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Opinion:
Sunday, February 19 2012
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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Winona LaDuke: On Tucson United School District's banning of ethnic books

I have the distinction of becoming one of a select list of authors banned by the Tucson United School District (in Arizona). It turns out that the Tucson United School District (a city adjoining both the U.S./Mexico border and the Tohono O'odham, Yaqui and several other tribes) does not want to discuss Native American or Mexican American history - at least, as told by Native American and Chicano or Mexican American authors.
Hence, the decision to ban books in a 4 to 1 vote on  January 10 by the school-district board. This is part of a larger state mandate banning Mexican American Studies. An estimated 50 books are being banned.
10-minute play about AIM stirs controversy in Mpls. Indian community
Sunday, February 19 2012
 
Written by By Sheila Regan TC Daily Planet,
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A 10-minute play by Navajo playwright Rhiana Yazzie was at the center of a controversy within the local Native American community. The play focuses on two fictional characters in 1968 - the year that the American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded - and several real-life people  are mentioned, including AIM co-founder Clyde Bellecourt.
The History Theatre premiered "1968: The Year That Rocked The World" on January 21 at Minnesota History Center's 3M Auditorium. The theater commissioned seven playwrights from the Playwrights' Center, including Rhiana Yazzie, to write plays focusing on the events.
Yazzie's play, The Corral, takes place during the time when AIM was just beginning in Minneapolis. It is titled after a bar on Franklin Avenue frequented by American Indian people at the time; the bar was the site of much police brutality during that time period.
Yazzie was commissioned to write two plays. The first play Yazzie wrote didn't focus on AIM. Yazzie said that History Theatre artistic director Ron Peluso asked her to write a second play that focused more on AIM. He had suggested that Clyde Bellecourt, one of the founders of AIM, could a character, Yazzie said.
Yazzie said she never wanted Bellecourt to be a character. Peluso suggested that Yazzie interview Bellecourt, which at first she didn't want to do. In the end she agreed to interview Bellecourt.
Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills talks life lessons to Native students
Sunday, February 19 2012
 
Written by The Circle Staf,
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billy_mills_1.jpgOlympic gold medalist Billy Mills spoke on Jan. 13 to  Native American youth in grades 6-12 during Native American Youth Day at Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center at Augsburg College.
Billy Mills, also known as Makata Taka Hela, is the second Native American to win an Olympic gold medal. He won in the 10,000 meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He is still the only American to ever win an Olympic gold medal in this event. His 1964 victory is considered one of the greatest Olympic upsets. A former United States Marine, Mills is a member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe.
billy_mills_2.jpgAbout 250 students from a number of metropolitan school districts attended the event, including students from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Robbinsdale, Anoka, Centennial, Osseo and others.
During his presentation Mills shared lessons he has learned throughout his life. He interwove those lessons with stories from his personal life, including about growing up an orphan by age 12, going to Haskell Indian Boarding School, being in the U.S. Marines, training for and competing in the 1964 Olympics, and from his extensive world travels.
Four key lessons Mills shared with the students included:
o It is the journey, not the destination, that shapes our lives.
o Life is choreographed by the daily decisions we make.
o billy_mills_3.jpgOne of the greatest challenges we face is overcoming perceptions we hold of others, and overcoming perceptions others hold of us.
o A true sense of unity with others can emerge from connecting to diverse peoples from throughout the globe.
oPracticing the values of traditional Lakota ways - bravery, fortitude, wisdom and generosity - can help you achieve your dreams, and can heal a broken spirit.

