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Minneapolis Recognizes Indigenous Peoples Day
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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mpls recognizes indigenous peoples day 3.jpgMarking a milestone in tribal relations, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously on April 25 to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October, effectively replacing Columbus Day on the civic calendar.

The gesture by the city government speaks to years of struggle for recognition and equity by members of the city's Native American population. As one of the cities with a high Native population in the country and birthplace of the American Indian Movement, it hasn't been until recently that city officials embraced its indigenous history. In 2012 on the sesquicentennial of the Dakota War, efforts began to understand the state's history from a Native perspective.

To that end, momentum has been building in the community – focused through the Native American Community Development Institute – to address issues of equity and justice. The organization, led by Jay Bad Heart Bull (Oglala/Hunkpapa) and Daniel Yang (Anishinabe) utilized its political and human capital to build a dialogue with city leaders, beginning with last year's mayoral election.

Then mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges committed to taking Native issues seriously at the city level during her campaign in the summer and fall of last year. Along with Council Rep. Alondra Cano (Ward 9) and policy aide Ashley Fairbanks (Anishinabe), the effort went into full force last month when the resolution to change the name of the holiday was drafted.

Members of the Native community filled the city council chambers while Clyde Bellecourt, American Indian Movement co-founder, Bill Means, International Indian Treaty Council, and Deanna Standing Cloud, Red Lake Nation, addressed the city council.

“I'm here to take a stand so my daughter Breanna and my son Nigozis are able to grow up in a city where they feel safe, respected and honored. Replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in the city of Minneapolis would show my children that it's never too late for healing and reconciliation to occur between communities and throughout Turtle Island,” Standing Cloud said.

Minneapolis State of the City Addresses Native Issues
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Jamie Keith,
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minneapolis state of the city addresses native issues 3.jpgFor the first time in the history of the city, Mayor Betsy Hodges selected the Minneapolis American Indian Center as the site of her State of the City address on April 24. Drum group Ringing Shield performed at the opening of the speech. Daniel Yang, Director of Organizing and Community Building at the Native American Community Development Institute, and Bill Means, co-founder of the International Indian Treaty Council, introduced the mayor.

Yang commended Hodges for continuing to engage the Native community in discussions about citywide issues. “The hard truth is, more often than not, like in so many communities of color, we don't see those who ask for our votes again until four to six years later when the next election rolls around,” he said.

Yang also spoke on the importance of the Minneapolis city council's vote on the Indigenous People's Day Resolution, which would be recognized in place of Columbus Day. “If it's important for the City of Minneapolis to have all of its residents feel respected, dignified, and valued, this is an important step in healing the pain that is associated with this day and the Indigenous people that call this place home,” he said.

Means talked about historical aspects of Indigenous people's relationships with the city of Minneapolis while looking forward to the future of their interactions. “This is an historic day because it is recognition of the contributions of Indian people to this great city, starting with the basic ingredient – the land,” he said. “Today begins a continuation of the reconciliation with Indian people, the recognition of the contributions of Indian people and the recognition of our rights and our responsibilities to our communities.”

Many other leaders in the Native community feel that the State of the City address marks an important step in bringing Indigenous issues into discussions about citywide policies. Bill Ziegler, Chief Executive Officer of Little Earth of United Tribes, said that the speech shows solidarity between the issues faced in the Native community and Minneapolis as a whole.

“I think the significance of this event happening here at the Indian Center on Franklin Avenue is a way for the mayor's office to say and show the American Indian community that our issues are also issues that face the rest of the city and that we're going to be given the respect to have our voices at the table and be taken seriously,” he said. “I'm hopeful through Mayor Hodges' leadership that this isn't just a show, that as she goes throughout her term our issues will remain at the forefront of the work that she does."


Jourdain Seeks to Be A Voice for Native Students
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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ira jourdain-web.jpgRaising the profile on Native American student issues and accountability are the top priorities for Ira Jourdain in his bid for the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education.

The Red Lake citizen and father of four – two of whom are enrolled in the city's school system – sees equity, its allocation and application to minority students as a primary means to bridge the achievement gap. “The way the formula works is equity and equality: everybody gets the same amounts, no matter what. But that's just not conducive to our kids, especially our Native kids and African American kids, who go to what they call the low-performing schools. These are schools that obviously need more funding, need more resources. And then that's where equity comes into place, to me it's reallocating our resources and putting those resources into schools that need them the most.”

Though any primary campaign can produce candidates who speak in broad generalities, Jourdain links together problems and solutions for the Native community, which has continually under-achieved when compared to others. “A lot of our kids go to low-performing schools that affect their housing, that affect employment. There's a multitude of factors that affect our kids' performances in the schools and it all boils down to plain, old equity,” he said.

