Red Lake Nation holds first indigenous food summit
Tuesday, October 11 2016
Written by John Enger/MPRNews,
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redlakefood1.jpgHundreds of tribe members and others from around the region spent the weekend on the Red Lake Nation reservation in northern Minnesota learning how to grow and gather indigenous food.

The three-day event was the Red Lake Nation’s first Intertribal Food Summit which tribal leaders hope will spur the momentum of a movement among their people – a growing interest in returning to the food their ancestors grew, hunted and gathered.

As part of the event, Native chefs led cooking demonstrations, and there were classes on seed storage and grazing techniques. Foraging expert Kevin Finney took a group through the forest, looking for wild food.

The group of foragers headed for a piece of oak forest on the shores of Red Lake. On a cool day near the end of the growing season, Finney said he was not sure what they’d get.

“You might have wild onions that come out in the early spring and blueberries that come out mid-summer,” Finney said.

But the first crop they encountered wasn’t so hospitable. To reach the woods, the group had to hike across a vast field of poison ivy.

A few people turned back, but the majority, a few dozen students, pressed on. Finney was not concerned. He has a big beard and wore tall leather boots and a hat made out of bark. He said he’s immune to poison ivy.
Myles Lewis, a nutrition major at Bismarck’s United Tribes Technical College walked directly through the poison ivy in sneakers and gym shorts.

“I'll just go to the store, get some calamine lotion and Benadryl. I’ll be fine,” he said.

Five minutes later he broke off a stick from a tree and used it to scratch at the developing rash on his ankles.
The food summit also included a big meal catered by the Minneapolis-based chef Sean Sherman. Sherman is Oglala Lakota and is known as the Sioux Chef for his efforts to rebuild indigenous cuisines.
Brian Yazzie, who works for Sherman, calls himself the Sioux Chef’s sous chef.

redlakefood2.jpg“We have sumac right now. Staghorn sumac is in season right now. Wild rice. Walleye of course. That’s what I’ll be making for dinner,” he said. “That’s indigenous cuisine, everything we have right from our backyards.”

Sherman sent him to Red Lake a few days ahead of the summit to gather ingredients. The walleye and wild rice are from Red Lake. Yazzie planned to forage the seasonings, but his initial attempt did not yield much.

Foraging is hard work, Finney said. It would take a small group of people four hours a day, all year round to gather enough wild food to live.

“I would encourage you to look at it from a totally different perspective. How much of your time is it worth to go see your grandmother? Think about it in that sense. This is a relationship you have with the land.”

Red Lake economic development director Sam Strong said that’s not sustainable for most people on Red Lake. But eating processed foods isn’t sustainable either.

“Over the lifetime of humans we’ve been used to a more local organic type of food, and when we deviate off that path, you see a lot of the health problems that our people are encountering today – the diabetes, the higher rates of cancer,” he said.

Strong’s father and grandmother both struggled with diabetes. Strong battled cancer. He blames the illness on unhealthy processed food handed out by the government, and more recently, sold at the local grocery store.

Strong said it doesn’t have to be that way. Every year, the Red Lake tribal fishery pulls a million pounds of walleye from the lake. Tribal leaders recently started a large community garden and a seed library. They’re raising funds for a deep winter greenhouse to grow vegetables all year long.

Strong hopes to bring bison to the area and breed great herds of them.

“That’s the way you become food independent, and that’s true sovereignty. Food sovereignty, if you will,” he said.
Most food eaten on the reservation still comes from the Bemidji Walmart, but one day, Strong hopes Red Lake will feed its own people, without having to forage through fields of poison ivy.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR’s statewide radio network or online. 

Nearly wiped out by pollution, wild rice is coming back to northern MN
Tuesday, October 11 2016
Written by Dan Kraker/MPRNews,
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wildricecomeback2.jpgFor the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the St. Louis River estuary has been described as being as close to heaven as they get. It’s where the river slows and widens before emptying into the Lake Superior in Duluth.

