New Native Cinema Includes LGBTQ Elements
Monday, June 09 2014
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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new native cinema includes lgbtq elements.jpgRepresenting the variety of life on the reservation is the aim of director Sydney Freeland's debut feature film “Drunktown's Finest.”

OUT Twin Cities Film Festival along with the Minnesota Two Spirit Society sponsored the film to be presented because it represents various aspects of life on the Navajo Nation. For Freeland (Navajo), the reason for making the film was rooted in portrayals of Native Americans in film. “On a basic level, I didn't feel like I saw the people and the places I knew portrayed on film before. You have Native Americans in film but more period based stuff. There's 'Dances With Wolves' and 'Last Of The Mohicans' and aside from 'Smoke Signals,' there isn't a lot of contemporary stuff. On a very basic level, I just wanted to tell a story and show how diverse it was, life on the reservation.”

Part of that diversity includes a Two Spirit character, Felixia.

“It goes back to the idea of showing how diverse the reservation is, Felicia is trans and she represents the LGBT community. There's a traditional aspect to the character that is relevant to the film,” Freeland said. “I left the rez, I grew up there, but I left when I was 18 and went to film school in San Francisco and met a trans woman there. She said how loving and accepting of trans people the reservation is. I said what do you mean, and she said, 'well it's part of the culture.'”

LaDuke: A Pipeline Runs Through It
Monday, June 09 2014
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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“This is land that has been in my family for decades. It is prime Red River valley agriculture land. It was handed down to me by my mother and father when they passed away, and I’m intending to hand it down to my children when I pass away …. My wife and I have … told our children that ww will pass this on. Of course if 225,000 barrels of oil bursts through this thing, that certainly is the end of this family legacy.”

-James Botsford, North Dakota landowner in Enbridge Sandpiper right of way

While the national press has kept a focus on the controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline, something is going in northern Minnesota. This has to do with the Enbridge Company, a Canadian Company who is determined to move oil from places where there is no infrastructure, and is showing its determination in some ways which Northerners may not like. That oil is destined for Superior. Lots of it headed this way. This is far more than a single Keystone pipeline, like four times as much oil.

Here’s a bit on the math and the pipelines. Between Gretna, Manitoba and Clearbrook, Minnesota, there are eight Enbridge Pipelines already in a 160-mile swath. Then we get down to a few less lines but those are all being upscaled and expanded. Enbridge (also known as the North Dakota Pipeline Company and several other DBA aliases) is now proposing three pipeline expansions: Line 3, Line 67, Line 13 AKA the Southern Lights increase (that goes the other way carrying dilutent to the tar sands, but still can leak) and a new line called the Sandpiper. This would be an increase of over one million barrels of oil today, or 42 million gallons of oil per day. “Northern Minnesota is becoming the super highway for oil,” Attorney Paul Blackburn tells me. If all the lines go through, the sum total of oil traveling over northern Minnesota’s lakes and waters could be about four million barrels per day. This is about 200 times more than the amount of oil spilled in the Kalamazoo Enbridge spill in 2010. Not surprisingly, there are a number of increasingly concerned northerners.

Augsburg College Honors Shakopee Mdewakanton for Generosity
Monday, June 09 2014
Written by Bonnie Wallace,
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augsburg college honors smsc.jpg Augsburg College celebrated its 6th Annual Pow Wow on March 29 at the Augsburg campus. This year's event was again hosted by the Augsburg Indigenous Student Association and the Augsburg American Indian Student Support Services Program also receives support from various program offices within the college including the Office of the President.

Approximately 1,500 people attended the event, including dancers, drummers and both local and national vendors. The bleachers were filled with families and community members to participate, not only in the pow wow, but, in two honoring ceremonies. Augsburg undergraduate and graduate students who graduated were honored with a blanket ceremony.

Augsburg College also gave a ceremony of appreciation and gratitude to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for its most recent and generous donation of $250,000. The donation was added to the current Shakopee Endowed Scholarship Fund, established in 1991. To date, this fund assisted over 75 Native American students attending Augsburg College.

What's New In the Community: June 2014
Monday, June 09 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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By Rachel Eta Hill

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – In reaction to the Spring Fest incident on the University of North Dakota campus where several students posted photos of themselves wearing T-shirts with the school's previous mascot with the words, “Siouxper Drunk,” Native students and others rallied on May 16 at the University of North Dakota in an event dubbed #WALKFORCHANGE.

This was a student demonstration and was comprised of over 200 UND students, community supporters and UND administration members who walked together holding signs to educate their community and others on the adverse race relations occurring at their school.

Dani Miller, a recent UND graduate and Sisseton-Wahpeton citizen, was asked by her fellow student body to give a speech addressing the hostile learning environment at her school, sparked by the offending T-shirts.

