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Local Briefs
“A Bag Worth A Pony” is a well-illustrated study of bandolier bags
Thursday, September 14 2017
 
Written by Deborah Locke,
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 Beadworkers Batiste Sam and Maude Kegg pause to relax with Fred Benjamin at Mille Lacs. c. 1994. (All photos courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.)A Bag Worth a Pony: The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag Paperback
By Marcia G. Anderson
Published May 15, 2017
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Paperback: 272 pages

For students of American Indian history in general – and of niche Ojibwe history in particular – “A Bag Worth a Pony” is for you. Or if you’re a fabric and textile wonk or College of Design instructor or student at the University of Minnesota, “A Bag Worth a Pony” is for you. Or if Ojibwe family names like Kegg, Sam, LeGarde, Hole in the Day, LaFave, Moos, Benjamin, Posey, King, Smith, and a dozen others mean something to you, read this book.

“A Bag Worth A Pony: The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag” is a meticulous and exceptionally well-illustrated study of the history of beaded Ojibwe bandolier bags, or gashkibidaaganag (which loosely translates in Ojibwe as an item that is enclosed, attached and tied).

The author, Marcia G. Anderson, is a retired collections curator at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) who stumbled over a storage box of beaded bags in 1981. The discovery whetted Anderson’s fascination for fabric, crafts and women’s work and presented challenging questions. Who were the women who created the exquisitely beautiful designs? What were the bags used for and for whom were they created? How old are the earliest bags? Why status did they confer to the wearer?

Those questions and more prompted countless trips to museums, archives and Ojibwe reservations to learn the history and artistry of the prestigious gashkibidaaganag.

Batiste Sam with her gashkibidaagan, 1995.In the first half of the book Anderson’s findings give a tremendous amount of detail about the evolution of the form, structure and motif of the bags. The book’s title is explained here – in the 1800s the Dakota found the Ojibwe gashkibidaaganag so valuable that they traded a pony for an bag. Hence the bags – that appear to be dated back to about 1870 – became a form of commerce and of cultural identity, Anderson wrote. Even if the Ojibwe dressed like “Christianized Indian farmers,” the addition of a bag over that clothing was symbolic to Indians and non-Indians of a proud Ojibwe heritage.

The sheer volume of information gives the first half of the book a textbook-like feel. Anderson goes into detail on bead types, thread types, border differences, tassels, fringes, and the disappearance of pockets.

You can easily imagine Anderson with gloved hands cautiously exploring the size and details of all 123 full bags in the MHS collection, and then the dozens of bags she examined off-site. The Society’s photo collection enhanced the study of gashkibidaaganag for Anderson as she ably identified the earlier loom-woven bags and their evolution to the later year spot-stitch applique bags.

In the book’s photos, Ojibwe men displayed full regalia which included the wearing of at least one bag. The published photos give an intriguing pictorial history of the Ojibwe in the 1800s and 1900s. In short, the reader wants to learn more about the bag wearers. Some were part of a treaty delegation, some posed for studio photographers, some posed in family portraits.

The heart of the book, however, is its second half where artistry comes to life through the stories of Ojibwe women (and a few men) from each Minnesota Ojibwe reservation who created the bags. In mid-book, two of the country’s premier bag creators and respected elders from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Batiste Sam and Maude Kegg, are pictured with Fred Benjamin. (Fred is misidentified in the photo as Kenny Weyaus.) The photo of these two beloved grandmas depicts pure exuberance and joy, and you’d just like to give each of them a hug.

Maude and Baptiste have passed away, but their amazing talent lives on in the applique bags stored at the Mille Lacs Museum near Onamia. Anderson wrote that the Ojibwe favored floral designs in general, but unique flourishes emerged at each reservation. Distinctive Mille Lacs designs included the cornucopia, the trumpet flower and the seed pod. Anderson wrote: “Maude’s bag was, like most Ojibwe gashkibidaaganag, filled with the fluidity, enthusiasm, and the unique signature of the individual bead artist.”

Gashkibidaagan made by Maude Kegg, 1982.That kind of conclusion arrives after careful study, but in addition to her research skill, Anderson demonstrates cultural sensitivity and an affection and respect for the women who created these objects of beauty. She pointed out the many decisions a beader made before picking up bead and thread, such as the taste of the man who would wear it. The beader considered the best of what was old and new in bag creation, what beads, thread and fabric were available, and colors and patterns.

Anderson wrote: “And she did all this, with the simplest of resources, while struggling with political oppression that amounted to cultural genocide – forced assimilation, outlawing of traditional religious practices, forced removal of children to boarding schools – and, often, severe poverty.”

Gashkibidaaganag became wildly popular throughout North America especially through the Arts and Crafts period of the 1920s. The women beaders of Minnesota were viewed as the best in the world and the money they earned from bag production was critical to their households.