“This was sort of a perfect place, a Mecca of sorts is what my uncle called it,” said Thomas Howes, the band’s natural resources director.
“Everything that one needed for a good life was provided by the environment here.”

That included wild rice, or manoomin in Ojibwe, a food that still plays a critical role in the cultural life of the tribe’s people.

Decades of human activity almost eliminated wild rice from the region. But now, several agencies are partnering on a landmark effort to restore wild rice to about 250 acres of the St. Louis River estuary over the next five to 10 years.

“From the time a baby is born, to when we send people off to make their journey into the afterlife, there are ceremonies, and manoomin is a central component of those,” Howes said. “A lot of people say, that if we don’t have that, then we cease to exist somewhat culturally as a people.”

Historically, the St. Louis River estuary may have sustained 2,000 to 3,000 acres of rice, one of the richest concentrations of rice in the region.

But over the past 125 years, industrial development, pollution and logging nearly wiped wild rice out, leaving behind only a few isolated pockets.

In the late 1800s logs were transported downriver so thickly lumberjacks could walk across them. Things got better for wild rice over time, though.

In 1978, a wastewater treatment plant went on-line, greatly improving water quality in the river. Over the years, contaminated sediment has slowly been removed from the river bottom.

“We’ve had such great improvements in water quality over the last couple of decades, that the time is right now to begin wild rice restoration because the water quality is high enough that we can bring the wild rice back,” said Daryl Peterson with the Minnesota Land Trust.

Peterson’s group, together with the Fond du Lac Band, Minnesota and Wisconsin DNR and other tribal agencies, is working on the current wild rice crop restoration project.

In September, Charlie Nahgahnub, a technician with the Fond du Lac Band’s Natural Resources department, fired up an air boat powered by a giant airplane prop. It was loaded down with 500 pounds of wild rice seed harvested from the White Earth and Leech Lake reservations.

Nahgahnub piloted the boat into a shallow backwater called Duck Hunter Bay. As he steered back and forth, two volunteers scattered seed on to the water’s surface.

“It’s tedious, but it’s fun,” said Danielle Yaste, with the Minnesota Conservation Corps, throwing the seed as if skipping stones. “So with your wrist, flick it so it goes out as far as you can, but also spreads out evenly. So it’s not in clumps, and it’s not too heavy.”

That way it distributes evenly, she said, and settles to the bottom, where next year it will hopefully take root in the sediment.

The Fond du Lac Band plans to seed around 12,000 pounds of wild rice into the river this fall. That’s on top of 8,000 pounds it planted last year.

The band has been restoring wild rice waters on the reservation for 20 years.

First, they cut and harvest invasive weeds that have taken over – kind of like mowing the lawn before reseeding. Then they spread the seed in the voids they create, handful by handful. They’re already seeing results.

Darren Vogt, Environmental Director for the 1854 Treaty Authority, another partner in the effort, just finished monitoring last year’s plantings. Wild rice grew this summer in all five bays they had planted last year, he said.

“There was at least some success everywhere. So that was an encouraging sign,” he said. “These kind of restoration projects are usually a multi-year effort, we don’t expect to seed once and be done with it, the goal is a self-sustaining population of rice. So it may take several years of seeding before things take well.”

While out on the St. Louis River, Nahgahnub pointed out where geese ate the rice just as it grew above the water’s surface. That’s a big concern for the rice moving forward, along with carp, which also like to feast on young wild rice plants.

Still, Nahgahnub hopes to someday harvest rice from the St. Louis River.

“There’s a whole generation that doesn’t know how to do this,” he said. “It gives me hope, they want to revive it, restore it, to what it was.”

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR’s statewide radio network or online.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to oppose DAPL
Friday, September 09 2016
Written by The Circle,
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The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of South/North Dakota have been protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline since April of this year. The 1,170-mile oil pipeline would run just north of their reservation and under the Missouri River, which the Tribe says would endanger the main water supply to the area. The protest has been building in numbers over the months and in August it was estimated at over 3000 protestors taking a stand outside of Cannon Ball, N.D.

