Local Briefs
Cherokee artists denounce Jimmie Durham as a fraud
Monday, July 03 2017
Written by brian boucher/new.artnet,
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durham_cover.jpgHot on the heels of the opening of Jimmie Durham’s touring retrospective at the Walker Art Center, 10 Cherokee artists, curators, and other professionals have published a forceful editorial disputing the artist’s Native American heritage. Durham has long claimed to be Cherokee, was involved with the American Indian Movement in the 1970s, and has made issues of colonialism and Native American identity the center of his work.

Titled “Dear Unsuspecting Public, Jimmie Durham Is a Trickster” and published by Indian Country Today, based in Verona, New York, the editorial is blunt:

“No matter what metric is used to determine Indigenous status, Durham does not fulfill any of them. Jimmie Durham is not a Cherokee in any legal or cultural sense. This not a small matter of paperwork but a fundamental matter of tribal self-determination and self-governance. Durham has no Cherokee relatives; he does not live in or spend time in Cherokee communities; he does not participate in dances and does not belong to a ceremonial ground.”

The signers of the editorial include America Meredith, an artist and publishing editor of First American Art Magazine; Cara Cowan Watts, a former member of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council; Luzene Hill, artist and former deputy speaker of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council; and Kade Twist, an artist and co-founder of the group Postcommodity, featured in the recent Whitney Biennial and current documenta 14.

First American Art Magazine has also published a detailed fact sheet about Durham. It includes a striking graph looking at JSTOR listings, and showing that Durham is by far the most mentioned artist when it comes to Cherokee art, with 81 references, compared to the next-mentioned artist, Kay WalkingStick, with just 18.

The controversy over Durham’s identity comes just weeks after an uproar at the Walker Art Center over a sculpture by Sam Durant. Scaffold (2012) was, in part, modeled on a gallows where some 38 Dakota Indians were executed in 1862, and provoked major protests for being offensive. Durant ultimately agreed to allow the work to be removed by local Dakota community and burned.

Long discussed in indigenous art circles, Durham’s claims have come under renewed scrutiny on the occasion of his traveling exhibition, “Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World,” originally organized by the Hammer Museum, in Los Angeles, and set to show to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Remai Modern, a new private museum set to open this year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, after its run in Minnesota.

“I am perfectly willing to be called Cherokee,” said Durham in a recent article in the New York Times, though he went on to muddy the waters by adding, “But I’m not a Cherokee artist or Indian artist, no more than Brancusi was a Romanian artist.”

The signers of the editorial say that Durham’s claims are not only untrue, but actually damaging to other Cherokee artists: “These false claims are harmful,” they write, “as they misrepresent Native people, undermine tribal sovereignty, and trivialize the important work by legitimate Native artists and cultural leaders.”

Critics and writers also come in for criticism. “While [Durham] has toned down his positioning of himself as the representative of all things American Indian,” they write, “art writers now do the job for him…, That scholars writing about Durham repeatedly fail to fact-check any of Durham’s claims is egregious, especially when a multitude of research and resources are available. The Cherokee Heritage Center, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and John Hair Cultural Center and Museum all strive to provide accurate information to the public.”

The Walker now features the following note at the bottom of the website for his retrospective:

“Note: While Durham self-identifies as Cherokee, he is not recognized by any of the three Cherokee Nations, which as sovereign nations determine their own citizenship. We recognize that there are Cherokee artists and scholars who reject Durham’s claims of Cherokee ancestry.”

Reprinted with permission from Art Net News at .

Editor’s note: Durham’s show is scheduled to run at the Walker Art Center June 22nd through Oct 7th, 2017.

Mankato hangings an uneasy topic for MN schools
Monday, July 03 2017
Written by solvejg Wastvedt/MPRnews,
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dakota_hangings_color.jpgIt’s a troubling piece of Minnesota’s past: Thirty-eight Dakota men hanged from a Mankato gallows in December 1862. Their deaths scarred generations of Native people and cemented Minnesota as home to the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

Despite that infamy, if you’re a Minnesotan in your 30s or older, it’s likely you were never taught about the hangings – or the prairie war between the United States and the Dakota that led to them. Minnesota didn’t require students to study that tragic chapter in the state’s history.

