|Written by Jon Lurie,
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When I first interviewed Kate and Carly Beane (Bad Heart Bull) for Rake Magazine in 2006, they had recently moved to Minnesota, the homeland from which their family was exiled 143 years earlier following the Dakota-US War of 1862. Both of the twin sisters, citizens of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, had been experiencing hard times and hoped their return to a state in which neither had lived but where they had deep historical roots, would help restore balance to their lives.
The first thing they wanted to do upon arriving in Minneapolis, they told me at the time, was see their ancestral village, Heyata Otunwe (the Village to the Side, their grandfather Cloudman’s Village), at Lake Calhoun. “We thought, that’s our lake; let’s go see it. So we drove around it and were saddened. I guess in a way I was picturing it to look like a Seth Eastman painting,” Kate said. “He depicted scenes of traditional Dakota life with tipis, lodges, women cooking, trees, kids playing and lots of dogs.”
“It was the middle of summer,” said Carly, “and the lake was packed – people rollerblading, tons of traffic, mansions everywhere. All we knew was that this lake was where our people called home.”
As direct descendants of both Mahpiya Wicasta (Cloud Man) and Seth Eastman the sisters knew that the lake would have changed. “It’s not as if we were expecting Cloudman’s Village to still be here,” Kate added. “We knew things would be different. But we saw the lake with our hearts; we saw how it used to be, because that was the last time our family was all together, living in our homeland, and in peace.”
The sisters soon understood that living in Minnesota alone would not rectify the wounds of exile. At a recent meeting on the 24th floor of the US Bank Building in downtown St. Paul, where Carly works for a regional philanthropic foundation, and which offers stunning views of Kaposia (Little Crow’s Village) – they explained to me the process they’ve engaged over the past decade in their quest for healing.
“We grew up wondering why we weren’t living in our homeland, and why we weren’t raised with our language,” Kate said. The sisters both dropped out of high school at fifteen-years old.
“We didn’t feel like we mattered. We were part of an educational system that wasn’t created for us. Our story wasn’t being told, and like many Native students, we felt invisible.” Carly said.
|Written by The Circle,
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Artist Kruse donates birchbark artwork to Children’s Hospitals
Pat Kruse and his son, Gage, members of the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe, along with the Minnesota Historical Society, donated a birch bark mural called “Nature’s Beauty” to the Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. The artwork was placed in the Family Resource Center at Children’s Minnesota’s St. Paul campus in December.
Bobby Wilson Takes Up Residence at Red Lake Middle School
(By Michael Meuers) – In January, Red Lake Middle School welcomed Resident Artist, Bobby Wilson, from the comedy troupe, 1491s. Wilson worked with students and staff from January 4 to 15. A large mural was painted in the middle school’s main hallway and was inspired from floral beadwork designs on Native American shoulder bags from the 1800’s. Art teacher, Janel Lackner, said that about 80 students took part in helping to complete the mural.
Wilson and Industrial Technology teacher, Tony Bellino, also helped students, in the after-school program Targeted Services, complete a painting on a refurbished bus stop which also displays beautiful floral designs.
Wilson also worked with students in Tara Olson’s Language Arts classes focusing on Spoken Word, which encourages students to write and perform.
The activities were made possible by the Minnesota State Legislature through its arts and cultural heritage fund, as well as the Minnesota State Arts Board.
MN Organizations Receive Funding from the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
In 2016, Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) is awarding grants to 17 organizations across Minnesota to host community events on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) prevention. All aim to reach and educate under-served and at-risk communities including young, rural, low-income, under or uninsured, homeless and chemically dependent women and reach into the Hispanic, African American, Native American, Somali, and Hmong communities.
The following organizations were awarded funding: Bemidji State University (Bemidji), Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (Minneapolis), Division of Indian Works – GMCC (Minneapolis), High School for Recording Arts (St. Paul), Intermediate School District 287 (Plymouth), Minnewaska Area Schools (Glenwood), Model Cities of St. Paul (St. Paul), New Ulm Early Childhood & Family Ed. (New Ulm), Ridgewater College (Hutchinson), Southside Community Health Services – Q Health Connections (Minneapolis), St. Cloud State University (St. Cloud), Stevens County Early Childhood Initiative (Morris), The Center Clinic (Dodge Center), Tri-County Community Action (Little Falls), Upper Midwest American Indian Center (Minneapolis), Upper Sioux Community (Granite Falls), and West Side Community Health Services (St. Paul).