The protest has gathered national and international support, with tribes from across the US sending representatives and support. Groups from all over the world are posting signs of support on social media. And in August Amnesty International sent observers to the encampment. (Photos courtesy Camp of the Sacred Stones: )



























































Nimiikinaa: Riding for the land
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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In July Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, lead a horse ride along Enbridge’s proposed route for Sandpiper and Line 3 in Minnesota. The horse ride followed the Enbridge proposed route between two of the most important wild rice producing lakes for the Ojibwe, both called Rice Lake – which were established as federal wild rice refuges by Congress for the exclusive use of the Chippewa at the beginning of the 20th century.
winonahorse2.jpgThe road is interesting. Many of us do not travel these days. Opting instead to rest at home, often with the television or Facebook. We have become comfortable to view much of the world from the inside of our houses, sometimes our air-conditioned houses. That is until the big storms hit and there is no power. 
Let me tell you what it was like on the road for me. I’ve ridden horse for the past five days through the l855 treaty area, through Anishinaabe Akiing. I follow Dakota riders from the Santee Nation, who took their name in this world from this place – Isanti, the people of the knife. For eight thousand years, the people came to this territory to get good materials for knives – the primary equipment for feeding yourselves. Long before the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) our people used knives and knew the land. 
I am riding with Ojibwe people as well. We are riding together, through our territory, the territory upon which the Creator placed us. It is long after the l826 treaty, when the new white man, US government made a treaty between our nations. We had always made our own treaties and agreements before that. That is, after all, how nations govern themselves.
For many of the young men who joined us, this is the first time they have seen the lands of their ancestors. The riders  include Iyokpiya  Eastman, Monga, Matt, Jason (Skinny Bull) Garret, Westley and a little man of seven; Wakanhdi.
Many of these man have ridden with the Dakota 38 riders, those who commemorate the 38 plus 2 who were hung in Mankato in l864, the largest mass hanging in US History. These are the survivors of those families. And they are the most amazing riders, riding through minus zero temperatures for two hundred miles on horseback. They are strong riders.
The Ojibwe riders are led by Todd Utrech and Annie Humphrey. These are real riders, bronc and bull riders, thousands-of-miles-a-year-on-horse-back riders. Riders, with a big R. I am a rider with a little R, a “little C” cow girl. I tell the young men that, and we all laugh. Each, in our own way, is humbled by the horses and the beauty of the land. 
We began our journey at East Lake, Minisikaaning Minis, in the traditional territory of the Rice Lake Band of Anishinaabeg, home of several of the traditional drums of our nation, and the land near Sandy Lake. Sandy Lake is the place where hundreds of our people died. They died from starvation in the hard cold winter and their forced death march, brought about by the federal government – that was l850. We remember them.  
We stay at a place the Mille Lacs Band has purchased, and is now returning to a farm as a part of work to grow food for the community. Wolves are out at night, especially on a full moon, and the land is lush with the rains. Most of us camp but we keep a washing room at the local hotel, the Country Meadows. We can’t have more than a room there because the rest of the hotel is rented out to Canadian Mining companies, which have permits to explore for the miskwaabik, the copper ore.
The Tamarack Mine interests leased 35,000 acres of land not far from Big Sandy and Round lakes, and at last count had over l24,000 feet of drill core samples. The project is a venture of Talon Mining and Rio Tinto Zinc/Kennecott (the largest copper mining company in the world). A year ago, when I came to this village for the funeral of Mushkooub Aubid, the hotel was also booked by exploration crews. Geologists estimate more than 10 million tons of mineable ore lie below.
Dollar General and Enbridge Company take hits from courts
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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generaldollar.jpgIt may be time to work with Native people. Two court decisions, one at the US Supreme Court and another in Canada’s federal appeals court, came out against big companies who do business with tribes, and neglect tribal authority.