That past, and how it’s taught, surfaced again recently with installation of “Scaffold,” a Walker Art Center sculpture built in the shape of a gallows with a reference to the Mankato hangings. It led to an outcry from Dakota community members. While “Scaffold” has been torn down, the controversy has called into question how much Minnesotans know about what happened at Mankato.

Historians say younger Minnesotans get more teaching on the topic than their parents or grandparents ever did, but that the executions, and the whole Dakota story, still don’t receive the treatment in school they deserve.

“I think it’s getting better than it used to be, but there’s a long way to go,” said Kate Beane (Flandreau Santee Sioux), outreach and program manager for the Minnesota Historical Society.

Beane also teaches about Dakota culture and history at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. She said every year she asks her students if they know about the U.S.-Dakota War.

“Seven years ago when I started teaching that class maybe one or two hands would be raised. Now I’m seeing more hands being raised,” Beane said.

Still, Beane said very few recall learning the content in school.

The war has been part of Minnesota’s grade school social studies standards for more than a decade. After a 2011 revision, the content is now taught in sixth grade.

The updated standards don’t mention the hangings at Mankato specifically. They do say students must learn “reasons for the [war]; compare and contrast the perspectives of settlers and Dakota people before, during and after the war.”

A widely used sixth grade social studies textbook published by the Minnesota Historical Society describes how U.S. Army officers “rushed through” trials of the Dakota men who “had no lawyers to present their case” and calls it “the largest mass execution in U.S. history, before or since.”

But while it’s made it into textbooks, responsibility for teaching everything in the standards rests with individual school districts.

State law requires inclusion of American Indian history and culture across subject areas. Beane and others said it’s important to teach that broader context. The state Education Department said it isn’t able to police how schools and districts teach the standards, although it does follow up with districts if there’s a complaint.

There’s no state social studies test, as there is for reading, math and science. And the U.S.-Dakota War itself isn’t required in social studies outside of sixth grade.

That lack prompted Mankato West High School teacher Matt Moore to build his own lesson for his Advanced Placement U.S. History class.

“For a Mankato student, I don’t think it’s right for the last time for them to go in-depth and learn about the U.S.-Dakota war to occur in sixth grade. I just think that’s kind of an injustice to the local history,” Moore said.

Moore said his students come into the eleventh-grade class with a range of knowledge about the war and the hangings at Mankato. “Likely the same will result in my class,” he admitted.

Still, Moore said students need to revisit a history that’s too complex for sixth graders to grasp fully.

It’s also a traumatic history. “We have to make sure that in presenting this material to children that we remember that there can be Dakota children in that classroom. How do you teach this history in a way that helps protect their spirit as well?” Beane said.

Beane and others said it’s a matter of how to teach it, not whether to present the story.

“We all learn how to teach what we’re teaching ... We learn how to teach chemistry. We learn how to teach rocket science. We have to learn how to teach Minnesota Indian history,” said Osseo Area school district secondary Indian education director Ramona Kitto Stately (Santee Sioux).

Stately said her great, great grandmother was one of a group of mostly women and children force-marched to a prison camp at Fort Snelling following the end of the U.S.-Dakota War.

“I have teachers who ask me, ‘When is it appropriate to tell kids this story?’” she said. “My answer is always the same: ‘When is it appropriate to lie to them?’”

Minnesota  Public Radio News can be heard on MPR’s statewide radio network or online at .


Red Lake housing project in Mpls to house elders, wellness center
Monday, July 03 2017
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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red_lake_story_2.jpgThe city of Minneapolis has approved more than $2.7 million from its Affordable Housing Trust Fund to assist the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe in launching its Mino-bimaadiziwin housing project on the edge of the American Indian Cultural Corridor in South Minneapolis.

The Red Lake Band announced in July last year it had purchased a former hardware warehouse site at 17th Ave. S. and Cedar Ave., near the Franklin Avenue Metro Blue Line light-rail station, to develop the housing project.

Current plans call for a complex of 109 housing units, and the complex will also house the Red Lake Nation Embassy and a Wellness Center in the six-story building.

Sam Strong, director of Economic Development and Planning at Red Lake, said the band has been working with other groups on finance and planning since that initial announcement. The city’s support is an important part of the financing plan, he said.

