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First S.D. Two Spirit Society honors and educates on the reservation
Saturday, October 11 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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SISSETON, S.D. – Members of the newly-formed Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Two Spirit Society gathered on Sept. 26 to educate members of the tribe on LGBTQ Native issues while honoring one of their own who was killed earlier in the month.

The group – the first Two Spirit society in any of the nine reservations in South Dakota – began its mission in June of this year. A testament to the growing power of social media on the reservation, the event “Gay is OK” was the impetus for forming the society. “We all went out to the corner, stood outside and held signs. And while we were standing there, we talked about forming a society, so we set a meeting date and from then on, it's been going ever since,” Vernon Renville, society co-founder said.

The momentum culminated in the education day at Sisseton Wahpeton College, “Walking in Two Worlds: Understanding Two Spirit and LGBTQ Individuals.” The daylong conference featured personal coming out stories by Sisseton Wahpeton tribal citizens, a screening of the film “Two Spirits” about the late Fred Martinez – who identified as Two Spirit and was killed in 2001 on the Navajo Nation – as well as a presentation on LGBTQ identity from Lenny Hayes, a tribal citizen and member of the Minnesota Two Spirit Society.

While the society is geared toward creating a place for Two Spirit people, it is an inclusive group that began because of the social stigma attached to being LGBTQ on the reservation. “I previously worked at the youth center and kids would come to me, or their parents would come to me, asking how to talk to their kids. Or they think they're having these feeling and we discussed things like that and decided it would be something good for the community,” Dawn Ryan, SWO society member said.

 


Honor the Earth paddles in protest against Sandpiper pipeline
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Margaret Campbell, Honor the Earth,
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honor the earth paddles in protest against sandpiper pipeline.jpgBEMIDJI, Minn. – An environmental group took to the water on July 31 to protest a proposed oil pipeline in northern Minnesota. About 20 members of Honor the Earth, an environmental advocacy group, hosted a "Paddle Against the Sandpiper" canoe and press event on and near Lake Bemidji.

After protesting the pipeline with signs along Bemidji Avenue, the group launched a canoe painted with protest slogans onto Lake Bemidji.

The 616-mile-long pipeline the protesters are opposed to is Enbridge Energy's Sandpiper line, which would carry about 225,000 gallons of crude oil per day from the Bakken oilfield in western North Dakota to refineries in Superior, Wis. From there, the oil would be transported via other pipelines to refineries in the Southern and Eastern United States and eastern Canada.

Enbridge Energy claims the pipeline would reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil imports while creating local job opportunities.

Honor the Earth officials, however, said they are opposed to the pipeline route because it would run along several bodies of water and multiple wild rice fields. They argue that a major environmental catastrophe could ensue if there's an oil spill.

Greg Chester, an Honor the Earth member, said people need to be aware of the dangers a pipeline can pose to the environment. "They're threatening our water," he said. "If we lose our water, then there's no place here for our children, our grandchildren, or future generations."

Chester said he would like to see money that's put toward oil pipelines be reinvested in renewable energy resources. "We have the money and if we fritter away the money on projects such as this, instead of renewable projects, we're missing an opportunity.”


Ojibwe Language and Culture Camp Held at Ponemah
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Michael Meuers, Red Lake News,
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ojibwe language and culture camp held at ponemah 2.jpgFor the second year in a row, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians hosted an Ojibwe Language and Culture Camp for youth. The camp was held on Aug. 5-7 at the Ponemah Round House.

The three-day Gabeshiwin (camp) hosted by Red Lake Chemical Health, Red Lake Economic Development and Planning, and the Boys and Girls Club featured eating traditional foods, lacrosse, games, plant gathering practices and identification, birch bark crafts, traditional Anishinaabe teachings and more. Gabeshiwin is a part of Red Lake Nation's Ojibwemowin Revitalization efforts.

Concerned that language and tradition will disappear as elders die, natives of Red Lake Nation – and across the country – are focused on language revitalization and related efforts to retain tribal culture. Much of indigenous culture depends on native language, as many concepts just cannot be translated to English.

The camp was held near Ponemah Point, the peninsula home to more than half of the remaining fluent Ojibwemowin speakers in the United States.

Sam Strong, Director of Red Lake Economic Development, and a major sponsor of Gabeshiwin provided some background. “Our language was basically stripped from us a generation or two ago. The children were forbidden to talk their native language.”


Lawsuit filed over E. coli outbreak near Cloquet
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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The first lawsuit has been filed as a result of an E. coli outbreak on the Fond du Lac Lake Superior Chippewa reservation near Cloquet earlier this summer.

Band member Bob Danielson has sued Jim-N-Jo's Northland Katering, which provided the food at three events in July at which people got sick, including an elder's picnic. Danielson, 62, said he was hospitalized for a day.

He filed suit Aug. 28 in state court in Carlton County and is seeking compensation for medical expenses and loss of wages.

"I thought somebody needs to call some attention to this," Danielson said. "Put the fear in somebody, or make sure that things are done right from here on out before somebody gets dead."

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating whether it came from ingredients in a potato salad that Danielson ate at an elder's picnic, where 20 to 60 people likely became ill.

The owner of the catering company declined to comment.

Danielson's attorney, Bill Marler, said E. coli 0157 is a deadly pathogen.

"It shouldn't be in our food," Marler said. "And it certainly shouldn't be in potato salad at an elder's picnic."

Also in July, 15 people in Minnesota were also sickened by a different strain of E. coli that was traced to several Applebee's restaurants. A lawsuit has also been filed in that case.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network or online at minnesota.publicradio.org.

Northern Minn. resort owner drops liquor license request
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Jon Enger, MPR News,
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A northern Minnesota resort owner has withdrawn his application for a liquor license, citing pressure from the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Chris Freudenberg, who owns Roger's Resort near the Red Lake reservation, recently asked the Beltrami County Board for a liquor store license. But tribal leaders opposed his application on the grounds that a store at the resort would be too close to their boundaries, where liquor is not sold.

Red Lake leaders argued a liquor store so close to the reservation would complicate the tribe's longtime struggle against alcoholism. They also asked for commissioners to approve a buffer zone around the reservation where any new liquor sales would be banned.

But Freudenberg withdrew his application shortly before the county board's scheduled Tuesday night vote on his request. As a result, county commissioners also will not consider the tribe's buffer zone request.

"My first response was to dig into a trench and fight," Freudenberg said. "But when you sit back and think, the tribe has a point."

Freudenberg originally wanted to set up a liquor store to reduce liability insurance costs by keeping his guests off the road when they ran out of beer. He thought the store would prevent drunk driving accidents, but hadn't thought about the reservation.

As it is illegal to possess alcohol on the reservation, tribe members buying from Roger's might drink their purchases before heading home. "That would just undo what I was trying to do," he said.

Instead, Freudenberg plans to set up a heated beer storage room at the resort, so his guests can bring extra beer and not worry about the cans freezing in mid-winter.

He later plans to apply for a license to sell drinks in a small restaurant and bar that is under construction at the resort. That type of license gives a bartender much more control over who drinks and how much is consumed, he said.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network or online at minnesota.publicradio.org.

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