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Local Briefs
University faculty push for Ojibwe, Dakota languages to become majors
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Molly Michaletz, The Minnesota Daily,
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Some faculty members within the University of Minnesota’s Department of American Indian Studies are trying to preserve two languages indigenous to the state.

Currently, students don’t have the option to major in Ojibwe or Dakota, the two languages offered within the department. But with a recent push from veteran and new professors, students may eventually be able to major in the languages.

Brendan Fairbanks, a long-serving assistant American Indian studies professor, said creating the option to major in each of the languages would allow students studying the languages to receive better jobs after graduation and would ensure the languages stay alive.

If the languages remain used, she said students who know them “can go on to teach their children the language.”

University students can currently receive teaching certificates – named the Dakota Iapi Unspewicakiyapi and the Ojibwemodaa Eta! certificates – that allow them to teach the languages at immersion schools.

Still, some say the creation of new major programs for the languages could be beneficial.

Michelle Goose, who’s entering her first year in the department as a teaching specialist, said making the languages into their own separate majors is important so that students can make good use of what they learn.

“We need to make the language more relevant to students,” she said. “We need to make it something they can use in their daily lives.”

Professors in the department hope developing the language track into two new majors will make the program more appealing to prospective students.

Because there isn’t a large demand for Dakota and Ojibwe immersion school teachers in the state, the job market is highly competitive, said former University student Liz Cates, who received her Dakota teaching certificate last spring.

Though she currently works as a teacher at a local immersion school, Cates said entering the job force with a degree in Dakota would have been helpful when she was searching for jobs.

Cates also said that having specific majors for the languages will help preserve them and allow instructors to better teach them to elementary students in immersion schools.

“The more Dakota and Ojibwe students who can major in their languages, the more able they are to bring their gifts of speaking and teaching the language back to our communities,” she said.

The process of creating the majors is still in the early stages, department chair Jean O’Brien said, though faculty members have big plans for the languages.

“We have a real need for revitalization of the language as well as making sure it gets taught in every context it needs to be at the higher level,” O’Brien said.

According to the American Indian studies department’s website, there was estimated to be only about 678 first-language speakers of the Ojibwe language and eight first-language speakers of the Dakota language within those communities in Minnesota in 2009.

Because of the sharp decline in people who speak the languages, Cates said it’s important to keep the languages alive.

“Any step that can be made to increase accessibility and intensify language learning should be made without hesitation, as time is running out,” Cates said.





Lawsuit filed over E. coli outbreak near Cloquet
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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The first lawsuit has been filed as a result of an E. coli outbreak on the Fond du Lac Lake Superior Chippewa reservation near Cloquet earlier this summer.

Band member Bob Danielson has sued Jim-N-Jo's Northland Katering, which provided the food at three events in July at which people got sick, including an elder's picnic. Danielson, 62, said he was hospitalized for a day.

He filed suit Aug. 28 in state court in Carlton County and is seeking compensation for medical expenses and loss of wages.

"I thought somebody needs to call some attention to this," Danielson said. "Put the fear in somebody, or make sure that things are done right from here on out before somebody gets dead."

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating whether it came from ingredients in a potato salad that Danielson ate at an elder's picnic, where 20 to 60 people likely became ill.

The owner of the catering company declined to comment.

Danielson's attorney, Bill Marler, said E. coli 0157 is a deadly pathogen.

"It shouldn't be in our food," Marler said. "And it certainly shouldn't be in potato salad at an elder's picnic."

Also in July, 15 people in Minnesota were also sickened by a different strain of E. coli that was traced to several Applebee's restaurants. A lawsuit has also been filed in that case.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network or online at minnesota.publicradio.org.

Northern Minn. resort owner drops liquor license request
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Jon Enger, MPR News,
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A northern Minnesota resort owner has withdrawn his application for a liquor license, citing pressure from the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Chris Freudenberg, who owns Roger's Resort near the Red Lake reservation, recently asked the Beltrami County Board for a liquor store license. But tribal leaders opposed his application on the grounds that a store at the resort would be too close to their boundaries, where liquor is not sold.