Organizations will host events throughout Minnesota until June 30, 2016. For more info, contact MOFAS at 651-917-2370 or toll-free at 1-866-906-6327.
FDLTCC awarded $350,000 Minnesota Job Skills Grant
The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership has awarded a $350,000 grant to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to develop an in-house training system for employees of Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet. The three-year project will support entry-level, retraining, and advanced training for 560 employees at the paper mill, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced during a partnership signing agreement ceremony held at Sappi’s Cloquet Mill on January 28.
The proposed Knowledge Management and Training System will be used to identify, document, and transfer employees’ knowledge so that critical information can be passed on from retiring generations of workers to new ones.
Once fully developed, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College will have full rights to duplicate and customize the framework to fit the needs of other manufacturers and businesses in the community.
For more information, contact Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Customized Training Director Jeannie Kermeen at 218-879-0741.
SMSC elects new Business Council
Members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) elected incumbent Charlie Vig as Chairman, incumbent Keith B. Anderson as Vice-Chairman, and Freedom Brewer as Secretary/Treasurer of the Business Council on Tuesday. The SMSC’s three-person Business Council is responsible for the operations of the tribal government.
Vig became Chairman in August 2012 after the passing of then-Chairman Stanley Crooks. He also served for 14 years on the SMSC Gaming Enterprise Board of Directors, which oversees Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino.
Anderson has served as Vice-Chairman since August 2012; he previously served as Secretary/Treasurer for eight years.
Incoming Secretary/Treasurer Freedom Brewer will serve her first term on the Business Council. She presently serves as Chairwoman of the SMSC Gaming Enterprise Board of Directors, which she has been a member of since 2002.
Current Secretary/Treasurer Lori Watso, who has served since 2012 and held her first term from 2000-2004, did not seek re-election.
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Thru July 2016
Why Treaties Matter traveling exhibit
This exhibit explores relationships between Dakota and Ojibwe Indian Nations and the U.S. government in Minnesota. Learn how treaties affected the lands and lifeways of the indigenous peoples of this place, and why these binding agreements still matter today. For info, see: http://mnhum.org/treaties .
• Feb. 1 - 21: Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, Winona.
• Feb. 29 - March 23: Alexandria Technical and Community College, Alexandria.
• March 30 - April 17: Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minneapolis.
• April 25 - May 15: Metro State University, St. Paul.
• June 27 - July 17: Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Detroit Lakes.
Thru Feb. 21
Arriving at Fresh Water: Contemporary Native Artists from Our Great Lakes
What is Native art today? It’s witty and warm, colorful and critical. It celebrates the past while challenging expectations. And some of the best art is being made right here and now in the Great Lakes area. This exhibition presents 14 of the region’s most visionary artists. They’re boldly tackling the biggest, most universal issues of the day, exploring truth and justice, community and self. They’re chronicling their own histories and the sweep of societal change. They’re pushing past assumptions into the realm of revelation—the promise of beauty to change the way we see. Free admission. Runs thru Feb. 21 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gallery 255, 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. For more info, see http://new.artsmia.org .
Thru Feb. 21
Mazinaakizige: Am. Indian Teen Photography Project -What Brings Us Together
Two Rivers Gallery and the Minnesota Historical Society present the Mazinaakizige: American Indian Teen Photography Project exhibition. "What Brings Us Together”. A culmination of six American Indian youth artists. The artists show a selection of photographs that they have taken through a ten-week program utilizing the skills they learned. Artists: Esmarie Cariaga, Wihinape Hunt, Ivan Mckeithan, Lupe Thornhill, and Austin Verley. Cost: $12 adults, $10 seniors and college students, $6 ages 5-17, free ages 4 and under and MNHS members. The History Center in the "Strib" Gallery, 3rd Floor, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul. For more info, call 651-259-3000.
