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Local Briefs
Mining and the Indian bands
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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The public has been invited to comment on the final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine south of Babbit, in northeastern Minnesota.
The report, which can be downloaded from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website is fairly huge – 263 MB, 3,576 pages; the chapter on environmental consequences from what is known officially as the NorthMet Mining Project and Land Exchange is 812 pages. There also is a 60-page executive summary available.
The summary document features some fairly impenetrable technical language; and the Minnesota Ojibwe bands that were designated as “cooperating agencies” in the environmental review process, which has been rolling along for the past 11 years, were mainly shut out of the NorthMet Final EIS, according to Nancy Schuldt, water protection coordinator for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Fond du Lac, along with the Bois Forte and Grand Portage bands, has been involved in the NorthMet mining project review, since the mine area and land exchange parcels are located within the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory. The Ojibwe bands ceded these lands to the U.S. government in the 19th century, but reserved hunting, fishing and gathering rights. The Ojibwe bands have a federally-recognized interest in maintaining the health of the land and water for the survival of their future generations. Generally, the Indian bands have been concerned that sulfide mining, a new industry proposed for Minnesota, poses a serious environmental threat. The pollution of wild rice waters is just one of the possible adverse consequences from mining.

Getting back to the NorthMet Mining Project Final EIS, Nancy Schuldt told me that “there aren’t going to be any public hearings, and at this point we don’t apparently have any more public standing than the general public.”

Schuldt pointed out that there have been additional tribal scientific analyses done to support “our positions of dissent about what’s been presented for this project, and the co-lead agencies declined to include those in the [Final] EIS.” She added that both the Draft EIS, in 2009, and the Supplemental Draft EIS, in 2013, included footnotes and appendices detailing the tribal research – “supporting information” – and “major differences of opinion.”

However, the co-lead agencies responsible for the NorthMet Final EIS – the Minnesota DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service – “didn’t allow us to elaborate and add any new information or supporting evidence, or even present our perspective on whether those major differences of opinion still remained, or were there some more… which there are,” said Schuldt.

She said that the only nod to the Ojibwe bands, the so-called “cooperating agencies,” was allowing them to see the preliminary version of the Final EIS this past summer.
After the Minnesota DNR approves the EIS adequacy for the NorthMet project, the operators still have to obtain a variety of permits before they can start digging for ore. The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also have to issue decisions on the project.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who has professed a neutral position on the proposed copper-nickel mine, recently toured what was characterized as a bad mine, the Gilt Edge gold mine in South Dakota’s Black Hills, which is now a Superfund site, and a good mine, the Eagle Mine, an underground copper-nickel mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Nancy Schuldt mentioned that Keweenaw Bay Indian Community officials wanted to meet with Dayton when he visited the UP, but the governor did not take the meeting.

“Subsequently, [Dayton] had his commissioners, the DNR and MPCA commissioners, and his mining liaison… he had them conference with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to talk about the tribe’s experience with that mine.”

After the consultation with the Keweenaw Bay leaders, according to Schuldt, the Michigan tribe sent a message back to Gov. Dayton and his commissioners suggesting that they also reach out to the tribal cooperating agencies with the PolyMet project.

Dayton has expressed his view that PolyMet Mining must provide adequate financial assurance to cover reclamation costs before a Permit to Mine is issued. And in November, Dayton discussed the need for the state Health Department to conduct a review of health risks from the proposed NorthMet project.

Perhaps Gov. Dayton also should invite concerned officials from Fond du Lac, Bois Forte and Grand Portage to a meeting in St. Paul.

“We are a constituency of the governor’s that he has completely declined to engage with over this project,” said Schuldt, regarding the Indian bands that are being sidelined as the PolyMet project gains traction.

Rolling Rez Arts helps artists on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by The Circle,
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rollingrezartsweb.jpgThe colorful herd of buffalo roaming down the roads of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota this fall brought both tears and cheers to a group of artists, supporters and federal partners gathered together for a cultural assets and creative economy learning tour hosted, in part, by First Peoples Fund, a national nonprofit based in Rapid City, South Dakota, dedicated to the preservation, advancement and well-being of American Indian arts and culture.

The buffalo herd was really Rolling Rez Arts, a new state-of-the-art mobile arts space, business training center, and mobile bank. In the coming months, Rolling Rez Arts will be seen all across the reservation as it delivers art, business, retail and banking services that up until this point have been inaccessible to many of the artists and culture bearers who live and work on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The arts space on wheels has been years in the making, and is the result of a group of people – from First Peoples Fund, Artspace and Lakota Funds staff to nonprofit partners to foundations supporters – coming together to infuse new energy into the creative economy.