Whats New In The comment:
Sunday, February 19 2012
 
Written by The Circle News,
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Allen first Native woman elected to MN legislature
whats_news_susan_allen_swearing_in.jpgSt. Paul, Mn (AP) - State Rep. Susan Allen has been sworn in as the newest member of the House of Representatives and the Legislature's first Native (Dakota) woman member.
Allen took the oath on Jan. 19 to the beat of a drum circle in the House chamber. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said it was a historic day that will better reflect Minnesota diversity in the lawmaking process.
Allen represents a diverse south Minneapolis district with a high poverty rate. Allen says she is eager to begin work and plans to make job creation a top priority. She says she also plans to focus on environmental protection.
Allen fills the House seat of newly elected Sen. Jeff Hayden. He recently won a special election to replace longtime Sen. Linda Berglin.
Letter to the editor:
Sunday, February 19 2012
 
Written by Steve Elliott Director and CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society,
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Response to Metro State Students Protest article in January

We at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) very much appreciate the chance to add our perspective to an article from the January issue of The Circle, "Metro State students protest lack of Native classes offered in 2012."
We deeply regret that the protestors' petition, cited in the article, maligns our organization and the work of our staff, repeating old accusations. MHS has worked hard and in good faith, with the help of many American Indian communities, to strengthen and increase its programming related to American Indian history generally and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 in particular. Perpetuating generalizations serves no good when the topic is so important and the educational need so great.
The history of MHS is permanently entwined with the history of the Dakota. MHS was founded in 1849 by some of the same men who were taking Dakota and Ojibwe lands for settlement. Some of our founders participated in businesses that exploited native people and in governments that acted deplorably. Many led or fought in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862; they did and said things that are reprehensible.
Through the years, MHS has been influenced by the temperament and the tenor of the times. At times, our interpretation did not adequately reflect Dakota perspectives and MHS was silent when we should have talked about the historical trauma surrounding the war.
Today, we continue to evolve as an organization dedicated to preserving the history of our state and all of its people. This year, the 150th year since the war, we're working harder than ever to record oral histories from Dakota people throughout Minnesota, the Midwest and Canada to ensure that their truths, experiences and viewpoints are part of the permanent historical record. We're also working hard to provide many new opportunities for people of all ages to learn about the war, how it shaped our state and how its bitter consequences are still felt today.
Today, we are listening more closely to the Dakota, with a new commitment to inclusiveness, openness and transparency. We can do better and we're committed to that effort. The Minnesota Historical Society has a lot to learn from the Dakota and a lot to learn about itself. Together we can be powerful educational partners.
Letter to the editor #2
Sunday, February 19 2012
 
Written by Mark B. Johnson Sr.,
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A Native student's perspective on the Metro State protest

Last month, The Circle featured an article on the front page about Metro State and a student led protest here regarding Native American studies courses. After reading the article, I had many thoughts and feelings. But the one thought that has continued to worry me is, "I hope this article doesn't stop Native Americans from coming to Metro State".
In my mind, Metro State is a good place to get an education. My name is Mark B. Johnson Sr. and I am an older Native American student (49 yrs.) at Metro State. I am majoring in the Alcohol and Drug counseling program and I am involved with the American Indian student group on campus. I wanted to write this letter because, as a Native student here, I have always felt respected, supported, and encouraged; my needs as an Indian student are being well met.
Since the beginning of my academic career at Metro State, the staff and faculty I have encountered have all exhibited a high level of cultural competency, which everyone at the university holds as a value. I have been able to build strong, positive relationships with all staff and faculty, but especially the American Indian staff, faculty and other students. And my American Indian student advisor has helped me get my tribal scholarship, and other funding. I have a job on campus, and I have been able to take advantage of some really unique opportunities made available to me as a student leader. For example, through my Native American student organization I was able to connect with American Indian Magnet School in the Saint Paul community. I hope that we can build bridges of communication with the children of this school so they know that anything is possible in pursuit of their higher learning.
The issues that were brought up at the protest and rally are important. I know that the university is planning on hosting a variety of programs this semester and in the fall that will focus on the Dakota War of 1862, and I have been invited to participate in the planning of some of those events. Working through these issues on campus will require everyone involved to participate with an open mind and a sincere spirit of collaboration.
This is only my perspective on the situation. There is no right or wrong. In my mind, people should form their own thoughts and conclusions about Metro State after seeing what Metro State has to offer - after being involved. They should not take my word or anybody else's in forming their opinion. It has been a great experience for me to be here and I hope that more Indian students continue to come and get their degrees to help our Native American community move forward.

Mark B. Johnson Sr.
Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma

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