Mino-bimaadiziwin, meaning “the good life” in Ojibwe, will have 10 efficiencies and 15 one-bedroom units. These are to encourage elders to live in communities with young families, the band said. It will also have 29 three-bedroom and 55 two-bedroom apartments for families.

Fabian Hurd, director of the Red Lake Nation Embassy office in Minneapolis, said plans include a walkway to the Franklin Avenue Blue Line station for convenience of tenants and their visitors.

The hardware warehouse complex consists of four separate but connected buildings that will be demolished for new construction, said George Spears, the embassy’s housing advocate.

Like other tribes in Minnesota and throughout Indian Country, Red Lake now has more enrolled members – not even counting descendants – living in urban areas than back home on its sovereign land. Red Lake counts slightly less than 6,000 living at home and 6,000 or more living away.

Minneapolis is the largest non-reservation urban center for Red Lake Ojibwe and other Upper Midwest Native people. Current U.S. Census data show there are 10,591 people living in Hennepin County and 4,043 residents of Ramsey County, across the Mississippi River in St. Paul and suburbs, who identify themselves as American Indians to Census takers.

“The location on the Cultural Corridor along Franklin Avenue represents an opportunity for Native Americans to create a community destination of pride. Mino-bimaadiziwin augments the Cultural Corridor through creating a comprehensive, holistic living environment that blends housing and traditional healing practices with contemporary therapies,” the Red Lake Band’s statement said.

Plans for the housing complex include green space, underground parking and amenities such as the wellness center. It will also provide housing for low income individuals and families on up to households with incomes in the 50 percent and 60 percent of area medium income levels.

That puts Mino-bimaadiziwin within the scope of Minneapolis’ Affordable Housing Trust Fund program (AHTF), said Angie Skildum, manager of residential finance for the city’s Housing Policy and Development office. The fund was started in 2003 to help affordable housing development and rehabilitation of properties serving various population groups, including seniors, homeless, AIDS, families, workforce, veterans, artists and others deemed to have special needs.

The program is also used to help create developments along transportation systems, called Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) by urban planners and city officials, that in Minneapolis’ case involves light rail, bus rapid transit and local mass (bus) transit service. The Red Lake development is just 200 feet from the Franklin Avenue Blue Line station.

By Red Lake’s reckoning, the Cedar Avenue project represents the first direct investment in housing off sovereign land by a Minnesota tribe. It addresses a need for affordable housing by Red Lake members and descendants living in the Twin Cities metro area while also further diversifying Red Lake’s investment portfolio.

Other Minnesota-based tribes, however, are partners and participants in housing projects in the Twin Cities and Duluth although that assistance doesn’t make them sole owners and their stakes in projects aren’t listed among tribal-owned enterprises.

Skildum said the Red Lake award of $2,718,591 is the 11th new construction or rehab project supported by city AHTF funds aimed at improving affordable housing for Native Americans. It is the largest of Native related projects. 
Other projects where financing was assisted by the city’s fund include:

  • The Indian Neighborhood Club expansion, 2101 S. 5th Ave., for 20 sober housing and support of chemically dependent men. 20 units. It has various government and non-profit partners. 2014.
  • Anishinabe Wakiagun rehab (45 units) and new construction of Anishinabe Bii Gii Winn (32 units), in the American Indian Corridor, for homeless and near-homeless people with disabilities. American Indian Community Development Corp. (AICDC) and Project for Pride in Living (PPL) are partners. 2013.
  • Bii Di Gain Dash Elder Housing, 2401 Bloomington Ave. S., for new construction of 47-unit apartment complex for Native elders. AICDC and CommonBond Communities are partners. 2009.
  • Rehabilitation work at Anpa Waste House, 10th Ave. S. Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches/ Division of Indian Work. 2008.
  • Noko-Wakiagun Elder Housing, 1919-1929 Columbus Ave., and 726-30 E. Franklin Ave., new construction of 32 apartment units for Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe elders. AICDC. 2005.
  • Pokegama North, 2111 14th Ave. S., and Pokegama South, 2313 13th Ave. S., new construction of 23 affordable single-family homes for home ownership. AICDC. 2004.
  • Anpa Waste Apartments, 3146 Cedar Ave. S., for rehabilitation of an 11-unit apartment building for chronically homeless teen parents and their children. The Division of Indian Work, and the Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation. 2004.
  • Maynidoowahdak Odena, 1321-1351 E. 23rd St., rehabilitation and stabilization of 15 units for Native families and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Indigenous Peoples Task Force and partners. 2002.
  • Indian Neighborhood Club, 1805 Portland Ave. S., rehabilitation of housing for 16 Native Americans recovering from substance abuse. 2001.
  • Little Earth of United Tribes Housing Corp., 2501 Cedar Ave. S. for rehabilitation and stabilization work on the 212 units of affordable housing Little Earth purchased from the city. 1995.