“This is a remarkable milestone for First Peoples Fund, yes, but even more so, for the artists we have an opportunity to work alongside here in our home community and all across the country,” said Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota), president of First Peoples Fund. “Rolling Rez Arts will give access to the tools and support artists both need and deserve to overcome barriers that they may face. And, it will also represent what happens when good people come together to creatively find solutions to decades-long challenges.

The first-time seeing Rolling Rez Arts was especially poignant for Donald Montileaux (Oglala Lakota), a renowned ledger artist and an artist success coach for First Peoples Fund. The buffalo imagery that appears on both sides of the bus was drawn by Montileaux, and the graphics that accompany it were designed by Walt Pourier (Oglala Lakota) of Nakota Designs.

As Montileaux sat on the bus for the first time, it was a full-circle moment.

“Back in the early seventies, I was just a semester away from getting my college degree and we traveled North and South Dakota for three years in an art van, but ours was a bread truck – like a UPS truck. We had room to sleep, but we also had art supplies in it, and we’d go to schools, use their cafeterias, and create art with the kids,” Montileaux said.
More than 40 years later, Rolling Rez Arts was now poised to extend his work in new, meaningful ways.

The concept of Rolling Rez Arts comes, in part, in response to a market study conducted by First Peoples Fund, Artspace, Colorado State University, Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) and Northwest Area Foundation. The study explored the challenges and successes experienced by Lakota artists on Pine Ridge. It found that more than half of Native households on Pine Ridge are engaged in home-based businesses, and 79 percent of those businesses are in the arts. It also found that 61 percent of emerging artists have incomes of less than $10,000, but through participation in workshops and trainings – like what will be offered through the mobile art unit – that percent plummets.

With the availability of mobile outreach to a large cross section of the reservation population, Rolling Rez Arts will engage artists to create a significant opportunity for building assets. The success of artists is the heart of this project, explained Pourier.

Lakota Funds, the first Native-led Community Development Financial Institution on a reservation, has been a critical partner in the creation of Rolling Rez Arts. Since their founding more than 30 years ago, they have helped to create more than 1,400 permanent jobs on the reservation, many of them led by artists. They led the initiative to obtain the charter for the first federally insured financial institution on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Lakota Federal Credit Union. The credit union will be on the bus helping artists to open savings accounts, and building relationships that can help tribal members reach their financial goals, and their dreams.

Rolling Rez Arts was funded through grants from ArtPlace America, The Bush Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, and USDA Rural Development, all of whom have partnered with First Peoples Fund in the planning, community outreach, and research that makes this innovative mobile unit a reality. Additional funding was provided to Artspace by The Ford Foundation.

A video of the Rolling Rez Arts is available online at: www.firstpeoplesfund.org/rollingrez . For more information, call Lori Pourier at 605-484-7767. 

December What's New in The Community
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by The Circle,
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Vikings Recognize National Native American Heritage Month
vikings_native_american_heritage_flags_web.jpg(Story courtesy of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Photo courtesy the Vikings.) The Minnesota Vikings celebrated National Native American Heritage Month Nov. 22 at TCF Bank Stadium with a flag ceremony and a halftime show. Twenty-three flags from tribes located in Minnesota and Wisconsin were carried in the opening procession.

Following the presentation of the Tribal flags, the Lakota Women Warriors presented the American and military flags, while newly elected DFL

Representative  Peggy Flanagan (White Earth Ojibwe) sang the National Anthem. A pair of fighter jets flew over just as she reached the end of the Anthem. Jerry Dearly emceed the the halftime show, which featured Redbone Singers and Dancers.

The Vikings have posted videos on their website at: www.vikings.com/
media-vault/videos/Native-American-Heritage-Month---Halftime-Dance/9ddf40cd-a461-45c8-88db-8c4c4923a0bc
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MNHS Native American Artist-in-Residence Recipients awarded
The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) has selected two recipients for the 2015/16 Native American Artist-in-Residence program. This is the second year of the program which is designed to help revive traditional forms of American Indian art. Each artist will serve a six-month paid residency to study the collections at MNHS and other institutions to aid in a better understanding of their respective art forms. They will also share their knowledge by developing community-based programming in their home communities.

The Awardees are:
Denise Lajimodiere (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) specializes in the art of mazinibakajige or birch bark biting. This art form is made by biting down on small pieces of folded birch bark to form intricate designs. Lajimodiere plans on studying birch bark biting in the collection and discovering how they were used as patterns for beadwork and quillwork.  
Holly Young (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) focuses on Isanti/Dakota floral beadwork. The contemporary use of florals among Dakota beadwork is not as common as geometric designs so Young hopes she can bring more exposure to this artwork.

