From The Editor's Desk
Thursday, September 05 2013
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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from_the_editors_desk_alfred_walking_bull.jpgCovering the news in Minnesotaís Native community is proving an interesting experience, as with any topic in Indian Country, there are universal elements of sovereignty as well as elements of guarded interactions. Weíre tribal people, we take time to warm up to new people or concepts. Overall, itís been encouraging.

As the past editor of a tribal publication on the Rosebud Sioux reservation, Iíve seen the best and worst in people and institutions. In the case of the latter, Iíve witness and experienced the crab-in-the-bucket mentality. Whether thatís hiring and firing practices, funding allocations or battles of wills, there are times we simply fail to be the best that we can be.

There are countless articles, opinions and papers written about why we tend to fail each other by bringing each other down. Activists will say itís because weíve allowed ourselves to be colonized; sociologists and psychiatrists would say itís because of inter-generational trauma and a survivalist mentality; and tribal politicians will say itís because of federal ignorance of treaty obligations. There are countless reasons to explain away the negativity.

As a tribal citizen raised on the reservation, what I look for are reasons to uplift each other. So far, the only worthwhile answer Iíve found is: weíre all weíve got.

In politics, the federal government continues to ignore its treaty obligations to our people. In mainstream society, our issues are treated as racial issues, rather than political ones. In media, our concerns are swept into a corner, only visited upon for opinion by unqualified commentators about how poverty-stricken, entitled or noble we are, and boxing us into neat packages for mass consumption.

So again, it falls to us to tell our own story. In this issue, we had a conversation with a recent Twin Cities graduate of the GED program who could have been a stereotype of a high school drop out. He chose not to be, he acknowledged his challenges and took it upon himself to improve his situations. He had encouragement from his friends and family during his journey to earn his education, and is now enrolling in an institute of higher learning. And we must tell this story, to encourage those who do not have the support to uplift themselves.

Regionally, six of South Dakotaís tribal nations are banding together to organize a tribal power authority to utilize the power of the stateís wind as a means to address access to basic energy needs. The Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Oglala, Rosebud, Yankton Sioux Tribes and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate are uniting to create the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority. The consortium is backed by the Clinton Global Initiative Ė former President Bill Clintonís effort to solve world problems Ė as well as Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and lawfirm Arent Fox. The endgame for the tribes is to develop wind farms on the reservations to sell power nationally and more importantly, provide affordable energy to its tribal citizens.

Recently, The Circleís new general manager, Al Paulson, and I took a brief trip to Grand Portage and Fond du Lac to introduce ourselves to members of the tribal governments, higher education officials, and tribal citizens to connect to our readership on the reservations. We learned about the contention between one of the bands and the state when it comes to sovereign hunting rights and cultural preservation. We heard about one bandís legal battle with a municipal authority to defend its gaming rights.

We are also reviving a section in The Circle committed to our youth. Brianna Skildum (Fort William First Nation, Canada), an Ojibwe high school sophomore enrolled at Roosevelt High in Minneapolis, is now contributing as part of our dedication to including our youth in our conversations. We are encouraged to see such a perspective in our publication and hope she will be the first of many youth to join the conversation.

It is encouraging to know the spirit of resistance, tribal ascendancy and articulation is alive here in Minnesota and in the Dakotas. Those are the stories that need to be told.

We are not blind to the struggles of our people across the country. As one of the countryís oldest, independent newspapers, itís incumbent upon us to show every angle of the Native American experience as it happens. As always, we invite you to share your perspectives, news, opinions and insights to broaden the conversation.

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