Red Lake leaders argued a liquor store so close to the reservation would complicate the tribe's longtime struggle against alcoholism. They also asked for commissioners to approve a buffer zone around the reservation where any new liquor sales would be banned.

But Freudenberg withdrew his application shortly before the county board's scheduled Tuesday night vote on his request. As a result, county commissioners also will not consider the tribe's buffer zone request.

"My first response was to dig into a trench and fight," Freudenberg said. "But when you sit back and think, the tribe has a point."

Freudenberg originally wanted to set up a liquor store to reduce liability insurance costs by keeping his guests off the road when they ran out of beer. He thought the store would prevent drunk driving accidents, but hadn't thought about the reservation.

As it is illegal to possess alcohol on the reservation, tribe members buying from Roger's might drink their purchases before heading home. "That would just undo what I was trying to do," he said.

Instead, Freudenberg plans to set up a heated beer storage room at the resort, so his guests can bring extra beer and not worry about the cans freezing in mid-winter.

He later plans to apply for a license to sell drinks in a small restaurant and bar that is under construction at the resort. That type of license gives a bartender much more control over who drinks and how much is consumed, he said.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network or online at minnesota.publicradio.org.

From the Editor's Desk: Overcoming fatalism and claiming victory
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgThe greatest enemy we face as Native people is fatalism. It defines our historic, current and future struggles. From the moment the earliest European settlers put foot on our shores, it was because they believed it was their right to conquer our home. When they found us living here, millions-strong, it was their belief that we would eventually become extinct.

Throughout five centuries of wars, battles, plagues, relocations and government treaties, the occupation of our home and our culture was based on the misguided belief that we would eventually die out. But throughout all those wars, battles and broken promises, we continued to survive, thrive and flourish, our identity slightly altered, but ultimately intact. We hold true to our faith, our values and our traditions even when the outside world believes we are irrelevant.

Our current struggles are among culture, race and politics. Whether it is Dan Snyder's devious attempts to buy implied support by tribal nations through misdirected philanthropy, the government's glacial pace at addressing land rights for individual Indian landowners or multinational oil and gas corporations like Enbridge and TransCanada, attempting to damage our homelands in the guise of energy independence and monetary wealth, we face a myriad of troubles.

But over the arc of time, we see how we overcame our oppression and we keep the faith that we will continue to overcome this oppression. We do this by being thankful for everything we have – even if it's not much to begin with – we give thanks for every day that we live. We rediscover our family and tribal language, histories and roots; we nurture them as best we can by ensuring their survival.

This is evident in the Twin Cities by the opening of the Bdote Learning Center, a dream that is six years in the making. Immersion education in Ojibwe and Dakota are the first steps in the journey toward understanding our historic identity. While linguists debate the idea of whether language is formed by culture or culture is formed by language, we know that our language defines us as a people. Its roots hold the key toward understanding our world perspective and forming a new path for living in contemporary society.

In that society, we have suffered. After seeing the opening performance of Rhiana Yazzie's “Native Man The Musical, Phase I,” we understand how identity and experience form who we are as contemporary Natives in modern America. Whether we grew up on the reservations or in the urban setting, it has had an impact on us. The key toward moving forward is to acknowledge our individual and collective experiences, both good and bad, rather than being ashamed of them. When we can acknowledge our history and learn from it, we claim victory over our oppression.


Enbridge not good at math
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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Lorraine Little of the Enbridge Company keeps telling regulators and the public that 96 percent of the landowners along the proposed route of the Sandpiper Bakken oil pipeline are friendly and supportive. I don’t believe it.

That might be because of comments submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: Some 459 opposed the pipeline route, while 37 were proponents of the route. Of those opponents, 387 expressed environmental concerns, 131 expressed concerns about the tribal impact and 347 wanted an alternative route, outside of the lakes. (Remember Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., came out opposing the pipeline a couple of weeks ago and some 20 state representatives expressed deep concerns about the pipeline process at the PUC.)

So, not sure how Enbridge does math, but I learned my math differently. Let’s think about where Enbridge might have gotten its numbers. The support might be somewhat true in North Dakota, or at least almost, because the North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved the route of the pipeline. This is not surprising, for several reasons.


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