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Editorials
From the Editor's Desk: Overcoming fatalism and claiming victory
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgThe greatest enemy we face as Native people is fatalism. It defines our historic, current and future struggles. From the moment the earliest European settlers put foot on our shores, it was because they believed it was their right to conquer our home. When they found us living here, millions-strong, it was their belief that we would eventually become extinct.

Throughout five centuries of wars, battles, plagues, relocations and government treaties, the occupation of our home and our culture was based on the misguided belief that we would eventually die out. But throughout all those wars, battles and broken promises, we continued to survive, thrive and flourish, our identity slightly altered, but ultimately intact. We hold true to our faith, our values and our traditions even when the outside world believes we are irrelevant.

Our current struggles are among culture, race and politics. Whether it is Dan Snyder's devious attempts to buy implied support by tribal nations through misdirected philanthropy, the government's glacial pace at addressing land rights for individual Indian landowners or multinational oil and gas corporations like Enbridge and TransCanada, attempting to damage our homelands in the guise of energy independence and monetary wealth, we face a myriad of troubles.

But over the arc of time, we see how we overcame our oppression and we keep the faith that we will continue to overcome this oppression. We do this by being thankful for everything we have – even if it's not much to begin with – we give thanks for every day that we live. We rediscover our family and tribal language, histories and roots; we nurture them as best we can by ensuring their survival.

This is evident in the Twin Cities by the opening of the Bdote Learning Center, a dream that is six years in the making. Immersion education in Ojibwe and Dakota are the first steps in the journey toward understanding our historic identity. While linguists debate the idea of whether language is formed by culture or culture is formed by language, we know that our language defines us as a people. Its roots hold the key toward understanding our world perspective and forming a new path for living in contemporary society.

In that society, we have suffered. After seeing the opening performance of Rhiana Yazzie's “Native Man The Musical, Phase I,” we understand how identity and experience form who we are as contemporary Natives in modern America. Whether we grew up on the reservations or in the urban setting, it has had an impact on us. The key toward moving forward is to acknowledge our individual and collective experiences, both good and bad, rather than being ashamed of them. When we can acknowledge our history and learn from it, we claim victory over our oppression.


Enbridge not good at math
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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Lorraine Little of the Enbridge Company keeps telling regulators and the public that 96 percent of the landowners along the proposed route of the Sandpiper Bakken oil pipeline are friendly and supportive. I don’t believe it.

That might be because of comments submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: Some 459 opposed the pipeline route, while 37 were proponents of the route. Of those opponents, 387 expressed environmental concerns, 131 expressed concerns about the tribal impact and 347 wanted an alternative route, outside of the lakes. (Remember Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., came out opposing the pipeline a couple of weeks ago and some 20 state representatives expressed deep concerns about the pipeline process at the PUC.)

So, not sure how Enbridge does math, but I learned my math differently. Let’s think about where Enbridge might have gotten its numbers. The support might be somewhat true in North Dakota, or at least almost, because the North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved the route of the pipeline. This is not surprising, for several reasons.


From the Editor's Desk: Why we continue Native journalism
Thursday, August 07 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgIn the Lakota culture, there is a position that I've always found fascinating. It's called eyapaha. Traditionally, the eyapaha was effectively the spokesman for every tiospaye (extended family), and encampment in our nation. The eyapaha shared the decisions our councils made and fostered discussion where it was needed with information not everyone may have known. In essence, the eyapaha was analogous to our modern-day journalist.

It's often my wont to tell anyone who asks that I am not an elitist journalist … but I was educated by elitist journalists. When I attended the American Indian Journalism Institute and continued to study journalism at the University of South Dakota, the term “gatekeeper” was still bounced around with pride and zeal. We were being educated on how to find a story, getting others to tell the story and making sure the story was fair to all parties involved. Then came the real world.

Before accepting the responsibility of this position (one I still regard with the highest esteem, mostly because The Circle is older than I am), I was the editor for my tribal newspaper, The Sicangu Eyapaha and began to understand the dynamics of reportage in a tribal setting. Nothing we reported was good enough, fast enough or had enough of what everyone wanted. Cynicism set in as I fell back on my education, wondering if keeping alive a seemingly static journalistic tradition in a changing world while being a Native person on a reservation was too much irony for me.

But was is not.

Letter to the Editor: Former SPPS Indian Education Supervisors speaks out
Thursday, August 07 2014
 
Written by Kathy Denman-Wilke,
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To the editor

I am writing concerned about the article on June 19 entitled, “American Indian parents demand changes in St. Paul School programs. It seems to me that the article was written with information from one source and that information was not checked for accuracy. As the former supervisor of the Indian Education program I have listed the inaccuracies that I am aware of and the documentary source to check them out.
Angie Thorn hill’s comment on “the JOM board is a governing body, where parents decide how Indian Education funding can be spend.” The JOM committee only is a governing body of the JOM funding and JOM program, which in 2012/2013 was approximately $24,000 of the full Indian Education budget.

Documentation: Margaret Vanderhoff, accountant at SPPS for budget figures. The contact person for JOM funding and guidelines is Billie Annette.
Angel Thornhill comment on “ Grants have not been in compliance for some time.” All grants have been in compliance which SPPS yearly Federal audits can support (St. Paul Public Schools can speak to this). SPPS has never received a non-compliance letter from any funders in my 13 years as a supervisor. In fact in our SFTF, Chemical Prevention (DHS) grant we were asked to speak at their conferences since they viewed the program as one of their exemplary programs. In addition, in 2013 the JOM program received an award for being the exemplary JOM program across the state, in which Angie, the JOM parent committee member and I accepted.


From the Editor's Desk: Privilege Isn't What You Think
Monday, July 07 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgThe concept of privilege is one that's both acknowledged and dismissed, depending on which side of cultural identity one hangs one's hat.

For many in the Native American community, both on the reservation and in the urban setting, privilege is something that we see as the cause of our oppression. It's a catch-all for the discrimination we face individually and collectively. Growing up in rural South Dakota, my parents and I were followed around in retail stores in Rapid City, Pierre and Sioux Falls. As tribal nations, we are not consulted in a meaningful way on environmental, legal and cultural issues by governmental powers that have made treaties, compacts with us and exercise authority over us.

For non-Natives, the concept of privilege is one that is easily dusted off shoulders with the argument that they – personally – have done nothing to Natives that damage us individually and collectively. And for the most part, they are entirely correct. Most of the time, the privilege that most of us fight are the privileges of class and economics. However, those privileges do tend to follow color lines, arbitrary as they may seem in this modern age.

Pipelines that cross Anishinaabe, Dakota, Lakota, Apsáalooke and Assiniboine territory – if approved, constructed and expanded – will ultimately make a profit for the multinational corporations that build them and for the fossil fuel industry that will transport through them. Unfortunately, for those tribal citizens who live with the reality of those pipelines in their sacred ground, little to no profit will be seen and even if it is, it will be little comfort when water becomes undrinkable and land becomes sterile from the inevitable spills that do and will happen.

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