A group of four Twin Cities
Native American youth were invited to the White House for the first
Tribal Youth Gathering, marking an achievement for students and an
organization that is dedicated to preserving and promoting research
and understanding among Native youth.
The Native Youth Alliance of Minnesota
is a non-profit established in 2014. Following the 2008 Minnesota
Summit on Afterschool Learning Opportunities, the Native American
community took note of the disparity that research and data does not
reflect Native youth.
This realization began groundbreaking
work that began with a conversation to develop an Indigenous Youth
Research and Development Center in 2009. Native leaders throughout
the state of Minnesota really came forth with the idea that this work
has never been done before.
LeMoine LaPointe, NYAM board member
investigated the issue, “I was told that Native American people are
statistically insignificant.” He felt that proved there was much to
be done in Indian Country.
NYAM convened community conversations
with various tribal communities throughout the state to collect
stories directly from Native people about how they envision the
Indigenous Youth Research and Development Center transforming their
communities. Native leaders and youth came together on May 29 in
Saint Paul, Minn. to delve deep into what research means
traditionally for Native communities.
Many ideas emerged from the
conversation and it is just the beginning of the work. Sierra
Villebrun (White Earth), Abel Martinez (Ho-Chunk) and Lupe Thornhill
(Red Lake) participated in the discussion. Villebrun is a junior at
South High All Nations and has been involved with Native Youth
Alliance of Minnesota as a part of the Art of Indigenous Resistance
community mural project along with Martinez, a sophomore also at
South High All Nations; Thornhill is from St. Paul and facilitated
Several Minnesota Indian bands are
upset about what they say is a lack of consultation over a proposed
controversial oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
This week, the Mille Lacs and White
Earth Ojibwe bands are holding their own public hearings on plans for
the Sandpiper line, a $2.6 billion pipeline that would pump North
Dakota crude 300 miles across Minnesota to its terminal in Superior,
Wis., and eventually to refineries around the Great Lakes.
The tribal hearings are happening as
the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission readies a major ruling on
the project's need.
While the route preferred by Canadian
pipeline company Enbridge Energy does not cross any Indian
reservations, it does cross a large area of lakes and forests in
northern Minnesota where treaties give tribes the right to hunt, fish
Tribal members say they are especially
concerned about potential impacts on their right to gather wild rice.
A three-hour meeting Enbridge hosted last week on the Fond du Lac
Reservation was sometimes tense and emotional.
"If the wild rice dies, we die,"
said Michael Dahl, who drove four hours from the White Earth
reservation to attend the meeting. "Shame on you," he
shouted to Enbridge representatives.
Tanya Aubid, a Mille Lacs Band of
Ojibwe member who lives near the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
near McGregor, Minn., broke down in tears as she talked about how a
pipeline spill near Rice Lake would be devastating.
Ojibwe migration stories tell of how
the people were told to keep moving until they came to a place where
food grew on the water.
"Wild Rice is very much an
integral part of our lives," she said. "It's there for us
for our ceremonies, for basic daily living, and something we've had
here for thousands and thousands of years."
Linda Coady, Enbridge's director of
sustainability, told tribal members she'd relay their concerns to the
company's senior leadership. While she didn't make any promises,
Coady said she hopes Enbridge and tribes can forge a less adversarial
"There are very strong feelings;
there are obviously a lot of concerns about the potential impact of a
spill in relation to wild rice," she said.
"On some of the issues, we have
shared values, common goals," she added. "No one wants to
threaten the wild rice in Minnesota."
Enbridge has hired a tribal relations
consultant. But several bands say neither Enbridge nor the state have
done enough to consult with tribes.
A federal grand jury has indicted 41
people in connection with a drug trafficking ring focused on two
Indian reservations in Minnesota.
Authorities say the ring distributed
drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone and others in and
around the Red Lake and White Earth Indian reservations starting in
April 2014. Drugs were obtained in Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis.
Heroin and prescription drugs have
blazed a horrific path on the reservation, said Randy Goodwin, White
Earth director of public safety. He said even newborn babies have
been exposed to heroin because of their mothers' addictions.
lives, families, and communities have been damaged or destroyed from
this poison," Goodwin said. "Lives have been lost from
overdose. Families have been destroyed. Our elders have been victims
of threats, abuse, and theft."
