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Local Briefs
LaDuke: A Pipeline Runs Through It
Monday, June 09 2014
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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“This is land that has been in my family for decades. It is prime Red River valley agriculture land. It was handed down to me by my mother and father when they passed away, and I’m intending to hand it down to my children when I pass away …. My wife and I have … told our children that ww will pass this on. Of course if 225,000 barrels of oil bursts through this thing, that certainly is the end of this family legacy.”

-James Botsford, North Dakota landowner in Enbridge Sandpiper right of way

While the national press has kept a focus on the controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline, something is going in northern Minnesota. This has to do with the Enbridge Company, a Canadian Company who is determined to move oil from places where there is no infrastructure, and is showing its determination in some ways which Northerners may not like. That oil is destined for Superior. Lots of it headed this way. This is far more than a single Keystone pipeline, like four times as much oil.

Here’s a bit on the math and the pipelines. Between Gretna, Manitoba and Clearbrook, Minnesota, there are eight Enbridge Pipelines already in a 160-mile swath. Then we get down to a few less lines but those are all being upscaled and expanded. Enbridge (also known as the North Dakota Pipeline Company and several other DBA aliases) is now proposing three pipeline expansions: Line 3, Line 67, Line 13 AKA the Southern Lights increase (that goes the other way carrying dilutent to the tar sands, but still can leak) and a new line called the Sandpiper. This would be an increase of over one million barrels of oil today, or 42 million gallons of oil per day. “Northern Minnesota is becoming the super highway for oil,” Attorney Paul Blackburn tells me. If all the lines go through, the sum total of oil traveling over northern Minnesota’s lakes and waters could be about four million barrels per day. This is about 200 times more than the amount of oil spilled in the Kalamazoo Enbridge spill in 2010. Not surprisingly, there are a number of increasingly concerned northerners.


New Native Cinema Includes LGBTQ Elements
Monday, June 09 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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new native cinema includes lgbtq elements.jpgRepresenting the variety of life on the reservation is the aim of director Sydney Freeland's debut feature film “Drunktown's Finest.”

OUT Twin Cities Film Festival along with the Minnesota Two Spirit Society sponsored the film to be presented because it represents various aspects of life on the Navajo Nation. For Freeland (Navajo), the reason for making the film was rooted in portrayals of Native Americans in film. “On a basic level, I didn't feel like I saw the people and the places I knew portrayed on film before. You have Native Americans in film but more period based stuff. There's 'Dances With Wolves' and 'Last Of The Mohicans' and aside from 'Smoke Signals,' there isn't a lot of contemporary stuff. On a very basic level, I just wanted to tell a story and show how diverse it was, life on the reservation.”

Part of that diversity includes a Two Spirit character, Felixia.

“It goes back to the idea of showing how diverse the reservation is, Felicia is trans and she represents the LGBT community. There's a traditional aspect to the character that is relevant to the film,” Freeland said. “I left the rez, I grew up there, but I left when I was 18 and went to film school in San Francisco and met a trans woman there. She said how loving and accepting of trans people the reservation is. I said what do you mean, and she said, 'well it's part of the culture.'”


Two Spirit ICWA Education Day Includes Many Perspectives
Monday, June 09 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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two spirit icwa 5.jpgTwo Spirit individuals and families can be left in the fray when it comes to the Indian Child Welfare Act. For Sandy White Hawk, that issue was addressed at the ICWA Education Day, held June 4 at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

While she is uncertain of any overt discrimination against Two Spirit people and families that seek to adopt Native children, White Hawk said she knows there are many prejudices toward Two Spirit people both within the Native community and from outside. “I wanted to make sure that it doesn't happen, we educate people who serve Native children and Two Spirit people.”

