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Reservation News
Thursday, May 17 2012
 
Written by Tom Robertson Minnesota Public Radio News,
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Bemidji, Minn. - Red Lake tribal officials say they're frustrated over a funding dispute that has left a juvenile detention center empty and unused since it was built by the federal government seven years ago.
 
Some Ojibwe tribal members object to wolf hunting and trapping
Friday, April 13 2012
 
Written by By Tom Robertson Minnesota Public Radio,
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some_ojibwe_tribal_members_object.jpgSome Ojibwe in Minnesota are worried about the fate of the state's wolf population as state lawmakers consider a hunting and trapping season for the animals.
Wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list last year, and that upsets some tribal members. For many Ojibwe, wolves are important to traditional culture. Some believe wolves are sacred, and they want to see protections continue.
A painting of two wolves hangs prominently on the living room wall in Mary Favorite's home in Wauben on the White Earth Indian Reservation.
Favorite is a tribal elder and a member of the wolf clan. That means many in her large, extended family associate themselves very closely with the animal. Favorite considers wolves among her relatives.
"It's very special to me. When I read that in the paper that they were thinking about... passing a law about killing the wolves," Favorite said. "It broke my heart."
Favorite remembers decades ago when gray wolves nearly disappeared. Now there are an estimated 3,000 gray wolves in Minnesota.
The Department of Natural resources proposes to let hunters and trappers kill 400 wolves this fall. Favorite hates the idea.
"I thought, 'Oh my God,'" she said. "It's like they want to come in here and they want to shoot my brothers and my sisters."
It's not just members of the wolf clan who are upset about a possible wolf hunting season. Favorite's husband, Andy, is a historian and retired tribal college teacher. For traditional Ojibwe across the upper Midwest, wolves are sacred, Andy Favorite said.
"In our creation stories and a lot of our other legends, the wolf is very prominent. A lot of our spirits come in the form of these creatures, so it's a very spiritual thing," he said. "If the tribes have the spiritual moxie, they will step in and do something to protect the wolves."
Some Minnesota tribes have already done that. In 2010, the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe was the first to adopt a wolf management plan. They designated the band's 843,000 acres of land as a wolf sanctuary.
Federal officials close to compensating Chippewa bands for tribal land
Friday, March 09 2012
 
Written by Conrad Wilson Minnesota Public Radio News,
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It's taken 123 years, but the federal government is the closest it's ever been to compensating Minnesota's Chippewa bands for tribal land that the U.S. government sold unfairly.
On March 1 a bill that would award millions of dollars to the six bands that make up the tribe and their members, will receive a hearing before a House committee in Washington. The money would settle a dispute over a century-old land deal.
But not all tribal members think the deal is fair.
In 1889, the Congress passed the Nelson Act, which consolidated Minnesota's Chippewa reservations by allocating plots to individual tribal members and selling off the rest of the reservation land. The act aimed to assimilate the tribes, in part by shrinking the size of the reservation. Money raised from the sale was supposed to help the tribe, but the government sold it at prices considerably below market value.
"They were listing it as swamp land, which was probably $2 per acre, as opposed to timber land," said Gary Frazer, executive director of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. "It was really timberland and they were classifying it as swamp lands."
In 1946, the Chippewa tribe filed a lawsuit against the government, seeking full compensation for the land. The tribe argued the money the federal government raised wasn't used appropriately. But an agreement wasn't reached until 1999, when federal officials offered the tribe $20 million. Tribal leaders accepted.
But a disagreement within the tribe over how the money should be distributed stalled the payment. Since then, the money has sat in an account, slowly collecting interest, making the payout now closer to $28 million.
SMSC Organics Recycling Facility is wave of the future
Friday, March 09 2012
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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smsc_organics_facility.jpgEach day at lunch, children in the Prior Lake Savage School district put their leftovers and their biodegradable paper products into a special bin. Empty milk cartons, napkins, and thick cardboard pressed trays are collected along with food waste and then transported to the nearby Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Organics Recycling Facility. There they are mixed with leaves, branches, used chopped up casino playing cards, water, and cucumbers and potatoes from nearby processing facilities.
Using best management practices and following both state and federal guidelines, the staff foster an environment where the heat and energy created within these materials breaks them down. Twelve weeks later these materials have been transformed into usable compost, decomposed organic matter rich in nutrients which can be used as a soil amendment.
The SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, located on trust land off County Road 83 and owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, opened to the public in the fall of 2011.
"First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language"
Monday, January 09 2012
 
Written by Emmy Award tours elementary schools,
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Last fall, the Twin Cities Public Television documentary First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language was awarded a MidWest Regional Emmy  Award for Artistic Excellence in the Documentary-Cultural category. The one-hour program features the work of the Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion school and other schools and scholars in the region working to revitalize and restore the Ojibwe language.
Niigaane Ojibwemowin Immersion Kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms participated in the film during late spring of 2010. At Niigaane, all academic and social content is taught through the medium of Ojibwe language. Through this style of teaching the Leech Lake community hopes to reclaim the Ojibwe language as a vital, necessary language for the coming generations.
The Emmy award is currently traveling on a "Miigwech Tour" to all of the sites that opened their doors as participants in the film. First stop has been at the Niigaane school in Bena, Minnesota, where the Niigaane Kindergarten through sixth grade students have been taking care of the award and talking about the importance of the Ojibwe language in today's world.
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