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WaterProtectors Are Everywhere
Tuesday, March 14 2017
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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daplflags.jpgWater Protectors
They came from the four directions. They came from the stars. They came from the mountain, they stood and protected. They came from the depths of the beautiful ocean. They came from the corn pollen and sage they had gathered in their hands. They came wounded from generations of pain. They came bearing gifts of strength, tears, and song. This is where they stood in the four directions.
– Inyan Wakankagapi Wakpa, Sara Juanita Jumping Eagle


As the Trump Administration forced the removal of many remaining Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) water protectors on the banks of the Cannonball and Missouri River in North Dakota, there are many tears shed; tears of betrayal, tears of sorrow, and tears as people face the unknown. We have had many lessons thus far from our Standing Rock movement. For indeed, it is a movement – Standing Rock is our Selma moment.  And, as the bulldozers and emboldened Morton County police marched forward, water protectors were forced to move, as thousands of our ancestors before. We have been here before, it is the “American way”, from Sandy Lake to Big Mountain.  

This past week, I was disturbed in my peaceful writing by three grandsons, as they tumbled through my kitchen on Round Lake. One had on my helmet, intended to defray rubber bullets from Morton County, another donned a gas mask, the third a bandana. All carried shields. That is when I knew that the Water Protectors are everywhere.

Reports of Enbridge pipeline leaks and “integrity digs” came in from Water Protectors across Leech Lake; to the east, the Bad River tribal council prepared with their lawyers to face Enbridge and the company’s expired right -of-way.

An early February gathering in Duluth, brought together 80 Indigenous leaders from both sides of the Medicine Line – Canada and the US.  Derek Nepinak, the Grand Chief of the Manitoba Assembly of Chiefs sat with  LaDonna Brave Bull Allard (founder of the first resistance camp of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Sacred Stones, aimed at halting DAPL) to talk of pipelines and water.

Water protectors from Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, Rice Lake and HoChunk territory- elected leaders, and wild rice harvesters, all shared their stories of the Black Snake, and the legal battles ahead to protect the water and future generations. Water protectors are everywhere.

As the Trump Administration pushes forward with its agenda of hate, cronyism, and pipelines, immigrants, business people, cities, women and water protectors are readying to face a President who has run rough shod over the law.  North Dakota’s media spins a story of the glories of law enforcement, sings praises of the oil industry, and acts as if there has been no crime committed.

Trans Canada attempts to resuscitate the already defeated Keystone Pipeline, and  the Lakota Nation readies. As the Enbridge/Spectre Sable pipeline moves forward in Florida, on the ground the Seminole youth move forward to face them. To the south, water protectors face the pipelines of Texas, Chaco Canyon and those to the West.  

While the proposals are dizzying, it turns out even the pipeline and oil industry are spinning like a top out of control.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard (2nd from right) and other water protectors at Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota. (Photo  courtesy of Honor The Earth.)The Globe and Mail notes Canada is, “…on the verge of moving from a pipeline shortage to a pipeline surplus…The capacity of the projects approved by the federal government (Trans Mountain, Enbridge Line 3 and Keystone XL) and under review (Energy East) is 2.9 million barrel per day (bpd). These projects would expand Canadian export pipeline capacity to 7.1 million bpd. If current rail capacity is included, total capacity would be almost 7.9 million bpd..”  Data suggests that there will be a surplus pipeline capacity of 2.4 million bpd by 2025, less than eight years from now. Some would refer to this as greed economics.

Build it and They Will Come
This worked in Wayne’s World. I am not sure it will work in the oil industry. Companies are proposing to spend about $30 billion plus on new pipelines. How is that possible? The problem is not just a Canadian tar sands problem,  it’s an American oil fields problem.  Reuters reports, “…a doubling of pipeline capacity in one of the most prolific U.S. shale plays may have gone overboard in its rush to move oil to market…” That was before the Dakota Excess Pipeline. Translation: overbuild/glut. No wonder the oil industry is losing money. Greed is not always a healthy practice.

