Local Briefs
From the Editor's Desk: Learning lessons from the past, going forward
Monday, August 03 2015
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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awb-office-web.jpgEvery six months, Isaac Iron Shell, Sr. would take his cattle to the stock mar­ket and sell what he could. Shortly there­after, his wife, Susan Standing Bull-Iron Shell would sit with her six children and go through the Sears-Roebuck and JC Penny catalogs and they would pick out dresses, shoes and coats for the coming six months. Like clockwork, my grandparents provided for their five daughters and son in prepara­tion for Christmas and the school year at the St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud reserva­tion.

My mother, aunts and uncle were among the more fortunate and privileged on the res­ervation in those days, both parents worked hard through the year, farming, ranching, canning, drying and providing for the pros­perity of their children and grandchildren.

The school year, however, was fraught with its own difficulties. My grandfather knew the stories from his relatives about how the Jesuit priests and nuns would abuse children, emo­tionally, physically and sexually. The story my mother told me was that while both my grandparents were devout Catholics, they re­mained true to their traditions and practiced Wolakota in secret. Living that dual existence also taught them to understand the darker aspects of the Black Robes and work within that particular system of oppression. Grand­father Iron Shell became a senior catechist in his younger days, proclaiming the Word of Christ, facilitating liturgy and playing the fiddle and organ for the monthly Mass in Up­per Cut Meat Community.

He did these things, according to my moth­er, to ensure his children would not be sub­ject to the physical and sexual abuse of the missionaries. It was quid pro quo with no written agreement, only a tacit understanding and faith that whatever humanity remained in the predators at the mission would honor the covenant he made with them to leave his daughters alone. While removed from the darker corners of the boarding school experi­ence, my mother and her sisters and brother still received their fair share of emotional and psychological abuse. In one instance that haunted her until the early 1990s, my mother was forced to watch as a bride of Christ incin­erated kittens in front of her class to, as my mother put it, “remind us who was in charge and how they didn’t fear anyone.”

Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Monday, August 03 2015
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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nickmetcalf-web.jpgBack to School

It’s this time of year that those of us with children are busy getting kids ready for school. We are shopping for school clothes and gathering school supplies. We are mentally preparing our kids for their return to a schedule. We are considering how, or if, we are able to be involved with the many school activities. Back to school: it’s an exciting time.

As an insecure, awkward, effeminate kid who grew up isolated on a rural reservation in South Dakota, it was school that would be my ticket to someplace. My parents encouraged my pursuit of education. They celebrated my ability to learn. They recognized my thirst for knowledge.

My earliest memories of learning was of my mother. She enjoyed reading. As a young child, I laid next to her while she read her “True Romance” magazine. I begged her to read to me. Eventually, I got my own books to read aloud. She was so patient with me. One night she challenged me to try to read without making any sound or moving my lips. I protested, I couldn’t do it. But she encouraged me, “Follow the words. You’ll hear it in your head.” I tried and tried. I did it and I was beyond thrilled. The voice in my head could follow the words and I understood it. We laughed together.

My college years were the best time of my life. Leaving the reservation for college was difficult, but I got through it with the help of friends. I had to learn to survive off the reservation because I was thrust into an environment where no one looked like me, nor did I understand their worldview. It was my education that helped me reconcile places that didn’t make sense and I learned a new way of thinking. I learned to be a critical thinker. I learned to be able to look at a variety of possibilities then make my best judgment based on the facts.

National Briefs: August 2015
Monday, August 03 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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PHILADELPHIA, Miss. – A private autopsy is under way for Rexdale W. Henry, a 53-year-old man found dead inside the Neshoba County Jail on July 14.

According to local media reports, detention offi­cers found Henry’s body around 10 a.m.; he was last seen alive 30 minutes earlier. The state crime lab in Jackson conducted an autopsy and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case.

Funeral services for Henry took place July 19 in Bogue Chitto. A few days later, his body was flown to Florida for an independent autopsy paid for by anonymous donors.

Henry, a citizen of the Mississippi Band of Choc­taw and a lifelong community activist, coached stickball and had been a candidate for the Choctaw Tribal Council from Bogue Chitto the week before his arrest on July 9 for failure to pay a fine.

Helping with the family’s independent probe are civil-rights activists John Steele, a close friend of Henry’s, and Diane Nash, a co-founder of the Stu­dent Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, as well as Syracuse University law professors Janis McDon­ald and Paula Johnson of the school’s Cold Case Jus­tice Initiative.

“At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of San­dra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and oth­er minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,” McDonald said in a statement.

Henry’s death occurred one day after Bland, an African American woman, was found hanging in Texas’ Waller County Jail. Authorities ruled Bland’s death a suicide.

Supporters say the results of the independent au­topsy will be made public when it is complete.

Regional and Local Briefs: August 2015
Monday, August 03 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe does not owe any more gaming revenues to the city of Duluth, Minnesota, a federal judge ruled on July 28.

The tribe shared $75 million from the Fond-du-Luth Casino with the city until 2009. The National Indian Gam­ing Commission struck down the ar­rangement in 2011 after determining that it violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The city went to court to seek ad­ditional money for the years 2009 through 2011. Judge Susan Richard Nelson initially agreed that the funds were owed.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals re­versed. A unanimous decision from May concluded that IGRA requires tribes to be the “primary beneficiaries” of their casinos and Nelson has em­braced that finding.

Nelson wrote that “directing mil­lions of dollars away from the band is directly contrary to the IGRA’s goals of promoting tribal economic develop­ment, tribal self-sufficiency, and strong tribal government.”

About $13 million, a figure that in­cluded interest, was in dispute before Nelson made her ruling. The fight, however, is not over.

The city is still suing the NIGC for ending the revenue-sharing agree­ment. A judge in Washington, D.C., sided with the agency but the city has taken the case to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

What's New In The Community: August 2015
Monday, August 03 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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bemidji american indian resource center-bill blackwell.jpgBemidji’s American Indian Resource Center names new director

(By Lee Egerstrom) Bill Blackwell Jr. became director of the novel, two-school American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji in July and is now overseeing merged programs for In­dian students at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College.

The collaboration between the two nearby Bemidji campuses is partly an economic move for better use of resources, Blackwell said in an interview. At the same time, it will build critical mass for programs.

Three weeks into the job, Blackwell was already holding meetings with students and com­munity people planning for the 43rd annual BSU Council of Indian Students Pow-Wow next April. The Northwest Tech students will likely become a chapter of the BSU group, working both jointly with the university students and separately, he said.

That makes a fit given the relationships between the two Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) institutions at Bemidji. Students at the two-year Northwest Tech can select on-campus dormitory housing at Bemidji State and access dining services and cultural events at the four-year university, the only such arrangement in the MnSCU system.

An enrolled member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Blackwell has a bachelor’s degree from Bemidji State and a master’s from University of Minnesota-Duluth. Most recently he served as director of institutional advancement heading private and public fundraising efforts for Leech Lake Tribal College and previously was an admis­sions and outreach coordinator at Leech Lake.

He succeeded Dr. Anton Truer who as returned to the BSU faculty after a three-year term as the center’s director.

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