The impetus for this year's Education Day came from conversations with members of the Minnesota Two Spirit Society. “Several years ago, Reva D'Nova and I were stuffing folders and having conversations. She was just telling me her story as a transgender person. The more she talked, I thought this could be a topic for Ed Day,” White Hawk said. In the interim, interest in the topic piqued. “We got feedback from an evaluation, would we consider LGBTQ issues. We asked Reva what would she suggest, she said it would be a great idea. That's when we met with the Two Spirit Society. We wanted a historical perspective, prior to [Columbian] contact. What happened to our Two Spirit culture and what do we have today. Most of all, the overall goal was that we would eliminate bias toward our Two Spirit families in terms of placement preferences.”

Regional and Local Briefs: June 2014
Monday, June 09 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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DESCENDANTS FILE SUIT TO RECLAIM TERRITORY

MORTON, Minn. – Over 7,000 descendants of self-identified “loyal Mdewakanton Indians” filed suit in Minnesota federal district court on May 20 to reclaim a 12 square-mile portion of land in Redwood, Renville and Sibley counties.

If successful, the Lower Sioux Community, along with nearly 100 other residents of the area, would be removed from their homes and possibly required to pay damages to the plaintiffs for trespass. Denny Prescott, Lower Sioux Community President said, “these individuals are not a tribe, nor do they represent the interests or values of the Lower Sioux Community.”

Members of the council said they had not heard much about the lawsuit until it had been filed and they read about it in newspapers. “We’re not sure what land they are specifically talking about,” tribal council member Gary Prescott said, adding that no map of the area outlined in the lawsuit has been provided to them.

With land in three counties making up the description in the lawsuit, many entities and individuals have been listed as defendants, including the Lower Sioux Community. While the lawsuit lists the Lower Sioux by name, Denny Prescott said neither the council nor the community as a whole have officially been served in the lawsuit. Nonetheless, the council is gathering information in anticipation of being served with the lawsuit, and that, Denny Prescott added, is going to mean significant expense for the community. Once the tribe is served, it has 30 days to respond in writing to the claims in the lawsuit.

In the 1850s, a treaty signed between the United States and members of the Mdewakanton tribe in Minnesota established what is known as the Lower Sioux Community and its homeland in the Redwood area. Initially, the commitment to the tribe was for a 10-mile wide strip of land on either side of the Minnesota River, but over time that land was taken away from them. It was in 1934, as part of the Indian Reorganization Act, when the current Lower Sioux community reservation, which is made up of just over 1,700 acres, was established.

National Briefs: June 2014
Friday, June 06 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN FEDERAL JUDGE CONFIRMED BY SENATE

WASHINGTON, DC – Hopi citizen Diane Humetewa made history on May 14 when the United States Senate confirmed her to serve on the federal bench as judge for the U.S. District Court for Arizona, the first American Indian woman to serve in the federal judiciary.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs applauded Humetewa’s appointment. “Diane Humetewa is an inspiration to Native people, especially Native women across Indian Country. This is an important appointment and long overdue. I’m pleased that the Senate came together in a bipartisan way to get this done. As the only Native American in active service on the federal bench, Diane provides much-needed expertise on the complexities of federal law and Indian sovereignty.”

Until her confirmation, Humetewa served as Special Advisor to the President and Special Counsel in the Office of General Counsel at Arizona State University. She is also a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

From 2002 to 2007, Humetewa was an Appellate Court Judge for the Hopi Tribe Appellate Court. From 2009 to 2011, Humetewa was Of Counsel with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP. She worked in the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Arizona from 1996 to 2009, serving as Senior Litigation Counsel from 2001 to 2007 and as the United States Attorney from 2007 to 2009. During her tenure in the United States Attorney’s Office, Humetewa also served as Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General from 1996 to 1998.

From 1993 to 1996, she was Deputy Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Humetewa received her Juris Doctor in 1993 from Arizona State University College of Law and her Bachelor’s of Science in 1987 from Arizona State.

On February 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Humetewa’s nomination. Previously, Humetewa served as a prosecutor and an appellate court judge for the Hopi Nation, and was the first Native American woman to serve as a U.S. Attorney.


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