Thru March 4
Re-riding History: From the Southern Plains/Matanzas Bay
Artists respond to the historical journey of the Fort Marion prisoners through the creation of one original work on paper. Featuring work from dozens of artists including, Norman Akers, Edgar Heap of Birds, Georgia Deal, Jim Denomie, Shan Goshorn, Dyani White Hawk, Tom Jones, America Meredith, Hoka Skenadore, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and many more. Emily Arthur, Marwin Begaye and John Hitchcock present a curatorial project which metaphorically retraces the history of seventy-two American Indian peoples who were forcibly taken from their homes in Salt Fork, OK, and transported by train to St. Augustine, Florida. The United States war department imprisoned Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, and Caddo leaders under Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt from 1875-1878. The curators asked seventy-two artists to respond to the experience of imprisonment by creating an individual work on paper. The artists selected include Native American, non-Native and descendants from both periods of imprisonment. Free and open to the public. All My Relations Gallery, 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. For more info, call 612-235-4970, or see: www.allmyrelationsarts.com .
Free Dental Care for Children
Dentists at over 150 dental offices and clinics will be providing free dental care during the Minnesota Dental Association’s 14th annual Give Kids a Smile event. Nearly 2,500 volunteers are donating their time for this unique, charitable event. Patients seeking appointments should be 18 years or younger and accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. People interested in scheduling an appointment can find a list of clinics with open appointments at: mndental.org/gkas or call United Way 211 (just dial 2-1-1) or 800-543-7709.
Your Living Legacy Gathering
Join LeMoine LaPointe in a powerful community-based gathering to cultivate a shared vision for building a healthy and sustainable Native community. Through on-going conversations, participants will harvest community gifts to design a map for a transformational foundation of trust and confidence that incorporates Native traditions and positive innovation that will be supported and uplifted by community action. 9:00 am - 4:00 pm at the Wellstone Center, 179 Robie St E. St. Paul. For more info, see: http://nativephilanthropy.org/programs/your-living-legacy .
Feb. 11 (deadline)
Seeds of Native Health Grants
First Nations Development Institute Accepting Applications for 2016 “Seeds of Native Health” Grants Under Its Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative. The purpose of the Seeds of Native Health campaign is to support Native tribes and organizations working to eliminate food insecurity, promote access to fresh and healthy foods, and provide increased access to nutritional programs aimed at improving the overall nutrition and health of Native people and communities. Proposals due by 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. Feb.11. For info, visit: www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/2016SONH .
Augsburg Fairview Academy Open House
Augsburg Fairview Academy is hosting an Open House from 4:00 - 8:00. Tour the school, meet staff and students, and listen to a student panel. Light refreshments, activities for children and applications will be available. Augsburg Fairview Academy is committed to providing the Native youth of the Twin Cities with a school that will meet their unique educational and culturally related academic needs, while preparing them to attend post-secondary education and become our future leaders. As a part of our Indian Education Program we offer: Ojibwe Studies, a Native American Presenter Series, a Native American Family Involvement Day, and a Native American College Fair. Our Recruitment Coordinator is available to meet with prospective students & families who would like to schedule a tour or enrollment meeting, and can be contacted at:
or call 612-294-1016. 2504 Columbus Ave, Minneapolis.
Monthly Celebration Dinner: An evening featuring special speakers, testimonials of sobriety, great food, gospel music and door prizes. Sponsored by Overcomers Ministries. This is a monthly event on the 2nd Friday of each month. 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. MAIC, 1530 E. Franklin Ave. Mpls.
Elders Valentine Day Dance
American Indian elders 55 years and older are invited to attend. Band: Johnny Smith and Friends. Talent Show: 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes. Door prizes, and dinner provided. 6 pm to 9 pm. (No children allowed.) At the Mpls. American Indian Center, 1530 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis. For more info, call 612-874-9588.
Feb. 12 - April 1
Sinew: Female Native Artists of the Twin Cities
Sinew: Female Native Artists of the Twin Cities, a multidisciplinary group exhibition curated by Dyani White Hawk Polk, will be exhibited in the Inez Greenberg Gallery at the Bloomington Center for the Arts. It features works by Carolyn Anderson, Julie Buffalohead, Andrea Carlson, Maggie Thompson, and the creative team of Heid Erdrich, Louise Erdrich, and Elizabeth Day. Sinew will open with a reception from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. February 12. A panel discussion with participating artists will be held March 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Bloomington Center for the Arts. The exhibition and all related activities are free of charge. Presented in conjunction with the Guerrilla Girls Twin Cities Takeover, a multi-week event through March that will engage more than 20 regional arts and cultural organizations in illuminating gender and racial inequalities. Inez Greenberg Gallery, Bloomington Center, 1800 W Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington, MN. For more info, see: www.artistrymn.org .
