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Photography helps Native youth enrich their lives

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Mpls Superintendent Speaks
Friday, April 13 2012
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Reform Working Here
As leaders of the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), we are often surprised but pleased by the number of people who follow the ebbs and flows of teacher contract talks. We need more people paying attention to the critical issues pertaining to public education in our country. We commend the intelligent public discourse on these issues and we feel it is important that the commitment and enthusiasm people have for this work continue.
While reading articles, blog posts and editorials, we sometimes wonder if people truly understand the complexities of our work. Education reform: what does that really mean? It is so much more than making adjustments to the teachers' contract.
In 2007, MPS embarked on a transformational journey with our strategic plan as our roadmap. The plan clearly laid out many of the core strategies needed to raise every student's achievement, close the racial and income achievement gaps and deliver on our vision to make every child ready for college and a career. Our plan was aggressive and we knew it would have broad implications for our community, from policymakers at the state to our own staff members to our community at large.
We are very proud of our efforts as a school district to push hard for increasing academic achievement for all our students. This year we approved a new comprehensive academic improvement plan and are working with urgency to close the achievement gap with proven strategies. We have an eight-year trend of improving graduation rates and we have increased post-secondary enrollment rates. Most significantly, for the first time in six years, MPS has made progress in narrowing the achievement gap between students of color and white students. There is no question that we need to get results at a faster pace, but we remain confident that the right plans are in place to achieve our goals.
An Interview with State Rep. Susan Allen
Friday, March 09 2012
 
Written by Interview by Jamie Keith,
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interview_with_rep_susan_allen.jpgState Rep. Susan Allen became the first Native American (Rose Bud Sioux)?woman to serve in the Minnesota State Legislature. Allen is an attorney and a partner with Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan LLP.  A member of the state's Democratic Farmer Labor [DFL] party, Allen, who represents District 61B, discusses her role and goals for her term in office.

Jamie: My first question is - why did you decide to run for state legislature?

Rep. Allen: I saw it as an opportunity. I work on behalf of tribes and non-profit organizations in the community, so it's a continuation of the work I've been doing and a lifelong commitment to working for social and economic justice. I always tell people that my whole life has prepared me for this.

Jamie: What does the Native American community look like in your district? How many Native people live here? How were people from the Native community involved in your campaign?

Rep. Allen: On the [61]B side, there are a little over 800, and on the [61]A side it's approaching 4,000. There are problems with the census, though, in the options to check. There was "American Indian" and "American Indian and Other." Some American Indian people were confused, so they checked both boxes, or checked "Indian and Other." If you checked "Indian and Other," you weren't counted as American Indian. So the numbers drastically dropped in the last  census. That had a huge impact on federal funding for non-profits in the district. We had a number of individuals from the American Indian community who worked throughout the campaign, whether it was door-knocking, putting up signs, [or] going to events.
Native film series "Where Condor Meets Eagle" a collaborative project
Friday, March 09 2012
 
Written by Jennifer Fairbanks,
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Every year, the Augsburg Native American Film Series (ANAFS) holds various film events that serve as a venue for Native American filmmakers and films. Past series have focused on topics such as urban homelessness, Native identity, and the lasting effects of cultural genocide.
This year the ANAFS presents a collaborative project with the Phillips Indian Educators called Where Condor Meets Eagle: Indigenous Bolivian and Native American Film Festival and Cultural Exchange.  According to the event's website, the three-night film festival will be celebrating indigenous film, collaborations across national boundaries, and visual storytelling.  
The theme for the festival stems from the Augsburg College Center for Global Education's 2010 Bolivian travel seminar "When Indigenous Peoples Lead".  The trip brought several local educators, artists, and community members to Bolivia's indigenous communities.  The seminar focused on what having its first ever indigenous President, Evo Morales, means for Bolivia and the changes in their government. Jim Rock helped to plan this year's film festival and had lived in Bolivia for a year prior to participating in the seminar.
"It was very powerful for me to see our brothers and sisters in the South and to see how their lives were like ours in the North and the effects of colonization," Rock said. 
WHATS NEW IN THE COMMUNITY:
Friday, March 09 2012
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Kaylee Reynolds Wins Youth of the Year
(By Michael Meuers)
whats_new_in_the_community_red_lake_youth_named.jpgKaylee Reynolds will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members for the Minnesota Youth of the Year title, and a $1,000 college scholarship from Tupperware Brands Corporation. As the new Youth of the Year for the Red Lake Nation Boys & Girls Club (BGCA), 15 year old Reynolds is recognized for her sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.
Reynolds is a sophomore attending Red Lake High School, where she is a "B" Honor Roll Student. Reynolds enjoys math and writing and has begun looking at college programs that will suit her needs but will not make a formal decision until her senior year.
Were Reynolds to win the state competition, she will compete for the title of Midwest Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 scholarship from Tupperware, the recognition program's national sponsor.  
Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in September 2012, to compete for the title of BGCA's National Youth of the Year.  The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of up to $50,000 from the Rick and Susan Goings Foundation, and will have the opportunity to meet with the President Obama at the White House.
Federal officials close to compensating Chippewa bands for tribal land
Friday, March 09 2012
 
Written by Conrad Wilson Minnesota Public Radio News,
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It's taken 123 years, but the federal government is the closest it's ever been to compensating Minnesota's Chippewa bands for tribal land that the U.S. government sold unfairly.
On March 1 a bill that would award millions of dollars to the six bands that make up the tribe and their members, will receive a hearing before a House committee in Washington. The money would settle a dispute over a century-old land deal.
But not all tribal members think the deal is fair.
In 1889, the Congress passed the Nelson Act, which consolidated Minnesota's Chippewa reservations by allocating plots to individual tribal members and selling off the rest of the reservation land. The act aimed to assimilate the tribes, in part by shrinking the size of the reservation. Money raised from the sale was supposed to help the tribe, but the government sold it at prices considerably below market value.
"They were listing it as swamp land, which was probably $2 per acre, as opposed to timber land," said Gary Frazer, executive director of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. "It was really timberland and they were classifying it as swamp lands."
In 1946, the Chippewa tribe filed a lawsuit against the government, seeking full compensation for the land. The tribe argued the money the federal government raised wasn't used appropriately. But an agreement wasn't reached until 1999, when federal officials offered the tribe $20 million. Tribal leaders accepted.
But a disagreement within the tribe over how the money should be distributed stalled the payment. Since then, the money has sat in an account, slowly collecting interest, making the payout now closer to $28 million.
SMSC Organics Recycling Facility is wave of the future
Friday, March 09 2012
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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smsc_organics_facility.jpgEach day at lunch, children in the Prior Lake Savage School district put their leftovers and their biodegradable paper products into a special bin. Empty milk cartons, napkins, and thick cardboard pressed trays are collected along with food waste and then transported to the nearby Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Organics Recycling Facility. There they are mixed with leaves, branches, used chopped up casino playing cards, water, and cucumbers and potatoes from nearby processing facilities.
Using best management practices and following both state and federal guidelines, the staff foster an environment where the heat and energy created within these materials breaks them down. Twelve weeks later these materials have been transformed into usable compost, decomposed organic matter rich in nutrients which can be used as a soil amendment.
The SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, located on trust land off County Road 83 and owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, opened to the public in the fall of 2011.
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