“Native students are just trying to go to school and now they are being attacked,” Frank Sage, a Navajo doctoral student said. He attended UND for the last 14 years and said it was important for students not only to work on changing race relations between Native and non-Native students at the school, but that it ultimately comes down to educating others on why this type of behavior is inappropriate in an academic setting. “Treat people the way you want to be treated,” Sage said.

Miller added, “All people, native and non-native, to educate themselves on our histories and on the current state of race relations in the United States. Education is the answer to dismantling oppression and [assists in] … relationship building between all people.”

Native students at UND, like many others across the country are working to educate and inspire others on how to change environments of adversity and racism in their own schools. They are fighting hate with love, unity and education. Racism, after all, poses a great threat to the attainment of post-secondary education for our Indigenous students. We must support and applaud those in our communities who are a positive and motivating force for that change. To learn more, use the twitter hash tag #WALKFORCHANGE.

Rachel Eta Hill is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and present graduate student in the American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Minneapolis Recognizes Indigenous Peoples Day
Thursday, May 01 2014
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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mpls recognizes indigenous peoples day 3.jpgMarking a milestone in tribal relations, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously on April 25 to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October, effectively replacing Columbus Day on the civic calendar.

The gesture by the city government speaks to years of struggle for recognition and equity by members of the city's Native American population. As one of the cities with a high Native population in the country and birthplace of the American Indian Movement, it hasn't been until recently that city officials embraced its indigenous history. In 2012 on the sesquicentennial of the Dakota War, efforts began to understand the state's history from a Native perspective.

To that end, momentum has been building in the community – focused through the Native American Community Development Institute – to address issues of equity and justice. The organization, led by Jay Bad Heart Bull (Oglala/Hunkpapa) and Daniel Yang (Anishinabe) utilized its political and human capital to build a dialogue with city leaders, beginning with last year's mayoral election.

Then mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges committed to taking Native issues seriously at the city level during her campaign in the summer and fall of last year. Along with Council Rep. Alondra Cano (Ward 9) and policy aide Ashley Fairbanks (Anishinabe), the effort went into full force last month when the resolution to change the name of the holiday was drafted.

Members of the Native community filled the city council chambers while Clyde Bellecourt, American Indian Movement co-founder, Bill Means, International Indian Treaty Council, and Deanna Standing Cloud, Red Lake Nation, addressed the city council.

“I'm here to take a stand so my daughter Breanna and my son Nigozis are able to grow up in a city where they feel safe, respected and honored. Replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in the city of Minneapolis would show my children that it's never too late for healing and reconciliation to occur between communities and throughout Turtle Island,” Standing Cloud said.

Minneapolis State of the City Addresses Native Issues
Thursday, May 01 2014
Written by Jamie Keith,
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minneapolis state of the city addresses native issues 3.jpgFor the first time in the history of the city, Mayor Betsy Hodges selected the Minneapolis American Indian Center as the site of her State of the City address on April 24. Drum group Ringing Shield performed at the opening of the speech. Daniel Yang, Director of Organizing and Community Building at the Native American Community Development Institute, and Bill Means, co-founder of the International Indian Treaty Council, introduced the mayor.

Yang commended Hodges for continuing to engage the Native community in discussions about citywide issues. “The hard truth is, more often than not, like in so many communities of color, we don't see those who ask for our votes again until four to six years later when the next election rolls around,” he said.

Yang also spoke on the importance of the Minneapolis city council's vote on the Indigenous People's Day Resolution, which would be recognized in place of Columbus Day. “If it's important for the City of Minneapolis to have all of its residents feel respected, dignified, and valued, this is an important step in healing the pain that is associated with this day and the Indigenous people that call this place home,” he said.

Means talked about historical aspects of Indigenous people's relationships with the city of Minneapolis while looking forward to the future of their interactions. “This is an historic day because it is recognition of the contributions of Indian people to this great city, starting with the basic ingredient – the land,” he said. “Today begins a continuation of the reconciliation with Indian people, the recognition of the contributions of Indian people and the recognition of our rights and our responsibilities to our communities.”

Many other leaders in the Native community feel that the State of the City address marks an important step in bringing Indigenous issues into discussions about citywide policies. Bill Ziegler, Chief Executive Officer of Little Earth of United Tribes, said that the speech shows solidarity between the issues faced in the Native community and Minneapolis as a whole.

“I think the significance of this event happening here at the Indian Center on Franklin Avenue is a way for the mayor's office to say and show the American Indian community that our issues are also issues that face the rest of the city and that we're going to be given the respect to have our voices at the table and be taken seriously,” he said. “I'm hopeful through Mayor Hodges' leadership that this isn't just a show, that as she goes throughout her term our issues will remain at the forefront of the work that she does."

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