Local Briefs
Native Documentary Shorts Screening
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Catherine,
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In Progress and the Sundance Institute will show a curated selection of Native short documentaries by Sundance Film Festival alumni. The films represent a diversity of tribal nations, with films exploring Native identity and cultural evolution in a rapidly changing world.
The Sundance Institute Native and Indigenous Program staff will also have a discussion with filmmaker Billy Luther about his work and the art of documentary filmmaking.

Films that will be Screened include:
• Nikamowin (Kevin Lee Burton, Swampy Cree). This experimental work plays with the human connection to language to make a statement about the loss of Native languages.
• Mobilize (Caroline Monnet, Algonquin). Guided expertly by those who live on the land and driven by the pulse of the natural world, Mobilize takes veiwers on an exhilarating journey from the far north to the urban south. Hands swiftly thread sinew through snowshoes. Axes expertly peel birch bark to make a canoe. A master paddler navigates icy white waters. In the city, Mohawk ironworkers stroll across steel girders, almost touching the sky, and a young woman asserts her place among the towers. The fearless polar punk rhythms of Tanya Tagaq’s Uja underscore the perpetual negotiation between the modern and traditional by a people always moving forward.
• Jáaji Approx (Sky Hopinka, Ho-Chunk and Pechanga). Against images of landscapes that he and his father once traversed, filmmaker Sky Hopinka overlays audio recordings of his father speaking in the Ho-Chunk language which is then transcribed using the International Phonetic Alphabet, narrowing the distance between recorder and recordings, new and traditional, memory and song.
• Natchiliagniaqtuguk Aapagulu/Seal Hunting With Dad (Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, Iñupiaq). An Iñupiaq father teaches his son to hunt seals on the frozen Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska.
• Red Lake (Billy Luther, Diné/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo). In 2005 the Red Lake Indian Reservation was at the center of national media attention after a devastating mass school shooting. Ten years later, survivors continue to heal long after the national spotlight has faded.
For more information about Sundance Institute Native and Indigenous Program and In Progress:;

The event will take place on July 15, from 6-8 p.m and includes a reception following the program.
Free and open to the public, at In Progress, 213 Front Avenue, in Saint Paul. RSVP by July 11 at:

Peace and Dignity Journey runners come through Minnesota
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by The Circle,
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runnercover.jpgPeace and Dignity Journeys are spiritual runs that embody the prophecy of the Eagle and Condor. The prophecy mandates that at this time all Indigenous Peoples in the Western Hemisphere shall be reunited in a spiritual way in order to heal our nations so they can begin to work towards a better future for our children and generations to come.

Through the Journeys, participant runners and supporters work to accomplish this goal by helping each other reconnect to their respective spiritual practices and traditions; by helping each other relearn their role in the world as Indigenous Peoples; and by reminding each other of their responsibilities to Mother Earth, Father Sky, our communities, and ourselves.

Peace and Dignity Journeys occur every four years and start with Indigenous runners on opposite ends of the continents at Chickaloon, Alaska and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. They run for six months through hundreds of Indigenous communities where they participate in spiritual practices and traditions; spark dialogue on the issue of peace and dignity for Indigenous Peoples and receive the community’s prayers.

These prayers and converunnersbuilding.jpgrsations are then carried to proceeding communities until the runners reach the center of the hemisphere. When the runners meet at the Kuna Nation in Panama City, Panama, it will symbolize all Indigenous Peoples joining together in a spiritual way to manifest the prophecy of the Eagle and Condor.

The runner came through Minnesota, arriving in Thief River Falls on June 24th, Red Lake on June 26th, Bemidji on June 27th, Round Lake on June 28th, and White Earth on June 29th. The runners have been running for two months, and will continue for five more as part of the 2016 Peace and Dignity Journey.
Each year the runners have a different overall prayer focus. This year’s focus is on seeds. They will meet at the end of the run in Panama City sometime in November.


Mille Lacs Tribe and County at odds over law enforcement deal
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Dan Kraker/MPRNews,
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The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is denouncing a decision from Mille Lacs County official to end a cooperative law enforcement agreement with the band.

The county says it revoked the agreement due to a dispute over state law. But what’s really at the heart of the disagreement is a long-running dispute over the band’s reservation boundaries.

