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MN VOICES | Robert Albee, diabetes activist
Tuesday, November 20 2012
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diabest_breakfast_story.jpgNovember 08, 2012
Robert Albee is a retired school teacher and Minneapolis resident who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1995. I met Albee on a cold and rainy morning for a monthly Diabetes Breakfast in the culturally diverse Phillips neighborhood at the Phillips Community Center.
On that Thursday morning traffic all around the Twin Cities screeched to a very slow halt as the unexpected heavy rain came during rush hour. The rain was no deterrent to 35 participants who showed up to eat a hearty breakfast burrito bowl layered with beans, eggs, sausage, lettuce, fresh cilantro, tomato and a side of fresh apple slices.
Participants crowded around tables with hot coffee in hand to hear a psychologist and nurse practitioner from the Native American Community Clinic talk about diabetes and how it can affect their mental health. Topics at past breakfasts have included foot care, dental hygiene, and nutrition. The approach that Albee and his wife Sharon took in forming their two-year-old group, A Partnership of Diabetics (A-POD), is one of sharing in community with other diabetics. In addition to a monthly diabetes breakfast with speakers, A-POD holds weekly meet-up style groups. Each meeting starts with members recording their blood pressure and weight. During the meetings, members share their successes, struggles, and tips for better management of a sometimes very complex disease. Albee says about 100 people per month attend the breakfast and/or meet-up groups.
Peggy Flanagan's health care reform question: "Is my mom going to be able to get the care that she n
Tuesday, November 20 2012
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peggy_flanagans_health_care_reform.jpg November 01, 2012
For 33-year-old Peggy Flanagan, health care policy is "super personal." About a decade ago, Flanagan’s mom had to go on social security disability because her pain was so bad. With her fibromyalgia, she could no longer perform the tasks that she needed to do for her job. “That was really hard, because my mom really defined herself through her work,” Flanagan said. “That was her identity – someone who got up at the crack of dawn and worked late into the night. Just to not be able to have that has been really hard on her.”
Care for people. It’s a simple enough concept, but one that sometimes gets lost in all the rhetoric and politics during election season. What would happen if more of our elected officials and people in government thought about the value of caring for people? When it comes to health care reform, 33-year-old Peggy Flanagan wishes politicians would talk about what it means for real people, how Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program people like her mom, a woman who worked her whole life healing others, and now can’t always even get the medication she needs.
Flanagan has worked for the Division of Indian Work, was a School Board Member with Minneapolis Public Schools, and is now the Director of External Affairs for Wellstone Action, where she’s taken a leave to work for Minnesota United for All Families. She’s also expecting a baby in February. And through all of this she’s cared for her mom, a woman who for the past 10 or so years has battled a host of health issues including fibromyalgia, severe osteoporosis and scoliosis, and now has issues with her breathing, because her spine is collapsing and crushing her ribs, making it more and more difficult for her to breathe, and making her essentially bed ridden.
Flanagan decided to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 after he told a story about watching his mom suffer in her last weeks and days of life and having to be on the phone with the insurance company arguing about whether or not they’d pay for her pain medication. “That was the story for me that made me go, “Okay. This guy gets it and will be an advocate for me and my family and specifically for my mom.”
Little Earth Launches Homeownership Initiative
Wednesday, October 17 2012
Written by By Jamie Keith,
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cover_story_little_earth_housing_1.jpgAfter years of dreaming, planning and collaborating with partners throughout the city and state, Little Earth of United Tribes (Little Earth) has launched its Homeownership Initiative (LEUTHI) this fall.
The initiative, which will support Native American families through the process of home ownership and offer them quality, affordable housing options, marks an unprecedented opportunity for Minneapolis's Native American community. It will also help
provide safety and stability on a block in the Phillips neighborhood that has had a history of drug and gang activity.
"I think it really symbolizes a Renaissance of self-determination and taking ownership and pride in this community," said Jay Thomas Bad Heart Bull (Standing Rock/Oglala Sioux), Vice President of Little Earth.
Bill Ziegler (Lower Brule Sioux), President and CEO of Little Earth, said that the concept behind LEUTHI had been talked about at Little Earth internally since as early as the 1970s and 1980s.
Canoe stolen from canoe sharing program in Mpls Indian community
Wednesday, October 17 2012
Written by By Jamie Keith,
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cover_story_2_canoe_stolen_canoe_sharing_program_ameircan_indian_community.jpgA canoe that was part of a Native community canoe-loaning program was stolen this summer. The canoe was owned by Jon Lurie, an English professor at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. Lurie manages and maintains five canoes at Lake Calhoun as a resource for individuals and organizations in the Twin Cities Native American community.
"I see my role here as caretaker for a very valuable community resource that I maintain so that the entire community can have access to it," said Lurie.
The canoes were originally purchased by Clyde Bellecourt, a founding member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), through the Elaine M. Stately Peacemaker Center in the 1990s.
The Center used them for a Native youth canoe trip on the Mississippi River from the headwaters to the Twin Cities.
After this trip, they fell into disuse and were stored in a garage for years before Bellecourt loaned them to the now-defunct Healthy Nations program at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. Lurie worked for Healthy Nations for five years before the state minority community health grant that funded the program was cut in 2010.
While Healthy Nations was an active program, staff took many urban Native American youth on canoeing excursions throughout the state and beyond.
"It was a unique model of adventure-based restoration," said Lurie. "When I say restoration, I mean restoring individuals' spirits, restoring families, communities, and people's connection with their histories and futures."
Wednesday, October 17 2012
Written by Tha Circle Staff,
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whats_new_in_community_dream_of_wild_heath_awards_first_native_scholarship.jpgDream of Wild Health Awards First Native Youth Scholarship
The Dream of Wild Health farm awarded the inaugural Sally Auger Rising Star Youth Scholarship at their annual Community Feast on August 25th. Wicahpi Cavanaugh was honored for his exemplary performance and commitment to education.
The scholarship, which provides a $1,000 cash award, was established to help a Garden Warrior, past or present, continue their post-secondary education. In 2011, when founder and Executive Director Sally Auger chose to retire, the scholarship was created to honor her commitment to helping Native youth thrive and succeed.
Wicahpi was selected because of his maturity, his ability to provide a positive role model for young people in the Garden Warrior program, and his commitment to getting a college education. He participates in Sundance and powwows, belongs to a drum group, and maintains a healthy lifestyle. Wicahpi recently started as a freshman at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
Urban News
Wednesday, October 17 2012
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Getting Out The Native Vote

Native Vote Launches National Grass-roots Media Campaign
The National Congress of American Indians launched a national grassroots media campaign in September alongside leading national Native media organizations to encourage Native people to register to vote and participate in the 2012 national election.
The new campaign titled "Every Native Vote Counts" is part of the organization's ongoing non-partisan voter outreach effort, Native Vote. Native Vote works with community organizers, non-profits, urban Indian centers, tribal governments, and regional organizations to create a strong and permanent infrastructure for election training that highlights voter registration, election protection policies, and voter education.
With a goal of turning out the largest Native vote in history in 2012 NCAI reached out to members of the media to participate in the campaign and hopes these critical partners are joined by many more in the coming weeks.
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