Again, the book is not for everyone as its detail can be overwhelming at times. But the photographs of gashkibidaaganag are gorgeous, and the portion with personal accounts from master beaders is invaluable. If you are a serious student of Ojibwe history, you’ll want to know what is in this book.

 

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Indian Horse Relay showcases Native American horse athletes
Thursday, September 14 2017
 
Written by Photos &text courtesy of Shakopee mdewakanton sioux community,
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High-speed American Indian bareback relay racing was on display at Canterbury Park August 24-26 in Shakopee, Minn. The event was presented by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC).

Relay teams consisted of three horses and four warriors. Riders in full regalia raced bareback down the track and exchanged horses at high speeds.

The Indian Horse Relay at Canterbury Park began in 2013 when the SMSC was invited to the Apsaalooke Crow Nation to see their Native American horse racing event. The SMSC’s Mystic Lake Casino Hotel partnered with Canterbury Park in 2012, bringing the sport to life in the area’s largest horse racing venue.

Native American music and dancing was held between races each night. Performances included SMSC Royalty, a traditional Native American drum group, and others.

For more information on Indian Horse Relay races, visit: ShakopeeDakota.org 

 

orses are often painted for Indian Horse Relays to match the teams’ colors.  The horse is an important part of Native American culture. Referred to as the Horse Nation,  horses have a way of bringing Native people from all walks of life together. In an Indian Horse Relay race, riders make exchanges with the help of their teammates. But with so many  variables, plenty can go wrong--from flipped riders to loose horses running the track. Rider Dani Buffalo Jr., representing Holds the Enemy from the Crow Nation, executes a smooth exchange during the race.

The rain and drizzle didn't slow down JT Longfeather, rider for the Long Feather team from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The team showed talent and determination and placed fourth in the consolation relay. The championship race on Saturday night finished in dramatic fashion, with a video replay between Brew Crew, from the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Tissidimit, from the  Sho-Ban Tribes. While Brew Crew (middle) appeared to have claimed the title, pulling ahead of Tissidimit by inches on the last stretch, the team was disqualified due to a rider infraction, leaving the crown to the Tissimidit team (left).

White Earth tribe holds high hopes for hemp
Thursday, September 14 2017
 
Written by Dan Gunderson/MPR News,
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hempstory2.jpgThere’s a lot of expectation invested in a few acres of hemp growing on a hill overlooking the small town of Callaway on the edge of the White Earth Reservation.

“I’m kinda nervous,” says tribal secretary-treasurer Tara Mason. “I don’t think I’ve been this concerned about how a crop is doing on White Earth until we planted these.”

Mason is nervous because the tribe has nearly $100,000 invested in this project and because she sees so much potential for economic development on this remote reservation.

“I think we’ve got a whole micro-economy that can be surrounded by hemp,” she said. “You know, this could really be the start of a lot of great things we can build on in the future.”

Hemp is grown for seeds or fiber. The seeds and the oil produced by crushing the seeds are a growing part of the food market.

“We are seeing growth in domestic hemp sales of 10-15 percent a year steadily as people discover that this is one of few grains that has complete protein,” said University of Minnesota professor George Weiblen, who has been studying hemp genetics for more than a decade. “It also has an excellent fatty acid profile, omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids that are popular for heart health.”

It’s also genetically related to marijuana, a connection that’s made widespread legal production in the United States nearly impossible. While hemp plants hold only a small amount of THC, the compound that gives marijuana it’s narcotic effect, the federal government still considers hemp a controlled substance, an illegal drug.

hempstorypeople.jpgThree years ago, Congress legalized industrial hemp for research purposes, but only under the watch of a university or a state agriculture department.

Last year, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency gave the Minnesota Department of Agriculture permission to start a hemp pilot project without running afoul of federal drug laws. It required the hemp seed be imported under permits from the state Agriculture Department. Six participants grew 40 acres.

This year, Minnesota ag officials received 42 applications for more than 2,000 acres. That included the tract at White Earth, which used seed imported from Canada and Europe. Although White Earth is a sovereign nation, tribal officials say they are following all state and federal regulations related to hemp.

Weiblen is overseeing hemp variety trials around the state including on the White Earth Reservation where there are 12 varieties of hemp bred for seed production. He’s certain hemp can be successfully grown across Minnesota.

“It’s ready to go. It’s suited to our region. We are halfway through our trial in Minnesota and we’re seeing plants doing very well,” said Weiblen. “Right now the main limiting step for hemp cultivation in Minnesota is the processing.”

Processing requires mills to chop plant stocks and extract fibers, and squeeze oil from the seeds.

White Earth is considering buying a press to crush seeds for hemp oil, but they see perhaps more potential in the taller, more robust plants growing next to the seed test plot.

