What's New in The Community

What's New In the Community: June 2014
Monday, June 09 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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By Rachel Eta Hill

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – In reaction to the Spring Fest incident on the University of North Dakota campus where several students posted photos of themselves wearing T-shirts with the school's previous mascot with the words, “Siouxper Drunk,” Native students and others rallied on May 16 at the University of North Dakota in an event dubbed #WALKFORCHANGE.

This was a student demonstration and was comprised of over 200 UND students, community supporters and UND administration members who walked together holding signs to educate their community and others on the adverse race relations occurring at their school.

Dani Miller, a recent UND graduate and Sisseton-Wahpeton citizen, was asked by her fellow student body to give a speech addressing the hostile learning environment at her school, sparked by the offending T-shirts.

“Native students are just trying to go to school and now they are being attacked,” Frank Sage, a Navajo doctoral student said. He attended UND for the last 14 years and said it was important for students not only to work on changing race relations between Native and non-Native students at the school, but that it ultimately comes down to educating others on why this type of behavior is inappropriate in an academic setting. “Treat people the way you want to be treated,” Sage said.

Miller added, “All people, native and non-native, to educate themselves on our histories and on the current state of race relations in the United States. Education is the answer to dismantling oppression and [assists in] … relationship building between all people.”

Native students at UND, like many others across the country are working to educate and inspire others on how to change environments of adversity and racism in their own schools. They are fighting hate with love, unity and education. Racism, after all, poses a great threat to the attainment of post-secondary education for our Indigenous students. We must support and applaud those in our communities who are a positive and motivating force for that change. To learn more, use the twitter hash tag #WALKFORCHANGE.

Rachel Eta Hill is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and present graduate student in the American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Minneapolis State of the City Addresses Native Issues
Thursday, May 01 2014
Written by Jamie Keith,
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minneapolis state of the city addresses native issues 3.jpgFor the first time in the history of the city, Mayor Betsy Hodges selected the Minneapolis American Indian Center as the site of her State of the City address on April 24. Drum group Ringing Shield performed at the opening of the speech. Daniel Yang, Director of Organizing and Community Building at the Native American Community Development Institute, and Bill Means, co-founder of the International Indian Treaty Council, introduced the mayor.

Yang commended Hodges for continuing to engage the Native community in discussions about citywide issues. “The hard truth is, more often than not, like in so many communities of color, we don't see those who ask for our votes again until four to six years later when the next election rolls around,” he said.

Yang also spoke on the importance of the Minneapolis city council's vote on the Indigenous People's Day Resolution, which would be recognized in place of Columbus Day. “If it's important for the City of Minneapolis to have all of its residents feel respected, dignified, and valued, this is an important step in healing the pain that is associated with this day and the Indigenous people that call this place home,” he said.

Means talked about historical aspects of Indigenous people's relationships with the city of Minneapolis while looking forward to the future of their interactions. “This is an historic day because it is recognition of the contributions of Indian people to this great city, starting with the basic ingredient – the land,” he said. “Today begins a continuation of the reconciliation with Indian people, the recognition of the contributions of Indian people and the recognition of our rights and our responsibilities to our communities.”

Many other leaders in the Native community feel that the State of the City address marks an important step in bringing Indigenous issues into discussions about citywide policies. Bill Ziegler, Chief Executive Officer of Little Earth of United Tribes, said that the speech shows solidarity between the issues faced in the Native community and Minneapolis as a whole.

“I think the significance of this event happening here at the Indian Center on Franklin Avenue is a way for the mayor's office to say and show the American Indian community that our issues are also issues that face the rest of the city and that we're going to be given the respect to have our voices at the table and be taken seriously,” he said. “I'm hopeful through Mayor Hodges' leadership that this isn't just a show, that as she goes throughout her term our issues will remain at the forefront of the work that she does."