TechLoop Career Fair: learn about various career training opportunities in technology and speak with current students and organization representatives about their experiences. There will be hands-on activities available for people to try out some coding, take apart some hardware, and more. From 3-6 pm. Waite House Neighborhood Center, 24th & 13th ave., Mpls. For more info, see: www.puc-mn.org/waite-house .
Augsburg Native American Film Series
The Augsburg Native American Film Series will host a special screening with Dr. Warne of the special PBS film “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick?” Join Donald Warne, (Oglala Lakota), MD, MPH Senior Policy Advisor to the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, in a discussion and screening of Bad Sugar, a section of the PBS series that focuses on Native American communities. Reception in Sverdrup Hall, Main Lobby from 5:00-6:00 pm. Screening begins at 6:00 in Science Hall 123. Discussion with Dr. Warne follows. Free to the public. Augsburg College. For info, see: www.augsburg.edu .
Raving Native Date Night
Award-winning folk singer Annie Humphrey will perform new songs. Hosts include Wrong Burgundy (Tom LaBlanc), Vanna Brown (Simone Rendon), Joe Erhler (hand drum/love songs) and EM (DJ). Suggested donation $10 ($5 elders or with EBT card). Date Night with a Raving Native features Minnesota Native artists in a cabaret setting - food, drinks and fun. Future dates include March 17, April 21, and May 19. Sponsored by Oyate Hotanin. Las Mojarras, 1507 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis.
Feb. 18 (deadline)
Ojibwe Immersion Fellowships
The first Ojibwe Immersion Fellowship Program aims to raise the bar for language learning and language revitalization by assisting three fellows to achieve advanced levels of fluency. Ojibwemotaadidaa Omaa Gidakiiminaang will offer a comprehensive learning experience at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College for 14 months of full-time language study and immersion participation. Fellows will be selected for their level of fluency, linguistic aptitude, and commitment to Ojibwe language revitalization. Half of their time, the fellows will apprentice with elders, develop audio curriculum, study with faculty, and assist with teaching. The other half, they will gain experience in language revitalization through multiple venues including the Ojibwemotaadidaa immersion program, elementary immersion classrooms. Fellows will study and work full-time from May, 2016, through June 30, 2017. Fellow will receive $1800 per month stipend and $500 per month housing allowance for the 14-month period. Deadline is before noon on Feb. 18. See info:
“Bring the Children Home” Play
Written by Marcie Rendon. This play presents a story about a young child searching for meaning and identity in a world gone crazy. Oday journeys to find his/her identity by breaking free of the pull toward Western society and relies on the spirits and elders. A story that blends physical and spiritual realities about the power of healing. Marcie R. Rendon is an enrolled member of the White Earth Anishinabe Nation. Free. 7:00-8:00 pm. Centennial Middle School Auditorium, 399 Elm St., Lino Lakes, MN.
An Evening with Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie is an American Indian poet, writer, and filmmaker. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a Native American with ancestry of several tribes, growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Some of his works are The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and Smoke Signals. Hisyoung adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won the 2007 U.S. National Book Award for Young People's Literature. War Dances won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. 7:30 pm at the Carlson Family Stage. Cost: $5. For info, see: www.northrop.umn.edu/events/evening-sherman-alexie or call 612-624-2345. University of MN Northrup Auditorium, Carlson Family Stage, 84 Church Street SE, Minneapolis.