The unanimous decision ends about 25 years of cooperation between the band’s police department and the county sheriff’s office.

Mille Lacs County Attorney Joe Walsh says the cooperative agreement had ceased being cooperative.

“There’s been a breakdown in communication between the tribal police department and the Mille Lacs County Attorney’s Office, between the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office and the Mille Lacs tribal police department that is tremendously concerning to me.”

The deal had allowed band police officers to respond when they saw anyone committing a crime on the reservation. It also allowed the tribe’s officers and sheriff’s deputies to call each other for backup.

The communication breakdown began about a year and a half ago, Walsh said, after the band applied to the Department of Justice to allow federal prosecutors to also charge crimes committed on the reservation.
As part of that application, which the federal government approved early this year, the Department of the Interior issued an opinion on a decades-old battle over what constitutes the band’s reservation.

The band argues it consists of the 61,000 acres set aside in an 1855 treaty with the federal government. That area spans the entire southern shoreline of Lake Mille Lacs.

However, the county says it’s limited to land held in trust for the band by the federal government – only about 3,000 or 4,000 acres.

In effect, Walsh argues, the band leveraged a decision about law enforcement to advance its point of view on the much broader reservation boundary question.

“All that Mille Lacs County wants is a truly cooperative relationship with the Mille Lacs Band,” he said, “and to put aside this boundary issue to be resolved separately.”

In response, Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin said the band had no influence on the federal government’s decision. She argues the county’s decision places politics over public safety.

“It’s plain and simple, if you end a law enforcement agreement, apparently you’re not that concerned about the public safety of individuals,” Benjamin said.

And public safety is a big issue on the Mille Lacs reservation right now. Benjamin says there’s a rising tide of drugs and violence on the reservation, with more than 1,600 crimes committed since 2013. And the band cites a problem called “rez hopping,” where criminals travel from reservation to reservation to try slipping through jurisdictional cracks.

Jessica Intermill, a founding member of the Hogen Adams law firm in St. Paul, says cooperative agreements between counties and tribes allow officers to focus on stopping crime.

“What these agreements really allow people to do, they allow the first responders to be the helpers they want to be without asking those jurisdictional questions,” said Intermill, who specializes in Indian law.
It’s unclear how those jurisdictional questions will be resolved after the county board’s vote goes into effect on July 21.

County Attorney Joe Walsh says he plans to ask the state Attorney General’s office to issue an opinion on how much authority the band’s police will have without a state cooperating agreement.
Meanwhile, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Solicitor General Todd Matha says the department will continue to do what it’s always done.

“Our police officers are going to provide the same level of law enforcement services that they always have and that the community has come to rely on,” Matha said. “We believe we have that authority by virtue of federal law, tribal law, as well as state law.”

But the Mille Lacs Band says response times could be affected if sheriff's deputies are farther away than tribal cops.

To address that issue, the county is planning to hire 10 additional deputies.

Minnesota  Public Radio News can be heard on MPR’s statewide radio network or online at

Whats New July
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by The Circle,
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Circle of Life Academy Graduates

grads2.jpgThe Circle of Life Academy held their 2016 graduation commencement on June 2 at the Circle of Life Academy in White Earth, Minn. Graduating seniors were Autumn Auginaush, Jordan Bower, Nathaniel Christianson, Precious Dominguez, Cassidy Fineday-Roy, Tristian Fox, Kathleen Heisler-Azure, Adrianna Smith, Chandler Smith, and Jarred Whitener. Front row from left are pictured: Precious Dominguez, Cassidy Fineday-Roy, Tristian Fox, Adrianna Smith, and Autumn Auginaush. Back row from left: Nathaniel Christianson, Chandler Smith, Jordan Bower, and Jarred Whitener. Not pictured: Kathleen Heisler-Azure. Photo by Gary W. Padrta.

Fond du Lac elects new leadership

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has elected Kevin Dupuis Sr. to take over after a victory in the June general election, with 622 votes or 58.5 percent of the vote. Kevin Dupuis Sr. will replace Karen Diver on the Reservation Business Committee, the governing body of the band. Diver, the longtime chairwoman, left in the fall to become special assistant to the president for Native American affairs D.C., in President Barack Obama’s administration . Kevin Dupuis was previously the District III (Brookston) representative on the RBC. Vanessa L. Northrup and Roger M. Smith Sr. also were elected to the RBC. The band had narrowed the field of 10 chairperson candidates to two during its April primary election.