What's New In The Community: May 2014
Thursday, May 01 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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ain dah yung center honored by aauw.jpg

AAUW Honors Ayn Dah Yung Center
(Photo by Verylnn Agrimonti)

Deb Foster, executive director of Ain Dah Yung Center, accepted a generous donation from AAUW (American Association of University Women) president, Mary Chorewyez and president-elect, Carol Oeltjenbruns on April 8 at 990 Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Ain Dah Yung (Our Home) Center provides a healing place within the community for American Indian youth – all ethnicities – and families to thrive in safety and wholeness.

flanagan named co-chair of cradle-to-k cabinet.jpgFlanagan named Co-Chair of Cradle-to-K Cabinet 

In her State of the City Address at the Minneapolis American Indian Center on April 24, Mayor Betsy Hodges announced that Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation citizen and Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota executive director, would co-chair Hodges' Cradle-To-K Initiative.

According to Hodges, research shows that disparities can be prevented by effective early-childhood interventions. Along with Way to Grow executive director Carolyn Smallwood, the initiative aims to align work to to maximize a child's readiness for early education.

Citing the link between low Kindergarten readiness rates and high school graduation rates for Minneapolis students, Hodges formed her Cradle-To-K program in her mayoral campaign in August of last year.

The effort identified components that it will work to support, including the expansion of the Healthy Start program, which serves low-income and vulnerable families with the skills and resources to care for pregnant mothers and infants in the city; expand access to stable, high quality, child-centered childcare; and serve as the hub for stakeholders, ensuring no early childhood programming or coverage gaps and facilitate resource-sharing.

What's New In The Community: April 2014
Friday, April 04 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Saint Mary's Student Jennifer Waltman Earns Bush Fellowship Award

Jennifer Waltman, a Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota student in the Doctor of Psychology program, was one of 24 leaders recently awarded a 2014 Bush Fellowship.

Waltman, from Maple Grove, Minn., will use her $100,000 award to assist her during the next three years to complete her studies at Saint Mary’s and help develop systems to assist in mental health advocacy and therapy for Native Americans.

“I’m a Lakota, and my interest is in my own community and improving the health of Native Americans,” Waltman said. “Natives have the biggest disparity in the nation for chronic disease. It is my hypothesis that historical trauma has caused epigenetic changes that contribute to epidemics of poor health outcomes such as diabetes, substance use disorder, cancer, heart disease, depression and PTSD. I want to explore mental health treatment incorporating traditional healing that would improve symptoms of chronic disease.”

Citing guidance from mentors in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Waltman will also use some of the award money to fund research with professors at UCLA and the University of Oklahoma. Her long-term goals include working with other multi-cultural psychologists to create a multicultural health and wellness center, eventually leading to consulting tribes and native people to help eliminate health disparity.

What's New In The Community: March 2014
Monday, March 10 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Rachel Limon wins 2013 Minnesota Consular Corps Award

limon_wins_2013_minnesota_consular_corps_award.jpgRachel Limon, International Trade Representative of the State of Minnesota’s Minnesota Trade Office, has been awarded the Minnesota Consular Corps prestigious Business Leadership Award 2013. The Minnesota Consular Corps recognizes individuals, community groups, non-profit organizations, and business establishments located in the states of jurisdiction that have demonstrated sustained commitment and outstanding achievements

in the pursuit of cultural diversity through human rights advocacy and protection, outstanding community service and excellence in business leadership.

Limon is the State of Minnesota’s Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) International Trade Representative for Latin America & the Caribbean. She assists Minnesota companies identify and develop export strategies and opportunities in the international marketplace. She has created a successful program called the Latin America Seminar Series, which has served to assist Minnesota companies to increase their exports to Latin America. Through her work with the Consulate of Ecuador, they jointly created the very successful Annual South America Trade Forum.

Limon graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Master’s Degree in International Management and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish and Psychology. She speaks fluent Spanish. She is nationally recognized award winning Artist, a tour guide of the Native Americas Galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Art Instructor at the White Bear Lake Center for the Arts.

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