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A gag order on White Earth's Chairwoman on talking about reform efforts leads her to tell her side of the story.

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For Minnesota's American Indian Month, columnist and recent TEDx presenter Nick Metcalf writes about the realities of being Native in today's society.

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The Art of Resistance

Twin Cities Native community members come together for an evening of defining the Native experience through art.

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Peter Matthiesson, Author of "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" Passes On
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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laduke-passing on-peter matthiessen 2.jpg“… For all those who honor and defend those people who still seek in the wisdom of the Indian way…”,

Peter Mattheisson, from the dedication of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.

He was a writer among writers, up to the last. Peter Mattheisson lived in an era of grand adventure writers, storytelling in words, and lived it well. I remember thinking that with our times together, walking, talking and watching him in his craft. I knew him as a friend, and loved him as a courageous and gifted man. He died April 5, after a gifted life. As a young writer, I admired his style and his agility. The word and the story is what he loved, a careful art, trampled often by todays’ era of tweeting and sensational journalism. The art, however still remains.

As a Native woman I appreciated his courage,that he came from immense privilege and had the heart, resources and tenacity to tell stories in a way, that only he could tell and that he loved our community. He was a man who could write about nature, and nuance of description, perhaps better than any other. He wrote 33 books and is the only writer to have won the National Book Award three times.

I remember Peter from l980, when he had come to Indian Country, in this case, first in the Navajo Nation, where I was working on uranium mining expansion proposals, in the midst of an arid land, already faced with groundwater contamination, and a way of life challenged by health issues of radiation contamination and an economic poverty forced upon a self sufficient people. He drove a rental car and I talked, taking him from house to sacred mountain, and elder to elder. He was an apt listener, crystalizing the essence and chronicling the stories. Then it was that he came to South Dakota, a place which would move him and a story which would catapult an environmental writer into a national controversy.

Fond du Lac Follies
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Jim Northrup,
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_northrup_cover_mug_small.jpgThe time to harvest maple sap came and we were ready. By we, I mean the crew, son Joe, son Aaron, nephew Kris and two daughter in laws, Sara and Jackie.

We have been working together for about a decade and I think any one of them can set up their own sugar bush. That was my goal when I invited them all to work with me. The afternoon sun brought warm feelings to us.

Months before we tap we talk. We decide which trees we will use. This year we found a better place to get the gallon jugs, our drills are still good from last year. We use electric and hand drills to make the holes in the trees. Because of attrition we made some new taps.

The deep snow was a handicap, my brother Vern said he slipped off the trail and sunk into the snow, the only part of Vern that was showing was his hat, now that’s deep. My crew had to wear snowshoes most of the time.

In our first boil we began with 110 gallons of sap, when we were done we had four gallons of syrup.

After having the appropriate ceremony. The syrup was delicious and I am glad we do this every year.

I think we will have one more boil before we pull the taps to close another successful season.


It Ain't Easy Being Indian
Thursday, May 01 2014
 
Written by Ricey Wild,
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ricey wild.jpgWoke up this morning, turned on the news and watched the story about the Sterling guy (owner of the LA Clippers) who made racist comments that were recorded and is now banned from anything to do with the NBA. In the same moment I thought ‘good enough for him’ I wondered how is that different from the Washington Red$kin$? Answer: we don’t have that much money AKA power for one thing and our culture is still actively degraded by the willingly ignorant. Grrrrr! I saw Native News Today put the story out on Facebook; sure it will get the word out but beyond that what can we do? It seems the only thing the dominant culture takes notice of is what billionaires want and violence. But … using other means to change the hateful team name isn’t impossible either. Let me think about it some more.
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.”

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