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Strengthening Identity: The Cradleboard Project instills history and tradition
Friday, April 03 2015
 
Written by Deanna StandingCloud,
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strengthening identity- the cradleboard project instills history and tradition 2-web.jpgWhen Gavino Limon was 14 months-old, he began his professional career as a champion Grass Dancer, a mere five months after he began walking. Limon is now six years-old and continues his love for dancing as a member of the world famous Native Pride Dance Troop. His parents, Douglas and Rachel Limon believe that having him in a cradleboard during his infancy had a tremendous influence on his advanced large motor skills

Traditionally, tribal people in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas used cradleboards for hundreds of years to carry their children. Using whatever materials within the environment, cradleboards were assembled with much care. Depending on the community, cradleboards can be constructed with cedar, oak, cattail, buckskin, animal fur and moss. In essence, a flat wooden board is the base, a frame and a headpiece, sometimes to attach toys. The baby is wrapped tightly to the board, allowing them to feel secure and also sit upright to interact with their world.  In this way, babies became accustomed to the daily activities of their tribe. The cradleboard was the first step in traditional Indigenous education.

Cradleboard advocates assert that children who have been in a cradleboard have a developmental advantage. Babies are able to observe their families and socially interact with their relatives. Parents will often claim that a baby’s leg and neck muscles are strengthened earlier than an infant who has not been placed in a cradleboard.

These benefits prompted the Limons to have their baby in a cradleboard. Before their son was born, Doug and Rachel Limon wanted to have their new baby in a cradleboard, but had difficulty finding anyone in the community that could help teach them to make one. After finding an elder in Leech Lake to help them, they had Gavino in the cradleboard.


The Art of Resistance
Wednesday, March 11 2015
 
Written by Deanna StandingCloud,
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the art of resistance 1-web.jpgArt is powerful. For Indigenous communities, art is medicine with incredible healing properties. It is a way to create beauty in the messy process of decolonization. It is also a means to educate, inspire and enliven Indigenous activist movements.

Minneapolis is no stranger to Indigenous activism, so the “Art of Resistance” exhibition opening on the American Indian Cultural Corridor’s All My Relations Gallery complemented the rich activist history in the Twin Cities. The traveling exhibit reflect over 30 years of environmental justice work of Honor the Earth, a national Native-led organization based in White Earth, Minn. Featuring 20 Indigenous local and national artists, the exhibit is only one aspect to a broader partnership and collaborative effort to engage Native activists in the Twin Cities.

The Native American Community Development Institute hosted a first of its kind “Community Art Night” inspired by the “Art of Resistance” on Feb. 9. Graci Horne, (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) Associate Curator for All My Relations Gallery, was inspired by similar events during her time as a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Over 50 community members came together to share space, food and to create art together on small canvases to express their own activist work. NACDI Community Organizer Ashley Fairbanks (White Earth Ojibwe) shared insight about the event, “It’s important for our community to see this gallery as their space, as belonging to them.” Finished art pieces completed by community members will be featured on the “Mni Art Wall” appearing in Pow Wow Grounds Coffee Shop located next to the gallery.

One of the mainstays of Indigenous teachings is that at some point in Native lives, community members have a chance to be leaders and bring forth their own gifts and talents to benefit the community. Fairbanks believes the event is one way to help bring out our people’s strengths, “This is an opportunity for our community members who may not see themselves as artists a chance to see themselves in that lens and to see their work displayed.”

In the spirit of activism, the exhibit's youth work is designed to develop leadership roles, using art to reconnect the Native community with the sacred relationship to traditional tobacco. A partnership to that end is the development of Native youth leadership project through the arts. Lannesse Baker (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe), Native Youth Alliance of Minnesota Executive Director, developed a partnership with Honor the Earth Organizer and 2014 Bush Fellow Charlie Thayer (Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe) and ClearWay Minnesota Senior Community Development Manager CoCo Villaluz (Hidatsa) to co-facilitate a youth lead initiative.

As 2012 Creative Community Leadership Institute participants with Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, Thayer and Villaluz began discussing an arts project to share with the American Indian community in the Twin Cities to promote well being. The genesis of this project was born from their conversations. Thayer understands the potential creativity has to make change in our community, “There is power in activism through art. Visual art plays an important role as it has the ability to stimulate and encourage a unifying perspective. When channeled as a vehicle, it carries issues of consciousness where it can be a catalyst for meaningful change.”

