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U.S. Dept. of Interior to spend $1.9 billion on fractionated lands
Thursday, January 31 2013
 
Written by By Dan Gunderson Minnesota Public Radio News,
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The U.S. Department of the Interior plans to spend $1.9 billion to clean up decades of mismanagement of Indian land, an effort that likely will allow Minnesota Indian bands to regain control of more of their original reservation land, parcels that now have thousands of owners.
The effort to clear land titles is part of a $3.4 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit that started in 1996. It aims to solve a problem the government calls "fractionated heirship."
In 1887, Congress passed the Dawes Act, allowing reservation land to be given to individual Indians. Most were given a parcel of 80 or 160 acres. The federal government held the land in trust. As the years passed, each heir of the original land holder was added to the title.
"The smallest undivided interest I've ever seen was one over 32 million," said Cris Stainbrook, president of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. "His total share was one divided by 32 million, which is probably less than a postage stamp taking that out of 160 acres."
Based in Minnesota, Stainbrook works on tribal land issues across the nation. He said it's not uncommon for a 160-acre parcel to have 1,000 owners. He said the average is about 15 owners per parcel.
Dakota Commemorative March retraces 150 miles of forced march
Sunday, December 16 2012
 
Written by By Lisa Steinmann, TC Daily Planet,
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dakota_commemortative_march_1.jpgOn an unseasonably warm November Saturday, participants in the 2012 Dakota Commemorative Walk traveled from their lunch stop at the Treaty Site History Center, just north of St. Peter, toward Henderson. The grass at the side of Highway 169 was drained of color, dry and crunchy underfoot. A steady hum of traffic shot by the procession of marchers and slow moving cars on one side while the Minnesota River was visible on the other.
The Dakota Commemorative Walk remembers and honors the 1,700 Dakota women, children and elders who were forcibly marched 150 miles by U.S. military troops from the site of the present-day town of Morton to Fort Snelling. Following the battles of the 1862 Dakota-U.S. War, 303 Dakota men were arrested and awaited trial. Meanwhile, an indiscriminate sweep of Dakota communities resulted in another approximately 1,700 Dakota people, who had not participated in the fighting and had surrendered at the end of the war, being removed from their homeland.
The destination for the 1,700 was a concentration camp located at Pike Island, part of Fort Snelling. Along the way, the captive women, children and elders were assaulted by angry townspeople and soldiers; an unknown number of them died. That winter, 38 Dakota men were hanged in Mankato. Approximately 300 people died from brutal conditions in the concentration camp.
The 2012 walk started November 7 at the Lower Sioux Agency Historical Site on Highway 2 near Morton. Every mile, the walkers come to a stop and gather to plant a prayer flag, a dogwood stake tied with red cloth and a leather ribbons bearing the names of two Dakota families who made this march 150 years ago. One of the group's leaders holding a leather bag of tobacco sang a prayer song while participants filed by, taking a pinch to offer along with prayer. Organizers describe the walk as spiritual, sharing values with the Wokiksuye 38+2 Horse Ride, portrayed in the film Dakota 38, a healing journey that begins in South Dakota and arrives in Mankato on December 26, the anniversary of the execution by hanging of 38 Dakota men.
There is no record of the route the captives marched, but it has been reconstructed by piecing together fragments of historical record, personal memory and guesswork. According to Mary Beth Faimon, who worked with others to devise the first walking route in 2002, railroad tracks were most likely followed because they connected towns. "They made a point to bring the prisoners through the towns so they could have a spectacle," she explained. Today's route has changed somewhat to ensure safe roads for the walkers. "The point is that it's all Dakota land - wherever they walk, it's in the footsteps of their ancestors." said Faimon.
Native voters will experience greater barriers under proposed Voter ID Amendment
Wednesday, November 21 2012
 
Written by By Sally Fineday and Vina Kay,
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On November 6, Minnesotans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots for many important decisions. One decision that is most important to American Indians is the decision to vote no to the question of photo ID on the ballot. The decision of whether to amend the state constitution to require presenting a government-issued state photo identification to exercise the right to vote is one that will negatively impact American Indians. When a person who maintains a photo identification card with updated residential information reads the question of photo ID on the ballot, it sounds fair. What's hidden behind the question is blatant oppression and a change in law that will effectively disenfranchise American Indians, other people of color, and many others from voting in future elections. Among those faced with the brunt of the financial burden of a so-called "free" identification card will be low-income people, elderly voters, students and others who move frequently, homeless people, and people with disabilities. It is no news to American Indian people in Minnesota that the poverty rate among American Indians is high - according to MNCompass, over 40 percent of American Indian individuals in the state live below the poverty level, the highest poverty rate among all groups. Of all racial and ethnic groups in the state, American Indians also experience the highest rate of disability (of those ages 18-64, nearly 22 percent live with a disability).
Russell Means - a hero moves on
Wednesday, November 21 2012
 
Written by by Winona LaDuke,
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opinion_russell_means_a_hearo_moves_on.jpgHe was a hero. Make no mistake about it. And, his death in late October, is a great loss to America, not just Indians, he challenged us a to be better people. In l973, life was not good on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, the reservation from which he came. Life expectancy was around 44 years of age and the reservation had a murder rate about eight times higher than the most violent American city. And repression reigned. Off the reservation, things were often worse. In l972, Oglala Raymond Yellow Thunder was beaten, stripped naked and paraded in the American Legion in Gordon, Nebraska. He was stuffed in a car trunk, and a few days later died of injuries sustained in his beating. South Dakota and Nebraska were perhaps the most racist states in the country, barring Mississippi. Oglala Lakota elders asked for help and American Indians from the Twin Cities, and from urban areas or reservations came. Russell Means came. He was one of many. That was the beginning of the American Indian Movement. The passing of Oglala Lakota activist Russell Means to the Spirit World marks the end of an era, and hopefully, the beginning of a new one. Means was a leader, and an Ogichidaa, one who stood for the people.
MN VOICES | Robert Albee, diabetes activist
Tuesday, November 20 2012
 
Written by BY BERLINE PIERRE-LOUIS, TC DAILY PLANET,
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diabest_breakfast_story.jpgNovember 08, 2012
Robert Albee is a retired school teacher and Minneapolis resident who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1995. I met Albee on a cold and rainy morning for a monthly Diabetes Breakfast in the culturally diverse Phillips neighborhood at the Phillips Community Center.
On that Thursday morning traffic all around the Twin Cities screeched to a very slow halt as the unexpected heavy rain came during rush hour. The rain was no deterrent to 35 participants who showed up to eat a hearty breakfast burrito bowl layered with beans, eggs, sausage, lettuce, fresh cilantro, tomato and a side of fresh apple slices.
Participants crowded around tables with hot coffee in hand to hear a psychologist and nurse practitioner from the Native American Community Clinic talk about diabetes and how it can affect their mental health. Topics at past breakfasts have included foot care, dental hygiene, and nutrition. The approach that Albee and his wife Sharon took in forming their two-year-old group, A Partnership of Diabetics (A-POD), is one of sharing in community with other diabetics. In addition to a monthly diabetes breakfast with speakers, A-POD holds weekly meet-up style groups. Each meeting starts with members recording their blood pressure and weight. During the meetings, members share their successes, struggles, and tips for better management of a sometimes very complex disease. Albee says about 100 people per month attend the breakfast and/or meet-up groups.
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