LaDuke: Putting Our Minds Together
Monday, July 07 2014
Written by Winona LaDuke,
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I like that President Obama traveled to see Sitting Bull’s people at the Standing Rock Reservation [in June]. He is the third sitting president to visit a reservation. After all, our ancestors signed treaties with your ancestors and great nations should reaffirm these relationships for our common good, as should we as people.

There were some strong words said by many. Those words were in Lakota as well as English. Eyapaha Chase Iron Eyes, of Standing Rock, had some very interesting things to say. An attorney, as well as a traditional representative, Iron Eyes talked with depth about many issues which are skirted in the media. Iron Eyes talked about the l868 treaty, a treaty of peace between the Lakota Nation and the U.S., which reserved large parts of the Dakotas for the Lakota nation. The treaty has been violated, and the US Courts have upheld that the land was illegally taken, with a huge payment offered for the Lakota – now amounting to around a billion dollars. It sits in the bank, because the Lakota still believe in the treaty and their land.

“We have a Creator given right to live, die and be buried in our sacred Black Hills,” Iron Eyes told Obama, reflecting the continuing position of the Lakota people, that the Black Hills needs to be returned and suggests, that” a practical solution,” can be found. For instance, co-management, transitioning to Lakota management of the millions of acres of national and state parks in the Black Hills region would be a good step. (Remember that Lakota and Mandans like Gerard Butler, former superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Park and now supervisor at the Badlands National Park, have some experience). And, also remember, that the Lakota have thousands of years of management experience in the area. “The U.S. did not give the Sioux nation any rights,” Iron Eyes said, “We reserved to ourselves specific rights. We never gave up the right to govern ourselves and to exist under our spiritual instructions in our territory.”

From the Editor's Desk: Privilege Isn't What You Think
Monday, July 07 2014
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgThe concept of privilege is one that's both acknowledged and dismissed, depending on which side of cultural identity one hangs one's hat.

For many in the Native American community, both on the reservation and in the urban setting, privilege is something that we see as the cause of our oppression. It's a catch-all for the discrimination we face individually and collectively. Growing up in rural South Dakota, my parents and I were followed around in retail stores in Rapid City, Pierre and Sioux Falls. As tribal nations, we are not consulted in a meaningful way on environmental, legal and cultural issues by governmental powers that have made treaties, compacts with us and exercise authority over us.

For non-Natives, the concept of privilege is one that is easily dusted off shoulders with the argument that they – personally – have done nothing to Natives that damage us individually and collectively. And for the most part, they are entirely correct. Most of the time, the privilege that most of us fight are the privileges of class and economics. However, those privileges do tend to follow color lines, arbitrary as they may seem in this modern age.

Pipelines that cross Anishinaabe, Dakota, Lakota, Apsáalooke and Assiniboine territory – if approved, constructed and expanded – will ultimately make a profit for the multinational corporations that build them and for the fossil fuel industry that will transport through them. Unfortunately, for those tribal citizens who live with the reality of those pipelines in their sacred ground, little to no profit will be seen and even if it is, it will be little comfort when water becomes undrinkable and land becomes sterile from the inevitable spills that do and will happen.

Passing On: Cheryl Gresczyk
Monday, July 07 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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cheryl gresczyk.jpgCheryl Elizabeth Joyce Geshick Gresczyk

October 10, 1945- June 24, 2014

Cheryl, whose Ojibwe name is Aabitaagiizhigookwe (Half Way to the Sky Woman), 68, of Eden Prairie, MN, entered into the spirt world around midnight on June 24. She had diabetes, lung cancer and heart issues.

Funeral services were held on June 27 at 7 p.m. at Gichitwaa Kateri Parish at 3045 Park in Minneapolis with a funeral Mass on June 28. Burial was held at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Wright, MN, near the cabin, followed by a gathering and a meal at the cabin. Fr. Jim Notebaart and Fr. Mike Tegeder were two of the celebrants.

Cheryl was born October 10, 1945, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Joseph Geshick and Rose (Marsh) Geshick. Cheryl was a full-blood Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) from Bois Forte Reservation. She married Rick Gresczyk on April 6, 1974. She received her bachelor of science degree in Education from the University of Minnesota and her master's degree from St. Thomas College. She was involved with teaching and youth work all of her working years. She and Rick helped start the Office of Indian Ministry and Gichitwaa Kateri Parish in Minneapolis.

She is survived by three sons, Rick Jr. (Nicole) of Oakdale, MN, Rodger (Annie) of Watertown, MN and Randy (Nichole) of New Brighton, MN.

They have three more children adopted in the Ojibwe way. They are Theresa Morrison (Pragedis Castillo) of Eagan, MN, Melvin Brazil-Geyshick (Suzie) of Thief River Falls, MN, and Yoku Aso (Megumi) of Kumamoto, Japan.

Rick and Cheryl were foster parents for many years for Hennepin County and very active in the American Indian community of the Twin Cities. She enjoyed being a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She enjoyed cards, crossword puzzles, TV, and pets, most recently Waabooz, their poodle. She has two brothers, Joe and Ernie. She has several adopted sisters, Gaye Hallberg of Bloomington, MN, Pat Northrup of Sawyer, MN, and Shirley Krogmeier of Holyoke, CO. She is preceded in death by her parents and several siblings. Her sister, Virginia, was very close to her.

Casketbearers were Leonard Geshick, Randy and Elias White, William BigBear, Jr, Pragedis Castillo and Yoku Aso.

Two Spirit ICWA Education Day Includes Many Perspectives
Monday, June 09 2014
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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two spirit icwa 5.jpgTwo Spirit individuals and families can be left in the fray when it comes to the Indian Child Welfare Act. For Sandy White Hawk, that issue was addressed at the ICWA Education Day, held June 4 at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

While she is uncertain of any overt discrimination against Two Spirit people and families that seek to adopt Native children, White Hawk said she knows there are many prejudices toward Two Spirit people both within the Native community and from outside. “I wanted to make sure that it doesn't happen, we educate people who serve Native children and Two Spirit people.”

The impetus for this year's Education Day came from conversations with members of the Minnesota Two Spirit Society. “Several years ago, Reva D'Nova and I were stuffing folders and having conversations. She was just telling me her story as a transgender person. The more she talked, I thought this could be a topic for Ed Day,” White Hawk said. In the interim, interest in the topic piqued. “We got feedback from an evaluation, would we consider LGBTQ issues. We asked Reva what would she suggest, she said it would be a great idea. That's when we met with the Two Spirit Society. We wanted a historical perspective, prior to [Columbian] contact. What happened to our Two Spirit culture and what do we have today. Most of all, the overall goal was that we would eliminate bias toward our Two Spirit families in terms of placement preferences.”

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.

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