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Photography helps Native youth enrich their lives

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Political Matters: Indigenous Peoples Day in Minneapolis
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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"In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two,

Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

But everything else in the childhood rhyme,

Ignores the historic details and genocide."

— From “Fourteen Hundred Ninety-Two (The Rewrite),” by Dana W. Hall


Where should we start? In 1492, Cristoforo Colombo, an explorer from the Republic of Genoa (now part of Italy), sailing under the flag of the Crown of Castile (now Spain), set off to find the fastest route to the gold and spices of the Orient. He set off westward in the Atlantic Ocean, and ended up in the Caribbean, quite a long way from East Asia.

On his first voyage, Christopher Columbus, who was wrong in nearly all of his geographic suppositions, came ashore on an island in the present day Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Historians are not sure of which island in the Bahamas corresponds to the island that the Italian explorer called San Salvador.

Playwright Explores Identity Through Family
Friday, April 04 2014
 
Written by Jamie Keith,
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playwright explores identity through family.jpg“In a World Created by a Drunken God” made its United States premiere at Mixed Blood Theater's “Seconds: A Festival of Readings” on March 15 and 16. The play, written by Canadian playwright, novelist and filmmaker Drew Hayden Taylor, was nominated for the Governor General's Award and was produced in Canada four times since it was published in 2004.

“This particular story is a 'what if' in my life,” Taylor said. “I grew up on a reserve with my mother's family – I'm half Ojibwe. My white half took off before I was born – I never knew him. So one day, I thought wouldn't it be interesting, wouldn't it be bizarre, if there was a knock at my door and it was a family member from my father's family that I never knew existed or cared about telling me that our father is dying from chronic renal failure and needs a kidney?”

“In a World Created by a Drunken God” was directed by Bill Partlan and starred Jake Waid as Ojibwe character Jason Pierce and Skyler Nowinski as his white half-brother Harry Dieter. Over the course of the play, Jason grapples with the dilemma of whether or not he will give his absent father one of his kidneys. As Harry tries to convince Jason to give their father the transplant, the two men share stories about their lives. The play touches on themes of identity, biology and the complexity of family relationships.

“It's basically a discussion about – what are the obligations, if you are in such a situation?” Taylor said. “Do those few strands of DNA make you responsible for his life? Or does the fact that he's a complete stranger for all intents and purposes mean you have no obligations? It deals with the moral implications of that.”

Indigenous Peoples Day Set for Minneapolis Vote
Friday, April 04 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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indigenous peoples day set for mpls vote.jpgColumbus Day in Minneapolis may soon be celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day if a coalition of advocates, city leaders and organizations can convince a majority of the 13-member Minneapolis City Council to approve the change.

The effort is a result of recent organizing by the Native American Community Development Institute along with Minneapolis City Councilwoman Alondra Cano (Ward 9) and her policy aide and community member Ashley Fairbanks. The roots of the name change began at NACDI's first mayoral candidate forum held in November of last year.

“Last fall when we did our first mayoral forum – which is kind of a historic moment, too – one of the first times we had the candidates come down in our community and talk about our issues on our own terms. And we had community members ask questions of the mayoral candidates and one of them was 'Are you willing to un-recognize Columbus Day?' and so at that time, a majority of candidates said yes and one of them was Betsy Hodges who was elected and is now our current mayor,” NACDI President and CEO Jay Bad Heart Bull said. “And so everything aligned with our community work and civic engagement and then the big shift in the city council now with much more younger, progressive representation. And then also leadership by Alondra's office to really push this through.”

More Than A Name Change

“It's high time that we at least make this effort to rally the community and show the city population that we're still here, we're still vibrant, we're still contributing to make this a better city and a better state over all. The only way we can do that is by recognizing and calling out things when they're wrong,” Bad Heart Bull said. “We're starting with a deficit with Columbus Day and we have to get to the point where we have an even playing field before we can start making bigger moves, too. It's one of those things – and we don't like the term 'low-hanging fruit' – but it's a name change but there's so much significance with just that name change for us.”

PHOTO ESSAY: Ain Dah Yung's Cherish the Children Pow Wow
Friday, April 04 2014
 
Written by Jaida Gray Eagle,
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SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Ain Dah Yung Center's 16th Annual Cherish the Children Traditional Pow Wow was held March 15-16 at Central High School in Saint Paul and featured singers and dancers from around the region to honor Native American children through cultural celebration.

The event was emceed by Dave Larsen and Justin Huenemann with Hoka Hey as the host drum and head dancers included Caske La Blanc and Jennifer Kappenman.

 

 

 

What's New In The Community: April 2014
Friday, April 04 2014
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Saint Mary's Student Jennifer Waltman Earns Bush Fellowship Award

Jennifer Waltman, a Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota student in the Doctor of Psychology program, was one of 24 leaders recently awarded a 2014 Bush Fellowship.

Waltman, from Maple Grove, Minn., will use her $100,000 award to assist her during the next three years to complete her studies at Saint Mary’s and help develop systems to assist in mental health advocacy and therapy for Native Americans.


“I’m a Lakota, and my interest is in my own community and improving the health of Native Americans,” Waltman said. “Natives have the biggest disparity in the nation for chronic disease. It is my hypothesis that historical trauma has caused epigenetic changes that contribute to epidemics of poor health outcomes such as diabetes, substance use disorder, cancer, heart disease, depression and PTSD. I want to explore mental health treatment incorporating traditional healing that would improve symptoms of chronic disease.”

Citing guidance from mentors in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Waltman will also use some of the award money to fund research with professors at UCLA and the University of Oklahoma. Her long-term goals include working with other multi-cultural psychologists to create a multicultural health and wellness center, eventually leading to consulting tribes and native people to help eliminate health disparity.

VISUAL ARTS REVIEW: All My Relations presents provocative images in Maggie Thompson's “Where I Fit”
Friday, April 04 2014
 
Written by Mary Delorie, TC Daily Planet,
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pocahotness_where_i_fit.jpgWhen you think of your cultural and ethnic identity, is there a piece of cloth – a sown or painted tapestry, a beaded headband, a knitted cable sweater, a special quilt made by the matriarch in your family – that helps you honor and celebrate who you are? Cloth and/or textiles are often overlooked as key cultural touchstones in modern day society, but they are the focus of Maggie Thompson's solo exhibition at All My Relations Gallery. She uses textiles to ask important questions about family, identity and culture. As a Native American woman (Fond du Lac Ojibwe), Thompson uses this show to “dig deeper into the notions of her identity focusing on issues of cultural appropriation and Native authenticity through the rigid ideas of blood quantum and stereotyping.”

Her show is socially powerful with hints of nostalgia, deep-rooted sadness, and an anger that bubbles up along the edges. All the pieces showcase Thompson’s talents when it comes to color, patterns, and fabric types. She also pushes boundaries when it comes to textiles incorporating multimedia elements – screen-printing photographs, gold and silver threads, foam cookie cutters and also cornhusks and bottle caps.

The artist was initially an architectural student at the Rhode Island School of Design, so there are elements of her weaving and knitting that certainly draw from this, like straight lines and geometric patterns intentionally building a whole from smaller parts. Thompson recalls feeling like an artist even when she was very young, long before her textile degree from RISD.


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