“We have five varieties,” explains White Earth food sovereignty coordinator Zachary Paige, standing next to hemp plants that are about 7 feet tall. “It’s amazing. I’ve heard there’s 22,000 products you can make from hemp, so it’s pretty limitless.”

The hemp stalk has long fibers a bit like wool on the outside and a woody material inside. The long fibers are commonly used to make rope and fabric.

Right now, most of that market demand is filled with cheap Chinese imports. And those long fibers are difficult to extract

“So we’re going to start with the easier products, the hempcrete, the fiber board,” said Paige.

Hempcrete is concrete made with chopped-up hemp fibers. It’s lighter and stronger than traditional concrete. Fiber board combines wood chips and hemp in a plywood-like panel.

The challenges of processing hemp have tribal officials cautious about the payoff from hemp, but they envision making construction materials and creating much needed jobs.

“If you can integrate the hemp industry along with the building industry, mankind is always building,” said Douglas Lee, a student at the White Earth tribal college who’s helping create a hemp industry economic development plan. “That’s one need that’s never going to run out is building material.”

Hemp also fits well with the White Earth Nation vision for sustainable food production, said food sovereignty coordinator Paige. These hemp plots have had no added fertilizer or pesticides so it would fit well with an organic crop rotation.

“Edible beans, native corn, hemp, alfalfa. This kind of rotation is an organic rotation that would be profitable in a value added market,” said Paige.

White Earth chair Terry Tibbetts says creating industry around hemp would be a good way for White Earth to use its limited resources. He says because land is a renewable resource the tribe can use it to build a sustainable economy.

“The only thing that we have is gaming. So you know, we’re taking a look right now and diversifying,” Tibbetts said. “Because we don’t know how long Indian gaming is going to be around.”


Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR’s statewide radio network or online at: https://www.mprnews.org

September What's New in the Community
Thursday, September 14 2017
 
Written by Catherine,
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Dr.  Arne Vainio named Physician of the Year
arnevainio.jpgDr. Arne Vainio, M.D. (Mille Lacs Ojibwe) was named Physician of the Year by the Association of American Indian Physicians at its 46th annual conference on July 28 in Shawnee, Okla.
Vainio completed his undergraduate studies in 1990 at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and graduated in 1994 from University of Minnesota Medical School – Duluth. He completed his Family Practice Residency Program at the Seattle Indian Health Board and Providence Hospital in Seattle, Wash. in 1997.  
He has been a family-practice physician at the Min-No-Aya-Win Human Services Clinic on the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Reservation in Cloquet, Minn., since September 1997. He also is employed as a preceptor at the Duluth Family Practice Center and volunteers as a preceptor for the University of Minnesota Medical School-Duluth Campus. He is a member of the Association of American Family Physicians and the Association of American Indian Physicians.
He is also a columnist for News From Indian Country and Indianz.com. Vainio is also dedicated to working with the youth, creating the “Mad Doctor Science Project” to inspire young Native Americans to take up careers in health and science.

Yazzie wins Sally Ordway Irvine Award
Twin Cities playwright, director and theater founder Rhiana Yazzie (Navajo) has won the Sally Ordway Irvine Award, which honors “individuals and institutions that… enrich the state through their commitment to the arts.” Yazzie was awarded the Vision Award, one of five awards given by the Sally Award.
Yazzie is a Playwrights’ Center McKnight Fellow, a two-time Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow and was a Playwrights’ Center Core Member for three years. Yazzie created New Native Theatre in 2009, a company based in the Twin Cities, as a place to showcase Native acting and stories. Yazzie is also shooting her first feature film, called A Winter Love.
The awards are presented annually to honor individuals and organizations that strengthen and enrich Minnesota with their commitment to the arts, arts education and arts access. The Sallys will be presented Oct. 16 at the Ordway Center.

Eagle Heart wins American Express NGen Leadership Award
Sarah Eagle Heart (Oglala Lakota), CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy, is the recipient of the 2017 American Express NGen Leadership Award in recognition of her advocacy for tribal communities and the role philanthropy plays in narrative change, advocacy, education, healing, and representation for Indigenous communities.
The Award honors accomplished charitable community leaders under the age of 40, demonstrating significant impact in addressing society’s critical needs in their fields.
She joined Native Americans in Philanthropy as CEO in 2015 and has strengthened the organization’s mission and helped elevate its position in the sector.  Eagle Heart will receive the award on October 25-27 in Detroit, Mich.

LaDuke Wins Spendlove Prize
The UC Merced committee has selected Winona LaDuke (White Earth Oijbwe) as the 11th recipient of the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance. “UC Merced is pleased to recognize Ms. LaDuke, especially for her outstanding activism toward social justice for Native Americans and their sacred lands, cultures and heritage,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said.  
A Harvard University graduate, LaDuke is an educator, economist, environmentalist and writer. LaDuke is also known as a leader on the issues of cultural-based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy, and sustainable food systems. She is the author of numerous books. Ceremonies will be held Nov. 13 on the UC Merced campus.