White Earth Nation elects Tibbetts chair

The White Earth Nation has voted in Terry Tibbetts Sr. as their new chair. Tibbetts and Mindy Iverson led a field of 12 candidates in a primary earlier this spring. In that race, they each received roughly 20 percent of the vote, with Tibbetts squeezing out a lead of just eight primary votes. Official results of the election put Tibbetts ahead of Iverson with nearly two-thirds of total votes. Tibbetts will be sworn in in July. He'll be the first elected chair since a power struggle over constitutional reform cost former chair Erma Vizenor her job late last year. Eugene Tibbetts beat out Barbara Fabre for White Earth district three representative.

American Indian Family Empowerment Program June grantees

The American Indian Family Empowerment Program Fund has awarded ten grantees in the June round of funding Native individuals to help them pursue their vision and dreams. The grants were made in partnership with the Two Feathers Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation.   The American Indian Family Empowerment Program Fund invests in human capital, skills and cultural strengths through three priority areas: cultural connections, educational achievement and economic self-sufficiency.  During the June 2016 grant round, the following individuals received awards: • The Preserve and Renew Native Cultural Connections category: Brian Heart, to support Native cultural education in the Little Earth community • The Educational Achievement category: Cassandra Buffalohead, to support her education at Augsburg College; Frances Butler, to support her education at Anoka Technical College; Andrea Cornelius, to support her education at Augsburg College; Heather House, to support her education at Minneapolis Community and Technical College; and Lisa Lachner, to support her education at Minneapolis Community and Technical College • The Economic Self-Sufficiency category: Korina Barry, to support completing a yoga teacher certification program; Patricia Columbus-Powers, for small business to purchase materials to create first product line of Native made fashion items; Brook LaFloe, to support living costs relating to education at the Montessori Institute of San Diego; Jacqueline Pearl, to support creating a family owned and operated window cleaning business. The next deadline is September 6th. For information on how to apply, see:

Mni Wakan: Water is Sacred
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Jon Lurie,
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jonluriestory_2.jpgSitting alongside his family in ceremonies, Wakinyan LaPointe has heard the warnings for as long as he can remember. Lately, the dire messages have become increasingly urgent: Water must be preserved and protected. Unless that is done, all life on Earth is in danger.

“Everything we are – our languages, our ways of life, our ceremonies, are all dependent on water,” says the 26-year-old Sicangu Lakota. “Without water there is no life.”

Wakinyan and his brother Thorne, 25, are college students and community organizers. They have been instrumental for years in Minnesota-based water events such as the Healthy Nations river scouting expeditions, Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering, the Four Directions Water Walk, and Mde Maka Ska Community Conversations.

But after the recent death of an Indigenous rights leader in Honduras, the two men felt a greater sense of urgency to act on behalf of water, and the world’s Indigenous populations.

Berta Caceres, who had successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam project at the Río Gualcarque – a river sacred to her Lenca people – was slain in her home last March. More than a dozen environmental defenders have been killed in Honduras since 2014, according to Global Witness, which makes it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for activists protecting forests and rivers

Along with their father LeMoine, mother Nancy Bordeaux, and sister Tiana, the LaPointe brothers conceived a plan to invite Indigenous leaders from around the world to Minnesota – the font of much of the Earth’s fresh water – for a summit, which they are calling Mni Wakan: A Decade of Water.

Thorne and Wakinyan put their heads together and wrote a summons to the world’s Indigenous leaders. It came in the form of a formal statement, or in the lingo of the United Nations, an “intervention” on water.
“The statement, a broad interpretation of the water crisis this world is experiencing, reiterated our Lakota values: Mni Wakan: water is sacred; Mni Pejuta: water is medicine; and Mni Wiconi: Water is Life,” says Wakinyan. “In our Lakota way, it is our responsibility to strengthen our relationship with water. The statement was intended to acknowledge that relationship and place it in everyone’s minds. In the process of so doing, we invited indigenous peoples, and the appropriate UN representatives, to come to Mni Wakan: Decade of Water. This will be an indigenous led, indigenous centered, water summit, which we are planning for April of 2017.”

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