Local Briefs
July 15 Calendar
Friday, July 10 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Through Aug. 21

The World Through Our Eyes

The World Through Our Eyes is an exhibition of works by eight Two Spirit artists curated by 2015 Guest Curator, Orlando Avery. The exhibition showcases a beautiful variety of art from fashion design, photography, acrylic, and installation art. Featured artwork depicts the artistic rendition of the world seen through the eyes of a Two spirit artist. Avery is a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He grew up in Redscaffold Community in South Dakota. Avery studied Museum Studies from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM.

2015 Guest Curator Artist Participants: Nadya Kwandibens, Asa Wright, Sharon Day, Whitney Minthorn, George Bettleyoun, Jolonzo Goldtooth, Ryan Dennison and Edison Richards

All My Relations Gallery, 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday. For more information, call 612-235-4970 or visit

July 10

Prairie Island Dakota Days Wacipi Celebration 2015

MC’s: Wallace Coffey, Danny Seaboy; Head Staff: Juaquin Hamilton, Rusty Gillette, Darrell Goodwill; Head Whistle Man: Jonathan Windyboy; Host Drums: Prairie Island Singers, Tinta Winta Takojas; Northern Drums: Red Leaf, Midnight Express, Iron Boy, Mato Pejuta, Lame Deer Singers; Southern Drums: Cozad Singers, Wild Band of Comanches, Young Bird Singers. Invited drums only.

Pow Wow Committee Members: Kelly Taylor, Chair; Anne Starr, Vice Chair; Natalie Nielson, Secretary; Emmaline Chapman, Jesse Childs, Arts & Crafts.

Grand Entries: Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 1 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. Flag Raising daily. Registration: Friday, 1 p.m. until end of competition; Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. All dancers and drummers must have photo ID and Social Security Number to register. Tiny Tots will receive day money. Cash prizes for all categories.

Free admission, Prairie Island Indian Community, Welch, MN. For more information, call 800-554-5473, ext. 4024 or visit

From the Editor's Desk: Environmental stewardship is our legacy
Friday, July 10 2015
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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alfredwalkingbull-web.jpgMy father was a man of great faith. Whether he expressed it in traditional spiritual practices, what we now call Wolakota, or through his Protestant Christian understanding, faith is what guided him by a set of principles of always being prepared.

Once, when new cable and pipes were laid on the reservation, he clicked his tongue and explained that is how it would all end for us: through fire. Reading Genesis, my father accepted the Judeo-Christian belief that this world was born from water, but that god would inevitably judge us and bring about our end in fire.

His love of eschatology notwithstanding, my father had a way of bringing our own lives into the perspective of something greater. His understanding was through theology, our generation's understanding is through science and culture.

As Native people, we often tout ourselves as the previous guardians of the environment because of our simple manners of living. But what stands out in Lakota thought and philosophy is the concept that everything is interconnected and related to one another. We honor the animals we use and consume, the land we keep, the trees we shelter ourselves with and the water we drink because we understand we all depend on one another for continued existence; and everything has a right to exist. As human beings – just another form of life on this planet – we are reminded to take only what we need to survive and utilize it to its maximum usefulness.

Along the way, through colonization and settlement, we lost our way. We became caught up in the consumerism and economic web of capitalism that insists we consume for the financial wellbeing of everyone else. The message is that the more we consume, the more money is made for others to support themselves and what could be more Native than uplifting others.

Unfortunately, it is a perverted understanding of our tradition, the layers of consumerism and capitalism add barriers toward giving meaningful support of our friends and relatives. We give money so we don't have to pick up trash, we pay others for the work that we can do ourselves so we can feel good about ourselves. Our responsibility is not just to one another, as human beings, but to our home and our relatives of the animal nations, we are all related.

In the opening words of his encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home,” even Pope Francis has touched on this responsibility as the leader of millions of Catholic Christians, the world over.

Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Tuesday, June 09 2015
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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Returning to Native Spirituality

It’s my favorite time of year. It’s a busy time of year for summer ceremonies, rituals and powwows. It’s the beginning of the new year for some. It’s a time to reconcile the year. It’s time to reflect on one’s conduct. It’s time to reconnect with the Creator. It’s time for renewal.

As someone who came to learn ‘the Native’ way of life a little later, I’ll share with you some of the experiences I had in my effort to reconnect with our traditional ways. I will not share specifics about different ceremonies, but I will write about how I approached learning about our sacred way of life.

My parents were part of the generation of people who were forced to assimilate, so keeping me away from our traditional native way of life was not negligent, but it was them protecting me. I learned later from them that they were protecting me from the profound sense of loss they experienced.

I am thankful for the protection of my parents and the choices they made. When I did chose to return to our way of life, they struggled with my decision. Eventually, they helped me and came along with me in my rediscovering our ways. Over time, they became ardent supporters until they died.

When I wanted to learn more about our traditional ways, I approached a relative who was active and participated regularly in traditional Native way of life for help. They happily stepped forward; to this day, they continues to teach me many things and I seek their advice.

Choosing a spiritual leader, or medicine person, is an important step. Find them then get to know them, trust your gut. I’ve learned and witnessed people who have been spiritually traumatized by questionable people, so be careful. I follow the medicine people that my family has been with for several generations.