Jourdain cites specifics issues and needs that impact student performance such as mental health, behavioral services and social workers. “There's this tremendous need – I've heard this from across the district – for school psychologists to work with our kids on mental and behavioral disorders.”

In addition, Jourdain said that other factors stymying achievement may not always be apparent to school board directors not directly involved with the problems. According to a recent report by the Indian Education Department, Native American students have shown an increase in and remain at the top for homelessness. “We need stronger housing support services. My daughter at Tatanka Academy has had three or four students in her classroom that have moved constantly, throughout the school year, across the district. I was at this recent hearing and the percentage of Native American kids in our district who move constantly is 19 percent who are either homeless or constantly moving residences during the school year.”


What's New In The Community: May 2014
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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ain dah yung center honored by aauw.jpg

AAUW Honors Ayn Dah Yung Center
(Photo by Verylnn Agrimonti)

Deb Foster, executive director of Ain Dah Yung Center, accepted a generous donation from AAUW (American Association of University Women) president, Mary Chorewyez and president-elect, Carol Oeltjenbruns on April 8 at 990 Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Ain Dah Yung (Our Home) Center provides a healing place within the community for American Indian youth – all ethnicities – and families to thrive in safety and wholeness.


flanagan named co-chair of cradle-to-k cabinet.jpgFlanagan named Co-Chair of Cradle-to-K Cabinet 

In her State of the City Address at the Minneapolis American Indian Center on April 24, Mayor Betsy Hodges announced that Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation citizen and Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota executive director, would co-chair Hodges' Cradle-To-K Initiative.

According to Hodges, research shows that disparities can be prevented by effective early-childhood interventions. Along with Way to Grow executive director Carolyn Smallwood, the initiative aims to align work to to maximize a child's readiness for early education.

Citing the link between low Kindergarten readiness rates and high school graduation rates for Minneapolis students, Hodges formed her Cradle-To-K program in her mayoral campaign in August of last year.

The effort identified components that it will work to support, including the expansion of the Healthy Start program, which serves low-income and vulnerable families with the skills and resources to care for pregnant mothers and infants in the city; expand access to stable, high quality, child-centered childcare; and serve as the hub for stakeholders, ensuring no early childhood programming or coverage gaps and facilitate resource-sharing.


Peter Matthiesson, Author of "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" Passes On
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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laduke-passing on-peter matthiessen 2.jpg“… For all those who honor and defend those people who still seek in the wisdom of the Indian way…”,

Peter Mattheisson, from the dedication of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.

He was a writer among writers, up to the last. Peter Mattheisson lived in an era of grand adventure writers, storytelling in words, and lived it well. I remember thinking that with our times together, walking, talking and watching him in his craft. I knew him as a friend, and loved him as a courageous and gifted man. He died April 5, after a gifted life. As a young writer, I admired his style and his agility. The word and the story is what he loved, a careful art, trampled often by todays’ era of tweeting and sensational journalism. The art, however still remains.

As a Native woman I appreciated his courage,that he came from immense privilege and had the heart, resources and tenacity to tell stories in a way, that only he could tell and that he loved our community. He was a man who could write about nature, and nuance of description, perhaps better than any other. He wrote 33 books and is the only writer to have won the National Book Award three times.

I remember Peter from l980, when he had come to Indian Country, in this case, first in the Navajo Nation, where I was working on uranium mining expansion proposals, in the midst of an arid land, already faced with groundwater contamination, and a way of life challenged by health issues of radiation contamination and an economic poverty forced upon a self sufficient people. He drove a rental car and I talked, taking him from house to sacred mountain, and elder to elder. He was an apt listener, crystalizing the essence and chronicling the stories. Then it was that he came to South Dakota, a place which would move him and a story which would catapult an environmental writer into a national controversy.

Fond du Lac Follies
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Jim Northrup,
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_northrup_cover_mug_small.jpgThe time to harvest maple sap came and we were ready. By we, I mean the crew, son Joe, son Aaron, nephew Kris and two daughter in laws, Sara and Jackie.

We have been working together for about a decade and I think any one of them can set up their own sugar bush. That was my goal when I invited them all to work with me. The afternoon sun brought warm feelings to us.

Months before we tap we talk. We decide which trees we will use. This year we found a better place to get the gallon jugs, our drills are still good from last year. We use electric and hand drills to make the holes in the trees. Because of attrition we made some new taps.

The deep snow was a handicap, my brother Vern said he slipped off the trail and sunk into the snow, the only part of Vern that was showing was his hat, now that’s deep. My crew had to wear snowshoes most of the time.

In our first boil we began with 110 gallons of sap, when we were done we had four gallons of syrup.

After having the appropriate ceremony. The syrup was delicious and I am glad we do this every year.

I think we will have one more boil before we pull the taps to close another successful season.


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