Understanding Racial Tension in Rapid City
Wednesday, March 11 2015
 
Written by Jon Lurie,
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A 41-year-old man was charged with disorderly conduct for his behavior during a Rapid City Rush hockey game in January, during which Lakota children from the American Horse School on the Pine Ridge Reservation were alleged to have been doused with beer and heckled.

Trace O'Connell was charged last month in Seventh Circuit magistrate court in Rapid City. If convicted, he faces up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Many Lakota people in the area called the incident a hate crime, child abuse or assault and sought charges of a greater magnitude.

The perceived lack of justice in this case comes on the back of a long history of racial tension between Rapid City’s Native American and white communities, including the December 20, 2014 killing of Lakota resident Allen Locke by a white police officer. The officer was not charged in case. understanding_racial_tension-cover-website-500px.jpg

The deadly shooting, coming just one day after Locke attended a protest against police brutality, ignited suspicions of a racial motive. Captain Dan Rud of the RCPD sought to lay those suspicions to rest. "This officer is white, the suspect is Native American,” he said, “but it's not a race deal. This is based on criminal behavior and it had nothing to do with race. Had the race of the Police Officer be Native American and the suspect white the results would have been the same." 

Rud’s comments were disregarded by Lakota residents of Rapid City, however, for whom everything about daily life in the divided city is racial.

The American Horse School Board is now pursuing federal hate crime charges against those adults who allegedly abused the 57 Lakota students in Rapid City. At a community meeting in Allen, S.D. last month, American Horse School Board and Oglala Sioux Tribal officials were present to address the issue.

Parent Angie Sam, mother of 13 year-old Robyn, one of the children who attended the now-infamous hockey game, says her daughter learned a hard lesson that night. “These kids were targets of a hate crime because of their skin color, because they were from the rez and they were told to go back to the rez. Why do we have to explain that they're hated just because of their skin color?” 

Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker said of the matter, "This incident is gut wrenching for me and its gut wrenching particularly because it involves young children and so there's a scarring that takes place and apologizing simply isn't enough." 

For Minnesota Natives, who have established over the past four decades strong social and political networks among themselves and with other communities, the depths of racial tension in Rapid City can be difficult to fathom. The Circle has compiled the following list to help make sense of the news coming out of western South Dakota.

  • Rapid City is Home to the Poorest Urban Indians in the United States
Fifty-one percent of American Indians in Rapid City live below the federal poverty line, which, in 2014 was $23,850 for a family of four. By comparison, this is three times of the poverty rate for Natives living in Anchorage, Alaska. Minneapolis is the second poorest urban Indian population, with 48 percent of Native residents living in poverty. While roughly 12-percent of the population, Native residents own just 3-percent of businesses in Rapid City.

 

Out & About: March 2015
Wednesday, March 11 2015
 
Written by Deanna StandingCloud,
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A Conversation with Eve, Winona and Louise

“Until we can trust our own hearts, we cannot have a revolution.”

Eve Ensler’s words permeated throughout the auditorium at the Women’s Club in Minneapolis on Feb. 17 as Honor the Earth, One Billion Rising and Women’s Congress partnered to organize a powerful discussion: Extreme Extraction and Violence Against Native women.

The conversation centered around the disregard for the planet and natural resources by major oil corporations and how it directly correlates to the violence experienced by Indigenous women in North and South America.

The panel conversation not only engaged those who attended but empowered every individual to action, because the issue of violence against Native women belongs to everyone. The evening was filled with revolutionary imagery, music, refreshments and good company.

extreme extraction and violence 2-web.jpg

extreme extraction and violence 1-web.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top left: Chasity Brown performs a selection of her songs. (Photo by Deanna StandingCloud)

Top right: Winona LaDuke, Patina Park, Eve Ensler and Louise Erdrich deliver a powerful panel discussion about environmental justice and it's connection to violence against Indigenous women. (Photo by Deanna StandingCloud)

 


Mushkooub Aubid: Passing of a Great Leader
Wednesday, March 11 2015
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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"They just can't go to a hospital and take a body from the ER and put it back into the station wagon and drive away," Aitken County Deputy Coroner Chuck Brenny said… "Pretty soon, everybody will be doing it."

