Local Briefs
It Ain't Easy Being Indian: September 2015
Friday, August 28 2015
Written by Ricey Wild,
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riceywild-web.jpgSovereignty is a powerful word. I believe it means more to Indian people than to anyone else in the United States. For my own refresher and further elucidation I looked up the precise meaning(s) for myself to make sure I know what the heck I’m writing about rather than thinking I already know and start yakking about it off the top of my head. So: sov-er-eign-ty noun 1. Supreme power or authority. A self-governing state. Okay den.

Speaking of my head I thought hey! I can use my own spirit/mind/body to describe how I understand and feel about the concept of sovereignty. My entire being is a Sovereign Nation. NO ONE tells me who/what to worship and how to do it. I have the right to an opinion on everything and I can say what I think and feel and it does not matter to me who chooses to be offended. NO ONE, especially old white men, has the privilege to legislate what I decide to do with my body. I do have to abide by some physical environmental constructs (that darn Matrix!) but no one, and I mean NO ONE has the power over me to say I can’t boogit when and where I please. If I like you I will warn you well beforehand.

It was in the early 1970’s that I first heard the word sovereignty in reference to American Indians. I was still a kid and I puzzled over it without any real comprehension as to its meaning. A reservation was a place where a bunch of Indians lived; that much I knew and also that I had one but didn’t grow up there. I heard about ‘Indian Militants’ Wounded Knee and the American Indian Movement that all sounded kind of scary. All I wanted to do is the ‘butterfly’ dance at powwows and all I had was an ugly maxi-dress. Hai! I didn’t yet know how much my ancestors had fought for and sacrificed so that I could be here, just be here. Chii Miigwech Gichii Manidoog!

Political Matters: Water runs downhill
Thursday, August 27 2015
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpgWater runs downhill

On Aug. 5, a crew from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was excavating an old leaking mine in Colorado, when workers using a backhoe were surprised by a deluge that came pouring out. Some three million gallons of waste water from the abandoned Gold King Mine spilled into Cement Creek and then into the Animas River.

An article on the Accuweather Web site noted that the plume of toxic water deposited “dangerous metals, such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury along hundreds of miles [of waterways] through three states.”

The City of Durango and La Plata County reportedly declared states of emergency. The spill turned the Animas River a sickly ochre shade and made its way south to the Navajo Nation, where farmers in the northern part of the reservation face ruin, with a ban on using river water for crops and livestock. “Thousands of acres of farmland could dry up, and hundreds of families could see their primary source of income disappear,” according to New Times, a Phoenix newspaper.

Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Thursday, August 27 2015
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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Sovereignty is one of those concepts that seems to allude some of us. It’s this lofty goal and expectation for our tribes, yet it impacts us individually, communally and socially. My immediate impression is when we rely on the government to provide financial resources to sustain our own tribal government then how are truly sovereign are we? How can we achieve sovereignty and be economically sustainable?

Economic development is essential to making a sovereign government. Yet rural tribal communities have been unable to establish a tax base and resources to sustain itself. The money that is allocated to tribal governments is not enough to cover the basic needs of its tribal citizens.

Poverty is difficult. Being poor is a luxury that none of us can afford. Many reservations continue to have 80 percent unemployed, with the largest employer usually being the tribe or a church organization. Essentially, we are reliant on hand outs from the government and ‘good’ church going people to sustain ourselves. This is ludicrous.

Weekend Calendar: Aug. 8-9, 2015
Friday, August 07 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Aug. 8

Honoring Community through Strength and Healing”

Natives Against Heroin invite the community for its First Annual Traditional Powwow to sing and dance for those who have overcome addiction, are in recovery and need to find recovery.

Head Dancers: Dave Larson and Valerie Larson; Host Drum: Redbone and Ringing Shield; MCs: James Cross and Joe Perez. Movie during dinner: “State of Using.” Resources on treatment and recovery will be available. Outdoor event, bring your own lawn chair and canopy. Firearms prohibited, security will be provided, not responsible for lost/stolen items, accidents or injuries.

Free. Grand Entry, 1 p.m., Feast, 5 p.m., Cedar Avenue Field, 2500 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis, MN. For more information, visit


Aug. 9

Telling Queer History: Two Spirit

A series of gatherings based on sharing stories in an open, informal, and participatory format. It’s about connecting queer communities, queer history and generations so that we can learn from our shared past, present, and future.

Featured speaker: Coya White Hat-Artichoker, Reva. Allies are welcome to join, listen and volunteer. Hearing our stories is a great way to be an ally, allowing and assisting us in having the space to tell our stories is a way to be an advocate.

Suggested donation, 2 to 4:30 p.m., Hennepin History Museum, 2303 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN. For more information, email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Ojibwe Culture Celebrated at Ponemah Round House
Tuesday, August 04 2015
Written by Michael Meuers, Red Lake News,
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ojibwe culture celebrated at ponemah round house 1.jpgFor the third year in a row, the Red Lake Band hosted an Ojibwe Language and Cul­ture Camp for youth from July 21-23 in Ponemah, Minn.

The three-day Gabeshiwin (camp), hosted by Red Lake Chemical Health and Red Lake Eco­nomic Development and Planning, featured eat­ing traditional foods, lacrosse, moccasin game, plant gathering practices and identification, birch bark crafts, traditional Anishinaabe teachings and more. Gabeshiwin is a part of Red Lake Na­tion’s Ojibwemowin Revitalization efforts.

As elders pass away, the people of the Red Lake Nation are concerned that language and tradi­tion will disappear. To combat those fears, Red Lake officials are focused on language revitaliza­tion and related efforts to retain tribal culture. Much of indigenous culture depends on Native language, as many concepts cannot be translated to English.

The camp was held at the Round House in Ponemah, near the Point, home to more than half of the remaining fluent Ojibwemowin speakers in the United States.

At camp, children participated in Ojibwe sports and crafts, ate traditional foods and learned about traditional spiritual ceremonies and plant-gather­ing practices at Obaashiing, a village known for practicing traditional ways.

By far this was the most well-attended camp yet with 74 youth and 56 elders, staff and parents at­tending the first day. In 2013 only 30 children, 10 to 14 years-old, attended but that attendance nearly doubled in 2014. Each day started off with a hearty breakfast of traditional foods, which was served throughout the camp as part of the cur­riculum.

Tom Barrett, Sr., Director of Red Lake Chemi­cal Health Programs, and a major sponsor of Gabeshiwin (the camp) provided some background. “Our language was basically stripped from us a generation or two ago. The children were forbidden to talk their na­tive language.”

Barrett recalled how U.S. government authorities swept onto reservations and took Ojibwe children to boarding schools to assimilate to the white culture. The rip­ple effects of that action are still being felt by American Indians today.

“We feel if we can raise kids’ self esteem their chance of using chemicals will be less,’’ said elder and first speaker Murphy Thomas. “Self esteem is all tied up with knowing who you are and having a sense of pride in your heritage, language and cul­ture.”

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