Dates shown above were for applications for AHTF financial support. Approval, construction and rehabilitation work often came in later years.

Skildum said Minneapolis awarded $7.8 million for eight projects in 2016 across the spectrum of groups and individuals working to provide affordable housing in the city. These projects are developing and rehabilitating 569 affordable housing units, she said.

As with any large development, Red Lake’s Mino-bimaadiziwin has partners in its planning, financing and development stages.

Red Lake said its team includes Cunningham Group Architects, an international architectural and consulting firm temporarily headquartered in St. Paul; Loeffler Construction, a minority-owned (White Earth Ojibwe member) and woman-owned regional construction company that does extensive work with Native communities; Plumer Law Office, Bemidji; Woodstone Builders Inc., Bloomington; Westwood Professional Services, an Eden Prairie-based surveying, engineering and consulting firm; and Landon Group, a St. Paul-based women-owned business enterprise (WBE) that specializes in helping secure financing for affordable housing projects.


July What's New in the Community
Monday, July 03 2017
Written by The Circle,
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Students win raffles for school attendance

whats_new_school_attendance_1.jpgThe Attendance Workgroup, a subgroup of PIE (Phillips Indian Educators),  has been sponsoring a raffle every quarter for Native students who attend school at a 95% rate or better (for the quarter). Four schools in Minneapolis are involved. Every student from Anishinabe, All Nations, Nawayee Center, and Takoda Prep with this level of attendance receives a certificate and is entered in a raffle for a $250.00 gift card. The gift cards have been provided through generous donations from Migizi, Division of Indain Work (DIW) and Little Earth. The third quarter raffle winners are Luis Manzanares, 2nd grader at Anishinabe, and Jamison Hart, 9th grader at All Nations.

AIOIC recognized for closing the achievement gap

Takoda Prep, the alternative high school located at the American Indian OIC, has been selected as a site of best practice in a national report on indigenized education for Urban Indians. Commissioned by the National Urban Indian Family Coalition in Seattle, Takoda Prep will be one of seven programs located in five different urban centers to be examined for harnessing culturally contextualized education and alternative learning methodologies to close the achievement gap between Native students and their white counterparts.

Takoda Prep of AIOIC enrolls students who have fallen behind in the traditional educational setting and are at risk of dropping out. Located within the Little Earth neighborhood of Minneapolis, most students are Native American whose elders did not complete school. The graduation rate for American Indian students in Minneapolis is 36 percent. Through individualized education plans and culturally relevant programming, students at Takoda Prep graduation at a rate of 85 percent.
The mission of the American Indian OIC is to empower American Indians to pursue career opportunities by providing individualized education, training, and employment services in a culturally rich environment.

Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota receive MRAC grant

The Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community has received a $10,000.00 grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC). The grant will go to Fund the 18th Annual Traditional Wacipi, a three-day Native American celebration and social gathering. Activities will take place on the St. Peters Church grounds in Mendota in September. MRAC has awarded a total of $740,272 to 77 organizations/projects in the second round of the FY 2017 Arts Activities Support grant program. For more info on the MMDT Community, see .

Prairie Island breaks ground on elder living center

The Prairie Island Indian Community broke ground in June on their new elder assisted living center in Welch, Minn. The 38,000-square-foot center is located on 18 acres of tribal land and will serve tribal elders.

The single story structure will house 24 one-bedroom apartments, which will have full kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, in-unit laundry and private patios. Residents will allow the elders to live in their own apartments but still have access to professional staff 24 hours a day.

