unsavory characters onto the reservation, creating a great loss to our tribal economy. This is undeniable in every reservation. I haven't done complete studies, but in order to buy marijuana from dealers elsewhere, conservative estimates indicate $60,000 a week is draining from the my own reservation, White Earth. With a little math, it looks like around $3 million annually is drained from the reservation for purchases.

That is coming out of tribal pockets; pockets in some of the poorest counties in the state. That is part of our challenge. Could tribes stop that economic drain with a local marijuana economy? There are some larger economic benefits, for both hemp or marijuana, as well as risks.

Hemp Economics

Over 30 nations grow industrial hemp today, including Canada, France, England, Russia, China, Germany and Australia. China is the largest producer of industrial hemp. On the other side, the the largest consumer of hemp products, with total annual retail sales in 2013 of $580 million. Between 60 and 90 percent of the raw hemp materials imported into the U.S. come from Canada, which legalized hemp production in 1998.

This is some old stuff. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper. I don’t know if our treaties were written on hemp paper, but it's possible. Both the Navajo Nation and the Oglala Sioux Council passed ordinances and resolutions on hemp. But at that time, the Drug Enforcement Agency came down with a heavy hand – particularly on the White Plume Tiospaye in Pine Ridge – which grew 0 percent THC hemp, from 2000 to 2002, on their family allotments.

That crop had been legalized by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, however, in all three years, the crops were raided by DEA SWAT teams destroying thousands of dollars worth of seed. Federal prosecutions were extensive, but the family escaped imprisonment, but was barred from any more hemp farming. Ironically, the raids had dispersed seed throughout their land and the crops remain today, although the family is barred from harvest. That was then, it’s not clear what that means in light of the change in Justice Department policy.

Marijuana Math

Tribal communities would be unable, under the present regulatory scheme, to sell marijuana off-reservation unless the surrounding state legalized marijuana. This is the case of the Pomo, or a tribe in any state with medical or recreational use. The licensing issue is not clear as of yet, but when the state of Minnesota held its informational meeting on the new medical marijuana policy, regulatory officials stated that tribal sovereignty would dictate growing in that state, but no word on distribution or sales off-reservation. This is likely to be determined in the upcoming year. The question of a local tribal economy in marijuana, however is worth some considering.

The Marijuana economy, however, is a robust deal in Colorado. The state of Colorado is likely to haul in around $43 million this year from marijuana taxes. That is a 27 percent tax on marijuana and that’s taxes, not business. It’s got a huge ripple through the economy for sure, from growers to hydroponic suppliers to bakers. Colorado is sort of unique in its situation and demographics, but it's a booming industry.

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