Regional and Local Briefs: November 2014
Saturday, November 01 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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RED WING, Minn. – The Prairie Island Indian Community is joining three states in a lawsuit over the storage of nuclear waste.

The tribe says it will join with New York, Connecticut and Vermont in a lawsuit against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant near Red Wing is just 600 yards from the tribal community. The NRC in August opened the door for on-site nuclear waste storage for 100 years or more.

The tribe says the NRC has failed to do a complete analysis of the risks associated with the onsite storage of nuclear waste.

Prairie Island plant executive Kevin Davison agrees with the NRC assessment that the nuclear waste is safely stored near Red Wing. But, Davison says the federal government still has an obligation to create another storage option.



FT. YATES, N.D. – Last Real Indians, an online Native media and advocacy Web site, unveiled its first print edition in October.

A nearly three year-old endeavor, founded by Chase Iron Eyes (Standing Rock Sioux) in January of 2012, LRI features almost daily content provided by writers from across Indian country. “Our network continues to expand as we inform our own, inform the world, strengthen our ties, shatter stereotypes, protect our image, essence and portrayal against appropriation, objectification & [sic] mascotry and share our stories,” Iron Eyes wrote in the first edition.

According to the mission statement on its Web site, “LRI is a media movement grounded in our pre-contact ways of life. We are independent media with direction. We are an adaptation of our story-tellers. We are content creators of many origins with a vision of returning Indigenous peoples of all

'races' to a state of respect for generations unborn.”

Its first edition features topics on environmentalism, Lakota tribal politics, lacrosse, Lakota language, law and health. The paper is headquartered on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in South and North Dakota.




PIERRE, S.D. – A Chicago man barred from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota has been sentenced to nine months in federal custody for repeatedly ignoring the tribal order.

Forty-three-year-old Steven Nichols recently pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to criminal trespass and was sentenced. He'll be on supervised release for a year after his time in custody is over, and he can't re-enter the reservation.

Nichols was barred from the reservation and escorted off tribal lands in September 2011. The reason wasn't immediately clear.

U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson says Nichols was caught on the reservation three times over the next two and-a-half years.



MINNEAPOLIS – The United States Attorney’s Office announced the sentencing of two men who committed unrelated violent crimes on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

In the U.S. District Court in Duluth on Oct. 22, Fernando Luis May-Gil-Garcia, 29, and 25-year-old Avery Wade Schoenborn both received sentences of 84 months, or 7 years, in prison. Both are enrolled members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.

May-Gil-Garcia was sentenced for striking a female victim multiple times with his fist as well as biting her on the face and back. The victim was holding a baby at the time and unable to defend herself. She suffered multiple broken bones in her face and the baby was also struck during the assault.

Schoenborn was convicted for entering a house and sexually assaulting an intoxicated victim, who was unconscious at her friend’s home. She was later taken to the hospital where she regained consciousness, was treated and released.

Both cases resulted from investigations conducted by the FBI and Red Lake Police Department. They were both prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Clifford Wardlaw.



CASS LAKE, Minn. – An 88-foot tall white spruce, destined to be the nation's Christmas Tree on the U.S. Capitol grounds, will be cut in Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest.

The tree will be cut from a spot in the forest about 10 miles from Cass Lake in a ceremony attended by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Rick Nolan. There will also be a traditional blessing ceremony by Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe members.

Jim Scheff, who is the state's Logger of the Year, will cut the tree.

The tree will then be wrapped and taken by truck to Washington, D.C., on a long trip with many stops. The tree's route can be followed online.

The Capitol's Christmas tree comes each year from a national forest around the country. The last Minnesota tree, also a white spruce, was cut from the Chippewa National Forest in 1992.



MINNEAPOLIS – The National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media launched a new anti-Washington team ad campaign though the Minneapolis-based advertising agency Red Circle.

The agency is owned by Chad Germann – a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. The agency works primarily with the hospitality industry, including many Native American casinos.

“I was tired of people avoiding what I think is the real issue. There is no word in the American lexicon that is more hurtful to the Native American,” Germann said in a statement. “We're left with this ugly word. People don't talk about how ugly it is. We need to talk about it.”

The ad opens with a black woman looking into the camera and saying, “I am a n-----.” The ad continues with people of Vietnamese, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Chinese and Cuban descent speaking their own, censored racial slurs into the camera. "Why would the FCC ban all those other words and allow this one?” asked Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

The ad is punctuated by a Native American man saying, “I am a Redskin.” “This is equally profane,” the ad says. “There's no honor in racism.”

The ad comes days before the Washington team is scheduled to play the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. The Hennepin County board passed a resolution for the team to find a name that it says isn't racist and derogatory. Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said the nickname “has no place in the 21st century.”

Team owner Daniel Snyder insists he will not change the name.

The word came from a time when there was a bounty on Native Americans and people would kill them and present their bloody scalps as proof to get paid. "I think if people understood that and thought about it and knew what that word really means, then maybe they'll think differently about that and maybe we can get some more effective pressure on Redskins ownership,” Germann said.



CLOQUET, Minn. – St. Louis County and Fond du Lac leaders unveiled some new signage on Oct. 22. Two lakes on the Fond du Lac Reservation are now labeled with bilingual signs that list the names in both English and Ojibwe.

The signs are the result of an agreement between St. Louis County and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The band asked the county to install bilingual traffic signs to identify natural features, such as lakes and rivers, as a way to preserve the their culture.

The county's public works department will post the signs along several county roads. The band has a similar agreement for bilingual signs with Carlton County.



CHICAGO – Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, a Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin citizen, was named president of the national board of the Girl Scouts on Oct. 23.

Hannan, a Girl Scouts alumna whose two daughters also went through the program, is the first Native American in the post. She is the highest-ranking volunteer member of the Girl Scouts.

"I am extremely honored and excited to have been selected by the delegates of the Girl Scout Movement to serve as National Board President to GSUSA," Hannan said in a press release. "The opportunities presented to girls today have never been greater, but the challenges they face have also never been more difficult to overcome. That is why the Girl Scout mission remains so vitally important in today's world."

Hannan is the national managing partner of diversity and corporate responsibility at KPMG in Chicago, Illinois. She is a past board member of the Anti-Defamation League, the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, The Chicago Network, and Loras College.

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