Farm Bill important to Indian Country
Monday, July 03 2017
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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farm_bill_cover.jpgThe Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) is reminding Indian Country that it needs to work with Congress and naturally allied groups to support programs that cover the entire food chain, from producers to consumers, who are all bunched together under what is called “the farm bill.”

Two researchers with the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) at the University of Arkansas School of Law have pulled together all that is at stake for Native people and tribes in a new study, Regaining our Future: An Assessment of Risks and Opportunities for Native Communities in the 2018 Farm Bill.

The SMSC funded study shows how 70 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget most years is used for various feeding, nutrition and food safety programs that affect all Americans and all Native people regardless where they live. The rest of the USDA budget is spread out over conservation, water quality, trade promotion, economic development, insurance and farm income stabilization programs that give the bill its name.

The study was prepared and written by the Initiative’s Janie Simms Hipp (Chickasaw Nation), a former senior advisor for tribal relations to former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Colby D. Duren, the IFAI’s policy director and former staff counsel for the National Congress of American Indians.

Their findings will come as a surprise to many people on the knife, fork and spoon end of the food chain. It happens about every five years when Congress rewrites and updates food, farm, nutrition and related natural resource legislation lumped together under the so-called farm bill.

While access to food and good nutrition is important to all Americans, the Hipp and Duren study stresses that Natives are involved in every step of the food chain from farming and ranching on down, and Natives and tribes are also engaged participants in soil, water and resource protection.

Charles R. Vig, chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, emphasized those linkages in announcing publication of the new study.

“Today a food and nutritional health crisis grips most of Indian Country,” Vig said. “As Congress prepares to shape the next farm bill, there has never been a more critical time for Native Americans to unite to defend our interests.

“Tribal governments, Native producers, environmental stewards and Native community members must work together to involve Congress in helping us solve this crisis,” he added.

Hipp said in an interview that complexities for Native Americans with food and agriculture policies come partly from their own diversity. “Seventy percent of our people now live in urban centers,” she said. “But our land base is rural.”

Meanwhile, she said, this often disconnects Native food producers from urban consumers. “We have always been food producers. Our people need to feed themselves; we need to build out our food system.”

That is a SMSC objective and why it supports urban farming projects, including in the Shakopee and Prior Lake area. That prompted SMSC officials to reach out to Hipp and colleagues at the special Arkansas center more than two years ago.
Hipp said that looking at farm bill legislation title by title, “a lot of people can read the report and see themselves connected to the farm bill. It is ‘the people’s bill’,” she said.

One of the smaller titles in the bill, for promoting American food exports, actually has special importance for Minnesota tribes and Natives entrepreneurs, given the number of special Native foods companies based here. The study calls for including Native foods and companies at all U.S.-led trade promotion tours and conferences.

Much is at stake for the Native Americans and nearly all other Americans whose lives are touched in some way by the farm bill. Pressures are building in Congress to separate the bill between programs for producers and the food, nutrition and safety portions. That would break the coalition that has kept “the people’s bill” as part of public policy for nearly 150 years.

SMSC and Arkansas’ IFAI have allies for getting the report out to tribal leaders and all who are engaged with Native food and health activities. The study’s announcement statement noted Hipp and Duren consulted closely with Intertribal Agriculture Council, Intertribal Timber Council and National Congress of American Indians in preparing the report.       
As for SMSC, supporting pure, or basic research, across the breadth of Indian Country is not new. The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative research project is a continuation of a commitment made in 2015 by the Shakopee Mdewakanton community.

SMSC, the largest Native American philanthropic contributor, launched a $10 million campaign two years ago called Seeds of Native Health to improve Native nutrition and food access through grants. As part of that, it funds research education and “capacity-building efforts,” the tribe explained.

In has partnered in that work with the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, AmeriCorps VISTA, Better Way Foundation (Minneapolis-based foundation supporting child well-being, family and community efforts), the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Center for Indian Country Development, First Nations Development Institute (Longmont, Colo.), MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger (Los Angeles-based with state programs), Notah Begay III Foundation (Pueblo, N.M. foundation that supports children’s health initiatives), and projects and programs at the University of Arkansas' IFAI and University of Minnesota.

The Regaining Our Future study is available online at SMSC’s Seeds of Native Health site, at .


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