Late June’s US Supreme Court decision let stand a lower court decision acknowledging tribal government authority to regulate a non-Native business on tribal lands.  The case involved Dollar General, the discount retailer, and a sexual assault charge. After a 4-4 split in the Supreme Court, the Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians decision left intact the Fifth Circuit of Appeals decision.

The decision upheld civil jurisdiction of a Choctaw tribal court to hear a suit against the retailer Dollar General concerning an alleged sexual assault by one of its employees against a tribal member in a store on tribal land. The suit now continue in tribal court against Dollar General, and we should all probably be watching that… it will be interesting.

Up north, in a Canadian court ruling, the Enbridge Company had a major set back when the Canadian Federal Appeals Court ruled that the $7.9 billion proposed Enbridge Gateway Pipeline (a pipeline proposed from the Alberta Tar sands to the west coast) would not go ahead because of lack of tribal consultation. On June 30, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeals overturned approvals for Enbridge pipeline, finding, the government fell short in its obligations to consult with First Nations groups.

The appeals court ruled that while the federal government designed a proper framework to consult with First Nations during the planning of the pipeline, the execution fell short in a critical phase of the consultation process. Frankly, the Minnesota PUC might take note.

What does this all mean for the White Earth band, and Native people of the US and Canada?  It may mean that the times are changing; the era of pushing pipelines, mining projects or retail stores onto tribal land, with immunity from tribal jurisdiction or consultation is over. We will see…  
It may also mean that if a corporation enters into a consensual  agreement with a sovereign jurisdiction; that corporation’s activities will be subject to jurisdiction by that tribe…aka the sovereign jurisdiction.  

Over time, there has been little regard for tribal jurisdiction by non Indians who come onto tribal land. In fact, until the passage of the federal Violence Against Women Act ( VAWA 2014) there was no recourse for a Native woman  in a domestic dispute by a non tribal member on the reservation.

Until 2014, the ability of tribes to protect our most vulnerable was not guaranteed. Consider these statistics: 34% of Native women will be raped,  39%  will be victims to domestic violence; 67% reported  assailants were non-Native individuals. This set of facts is paired with little or no justice: U.S. Attorneys declined to prosecute nearly 52% of violent crimes that occur in Indian country; and 67% of cases declined were sexual abuse cases.

Under the 2014 federal law, there is now some recourse, but it is far from perfect.

To the Native community, the debate remained a clear example of a discriminatory legal system. Since the Supreme Court’s Oliphant decision stripped tribal communities of criminal jurisdiction over non- tribal members, many reservations like White Earth, with over half the residents as non-enrolled band members, face complex jurisdiction issues, ie: which cops, which agencies and which courts… let alone the three counties which have entrenched themselves inside the reservation borders. In short, it gets pretty confusing.

In contrast, Native people are prosecuted under both tribal and non-tribal law, and are eleven times more likely to be in prison than a non Indian. Native people are subject to the laws of a different political entity, but non-Native criminals have found themselves free of charges in Indian country.

Times may be changing. In 2003, Dollar General leased land from the tribe and entered into an agreement with the Mississippi Band of Choctaws. In a youth opportunity program, Dollar General enrolled a then-13-year-old tribal boy member into its youth-opportunity program. He accused a store employee, non-member Dale Townsend, of sexual advances and sexual harassment. Unresolved, his family brought the case to tribal court in 2005. Dollar General was named as a defendant through vicarious liability, and it filed to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the tribal court did not have the authority to try it.

The relatively narrow facts of the Dollar General case illuminate a larger set of questions increasingly being reviewed by US, Canadian and international courts. The core issue revolves around the idea of sovereignty – the right of a people to govern itself – and order their own affairs. Buried in the questions about jurisdiction over a $2.5 million civil suit are deeper questions about how the US (or in the Enbridge case, Canada) recognizes tribal authority and how and where sovereignty arises. In short the times seem to be changing; although the Indian wars are far from over.   

For the people of White Earth and other tribes, both cases may mean that our tribal government and legal institutions may be able to protect citizens from non Indian businesses who break our laws. I would say it is about time.

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