Leech Lake Members Meeting
The Leech Lake Twin Cities Local Indian Council will hold its next monthly meeting in February 23 at the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The meeting is for Leech Lake members and will provide food and door prizes. Meet in the gym at MIWRC, 2300 25th Ave. S., Minneapolis. Fo info, email Logan at:
Feb. 29- March 4
40- Hour Sexual Assault Advocacy Training
Hosted by the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition. Topics include: 40 Hours of training will include:, Fundamentals of Sexual Assault Advocacy, Sexual Violence in Indian Country, Sex Offenders- What Advocates Need to Know, Core Skills of Advocacy, Social Change Advocacy, SARTS-Sexual Assault Response Teams, Advocacy Self Care and Burnout, Medical Response, Law Enforcement Response, Prosecution of Sexual Assault, Mental Health- Basic Info for Advocates, Sexual Assault Victimization, Impact of Sexual Assault, Advocacy for LGBTQ/Two Spirits, Elder Abuse, Adolescent and Child Sexual Abuse, Prostitution and Trafficking, and more. Hours: 9am-5pm each day. Training will be at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, 2300 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis. Register with Cristine Davidson at:
Feb. 29 (deadline)
ILTF Summer Iinternship
ILTF is looking to hire two current undergraduate or graduate students as an interns for the summer of 2016 in the areas of research and education. The Research Intern will conduct outreach and general research to update Foundation records to improve relationships and the understanding of tribal land offices. Must have knowledge of database technology (Microsoft Access preferred). Edit curriculum lessons, develop and implement online education surveys, create a summer education outreach plan, and revise teacher training materials. Knowledge of federal and educational state standards desired. Experience with Drupal content manager a plus. Application deadline is Feb. 29. For more info see: www.iltf.org/news/announcements/2016-summer-internship-indian-land-tenure-foundation .
Making Space To Rise: Native Men and Boys
Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition’s “Challenging Sexual Violence” movie premiere and community discussion. Four video vignettes have been created by Native men, for Native men; to provide examples of making safe space for healthy conversations about sexual violence with your son, your family, your community, your fellow menfolk, and especially within your own spirit. A free viewing hosted by Comanche Fairbanks and Jeremy Nevilles Sorrell. Light snacks and refreshments served. 7 pm. Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, 410 Oak Grove St., Minneapolis. For info, call 612-813-5300.
13th Annual Indigenous Farming Conference
13th Annual Indigenous Farming Conference: The Power to Heal will be held at Maplelag Resort in Callaway, MN. For more information, see http://welrp.org/13th-annual-indigenous-farming-conference or email:
March 4 (deadline)
Tulsa Artist Fellowship
Stipends, free housing and free workspace included. Open to local and national artists in the disciplines of writing and visual arts. All fellowships are merit-based grants, and fellows will be expected to integrate into the local community. For each discipline category (visual artists and writers) up to 15 fellowships will be awarded based on the quality of entries. Visual Artists: Fellows will be awarded a $20,000 unrestricted stipend with free downtown housing and workspace during Year One. Year Two is optional and will include a stipend of $7,500 plus free housing and workspace. The program will reserve some of the fellowship positions for Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian artists. Writers: Fellows will be awarded a $20,000 unrestricted stipend with free downtown housing for Year One of the two-year fellowship. During Year Two, fellows will receive a $12,500 unrestricted stipend and continued free private housing. Writers will focus on creative nonfiction, fiction, graphic novel, young-adult fiction, poetry and play/screen writing. Applications are due on March 4. The fellowship begin on January 9, 2017. To learn more see: www.TulsaArtistFellowship.org .
March 18 (deadline)
Native American Multimedia Internships
Vision Maker Media is offering Public Media Internships to undergraduate or graduate students. The purpose of the paid internships is to increase the opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native youth in Public Broadcasting. Interns can be located at Vision Maker Media's offices at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska, or at a Public Television station in the United States. Vision Maker Media will contact Public Television stations that are requested by interns to determine placement options. Requirements: Multimedia and/or transmedia experience in journalism, writing, video, audio, editing, public relations/marketing and/or websites; Experience with social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, blogs, etc.); Be enrolled in a journalism, communications, or Native studies graduate or undergraduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA.; and Eligible applicants must be United States citizens or legal residents of the United States. For more info, call 402-472-3522 or email:
18th Annual Cherish the Children Traditional Powwow
Doors Open at 11:00am. Registration at 11:00am. Grand Entries: Saturday 1:00 & 7:00pm, Feast: 5:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm. Co -Emcees: Jerry Dearly and Reuben Crowfeather. Host Drum: Tomahawk Circle. Invited Drum: Oyate Teca. First 10 registered drums with a minimum of 5 singers will receive an honorarium. $5 Entry fee for ages 7+ Free entry for Elders & Veterans. Free entry per person with our Roy Roberts “Family in Need” Drive - donate a household/ family item. Youth Dance Specials—youth 17 years and under—(cash prizes). All Ages 2 Step Special—(1st-2nd-3rd place prizes). Junior Hand Drum Contest—(1st-2nd-3rd place prizes). 5th Annual Ain Dah Yung Center Ambassador Contest. For info contact
Central High School, 275 Lexington Ave. St. Paul, MN.
