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history of owamni yomni.jpg A History of Owamni Yomni

As the St. Anthony Lock closes by Congressional order, The Circle's Jon Lurie offers a history of this important Dakota cultural site. Read more ...


mark trahant.jpg GUEST COLUMNIST: Trahant Reports

Mark Trahant offers his thoughts on the upcoming Republican presidential candidates and their potential impact on Indian Country.

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The Arts

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A Goldilocks show at Bockley Gallery

A summer show follows the tradition of group shows that adhere to the Goldilocks principle — not too big, not too small, but just right. Read more ... 

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Lawsuit filed over E. coli outbreak near Cloquet
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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The first lawsuit has been filed as a result of an E. coli outbreak on the Fond du Lac Lake Superior Chippewa reservation near Cloquet earlier this summer.

Band member Bob Danielson has sued Jim-N-Jo's Northland Katering, which provided the food at three events in July at which people got sick, including an elder's picnic. Danielson, 62, said he was hospitalized for a day.

He filed suit Aug. 28 in state court in Carlton County and is seeking compensation for medical expenses and loss of wages.

"I thought somebody needs to call some attention to this," Danielson said. "Put the fear in somebody, or make sure that things are done right from here on out before somebody gets dead."

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating whether it came from ingredients in a potato salad that Danielson ate at an elder's picnic, where 20 to 60 people likely became ill.

The owner of the catering company declined to comment.

Danielson's attorney, Bill Marler, said E. coli 0157 is a deadly pathogen.

"It shouldn't be in our food," Marler said. "And it certainly shouldn't be in potato salad at an elder's picnic."

Also in July, 15 people in Minnesota were also sickened by a different strain of E. coli that was traced to several Applebee's restaurants. A lawsuit has also been filed in that case.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network or online at

Northern Minn. resort owner drops liquor license request
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Jon Enger, MPR News,
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A northern Minnesota resort owner has withdrawn his application for a liquor license, citing pressure from the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Chris Freudenberg, who owns Roger's Resort near the Red Lake reservation, recently asked the Beltrami County Board for a liquor store license. But tribal leaders opposed his application on the grounds that a store at the resort would be too close to their boundaries, where liquor is not sold.

Red Lake leaders argued a liquor store so close to the reservation would complicate the tribe's longtime struggle against alcoholism. They also asked for commissioners to approve a buffer zone around the reservation where any new liquor sales would be banned.

But Freudenberg withdrew his application shortly before the county board's scheduled Tuesday night vote on his request. As a result, county commissioners also will not consider the tribe's buffer zone request.

"My first response was to dig into a trench and fight," Freudenberg said. "But when you sit back and think, the tribe has a point."

Freudenberg originally wanted to set up a liquor store to reduce liability insurance costs by keeping his guests off the road when they ran out of beer. He thought the store would prevent drunk driving accidents, but hadn't thought about the reservation.

As it is illegal to possess alcohol on the reservation, tribe members buying from Roger's might drink their purchases before heading home. "That would just undo what I was trying to do," he said.

Instead, Freudenberg plans to set up a heated beer storage room at the resort, so his guests can bring extra beer and not worry about the cans freezing in mid-winter.

He later plans to apply for a license to sell drinks in a small restaurant and bar that is under construction at the resort. That type of license gives a bartender much more control over who drinks and how much is consumed, he said.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network or online at

From the Editor's Desk: Overcoming fatalism and claiming victory
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgThe greatest enemy we face as Native people is fatalism. It defines our historic, current and future struggles. From the moment the earliest European settlers put foot on our shores, it was because they believed it was their right to conquer our home. When they found us living here, millions-strong, it was their belief that we would eventually become extinct.

Throughout five centuries of wars, battles, plagues, relocations and government treaties, the occupation of our home and our culture was based on the misguided belief that we would eventually die out. But throughout all those wars, battles and broken promises, we continued to survive, thrive and flourish, our identity slightly altered, but ultimately intact. We hold true to our faith, our values and our traditions even when the outside world believes we are irrelevant.

Our current struggles are among culture, race and politics. Whether it is Dan Snyder's devious attempts to buy implied support by tribal nations through misdirected philanthropy, the government's glacial pace at addressing land rights for individual Indian landowners or multinational oil and gas corporations like Enbridge and TransCanada, attempting to damage our homelands in the guise of energy independence and monetary wealth, we face a myriad of troubles.

But over the arc of time, we see how we overcame our oppression and we keep the faith that we will continue to overcome this oppression. We do this by being thankful for everything we have – even if it's not much to begin with – we give thanks for every day that we live. We rediscover our family and tribal language, histories and roots; we nurture them as best we can by ensuring their survival.