Then there’s the world beyond North Dakota and Minnesota. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) November forecast shows little oil sands production growth after 2020 due to climate change policies and the high costs of Canadian oil.

“The Wakinyan came last night to let us know they stand with us. This is February, we had rain, hail, thunder and lightening, that should tell us the west is with us…” said LaDonna Brave Bull Allard. That is climate change and that is also power.

The Bust Cometh
With an 85% drop in drilling rigs, North Dakota has lost an estimated 13,500 roughnecks and oil engineers, not to mention drivers, restaurant cooks, barbers, grocery store cashiers, Man Camps, and almost everything else of the oil empire. The Canadian petrol-state Alberta lost some 20,000 jobs, the most in any industry downturn since the early 1980s. No one predicted 90,000 oil workers being fired this past year in the US, or the worldwide 250,000 oil industry workers sent home.

Nor did they foresee that many of the companies themselves would be at risk of bankruptcy (42 already filed as of last year). Of 155 US oil and gas companies studied by Standard & Poor’s, one third are rated B- or less, meaning not good.

Industry magazine SRS Rocco Report notes, “The top three U.S. oil companies, whose profits were once the envy of the energy sector, are now forced to borrow money to pay dividends or capital expenditures. …Exxon, Chevron and Conoco, had $80.9 billion in net income profits in 2011, and dropped that to $3.7 billion in 2016…;”  Rex Tillerson, our new Secretary of State and former CEO of Exxon, could not get a job in the real world, having such an abysmal record. As SRS Rocco notes, “While the Federal Government could step in and bail out BIG OIL with printed money, they cannot print barrels of oil.”

Emboldened movements stand and face what have come to be called Black Snakes in a withering economy. President Trump will face a growing solar and efficiency economy; and even his Presidential powers cannot change what we know happened and what we feel.

Standing Rock is a state of mind. It rekindled a memory of a people, not only a free people, but a people who faced their fears, knowing that the economy of the Wasicu (White Man) is a powerful force, but it is not as powerful as the world we know. As Bravebull Allard reminds us, “They want to destroy this movement because it is too powerful because we stand in prayer. They don’t know that this is just the beginning. Tomorrow we will be stronger in prayer. Remember how history will record you as the people who stood up to save the water and the world, or the people who betrayed the world. You all have a name in history. Where are you in this time and place? The world is watching…”  The Water Protectors are everywhere.
 

Native media pioneer, Gordon Regguinti, passes on
Tuesday, March 14 2017
 
Written by Mark Anthony Rolo,
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obitreguintti.jpgGordon David Regguinti passed on to the spirit world on February 2, 2017. He was 62.

Regguinti was a pioneer in the movement to establish Native American journalism as a legitimate institution, giving critically needed voice to Native peoples from all circles of life. He was respected by his tribal peers and by mainstream newsroom executives. He traveled the country lobbying for Native journalists to be seated at the table when it came to racial inclusion and more accurate coverage of Native issues. And he never departed from his devotion to his Leech Lake Ojibwe roots.

Raised on the Leech Lake Ojibwe Reservation in northern Minnesota, Regguinti earned a bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 1987. His career in Native American media began with serving as editor of The Circle newspaper in Minneapolis.

In the early 1990s, Regguinti  hired Dale Kakkak (Menominee) as staff photographer for The Circle. Kakkak remembers Regguinti as a visionary who believed telling stories of Native life was vital to confronting stereotypes and debunking the myth that Native Americans existed only in the American past. “Gordon worked to promote Native culture and ideals, and to present our thoughts about us on our own terms,” Kakkak said. “Gordon helped awaken in the U.S. mainstream consciousness that Indigenous people existed, and we weren’t just the stereotypical Indians most people thought of when the term Indian was used.”

And it was through gaining access to media that Regguinti believed Native people could do more in telling their own stories. He was convinced that a core mission of Native media was in preserving and promoting tribal traditions. In 1998, Regguinti told Cultural Survival, a worldwide indigenous advocacy organization, that one of the most vital roles Native American radio plays is not only to promote dialogue on Native issues, but to promote culture and help preserve tribal languages.