Kehaulani Esch named NICWA’s 2017 Member of the Year
Jill Kehaulani Esch was named the 2017 NICWA Member of The Year, which honors and recognizes an individual or organizational member of NICWA who has demonstrated outstanding service, contributions, and leadership in their profession, as well as involvement as a member of NICWA.
Esch has been involved with promoting her Native Hawaiian culture. After moving to Minnesota nearly two decades ago, she became part of the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association as a member, board member, and secretary, as well as fundraising for their Native law scholarships.

Crooks-Stratton and Roberson named 40 Under 40 winners
The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) has announced its 2017 class of “Native American 40 Under 40” award recipients. The award is given to individuals under the age of 40, nominated by members of their communities, who have demonstrated leadership, initiative, and dedication and made significant contributions in business and their community.
Two of the award winners are from the Twin Cities area. Rebecca Crooks-Stratton (Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux) is Program Director at the Native Governance Center in Prior Lake, MN. Matthew Roberson (Wichita and Affiliated Tribes) is Executive Director at the Department of Athletic Regulation for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in Pine City, MN.
Award winners will be honored during the Northwest Enterprise Development Conference at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Tulalip, WA on September 6th.

Indian Health Board offers 2 Spirit Group
The Indian Health Board Counseling and Support will be hosting a LGBT (QIAP) group for Natives called “2 Spirit Group.” It is a place where people who identify across the spectrum of gender or sexual orientation can come for support and discussion in a talking circle format. The group will meet once a week, beginning in mid-September on the 3rd floor of the Indian Health Board.
People who have never been seen at the Indian Health Board for medical or mental health services will need to schedule an intake appointment with a counselor at the Indian Health Board Counseling and Support so they can open a chart for their paperwork. If people are interested, they can call Luz Angelica Salinas at 612-721-9877. The Indian Health Board is located at 1315 East 24th Street in Minneapolis.

Olympic-style ski jump plans in works for PIIC
Thursday, September 14 2017
 
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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skilongview.jpgThe Prairie Island Indian Community (PIIC) is in negotiations with the Friends of American Ski Jumping organization over plans by the latter group to build an Olympic-style ski jump on the Community’s Mount Frontenac near Red Wing.

Ski jump enthusiasts and Red Wing area boosters have been raising money from private sources for the project. Heading into August, organizers had raised $1.2 million and had another $1 million in pledges for what is estimated to be a $6 million year-around ski jump training and competition facility.

A second phase of development with more recreation venues and concern facilities is also being considered.  

Shelley Buck, president of the PIIC Tribal Council, said the Community and ski jump group are still finalizing business arrangements for the group to build on the Community’s land. But, she added, “We are excited to see the project moving forward and are encouraged by the growing interest and support.”

The idea for the ski jump facility came from the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame that is housed in the St. James Hotel in downtown Red Wing. Norwegian immigrants started American ski jumping at Red Wing in the 1880s on the bluffs above the Mississippi River.

skijumptop.jpgRegardless how business ties between the groups are resolved, the ski jump facility would expand PIIC’s activities in the hospitality industry. The site is connected to the Mount Frontenac Golf Course and its club house and event center, and is convenient to PIIC’s Treasure Island Resort and Casino.

Buck said diversifying the Community’s economy is a top priority.

“Gaming has been a successful economic development tool for our tribe and many other Native communities; it’s helped us become self-sufficient and allowed us to share our success with our neighbors,” she said. “But we don’t want to bet our future on gaming alone.”

Prairie Island’s economy is already one of Minnesota’s most diverse destination and entertainment attractions with gaming, golf, water sports, bowling and concerts, Buck said. “This project would add exciting elements to what we’ve already created and drive even more visits and positive impact to the region, she said. 

Ski jump backers are estimating as many as 100,000 people may be drawn to the site annually. Red Wing and Rochester newspapers have stressed this would economically benefits communities throughout southeastern Minnesota.
The Hall of Fame inducted six new members in early August at ceremonies at the golf club. A special guest at the Red Wing ceremony was Steve Collins, a Canadian Olympian ski jumper who has family ties to the PIIC.
Collins is a member of the Fort William First Nation near Thunder Bay, Ont. Peter Collins, a first cousin of the skier, is the elected chief of the Ojibwe First Nation. ­However, the Hall of Fame notes on its website that a grandfather of the celebrated Canadian Olympian was Charley Collings, a member of PIIC before migrating to Canada.

More information about the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum is available at: americanskijumping.com ;
the ski jump project is at baldie125.com, and Prairie Island Indian Community at prairieisland.org .  
   

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