This is evident in the Twin Cities by the opening of the Bdote Learning Center, a dream that is six years in the making. Immersion education in Ojibwe and Dakota are the first steps in the journey toward understanding our historic identity. While linguists debate the idea of whether language is formed by culture or culture is formed by language, we know that our language defines us as a people. Its roots hold the key toward understanding our world perspective and forming a new path for living in contemporary society.

In that society, we have suffered. After seeing the opening performance of Rhiana Yazzie's “Native Man The Musical, Phase I,” we understand how identity and experience form who we are as contemporary Natives in modern America. Whether we grew up on the reservations or in the urban setting, it has had an impact on us. The key toward moving forward is to acknowledge our individual and collective experiences, both good and bad, rather than being ashamed of them. When we can acknowledge our history and learn from it, we claim victory over our oppression.

Enbridge not good at math
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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Lorraine Little of the Enbridge Company keeps telling regulators and the public that 96 percent of the landowners along the proposed route of the Sandpiper Bakken oil pipeline are friendly and supportive. I don’t believe it.

That might be because of comments submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: Some 459 opposed the pipeline route, while 37 were proponents of the route. Of those opponents, 387 expressed environmental concerns, 131 expressed concerns about the tribal impact and 347 wanted an alternative route, outside of the lakes. (Remember Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., came out opposing the pipeline a couple of weeks ago and some 20 state representatives expressed deep concerns about the pipeline process at the PUC.)

So, not sure how Enbridge does math, but I learned my math differently. Let’s think about where Enbridge might have gotten its numbers. The support might be somewhat true in North Dakota, or at least almost, because the North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved the route of the pipeline. This is not surprising, for several reasons.

The Gift: Iroquois Nationals at the World Lacrosse Championships
Thursday, August 07 2014
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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the gift iroquois nationals at the world lacrosse championships winona laduke 1.jpg
“Lacrosse is our gift to the world. The game is a microcosm of the big game of life. We are in that arena right now.”

Chief Oren Lyons

He has never given up faith. Oren Lyons is a statesman and a 48-year member of the Iroquois Council of Chiefs. He is also a lacrosse player, of world renown. I found him with the Iroquois National Team in the World Championship Lacrosse games in Denver, the sixth of such world championships. Here, the Iroquois would end up with a Bronze Medal, after the U.S. and Canada. The sport has grown exponentially and this year, 32 teams came with new countries joining such as Uganda, Belgium, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Israel, Russia, Thailand and Turkey just to name a few.

I have driven 1,200 miles with two 14 year-old boys for these games, something which puzzles many. But this is not just a game, this is epic.

It is told that the first game of lacrosse was played between the animals and the birds. This game was won by the animals since it has been called the “Creator’s game.” Because of the bat, that creature who spans two worlds: mammal and bird, who won the game for the mammals. Because of this, the birds now fly south in the winter and the mammals do not travel. The game was gifted to the two-legged from Creator for enjoyment and as a medicine game for the healing of the people.

It is a preeminent Indigenous sport, most known for the Iroquois continuity and commitment and now it’s resurgence nationally and internationally. In June, for instance, two intertribal teams composed of players from four reservations Ihanktonwan/Yankton, Cansa’yapi/Lower Sioux, Sicangu/Rosebud and Winnebago defeated the Rapid City Shock in a three-game series in early June. There is a growing force, it is young and increasingly gifted.

The Age of AIM:The American Indian Movement turns 46
Thursday, August 07 2014
Written by Jon Lurie,
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the age of aim the circle.jpgClyde Bellecourt was naked, locked in a dark, solitary cell in the bowels of Stillwater State Prison. Almost two weeks had passed since the 32 year-old Anishinaabe inmate had been forced into that cold concrete dungeon; he awoke contemplating suicide.

Bellecourt's path to Stillwater had begun long before, while still in the fifth grade. He ran away from school on the White Earth Reservation, where he was often beaten for acting out. Even as a child, Bellecourt rebelled against a system that denied the history and culture of his people. He was judged incorrigible by local authorities and sent to the Red Wing State Training School, a juvenile correctional facility.

Years later, lying raw against his stone bunk at Stillwater, Bellecourt remembered the cries of boys pleading for help as they were sexually molested by the Red Wing reformatory's priest.

As he considered taking his own life, Bellecourt heard someone whistling “You Are My Sunshine” outside the cell door.

He wondered: Who the hell whistles a song like that inside a prison?

He heard someone call out, "Is there a Clyde Bellecourt here?"

It was the voice of Eddie Benton-Banai, an Anishinaabe prisoner from Round Lake, Wisconsin. Benton-Benai asked Bellecourt for help organizing Native prisoners for an Indian folklore group.

Their eyes met through the peephole of the cell door seeding a partnership that would eventually blossom into the American Indian Movement, perhaps the most influential indigenous organization of the 20th century. Bellecourt and Benton-Banai succeeded in convincing a majority of the prison's nearly 200 Native prisoners to join their group.

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