Regguiniti encouraged tribes to embrace modern media technology as an opportunity to help reclaim and recover so much that was lost.
Kakkak believes that conviction came from Regguinti’s ties to his Ojibwe culture. While working with Regguinti on the Learner Publication 1992 children’s book “The Sacred Harvest,” Kakkak said he got to experience Regguinti’s relationship with his roots on the Leech Lake Reservation.
“He took me ricing for the first time,” Kakkak said. “He introduced me to the Jackson family at Leech Lake, who were the subject of Gordon’s book on wild ricing. Through Gordon, the Jacksons generously shared their knowledge of that ancient place and practice.”

Following his convictions beyond The Circle led Regguinti to the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), a coalition of tribal and independent indigenous media in the U.S. and Canada. As executive director Regguinti helped expand the outreach of NAJA and worked tirelessly to promote the mission and presence of NAJA within the mainstream media industry.

Karen Lincoln Michel (Ho-Chunk), who served as NAJA’s president, said Regguinti was instrumental in shaping the vision for the organization.
“When I think of the people who have given a part of their lives to make NAJA what it is today, Gordon is among that circle of amazing individuals,” Lincoln Michel said.  “He poured a lot of his energy into growing the organization from a fledgling nonprofit to a journalism association with a national reputation. He kept the focus on Native journalists and how NAJA could better serve them in the important role they play in their communities.”

Regguinti’s work with NAJA included securing major foundation grants to underwrite training workshops for emerging Native journalists. He used his position to lobby mainstream news organizations to open their doors and hire more Native people. And he was aggressive in educating Indian Country about the importance of a free tribal press.

But just as important as strengthening Native American journalism, Regguinti shared a growing vision among all journalists of color – the power of a collective voice on behalf of those who represent their communities. Regguniti was on the ground floor in helping to create UNITY: Journalists of Color, an umbrella organization of minority journalism organizations who, together sought to bring leverage on the mainstream news media to hire more journalists of color and to demand improved coverage of their communities.

Karen Lincoln Michel remembers Regguinti as entirely dedicated to the full expression of that collective voice among journalists of color. “Through NAJA’s coalition with Asian American, black and Hispanic journalists’ organizations, Gordon totally embraced the concept of collaboration so that our collective voice would be strong when we addressed news industry leaders about our concerns.”

The lasting impact Regguinti had on Native media was never in doubt according to Kakkak. Regguinti was simply a man driven by a passion for elevating the presence of Native people.

“If you looked at Gordon you wondered where he got his energy to work on and accomplish so many tasks in a given time frame. He worked on this vision of showing the reality of Native peoples because he was tired of being ordained a second-class citizen. And he knew ending that was in the power of having the opportunity to tell our own stories,” Kakkak said.

He was born February 10, 1954. A wake was held on Feb. 9th at Gichitwaa Kateri in Minneapolis. Services were held on February 10th at Ball Club Community Center in  Ball Club, MN. Interment was at Fairbank’s Cemetery in Leech Lake, MN.  

Black Snake-Enbridge Returns, Tribes Take Action
Wednesday, February 08 2017
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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As Enbridge unrolls it’s plans for Line 3 and the beginning of the largest web of tar sands pipelines in the world, tribal leaders and communities are challenging both the long term and expired leases of the corporation, and the need for new lines.
Line 3, the heart of Enbridge’s profit plan, would bring 760,000 barrels of oil down the same pipeline as the ill fated Sandpiper, last year’s now defeated Enbridge Line. Tribal environmental  hearings are being held in February in Cass Lake, Bena and Ball Club, and 60-year-old pipelines are being questioned for safety.

The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s (comprised of six Ojibwe member bands in Minnesota) Cumulative Impact Assessment process will provide tribal governments, harvesters and members the opportunity to discuss the full impacts of the proposed pipelines.