Cherish the Children Powwow Royalty Contest
Contestants must: Be in full regalia, Be drug and alcohol free, Be enrolled in school (Elem.—H.S.), Be able to give an introduction and speech on why you would like to be ADYC Royalty. (Bonus points for saying your introduction in a Native language). To register contact Holly Henning at:
or call 651-632-8923, or see: www.adycenter.org .
March 31 (deadline)
Artistry Opens Call for Artists
Emerging and established artists and artist groups residing in MN, N.D., S.D., IA, and WI, 18 years or older, are invited to submit a proposal for the 2018 Exhibition Program at Artistry. Individuals or groups working in any medium, with the exception of film or video, are eligible. Artists/artist groups based upon the quality of the artwork, creativity and originality, technical skill, and the overall quality of the proposal. Artists may be combined for a small group show or chosen for a solo exhibition. All proposals must be received online by March 31. Artistry curates approximately fourteen exhibitions per year in the Inez Greenberg Gallery and Atrium Gallery, both located in the Bloomington Center for the Arts. A $10 non-refundable application fee is required. For more info, see: artistrymn.org/visual_arts/apply/exhibit , or contact Rachel Daly at 952-563-8570.
|Written by Winona LaDuke,
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“Our people blocked the road. When the troops arrive, we will face them.”
– Ailton Krenak, Krenaki People, Brazil
This eighteen months saw three of the largest mine tailings pond disasters in history. Although they have occurred far from northern Minnesota’s pristine waters, we may want to take heed as we look at a dozen or more mining projects, on top of what is already there, abandoned or otherwise. These stories, like many, do not make headlines. They are in remote communities, far from the media and the din of our cars, cans and lifestyle. Aside from public policy questions, mining safety and economic liability concerns, there is an underlying moral issue we face here: the death of a river. As I interviewed Ailton Krenak, this became apparent.
he people in southestern Brazilian call the river Waatuh or Grandfather. “We sing to the river, we baptize the children in this river, we eat from this river, the river is our life,” That’s what Ailton Krenak, winner of the Onassis International Prize, and a leader of the Indigenous and forest movement in Brazil, told me as I sat with him and he told me of the mine waste disaster. I wanted to cry. How do you express condolences for a river, for a life, to a man to whom the river is the center of the life of his people? That is a question we must ask ourselves.
November 2015’s Brazilian collapse of two dams at a mine on the Rio Doco River sent a toxic sludge over villages, and changed the geography of a world. The dam collapse cut off drinking water for a quarter of a million people and saturated waterways downstream with dense orange sediment. As the LA Times would report, “Nine people were killed, 19 … listed as missing and 500 people were displaced from their homes when the dams burst.”
The sheer volume of water and mining sludge disgorged by the dams across nearly three hundred miles is staggering: the equivalent of 25,000 Olympic swimming pools or the volume carried by about 187 oil tankers. The Brazilians compare the damage to the BP oil disaster, and the water has moved into the ocean – right into the nesting area for endangered sea turtles, and a delicate ecosystem. The mine, owned by Australian based BHP Billiton, the largest mining company in the world, (and the one which just sold a 60-year-old coal strip mine to the Navajo Nation in 2013) is projecting some clean up.
Renowned Brazilian documentary photographer Sebastiao Salgado, whose foundation has been active in efforts to protect the Doce River, toured the area and submitted a $27 billion clean-up proposal to the government. “Everything died. Now the river is a sterile canal filled with mud,” Salgado told reporters. When the mining company wanted to come back, Ailton Krenak told me, “we blocked the road.”
They didn’t get the memo.
Last August saw a similarly disastrous failure in a tailings pond feeding into the Animas River in Southern Colorado. The amazing thing about this dam failure was that it was caused by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In this case, the EPA was looking into an aging mine tailing pond at the Gold King Mine near Silverton Colorado. The mine has been abandoned and is one of an astonishing 22,000 abandoned mines in the state meaning, unfortunately, there could be more to come. It seems that on August 5, EPA personnel along with workers for Environmental Restoration LLC (a Missouri based contractor ) caused the release of toxic wastewater when attempting to add a tap to the tailing pond for the mine. The workers accidentally destroyed the dam which held the pond back, and three million gallons of cadmium, arsenic and lead laced mine waste water and tailings gushed into (oddly named ) Cement Creek, a tributary to the Animas River. The EPA was criticized for not warning Colorado and New Mexico until the day after the waste water spilled. The Navajo Nation, directly downstream, also did not receive the memo.