Heroin Deaths Bring Community Together
Monday, June 08 2015
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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heroin deaths bring community together.jpgOn May 29, over 100 members of the Minneapolis American Indian community filled the hall of the Church of Gichitwaa Kateri to hear from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office about an alarming rise in heroin and opioid-related deaths.

According to the Sheriff's Office, deaths have been on a rise throughout the county. Beginning in 2008, there were only six deaths related to heroin and opioid overdose; that figure climbed steadily to 56 in 2013; so far this year, there have been 12, half of which, occurred in Little Earth of United Tribes, the Native American housing complex in South Minneapolis. In a prepared letter, read for the event, Little Earth president and CEO Robert Lilligren (White Earth Ojibwe) stated, “It's a grim way for me to mark my time here.”

Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek moderated the Heroin Town Hall Forum and praised the work being down between his office and Little Earth. However, he admitted that addressing the issue didn't rest in jail time. “Prevention and treatment are essential. We can't arrest our way out of this.”

Commander Bruce Folkens, Minneapolis Police Department, detailed all prongs of attack from the law enforcement side. “It's a multi-faceted approach. We've got undercover cops, precinct cops and uniformed officers.” Officers from the city are also assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. “We try to hit it at all levels, two officers follow up with every arrest. But we need folks, such as yourselves to be our eyes and ears.”

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman echoed those sentiments, “Have the courage to come forward and help. Call the police.” He sought to allay fears from community members that his office may not differentiate between prosecuting addicts and dealers. “We prosecute all adult cases, but there's a difference between a use who suffers from addiction and the dealer who suffers from greed. Drug court works with small time dealers and users.”

Gerald Cross, a community member in recovery, gave his personal story on what led to his addictions to heroin and crack. “What got me going is that I didn't have no love, my parents' addiction to alcohol and we were in foster homes. We had decent [foster] parents who were white but we knew we were different and they made us feel different. So we ran away and stayed with people who accepted us.”

Cross and his twin brother James then set out on a path fraught with the struggle of fitting in and tangles with the law. “I was jailed at age 11, that was my first incarceration. I got into gang life, it was something to belong to. Then I did nine-and-a-half years for a drive-by shooting.”

Through his incarcerations, Cross had time to reflect on the causes of his addictions. “We didn't have any spirituality, we were empty inside. The drugs made us feel better. I didn't care about nothing. First, it was fun, then I needed it.”

Eventually, Cross's parole officer recommended treatment, which led to his recovery and working with his brother to help other addicts in the community. “We all got clean and we got the family we all needed and wanted … we got love … things are coming to us.”

As part of his recovery, Cross helps facilitate a talking circle at Little Earth called Natives Against Heroin that meets on Saturdays from 2 to 4 p.m. In the Neighborhood Early Learning Center (2438 18th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN).

Kwe Pack Heals Through Running
Monday, June 08 2015
Written by Deanna StandingCloud,
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kwe pack heals through running.jpgA collective of Anishinaabe women in northern Minnesota found strength with one another. Their journey to health and wellness brought them together gradually and almost synchronously since 2012. It all began with some inspiration.

After completing a half marathon in 2011, Chally Topping-Thompson (Red Cliff Ojibwe) encouraged her friend, Sarah Agaton Howes (Fond du Lac Ojibwe) to finish a 5K run. This was the birth of the movement now known as the “Kwe Pack,” a women’s running society. In the Ojibwe language, “Kwe” can be translated to “Woman,” but a deeper linguist investigation into this word reveal a description of a sacred, life giving being. In Ojibwe culture, women are considered precious pieces of the nation.

The Kwe Pack evolved to a group of mothers, professionals, wives and students all currently committed to running together along the woodland trails on the Fond du Lac reservation. Topping-Thompson is currently the Indian Child Welfare Director at the Red Cliff Chippewa Tribal Offices and Agaton Howes is the House of Howes artist, teacher and Inspired Natives Collaborator.

The group started gaining momentum when they decided to participate in The Superior Hiking Trail 25K with a group of seven Indigenous women in 2013. The following year, 16 completed the Superior Hiking Trail 25K and 22 finished just this spring.

As one of the original Kwe Pack runners, Agaton Howes said she was honored to be a part of this event as she saw the numbers of Indigenous women participating in the 25K increased every year. “10 percent of the entire Superior Hiking Trail 25K this year was Indigenous. It feels so amazing to see our people over-represented in something healthy,” she said.

Alicia Cyr (Grand Portage Ojibwe), a 27 year-old mother and Administrative Assistant at the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, began running with the Kwe Pack in 2013, shortly after the devastating loss of her grandmother. She reflects on how meaningful being part of the Kwe Pack is to her, “These ladies are amazingly tenacious. It’s hard to describe fully what my heart feels for this group of life-giving women.” She had been struggling to find a sense of balance after her grandmother passed away, but found the Kwe Pack to be a supportive, safe space to share similar struggles with other Indigenous women, “I hear my grandmother in the Kwe Pack’s laughter out on those trails, we offer each other courage and wisdom.”

Each of the women are affected in some way by the health disparities that are so prominent in Native communities; diabetes or substance abuse, for example.

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