– Manominike Giizis, August 1990, discussing the repatriation of Egiwaateshkang (George Aubid) by his son Mushkooub, who took his father’s body from the coroner’s office in a station wagon home, to send him on his path to the spirit world.

Some things change, but many stay the same. February's passing of Mushkooub Aubid, son of George Aubid followed the same story line. Mushkooub Aubid, 65, was involved in a serious car accident on Feb. 7 and was pronounced dead at Cloquet Memorial Hospital. His body was taken to the medical school at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where an autopsy was set for Feb. 10, long after the traditional practice would allow. “We just want to prepare his body for his journey to the next world,” Winnie LaPrairie, his widow, said. “This is the way it’s been done for thousands of years.”

It took, a lot of pressure and 25 tribal members to bring their chief home. Band administrators and attorneys said a forced autopsy would violate the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. “We’re trying to do this peacefully and according to the law,” Dan LaPrairie, Aubid’s son said. “But our beliefs supercede those laws. Our father gave us explicit instructions for what to do when he passed, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Officiated by Dr. Anton Treuer, the well-attended funeral and wake included representatives from most of the Anishinaabeg communities in the region and the traditional Midewin Societies. The funeral was held in East Lake or Minisinaakwaang, home of the Rice Lake Band of Mississippi Anishinaabe or Manoominikeshiins-ininiwag.

Mushkooub’s life, like that of his father, Egiwaateshkang, and the name Mushkooub received – He that is Firmly Affixed – was marked with defense of the land and way of life of the Anishinaabeg, at the center of which was the political autonomy of Minisinaaakwaang, as well as mino bimaatisiiwin. The life given by the Creator.

His memorial remembered that courage and tenacity, Mushkooub refused to go to the Vietnam war because “ that was not his war.” As well, the treaties of 1837 and 1855 would recognize that the Ojibwe are a nation, which signed peace and friendship treaties, with the United States. Mushkooub joined with many other Native people to take over of the BIA building in Washington, D.C. in 1972, the liberation of Wounded Knee in 1973 and joined his father in protesting dumping of military and toxic wastes on the shores of Gichi Gummi (Lake Superior).

His accolades are long and numerous, worthy of a bard’s words from the old times: a former Mille Lacs Band Education Director, championship ricer – bringing in 650 pounds of rice in one day – and defender of land and water and way of life.

 


What Would Ingrid Do? War and Peace in Columbia
Wednesday, March 11 2015
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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We must recognize that we have hit bottom and that war dehumanizes and dehumanizes us,"what_would_ingrid_do-web.jpg

– Juan Manuel Santos, President of Columbia

This month marks the 15th anniversary of the kidnapping and assassination of Menominee Ingrid Washinawatok El Issa. It also marks a new set of peace talks between the many forces of Colombia, in particular the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC). Those talks are to be held in Cuba this spring.

It is long ago, but I knew her well and I often ask myself the question, “What would Ingrid do?” She was a good friend and colleague of mine, as we co-chaired the Indigenous Women’s Network together for a decade. In her life she led an exemplary role in the Indigenous community. Also known as Peqtaw-Metamoh (Flying Bird Woman), she served as the Chair of the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples and as the Executive Director of the New York-based Fund for Four Directions.

She is also known in her death. The FARC kidnapped Ingrid when she left the U’wa territory who were protecting their land from Occidental Petroleum and creating an Indigenous education system. She was kidnapped by the FARC, along with Hawaiian activist Lahe’ena’e Gay and environmental activist Terence Freitas and assassinated on March 4 in Venezuela.

I ask the question, “ What would Ingrid do?” when I am vexed with our world and my own people. I also ask that because I believe that some of Ingrid’s hopes being actualized in peace talks. The talks scheduled for Cuba will address the longest hemispheric war.

The Huffington Post reports, “Colombia's internal conflict has claimed at least 220,000 lives since 1958, and more than four of every five victims have been civilian noncombatants. From 1996 to 2005, on average, someone was kidnapped every eight hours in Colombia and every day someone fell victim to an anti-personnel mine, according to a newly-issued 434-page report entitled 'Enough Already: Memories of War and Dignity.'”

 


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