SMSC gifts $1 million to UofMN for Indian nutritional health
 The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) has donated $1 million to the University of Minnesota to fund three major projects relating to nutritional health in Indian Country. The gift is being made under the tribe’s Seeds of Native Health campaign to improve Native American nutrition nationwide, in which the university is a strategic partner.
The three groundbreaking projects will make major contributions in the fields of nutritional science, public health, and food production:
· A series of annual national conferences focused exclusively on Native American nutrition and food access, to be jointly convened by the university and the SMSC. The inaugural conference will be held in spring 2016 in the Twin Cities.
· A publicly accessible, comprehensive, multi-disciplinary bibliography relating to Native American nutrition and a publicly accessible, searchable database of leading experts in relevant fields. The SMSC’s gift will fund the development and public launch of the two database while the university will seek additional funding for the later, ongoing maintenance of the databases.
· A study analyzing the obstacles between Western academic research and Native American traditional knowledge and experience relating to food and nutrition. The study will address the benefits of more respectful cultural exchanges between Native American practitioners and agricultural, biomedical, and dietary researchers. The study will explore culturally specific approaches to education, curricula and research in these fields

Local students awarded scholarships
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) recently announced the newest class of SMSC Endowed Scholarship recipients at the University of Minnesota. These first-year scholarship recipients include 20 Native American students from 17 different tribes. Local students are listed by name and tribe: Lucas Bratvold, Red Lake Nation; Jolene Chestnut, White Earth Nation; Laurie Harper, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe; Wendy Jourdain, Red Lake Nation; Veronica Kingbird, Red Lake Nation; Crystal Littlewolf, White Earth Nation and Nathaniel Taylor, Red Lake Nation.

Leech Lake Tribe receives TED funding  
Eight federally recognized tribes will collectively receive nearly $2.5 million in grant awards from the U.S. Departments of Education and Interior to bolster their educational programs and advance self-determination goals through the development of culturally relevant programs.

William Mendoza, director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, and Dr. Charles “Monty” Roessel, director of the Bureau of Indian Education announced the awards during the 7th annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. The grants are funded through the Department of Education’s State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program, and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education’s Tribal Education Department (TED) program.

The Leech Lake Band, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minn will receive $200,000 from the TED funding. Other tribes awarded TED funding include: Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Mich. ($300,000), Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Miss. ($150,000), and the The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla. ($50,000).

The following tribes will receive STEP funding.  The Chickasaw Nation, Okla. ($500,000), Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho ($330,000), Coeur D’Alene Tribe, Idaho ($330,000), The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla. ($318,463), and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Mont. ($287,769).

Indigenous Peoples Task Force launches $3.5 million capital campaign
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by Catherine,
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iptf_building_pro_webj.jpgThe Indigenous Peoples Task Force (IPTF) has launched a $3.5 million capital campaign to build a new Center for Art and Wellness, to be called Mikwanedun Audisookon. The Ojibwe name, chosen with the help of elders in the Native community, translates as “remember our teachings”.

Mikwanedun Audisookon will be located adjacent to IPTF’s existing offices and housing at East 24th Street and 13th Avenue South in the heart of the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis.
Built of indigenous-based building materials and utilizing renewable energy, the state-of-the-art facility will allow IPTF to consolidate its programs and expand its ability to improve the stability, health, cultural vitality, and economic growth of the Native American and South Minneapolis communities.

IPTF’s work is grounded in Native cultural and healing practices passed down through generations. Mikwanedun Audisookon will provide an urban sanctuary where body, mind and spirit can become whole.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges is enthusiastic about Mikwanedun Audisookon, saying, “This beautiful new facility, in the heart of the Phillips Community, will honor our shared environment and strengthen the vital work of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force. It will also underscore the City’s stated commitment to promote the well-being of the American Indian and Indigenous community in Minneapolis.”

IPTF, formerly known as the American Indian AIDS Task Force, was the first organization in the nation to provide housing tailored to the needs of Native Americans living with HIV. Its successful development, Maynidoowahdak Odena, is a 14-unit permanent housing and supportive services program adjacent to the new Mikwanedun Audisookon site. With an operating budget of $1 million, and serving more than 1,500 youth and adults annually, IPTF has been an innovative provider of culturally appropriate health, education, housing and case management services for Native Americans for more than 25 years. IPTF weaves theater, experiential learning and traditional arts and crafts into its work, especially in programs designed for indigenous youth.