Prosecutors describe Omar Sharif
Beasley, 37, as the ringleader of the operation, alleging that he
"recruited sources, supervisors, managers, distributors,
facilitators, couriers, drivers." A former federal fugitive,
Beasley has a history of drug convictions. For the past month, he has
been held at the Anoka County jail on an unrelated charge of
violating his probation.
Others charged include residents of
North Dakota, Chicago, Milwaukee and the White Earth and Red Lake
Each suspect has been charged
with conspiracy to distribute the drugs. Other charges for some of
the suspects include drug possession with intent to distribute,
illegal possession of a firearm and distribution of heroin,
methamphetamine and prescription painkillers.
The indictment was filed last week but
unsealed on May 27.
An analysis released May 28 by the
American Civil Liberties Union gives the most detailed picture yet of
racial disparities in the treatment of low-level offenders by
Those arrested for non-felony offenses
in Minneapolis are far more likely to be people of color than to be
The ACLU analyzed arrest data collected
over nearly three years. Most of the arrests for low-level offenses
occurred during traffic stops. Following FBI practice, the ACLU
counts as an arrest encounters where people are merely stopped,
ticketed and released.
Minneapolis police officers made nearly
100,000 non-felony arrests between Jan. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2014.
African-Americans and Native Americans were arrested at rates nearly
nine times higher than the rate for whites.
African-Americans make up less than 19
percent of the city's population, and Native Americans just 2
percent. The arrest numbers don't include separate categories for
Asians and Hispanics.
The disparity didn't come as a surprise
to Henry Jackson, 55, as he stood across the street from Target Field
with a handful of tickets.
Buying and selling tickets is legal,
but Jackson, who's African-American, has been arrested for
trespassing in the neighborhood three times since 2012.
The latest arrest happened outside
nearby Target Center in January, as he was selling tickets for a
Timberwolves game. He had stepped inside Target Center to warm his
hands, he said, when two police officers cited and released him.
Jackson said white ticket sellers could
do the same thing "all day long" without being stopped,
"but it seems like they got us singled out."
Jackson was convicted, ordered to pay a
$50 fine and given a stayed sentence of 90 days in the workhouse on
the condition that he stay out of Target Center for a year. Now he
can't enter the venue, even as a paying customer.
The idea of becoming a Native American
trade ambassador came to Diane Gorney during one of her recent
excursions to France. “Walking down the streets in Paris people
kept coming up and offering to buy the jewelry right off of me,”
says the Minneapolis resident and White Earth descendant.
Gorney refused to sell the stunning
beaded earrings, necklaces and bracelets she had purchased from
Ojibwe artists back home. From those interactions, however, she came
to understand the appetite French people have for all things Native
American. In their hunger Gorney saw an opportunity to help her
Ojibwe people. She investigated the availability of American Indian
items such as traditional art and jewelry, and hand-harvested
Minnesota wild rice.
The “Native American art” Gorney
found in Parisian shops was of poor quality and manufactured in
China. Gorney’s search for wild rice led her across the French
capital. French cookbooks and menus frequently reference an
ingredient called “riz sauvage (translation: wild rice),” so
Gorney was mystified when she couldn’t find it in stores. Finally,
at an obscure kosher market, Gorney ran across riz sauvage, but found
the product nothing like the natural cereal grain which flourishes
upon Minnesota’s northern waters.
The graphic on the packaging of
France’s leading brand of riz sauvage, Tilda Giant Wild Rice, lends
the impression the black rice is harvested by Native Americans. Its
box cover contains an image of two American Indians poling a birch
bark canoe through a wild rice bed. But a closer look reveals the
truth: the product marketed in France as Native American wild rice is
actually Indonesian, paddy-cultivated, black basmati rice, packaged
and distributed by a Britain-based food brand selling in over 50
Gorney, a former art teacher, soon
returned to Paris with a suitcase full of White Earth wild rice. She
handed out one-pound bags to chefs and others whom she hoped would
spread the word about the nutritious, delicious and sacred grain. “I
wanted them to share, but people loved it so much they kept it for
themselves. So my efforts were dead on arrival.”
Copyright 2008 The Circle News. All rights reserved. The Circle New is dedicated to presenting news from a Native American perspective, while granting an equal opportunity to community voices. Editorials and articles are the sole responsibility of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion, attitude, or philosophy of The Circle or the corporation. The Circle does not endorse any product or service accepted as advertising. The Circle reserves the right to reject any advertising, material, or letters submitted for publication. NO PART OF THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE PUBLISHER. West7th**