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Editorials
From the Editor's Desk: Tribal Sovereignty Through Federalism
Friday, February 07 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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The concept of tribal sovereignty for the uninitiated can seem like a confusing and mercurial legal arena; and often times, it can be. What may work for one tribe may not work for another. But even in the most confusing cases, there are broad truths that can be taken into account where sovereignty is concerned.

We see now on Pine Ridge that an Oglala Sioux Tribal committee is referring a public vote on the legalization of marijuana as a means to produce revenue. Under federal law, which is directly applicable on Indian reservations, the cultivation, distribution and/or sale of marijuana is prohibited and goes directly under federal jurisdiction. For better or worse, the Oglala have always had a history of acting sovereignly, asking no one's permission to do as they please within their own territory. If passed, observing this act of sovereignty come up against federal law will be fascinating, in addition to considerations with the states of Colorado and Washington passing their own legalization laws.


Guest Opinion: White Earth constitutional reform and leadership questionable
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Jeff Armstrong,
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Anyone with a fleeting knowledge of the troubled history of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota will understand that questions over the legitimacy of tribal membership and leadership, along with the more recent controversy of absentee voting, are at the core of more than a century of internal conflict. It is, perhaps, a tribute to the public relations skills of White Earth Chair Erma Vizenor that she has been able to push through a constitution in violation of the one, under which she governs entirely by mail-in ballots with provisions to open reservation enrollment to anyone with remote tribal ancestry, to the universal acclaim of reporters, academics and activists who should know better.

It was reported in the Fargo Forum the day before the election that 2,000 ballot requests had been received and sent out over the course of a month, fairly typical of White Earth election turnouts. But when the ballots were being tabulated, the vote count had suddenly nearly doubled in the course of one day, to 3,492. None of the press reports the following day took note of this mysterious spike, though some suggested the higher-than-average turnout was evidence of heightened interest in the historic election. If so, one would be hard pressed to find evidence of it in the sparsely-attended public meetings, at which the vast majority of attendees expressing an opinion spoke out against the draft constitution. Social media sites such as the White Earth's Voice for a Nation reflected broad and deep opposition to the proposed constitution.

From the Editor's Desk: White Earth Blood Quantum Reform a Courageous Act
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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from_the_editors_desk_alfred_walking_bull.jpgThere is a courage to be admired by those who take an action first. The White Earth Band of Ojibwe recently voted in a constitutional reform effort to effectively remove its blood quantum requirements for citizenship. Of the Ojibwe that I have come to know here in Minnesota, there's been mixed reaction ranging from hopeful joy about the future to immediate calls for the dissolution of the tribal government for taking what they regard as an unwarranted action.

Having covered my own tribal council for just over two years, it wasn't a question if – but when – a tribal citizen or fellow council member would allege constitutional violations, followed by long executive sessions where the press and members of the public were required to leave the room for hours at a time.

From the Editor's Desk: Again We Speak Against Injustice
Monday, November 04 2013
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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from_the_editors_desk_alfred_walking_bull.jpg“Ake” is a word we use in Lakota to express our frustration. It's translated as “again.” Growing up on the Rosebud reservation, I would hear my parents say, “Ake!” when someone unnecessarily repeated themselves, made another promise that may have been suspect or when another frustration took hold in the family or in the community.

Again, we find ourselves discussing the issue of Native American mascots in the American mainstream. Again, we find ourselves having to explain to non-Native people why this is not just a demoralizing but dehumanizing issue for our people. And again, we find ourselves listening to the same ignorance involved with the caricaturization of a minority group of people.

The Washington D.C. team will play the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 7 and the Native community in Minneapolis, led by the perennially-outspoken American Indian Movement, will protest the Washington team. In fact, the team was met by a similar protest in Denver on Oct. 27.

Again, the fans of the Washington team were effectively amoral when they saw the protests against the name, regurgitating the ignorance with phrases like, “Get over it,” or “We're honoring you.” And again, they are dead wrong.

Letters: Mark Andrew Owes Native Community an Apology
Monday, October 21 2013
 
Written by Peggy Flanagan,
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I've spent the majority of my career working to increase civic engagement in Native American communities. I believe in this work passionately and see it as a significant part of my vocation. That's why my heart was overflowing due to the incredible turnout of hundreds of members of our community to the Minneapolis American Indian Mayoral Forum sponsored by the Native American Community Development Institute on Oct. 17.

Unfortunately, much of that joy was overshadowed by the fact that Minneapolis mayoral candidate Mark Andrew didn't attend the forum. He promised he'd be there – weeks before – and then canceled at the last minute and sent staffers instead. We asked his staff where he was and they could not tell us. We have waited for an explanation from Mark Andrew. We have heard nothing.

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