The Navajo Nation had a bit of time to prepare for the onslaught, in that terrifying way that you know your life is about to change dramatically. By August 7, the waste reached Aztec, New Mexico. The next day it reached Farmington, a major Navajo city, before the orange flood moved into the San Juan River.
Reporters noted, “The heavy metals appeared to be settling to the bottom of the river because largely, they are insoluble unless the entire river becomes very acidic.”
|Written by Nick Metcalf,
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This month because of Valentine’s Day I want to write above love. I want to share how I learned about love. First, I want to share my recent insight into love. I figured out a place where love resides. Recently, as I was with friends and family celebrating the coming of my Takoja (Grandson), I realized something – this is where love resides. Friends and family = LOVE.
My first memories about love were from my parents. Over the years, I’ve watched many romantic comedies and I’ve read about love, but nothing compares to my first impression of love. The love between my parents.
The moments my parents demonstrated love include:
- The touch my Father gave to my Mother. It was the first time I saw them communicate without words My Father gently touched my Mother during an interaction. She looked up at him, suddenly the expression on her face changed. I remember her gentleness. This gentleness was so unlike her strong nature.
- When my Father would try get my Mother’s attention and finally catch her eye, he’d smile and wink. She’d giggle. They’d speak to each other in Lakota. They laughed. I remember the playfulness of this interaction. It was their stolen moment of happiness and laughter.
- When I watched my parents slow dance. My Father would lead my Mother across the living room. They’d move in unison to a country song. He was bold, yet graceful as they danced. I remember the vulnerability in her face. They brought out the humanity in each other.
Unfortunately, my parents divorced. There were many things that came between them and they didn’t know how to get past them. Eventually, both my parents began new families, but they remained connected to one another over the years because of us children.
n the end, I knew beyond question they loved one another. When my Father died, my Mother endured his family disrespecting her. My Father’s family rendered those the years my parents spent together and their children, us, as inconsequential. Yet, regardless of the way they treated her at my Father’s funeral and wake, she helped. She mourned. She wept at his grave. I sat with her as she howled in pain for the loss of her first love.
His love, her love, their love transformed me. I bore witness to it. And it’s a wondrous feeling knowing that I am the consequence of such beauty. That’s love.
Over the years, in my own self-discovery, I’ve spent many a night wondering about love. On those nights, I’d be filled with longing. I came to believe that my salvation and love could only be found in another person, but I was wrong. I forgot about myself. I forgot who I am. Love begins with me. I am the one who must seek my own salvation. I have to forgive. I have to let go. I have to believe. Ultimately, love is about faith. And, love ain’t easy.
I’ve learned that there are many other kinds of love. Somehow we’ve come to believe that romantic love, or the love between a husband/wife, husband/husband, wife/wife, or partners is all that there is, but it isn’t. There are many other kinds of love in the world. Love is all around us.
I want to describe a few types of love:
- Friendship Love – Someone who you respect, admire, listen to their stories, bear witness to their joys, and help them when needed. They do the same for you in return.
- Parental Love – It’s the moment when you see your son or daughter for the first time and everything is there – compassion, caretaking, worry, fear, joy, happiness, etc.
- Erotic Love – it’s the first stage of attraction. It’s when you meet someone and you get ‘the butterflies’. It’s infatuation. It’s magic.
- Self-Love – This is where love begins. It’s being able to love yourself enough to protect yourself; put your needs and desires first; and it’s about knowing yourself.
- • Spiritual Love – It’s the connection to the universe; it’s that inspiring feeling when you are in nature; it’s that sense of wonder about our place; and it’s all encompassing.
What I learned from my parents about love is that love transforms. They taught me that love never dies. It changes. It becomes different. The initial urgency quiets to a deliberate pace. The dizzying anticipation relaxes into safety. The discovery and exploration falls into familiarity. Patience abounds. A glance becomes a full conversation. I’m grateful for their lessons.
So this year when you find yourself being without love, start with yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Do something kind for yourself. Celebrate you. Discover what makes you laugh and brings you joy. Remember, love begins with you, so start there.
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