In addition to serving people with HIV/AIDS, IPTF’s culturally sensitive, experiential approach to HIV prevention, women’s health, tobacco cessation, and childhood diabetes are modeled across the state and nation. This same unique and highly efficacious approach will be applied to the new programming opportunities the Art and Wellness Center will provide. Under the leadership of Executive Director Sharon Day, (Ojibwe) IPTF has also emerged as a growing leader in the movement to protect and sustain land, water and indigenous seed resources.
Mikwanedun Audisookon will feature a light-filled lobby gallery that serves as a welcoming community gathering space. The center will expand opportunities for art programming and experiential learning and entrepreneurism, including:
· A studio/workshop for training and entrepreneurial development in traditional arts such as cedar box construction and black ash basket making.
· A commercial kitchen and garden which will include Native medicine and food plants, and provide training and the development of value added products based on traditional, healthy foods.
· An intimate theater space that will allow IPTF to expand on its successful Ikidowin Program, a youth theater initiative which educates youth on pregnancy prevention and other issues.
· An intimate gallery that will provide space for the exhibition of both traditional and contemporary art and craft.
The addition of the Mikwanedun Audisookon Center for Art and Wellness will also result in:
· Training and certification in green building technologies during the construction phase, utilizing compressed earth block (“CEB”), photovoltaic and geothermal energy, along with water quality best management practices.
· Improved community safety, economic stability and relationship building by welcoming youth and adults of all backgrounds.
· Increased value of adjacent property.
· Reduced crime from increased foot traffic to and from the Center for its trainings, programs and projects.
· Increased arts and cultural programming with hands-on creative opportunities for both youth and adults.
IPTF is allied with a number of community based organizations, including Minneapolis American Indian Center, Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, Waite House, Indian Health Board, Guadalupe Alternative Programs, Open Arms, Native American Church, Little Earth of United Tribes, American Indian OIC, and Women’s Environmental Institute. In addition to local partners, IPTF collaborates state-wide with numerous Native agencies representing Minnesota’s eleven Tribal communities and nationally with HIV and environmental organizations.
Mikwanedun Audisookon Center for Art and Wellness will be the latest in a series of Native-driven development initiatives in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis; these developments include the Franklin Cultural Corridor featuring All My Relations Gallery, Pow Wow Grounds Café and the new indigenous-inspired mural at the Franklin Avenue LRT Station.
Exclusive development rights have been secured from the City of Minneapolis to build on the Phillips site. Total projected cost is $3.5 million with groundbreaking scheduled for spring, 2017 and construction completed by August, 2018.
For more info, email Sharon Day at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , or call 651-325-8077.

Carceral Colonialism: Imprisonment in Tribal Country
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by By Alisha Volante, Brianna Wilson and Elena Hristova,
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incarceration_story_graph.jpgAmerican Indians make up a little more than 1% of the population in Minnesota, yet make up almost 10% of those incarcerated. To put that in perspective, white Minnesotans make up 83% of the population but only 47% of those incarcerated (prisonpolicy.org).

The U.S. incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world. And Minnesota incarcerates a higher percentage of American Indians than any other ethnic group, yet often the incarceration conversation fails to address Native communities.

In an attempt to address this, undergraduates, graduate students, Professors Brenda Child (American Indian Studies), Kevin Murphy (American Studies/History) and Jean O’Brien (History/American Indian Studies) at the University of Minnesota have joined a nationwide mass incarceration interpretation project and, in Minnesota, our focus is American Indian incarceration.

Launching in April 2016, Humanities Action Lab (HAL), is presenting, States of Incarceration Project, exploring the past, present and future of incarcerated people in the U.S. The University of Minnesota will be among 20 universities in the US and France contributing to the traveling exhibit and website.

HAL’s pilot project, the Guantanamo Public Memory Project, was the first major collaborative effort to offer multiple perspectives on GTMO’s history and what it represents. Two years and 18 cities later, this project has reached more than 500,000 people through social media, the website, and face-to-face interaction with the exhibit. The exhibit is scheduled to travel to New York, California, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Minnesota (in 2018).

The University of Minnesota will be the only exhibit contributor to focus on mass incarceration and American Indian communities. Students are grappling with two overarching questions: Why are American Indians the most overrepresented incarcerated ethnic group in Minnesota, and what is the historical legacy of American Indian incarceration in Minnesota? Students are investigating broken treaties, colonial incarceration, boarding schools, and various iterations of technologies of state power and violence preceding the current incarceration disparities in the state.

Undergraduates are working on a range of projects under the theme of understanding mass incarceration of Native people as extensions of racism and settler colonialism. The projects include the following: a history of the Dakota 38, the largest mass execution in US history; the history of American Indian boarding schools in the upper Midwest and their legacy in relation to incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline; the history of allotments and broken treaties and their relationship to the concentration camp at Fort Snelling from 1862-1863; the history of Little Earth, a site of resistance to carceral practices, and of Native self-determination; and an evaluation of how the current Minnesota public school curriculum addresses (or fails to address) the Ft. Snelling concentration camp and the US-Dakota War.

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