The Bad River Tribal Council passed a formal resolution January 4th that established the Tribe’s decision not to renew its easement for rights-of-way of Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 crude oil, 64-year-old pipeline through the Bad River Reservation. Furthermore, it calls for the decommissioning and removal of the pipeline from all Bad River lands and watershed.

“As many other communities have experienced, even a minor spill could prove to be disastrous for our people. We depend upon everything that the Creator put here before us to live mino-bimaadiziwin, a good and healthy life,” said Bad River Tribal Chairman Robert Blanchard. He said on the Tribal Council’s decision, “We will work with our native and non-native communities to make sure that Line 5 does not threaten rights of people living in our region, and we will reach out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how to remove Line 5. And we will work with the same communities and officials to continue developing a sustainable economy that doesn’t marginalize indigenous people.”

The Band has directed Tribal staff to begin planning for the Line 5 removal project development and the environmental issues and hazards that exist with removal of old pipelines, including hazards response and health study, pipeline contents recycling and disposal, and surface restoration.

“These environmental threats not only threaten our health, but they threaten our very way of life as Anishinaabe. We all need to be thinking of our future generations and what we leave behind for them,” said Tribal Council Member Dylan Jennings
The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe is beginning tribal hearings on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 plan. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, 1855 Treaty Authority and tribal governments have deemed it necessary to conduct their own environmental hearings, after the state of Minnesota dismissed tribal concerns and jurisdiction in the previous hearing process. This includes the abandonment of Line 3 in place, and would set a precedent for the abandonment of the five other pipelines in the same Highway 2 Corridor.  

Native Women in MN Legislature
Wednesday, February 08 2017
 
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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nativewomeninlegislature.jpgNative American women doubled their presence in the Minnesota Legislature’s House of Representatives this January, but it may be far too soon to declare that the “glass ceiling” holding back women has been shattered.

With the election of Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn and Mary Kunesh-Podein from suburban Twin Cities house districts, the number of Native women has increased to four.

This apparent accomplishment occurred as Minnesota voters actually reduced the number of women serving in both houses of the Legislature by four, from 68 in the previous two sessions to 64 for this term.

Meanwhile, Rep. Peggy Flanagan, who won a special election in 2015 and was reelected to a full term this past November, told The Circle she will seek U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s seat in Congress if the Minneapolis congressman is chosen chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Ellison has said he will resign his congressional seat if elected Feb. 25 to the contested DNC post. The Minnesota Fifth Congressional District includes Minneapolis, Edina, Richfield, Crystal, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Fridley and Flanagan’s home city of St. Louis Park.

Flanagan (White Earth Ojibwe), Kunesh-Podein (Standing Rock Lakota), and Becker-Finn (Leech Lake Ojibwe), now make a Native American caucus in the Minnesota House with their pacesetter, Rep. Susan Allen (Rosebud Lakota), the Minneapolis lawyer and lawmaker first elected in 2012. All four are Democratic-Farmer-Labor party lawmakers.

“There is still much work to do,” said Allen, while acknowledging that the gains by Native women in the past election does signal greater acceptance of Natives and women in general for leadership roles.

Their collective successes at the polls coincides with Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Anne McKeig’s appointment to the high court in August 2016.  McKeig, of White Earth Ojibwe descent, is the first Native American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court and is believed to be the first Native woman to serve on any state’s highest court.

Both Allen and Flanagan said Gov. Mark Dayton deserves credit for advancing women’s opportunities. He appointed McKeig, who had earlier been appointed to a Hennepin County state district court judge by former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2008.

Enbridge Round Two with Tanks?
Monday, January 09 2017
 
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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nodaplcops.jpgTribal unity is a lesson from Standing Rock. Thousands of people joined with the Lakota Nation to oppose the Dakota Access (AKA Dakota Excess Pipeline). That unity is spilling over into the Great lakes. Anishinaabe tribal governments and people put our bodies on the line, and not only sent flags and representatives, money, food, and wood (Menominee sent a semi load of wood at least), but political unity and commitment. In that, it would seem, we committed to follow the leadership of the people of Sitting Bull, and put our minds together. In mid December, the Enbridge Company found out that the lessons of Standing Rock were well learned by our people, but apparently the company was not taking notes.

While Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau approved permits for Enbridge’s largest project, a 760,000 barrel per day Line 3 tar sands pipeline, things on the ground were different. That pipeline is proposed for the same corridor as the Sandpiper, and also entails the beginning of abandonment of five or six 50-year-old pipelines down the Highway 2 corridor.

The Bad River Tribe in mid December announced it would not approve a continued easement for Enbridge across their reservation, and tribal members in Bemidji were threatened with arrest for asking corporate accountability questions. It turns out, the Canadian Premier can give a project a nod, but the Anishinaabeg have not.   Enbridge with the Minnesota Department of Commerce are proceeding in the environmental impact statement for the proposed Line 3 new corridor (the same corridor as the Sandpiper), as if nothing has happened.

The Ojibwe have long memories, and it turns out, can even remember November 20th, that fateful night on Backwater Bridge.
A December 13th landowner informational meeting in Bemidji was primarily aimed at white landowners and county commissioners. When Thomas Barrett (aka Thomas X) learned of the meeting, he shared the information widely, and Enbridge representatives found themselves in a room of 100 plus concerned landowners, many from Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth.  Asking a question in this forum, lead the Bemidji police and a security guard to ask me to leave.  The question was, “As one third owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, is Enbridge responsible for the injuries to our people?”  That’s enough to get you kicked out of a room, it seems.

Wondering where to go? Follow Adobe DeSigns’ lead
Monday, January 09 2017
 
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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adobedesigns.jpgIf you’ve wandered through the newer sports and entertainment venues in the Twin Cities, or parked in recently built business and educational parking ramps, you will find helpful signs pointing the way to seats, elevators, restrooms, or where you left your car.
It is easy to take this signage for granted. But showing you where to go is becoming a bustling business for Adobe DeSigns LLC, a Minneapolis enterprise owned by two Native American women.

Vivian Guerra, the chief executive officer, and Lisa Owen, the controller, started Adobe DeSigns in 2014 to provide signage for building projects, either alone on modernization projects or as a subcontractor with general contractor partners on major, new construction.
Some companies and institutions might contact the company directly for a project, Guerra said. More often, she added, Adobe DeSigns serves as a subcontractor for a major general construction company and often as “a third tier” supplier hired by a subcontractor to do the signage.

On a visit to their South Minneapolis offices and shop in December, Guerra and Owen paused during an interview to meet with an architect regarding replacement signage being installed in the Target Center that is home to the Timberwolves and Lynx.
This comes after their company did design, manufacturing and installment work on signage for the new Vikings stadium – US Bank Stadium – also in Minneapolis, CHS Field where the St. Paul Saints play baseball in St. Paul, and at major parking ramps throughout the Twin Cities and Duluth.

Other major projects over the past two years include signage for the Brooklyn Park Library, a part of the Hennepin County Library system; Metropolitan State University facilities; various elementary and preschool (Seward Montessori) educational facilities, medical facilities and parking ramps, and Little Earth exterior signage.

Three of Adobe DeSigns’ seven current employees are working at Grand Portage Lodge & Casino’s remodeling project undertaken by the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Owen said.
Four more employees work out of the South Minneapolis home base; most are Native American tribal members or descendants. “We are serious about minority hiring because that’s who we are and because (most) everything we do is going to require OJT (on-the-job-training),” Guerra said.

A walk through of the production facilities explains why. The various signage products combine a wealth of sciences and arts including chemistry, physics, metallurgy, graphic arts, engineering design and public policy/political science about laws affecting signage.
While experts are abundant in all those fields, they don’t usually come equipped across the spectrum. They may not have the manual dexterity to manufacture the standard letters, exposed neon, backlit, vinyl, sandblasted, painted, pylon, digital signs and letters for both interior and exterior signage that the company makes.

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