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Political Matters
Native Issues in the Halls of Government
Sunday, January 08 2012
 
Written by by Mordecai Specktor,
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White Earth's gaming proposal
The political dynamics of the Minnesota Vikings stadium funding debate changed in December, with the departure of Sen. Amy Koch, R-Buffalo as the Senate majority leader. And at a second Senate committee hearing on the stadium issue, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe introduced a proposal to open a new casino in Ardens Hills, the stadium site favored by the Vikings' owners.
Native Issues in the Halls of Government
Thursday, December 15 2011
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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Vegas on Hennepin
Politicians, business interests and labor unions are applying a full-court press to build a new stadium for the Vikings (to mix sports metaphors). Team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf favor the old arsenal site in Arden Hills, while Minneapolis boosters - including Mayor R.T. Rybak and the Minneapolis Downtown Council - are dangling sales tax money to lure the Purple People Eaters to one of three proposed sites in the Mill City.
Of course, the Vikes have fallen on hard times of late (a dismal 2-9 on the season, as The Circle goes to press); but this is Political Matters, not the Sports Report.
Over at the Capitol, two Senate committees held a joint hearing Nov. 29 to hear testimony on proposed stadium sites. There is no bill in the hopper; and there is no funding mechanism for a new stadium (beyond the Wilfs' offer to put up $425 million, with the remaining $600 million coming from somewhere).
A faction in the Legislature, comprised of both Republicans and DFLers, is adamant that no public money be used to build a football stadium; at the same time, a knowledgeable source in St. Paul told me that the building trades unions and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce are flexing their muscles in support of a new home for the Vikings.


Native Issues in the Halls of Government
Friday, November 11 2011
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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In October, on the federal Columbus Day holiday, Sasha Houston Brown (Santee Dakota) wrote a letter to the CEO of Urban Outfitters Inc., the apparel chain that has an Uptown store. She visited the shop and noted the "cheap, vulgar and culturally offensive retail collection."
"Indian-look" items seem to come and go in the fashion world; but Brown's letter to Glenn T. Senk decried what she saw as "blatant racism and perverted cultural appropriation" in the store's items branded as "Navajo."
She wrote: "There is nothing honorable or historically appreciative in selling items such as the Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask, Peace Treaty Feather Necklace… or the Navajo Hipster Panty. These and the dozens of other tacky products you are currently selling referencing Native America make a mockery of our identity and unique cultures."
Native Issues in the Halls of Government
Friday, October 07 2011
 
Written by by Mordecai Specktor,
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Strib ignores 1854 Treaty
A 1,700-word Star Tribune story about copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota described the issue as the state's "biggest environmental decision in a generation: Whether to open its arms to hard-rock mining, an industry that could bring thousands of jobs - and a record of environmental calamities - to the wildest and most beautiful corner of the state."
Reporter Josephine Marcotty's article in late September featured comments by local property owners opposed to sulfide mining and flacks for the mining companies prospecting in the "Duluth Complex," a geological formation in the Arrowhead region that contains an "enormous" amount of copper, nickel and other metals.
However, the article framed the controversy as tourism versus mining, and did not mention the involvement of the Ojibwe bands up north. The Fond du Lac, Bois Forte and Grand Portage bands lie within the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory.
The Indian bands are especially concerned about sulfide pollution from the proposed PolyMet open pit mine and processing facility, and other copper-nickel projects. As I have written in this column, sulfates from mining wastewater settle in river and lake sediment; microbes change the sulfates into sulfides, which impede the root development of wild rice plants.
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