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Community comes together to grow traditional crops of corn
Friday, July 08 2011
 
Written by Jenny,
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community_comes_toegether_togrow_corn.jpgAt the end of a winding dirt road near the village of White Earth is a small farm, a few acres cleared in the woods.
Home to the White Earth Land Recovery Project, the farm (located on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota) aims to bring back traditional crops of corn, beans and squash by collecting seeds, some hundreds of years old. The goal is to expand the seed stock so reservation residents can grow their own food.
Inside a small garden plot protected from wildlife by a tall wire fence, are unique plants with names that provide a glimpse into their heritage.
"This is our three sisters garden where we are planting corn, squash and beans," farm manager Andrew Hayner said. "We have the Arikara squash, with the white corn and we're putting the Hidatsa shield bean which is going to crawl up the corn."
This year Hayner planted six squash seeds found in an archeological dig in Wisconsin. The seeds had been buried in a small clay pot for about 800 years. Tests showed enough seeds would germinate to make them worth planting.
Hayner carries a metal pan with an assortment of ziploc bags, glass jars and folded pieces of paper. They all contain seed varieties given to the Land Recovery Project by people across the country.
"Some of them were down to just a handful of seeds, and they come along with a story," he said. "Hopefully we can establish those seed stock again. And we're going to try and figure out which ones grow best here. So it's kind of an experiment."
The seeds are grown in a regular garden plot with no pampering or special treatment. After all, in this area, successful plants need to thrive on their own.
 The plants include bear Island flint, a diverse corn of blue, yellow red and pink that  is named for an island on the Red Lake Reservation where the corn was grown for generations. It's proven to be a very dependable crop, and it makes good hominy, a traditional staple of the American Indian diet, Hayner said.
There's also a Manitoba white flint, corn grown by Ojibwe Indians for generations in northern Canada. It's a favorite with elders at White Earth who like cooking with it.
Ethnic Cultural Tourism Conference to be held in July
Friday, July 08 2011
 
Written by Art CoulsonSeveral organizations focused on promoting tourism in the American Indian community and i,
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Several organizations focused on promoting tourism in the American Indian community and in other communities of color will gather with their colleagues from around the state at Black Bear Crossings on the Lake for the inaugural Ethnic Cultural Tourism Destinations (ECTD) Conference.
The conference, which will be held  on July 13 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Black Bear Crossings, 1360 North Lexington Parkway, St. Paul, will feature a mix of local and nationally known speakers on topics that are applicable to any community.
Among the planners of this conference were David Glass, of Black Bear Crossings and the American Indian Economic Development Fund, and Janice LaFloe of the American Indian Family Center.
"We had great participation from the local American Indian community," said Lisa Tabor, organizer of the conference and executive director of CultureBrokers Foundation. 
The conference is being planned by the ECTD Collaborative, a group of community developers, tourism professionals, businesses, residents, agencies and elected officials working together to capitalize and leverage St. Paul's ethnic cultural assets for the economic benefit of ethnic populations. Through promotion of cultural tourism as an economic development tool, the conference will help people capitalize on local assets while expanding their economies through new visitors to their neighborhoods.
Oill drilling battle over Bear Butte in South Dakota
Friday, July 08 2011
 
Written by Talli Nauman,
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In Sturgis S.D., Meade County commissioners abandoned the notion of suing over the state's recent decision to limit oil drilling at the Bear Butte National Historic Landmark. At a June 8 hearing on the matter,  they voted unanimously to send a letter to state regulators, disputing the decision to hold oil drilling to five wells, instead of 24 initially permitted near the prayer site sacred to Native American tribes. They also voted to request a State Attorney General's report on the validity of its boundaries.
The South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment decided on May 18 to reduce Nakota Energy LLC's 2010 permit for oil drilling in the sacred butte area from 24 to five initial wells, after three public comment periods revealed substantial opposition on religious grounds.
Located six miles northeast of Sturgis in Bear Butte State Park, the landmark is a sacred prayer gathering site for at least two dozen tribes. The Standing Rock, Rosebud, Northern Cheyenne, Santee, Lower Brule Sioux and Sisseton-Wahpeton tribes contested the oil drilling proposal during state comment periods.
The county commission chambers have been the scene of numerous hearings over the years regarding commercial developments in the environs of the religious site, including bars and a shooting range. The county would get a share of taxes generated by production and pipeline infrastructure.
EPA wants input on Cass Lake Superfund site
Friday, July 08 2011
 
Written by Jacob Croonenberghs,
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Cass Lake, the location of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation as well as the St. Regis Paper Company Superfund Site, held a public meeting in June concerning cleanup options for contaminated soil. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a meeting at the Cass Lake-Bena Elementary school to discuss their plan for cleaning up the former wood treatment area,and to listen to public comments about the ecological problem that has been a cause for health concern in the area for over 25 years.
From 1958 until 1985, the St. Regis Paper Company treated wood with chemicals such as Dioxin, pentachlorophenol, (PCP) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to increase the longevity of its wood products. The consequence of using these chemicals, however, was the exposure of the areas, its soils, and its facilities to substances that have been shown to cause cancer in humans.
Wild Rice In Danger
Friday, June 10 2011
 
Written by Jacob Croonenberghs,
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cover story wild rice in danger.jpgProposed sulfide limit increases
in Minnesota's lakes would
endanger natural wild rice growth.

At the State Capitol, Governor Mark Dayton vetoed legislation that, among other measures, would have threatened the growth of wild rice on Minnesota's lakes and rivers. For weeks, debate on the budget had been stalling an omnibus environmental, energy, and natural resource financing bill named HF 1010. The legislation proposed budget cuts across the board, which would have affected the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) in such areas as staff levels, salaries of state employees, and reduction of water quality tests for Minnesota's lakes.
One particular amendment to the bill concerned the treatment of wild rice that grows naturally in Minnesota. The bill called for increasing the sulfide limit in Minnesota's bodies of water, endangering natural wild rice growth and threatening the way of life for many in Northern Minnesota.
Opposition to the bill begun at the grass-roots level. An open member group, Protect our Manoomin, speaks against the dangers of tampering with the delicate balance of wild rice stands, the beds harvested on the lakes of Northern Minnesota. The group has organized protests and rallies to bring attention to the issue, and has allied itself with other organizations concerned about the well-being of Minnesota's lakes and their ecosystems.
Premiere of Two Spirits to air on June14 on PBS
Friday, June 10 2011
 
Written by Andrea Cornelius,
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arts story - two spirit.jpgIn a remote town, 16 year old Fred Martinez became one of the youngest hate-crime victims when he was brutually murdered a quarter mile from his house. The documentary, Two Spirits, directed by Lydia Nibley, is the tragic story of Martinez, a Navajo boy that was beaten to death because of his gay identity, interwoven with a look at a time in history when Native American culture was not split into solely male and female genders.
Martinez's mother, Pauline Mitchell, serves as the main source in Martinez strory and along with Navajo anthropologist Wesley K. Thomas, Gay and Lesbian activists; Richard LaFortune, Cathy Renna, John Peters-Campbell, Mark Thompson among many more gay/lesbian community members who share their insight into Martinez's short life.
In the Navajo tradition, there was also a fourth gender called nadleehi, a person born as a male and as an adult assumed the role of a woman in society. Nadleehi was not uncommon and those who held that position were respected and worked as negotiators, healers, matchmakers within the tribe and when children were orphaned they became their caretakers. This tradition of nadleehi is a position that Martinez occupied and a demonstration of his struggle to follow his Native traditions while being himself.


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