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Local Briefs
Jourdain Seeks to Be A Voice for Native Students
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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ira jourdain-web.jpgRaising the profile on Native American student issues and accountability are the top priorities for Ira Jourdain in his bid for the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education.

The Red Lake citizen and father of four – two of whom are enrolled in the city's school system – sees equity, its allocation and application to minority students as a primary means to bridge the achievement gap. “The way the formula works is equity and equality: everybody gets the same amounts, no matter what. But that's just not conducive to our kids, especially our Native kids and African American kids, who go to what they call the low-performing schools. These are schools that obviously need more funding, need more resources. And then that's where equity comes into place, to me it's reallocating our resources and putting those resources into schools that need them the most.”

Though any primary campaign can produce candidates who speak in broad generalities, Jourdain links together problems and solutions for the Native community, which has continually under-achieved when compared to others. “A lot of our kids go to low-performing schools that affect their housing, that affect employment. There's a multitude of factors that affect our kids' performances in the schools and it all boils down to plain, old equity,” he said.

Jourdain cites specifics issues and needs that impact student performance such as mental health, behavioral services and social workers. “There's this tremendous need – I've heard this from across the district – for school psychologists to work with our kids on mental and behavioral disorders.”

In addition, Jourdain said that other factors stymying achievement may not always be apparent to school board directors not directly involved with the problems. According to a recent report by the Indian Education Department, Native American students have shown an increase in and remain at the top for homelessness. “We need stronger housing support services. My daughter at Tatanka Academy has had three or four students in her classroom that have moved constantly, throughout the school year, across the district. I was at this recent hearing and the percentage of Native American kids in our district who move constantly is 19 percent who are either homeless or constantly moving residences during the school year.”


National Briefs: May 2014
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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NCAI CONDEMNS STERLING, LINKS RACIST MASCOT

WASHINGTON – Leading up to Donald Sterling's lifetime ban from the NBA for racist remarks, the National Congress of American Indians issued a condemnation and drew parallels to the Washington team's mascot.

The owner of the Los Angeles Clippers drew widespread criticism in late April for his disparaging remarks about African Americans on a recording made by his then-girlfriend, V. Stiviano, after she posted a fan photo of herself on Instagram posing with Magic Johnson.

"NCAI condemns Donald Sterling’s appalling comments regarding African Americans," the organization said in an April 28 statement. "There is no place in modern society for that kind of hatred and discrimination. We also want to applaud the many athletes, sportscasters, corporations, and individuals who have spoken out against Sterling and his comments. It is encouraging to see so many people standing together and declaring that this behavior is unacceptable."

The organization linked the controversy to its continuing efforts to eliminate racist images in professional sports. Dan Snyder, an NFL team owner, has refused to change his team's mascot. "NCAI is no stranger to facing down racism and ignorance in American sports. Every incident of hate and racism – whether a singular incident or the repeated, high-profile use of offensive words and images – is unacceptable and has no place in the 21st Century. We will continue to support the LA Clippers players and fans as they face the fallout from Sterling’s words and we will continue to fight for a world in which no race or ethnic group is treated in this way."


Regional and Local Briefs: May 2014
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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MINNESOTA SEIZES TRIBE'S CIGARETTE SHIPMENT

WALKER, Minn. – On April 18, agents from the Minnesota Department of Revenue intercepted and seized a shipment of cigarettes from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska bound for a Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe gas station in Walker.

According to the department, the delivery was stopped in St. Cloud and contained 281 cartons – 2,810 packs – of cigarettes that had been manufactured in Nebraska and sent to the Minnesota band, unstamped and free from the state's cigarette tax.

In a statement, Leech Lake officials called the incident “the Good Friday Seizure,” calling it “yet another attack on Native American rights. The Band sees this seizure as an attempt by the state to implement its unfair taxation plan on the lands of the Leech Lake Reservation, this time resulting in the unfortunate economic isolation of a federally recognized American Indian Tribe.”

If the shipment made it to its destination, cigarettes would have sold for $3.50 a pack.

