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White Earth Band votes to end blood quantum for tribal membership
Friday, December 06 2013
 
Written by Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio,
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MOORHEAD, Minn. – White Earth Band of Ojibwe tribal members have approved a new constitution that dramatically changes tribal government and expands membership in Minnesota's largest Chippewa tribe.

The new constitution eliminates the blood quantum which requires a person to prove they have 25 percent Indian blood and changes to a system based on family lineage. But choosing a new constitution is only the first step in what will likely be a long and challenging process.

White Earth Nation Chairwoman Erma Vizenor has advocated for constitutional reform for 16 years, and said Tuesday that when 79 percent of voters approve a new constitution, as they just did with 3,492 votes cast, it's a transformational moment.

"It feels great. It is gratifying to know that the people of White Earth have spoken and spoken strongly," Vizenor said.

Why the mascot issue is important for social justice and Native youth
Friday, December 06 2013
 
Written by Jamie Keith,
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why the mascot issue is important for social justice and native youth.jpgHundreds of protesters gathered outside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis on Nov. 7 to speak out against the Washington mascot. According to Little Earth Education Director Sasha Houston Brown, the rally was the site of some clashes between football fans and Indigenous protesters.

“There were some very intoxicated white football fans getting in people's faces, mocking the drums, making fake war whoops, doing fake dances,” she said. “We can't say there's not an issue when that's going on.”

There are strong feelings on both sides of this debate. In social media posts that argue to keep the mascot, a common theme admonishes protesters to “get over it.” In Google + user Ron Brown's words, “this PC group of rejects have almost destroyed our society."

Guest Opinion: White Earth constitutional reform and leadership questionable
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Jeff Armstrong,
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Anyone with a fleeting knowledge of the troubled history of the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota will understand that questions over the legitimacy of tribal membership and leadership, along with the more recent controversy of absentee voting, are at the core of more than a century of internal conflict. It is, perhaps, a tribute to the public relations skills of White Earth Chair Erma Vizenor that she has been able to push through a constitution in violation of the one, under which she governs entirely by mail-in ballots with provisions to open reservation enrollment to anyone with remote tribal ancestry, to the universal acclaim of reporters, academics and activists who should know better.

It was reported in the Fargo Forum the day before the election that 2,000 ballot requests had been received and sent out over the course of a month, fairly typical of White Earth election turnouts. But when the ballots were being tabulated, the vote count had suddenly nearly doubled in the course of one day, to 3,492. None of the press reports the following day took note of this mysterious spike, though some suggested the higher-than-average turnout was evidence of heightened interest in the historic election. If so, one would be hard pressed to find evidence of it in the sparsely-attended public meetings, at which the vast majority of attendees expressing an opinion spoke out against the draft constitution. Social media sites such as the White Earth's Voice for a Nation reflected broad and deep opposition to the proposed constitution.

Navigating MNSure and Indian Health Services
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by By Sommer Dey Rosette-Poolaw, Indian Health Board of Minneapolis,
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The Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) is a federal law that provides health insurance coverage options that are more accessible and affordable. Minnesota, like all states, was given three options to deliver insurance to its citizens. Minnesota chose a state-based exchange where the state runs its own Healthcare Marketplace, now called MNsure.

Open enrollment for MNsure began on Oct. 1 for most Minnesotans. American Indians of Minnesota, tribally-enrolled or documented lineage, have no closing date to enroll in a healthcare plan; more information will be provided in regards to proof of enrollment and lineage. We are also exempt from the federal mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance that includes tax penalties.

Artifact Traffic Combines Old and New Native Art
Thursday, December 05 2013
 
Written by Jamie Keith, TC Daily Planet,
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artifact traffic combines old and new native art2-color.jpgHeid Erdrich, co-director and curator of the multi-genre art exhibit and performance Artifact Traffic, has always been drawn to seemingly disparate forms and images.

“When I work as a curator, I feel drawn to those things that traffic contemporary images with traditional images,” she said. “I love pushing forms against one another – you're making all those things create a vibration between them.”

Artifact Traffic was born of the desire to create this vibration between different forms of art and brought together Indigenous artists with whom Erdrich had collaborated over her long career as a poet, playwright, and curator.

“It's really helpful for us to be in community, even if we don't do the same kind of art,” Erdrich said.

From the Editor's Desk: White Earth Blood Quantum Reform a Courageous Act
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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from_the_editors_desk_alfred_walking_bull.jpgThere is a courage to be admired by those who take an action first. The White Earth Band of Ojibwe recently voted in a constitutional reform effort to effectively remove its blood quantum requirements for citizenship. Of the Ojibwe that I have come to know here in Minnesota, there's been mixed reaction ranging from hopeful joy about the future to immediate calls for the dissolution of the tribal government for taking what they regard as an unwarranted action.

Having covered my own tribal council for just over two years, it wasn't a question if – but when – a tribal citizen or fellow council member would allege constitutional violations, followed by long executive sessions where the press and members of the public were required to leave the room for hours at a time.

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