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Thousands Pack Final Hearing for Proposed PolyMet Mine
Friday, February 07 2014
 
Written by Elizabeth Dunbar/Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network or online at minnesota.publicradio.org .

The public's last chance to speak in front of hundreds about why they like or loathe PolyMet's plan to mine copper and nickel in northeastern Minnesota went out with a bang.

More than 2,100 people packed a Saint Paul RiverCentre ballroom, matching in size but surpassing in feistiness the combined 2,000 or so people who attended two earlier meetings in Duluth and Aurora. There were standing ovations, boos, laughs and even a guy with a guitar and harmonica who sang out his fears for Minnesota if the state embraces PolyMet, which would be the state's first copper-nickel mine.

Moderator Aimee Gourlay asked the crowd on several occasions to avoid interrupting the speakers with applause so they could maximize their three-minute time limit to speak. Those requests mostly went unheeded.


Spotlight On: Charly Etzkorn
Friday, February 07 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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charlie_etzkorn-web.jpgSeven year-old Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal citizen Charly Etzkorn sang the National Anthem at the home opener for the Minnesota Swarm lacrosse game on Jan. 19.

The game was also the Swarm's Native American Heritage Day where they paid tribute to the Native roots of the game with a traditional version of the game at half-time featuring the Oneida Warriors and Prairie Island Indian Community's lacrosse teams. The Hoka Hey Singers also rendered an honor song for the 8,000 audience members in attendance for supporting the traditional Native American game.

Etzkorn said of her time in the spotlight, “It was really fun. I was nervous but it was really fun.”

From the Editor's Desk: Tribal Sovereignty Through Federalism
Friday, February 07 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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The concept of tribal sovereignty for the uninitiated can seem like a confusing and mercurial legal arena; and often times, it can be. What may work for one tribe may not work for another. But even in the most confusing cases, there are broad truths that can be taken into account where sovereignty is concerned.

We see now on Pine Ridge that an Oglala Sioux Tribal committee is referring a public vote on the legalization of marijuana as a means to produce revenue. Under federal law, which is directly applicable on Indian reservations, the cultivation, distribution and/or sale of marijuana is prohibited and goes directly under federal jurisdiction. For better or worse, the Oglala have always had a history of acting sovereignly, asking no one's permission to do as they please within their own territory. If passed, observing this act of sovereignty come up against federal law will be fascinating, in addition to considerations with the states of Colorado and Washington passing their own legalization laws.


Native American students find success and free college credits too
Friday, February 07 2014
 
Written by Marisa Gustafson, Center for School Change,
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Minneapolis South High senior Sean Buehlmann is finding ways to both challenge and reward herself. She is among a growing group of students taking advantage of Dual Credit courses – where students earn high school credit and free college credit at the same time.

Buehlmann took college classes for free at Minneapolis Community and Technical College to learn the Dakota language, an interest of hers that she wasn't able to fulfill at her high school. She has now earned free college credit while studying the Dakota language through the state-funded Post Secondary Enrollment Options program.


Serving Those In Need
Thursday, January 09 2014
 
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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serving those in need.jpgCelebrating the holidays with family on the reservation is a tradition that's familiar to most Native Americans living in the Twin Cities. For Lorna Her Many Horses, known to most as Emmy, it's an opportunity to give back to the children and elders of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

It started as a personal summer cleaning project that quickly progressed into a relief mission for her home reservation. For the second-poorest reservation in the country with an unemployment rate as high as 85 percent, every day items like clothing can be a struggle for some to provide for children and elders, particularly in the more remote communities.

“Any time I have gone back, I've taken things that were mine that I didn't want anymore to the the Spotted Tail Family Center. This summer, I had a lot of friends who were just getting rid of stuff. In August, I just put something on Facebook, asking if people had items to go to the children's home. At first I thought, no one's going to give me anything and I was going to be embarrassed. But the more people who saw it, the more people contacted me about donating, I was overwhelmed.”

Fates of wild rice, mines intertwined in northern Minnesota
Thursday, January 09 2014
 
Written by Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio News,
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fates of wild rice mines intertwined in northern mn 1.jpgWild rice, the iconic grain that grows across much of the northern half of the state, is at the center of a contentious debate over mining and the environment.

A 40-year-old state law limits how much of a mining byproduct called "sulfate" can be discharged into wild rice producing waters. Prompted by mining industry concerns that the standard is too stringent, the state has been giving it another look and will release results of its two-year study on Jan. 6.

For members of the state's Indian tribes, wild rice is sacred.

Jim Northrup, who has harvested wild rice on Perch Lake on the Fond du Lac reservation for over half a century, said the grain called "manomin" in Ojibwe is a gift from the Creator that led his people to first settle here.

"The old stories said we'd move west until we came to a spot where food grew on the water," Northrup said. "And that perfectly describes manomin. It's become our identity now. It's who we are."

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