For the state, the seizure was an issue of tax fairness and is withholding the state tax equity revenue it normally splits with the tribe for its sale of other state-taxed items like sales, gas and alcohol until the band agrees to start selling state-taxed cigarettes again. Losing that shared tax revenue could cost Leech Lake $2 million or more a year, Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans said.

Ten of the state’s 11 tribes agreed to sell only state-taxed cigarettes, Frans said his department has worked with Leech Lake for years to try to reach a similar deal. Leech Lake Chairwoman Carri Jones said in a statement the tribe tried to work with the state.

“Every time the Minnesota Department of Revenue requested a meeting on this issue, we came to the table to meet in good faith to offer innovative and creative solutions, which were consistently turned down by the state,” she said in the statement. “We were hoping that by engaging in good faith negotiations we would avoid the drastic measure that Gov. Dayton’s administration took on Easter weekend.”





What's New In The Community: May 2014
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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ain dah yung center honored by aauw.jpg

AAUW Honors Ayn Dah Yung Center
(Photo by Verylnn Agrimonti)

Deb Foster, executive director of Ain Dah Yung Center, accepted a generous donation from AAUW (American Association of University Women) president, Mary Chorewyez and president-elect, Carol Oeltjenbruns on April 8 at 990 Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Ain Dah Yung (Our Home) Center provides a healing place within the community for American Indian youth – all ethnicities – and families to thrive in safety and wholeness.


flanagan named co-chair of cradle-to-k cabinet.jpgFlanagan named Co-Chair of Cradle-to-K Cabinet 

In her State of the City Address at the Minneapolis American Indian Center on April 24, Mayor Betsy Hodges announced that Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation citizen and Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota executive director, would co-chair Hodges' Cradle-To-K Initiative.

According to Hodges, research shows that disparities can be prevented by effective early-childhood interventions. Along with Way to Grow executive director Carolyn Smallwood, the initiative aims to align work to to maximize a child's readiness for early education.

Citing the link between low Kindergarten readiness rates and high school graduation rates for Minneapolis students, Hodges formed her Cradle-To-K program in her mayoral campaign in August of last year.

The effort identified components that it will work to support, including the expansion of the Healthy Start program, which serves low-income and vulnerable families with the skills and resources to care for pregnant mothers and infants in the city; expand access to stable, high quality, child-centered childcare; and serve as the hub for stakeholders, ensuring no early childhood programming or coverage gaps and facilitate resource-sharing.


Peter Matthiesson, Author of "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" Passes On
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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laduke-passing on-peter matthiessen 2.jpg“… For all those who honor and defend those people who still seek in the wisdom of the Indian way…”,

Peter Mattheisson, from the dedication of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.

He was a writer among writers, up to the last. Peter Mattheisson lived in an era of grand adventure writers, storytelling in words, and lived it well. I remember thinking that with our times together, walking, talking and watching him in his craft. I knew him as a friend, and loved him as a courageous and gifted man. He died April 5, after a gifted life. As a young writer, I admired his style and his agility. The word and the story is what he loved, a careful art, trampled often by todays’ era of tweeting and sensational journalism. The art, however still remains.

As a Native woman I appreciated his courage,that he came from immense privilege and had the heart, resources and tenacity to tell stories in a way, that only he could tell and that he loved our community. He was a man who could write about nature, and nuance of description, perhaps better than any other. He wrote 33 books and is the only writer to have won the National Book Award three times.

I remember Peter from l980, when he had come to Indian Country, in this case, first in the Navajo Nation, where I was working on uranium mining expansion proposals, in the midst of an arid land, already faced with groundwater contamination, and a way of life challenged by health issues of radiation contamination and an economic poverty forced upon a self sufficient people. He drove a rental car and I talked, taking him from house to sacred mountain, and elder to elder. He was an apt listener, crystalizing the essence and chronicling the stories. Then it was that he came to South Dakota, a place which would move him and a story which would catapult an environmental writer into a national controversy.

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