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Federal officials reject threatened status for wolves
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on June 30 rejected a petition to classify the gray wolf as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

In most states, wolves are listed as endangered and can only be killed for threatening a human life. But in Minnesota, where there are about 2,400 wolves, they are listed as threatened, and federal trappers can kill wolves within a half mile of a verified attack on pets or livestock.

In 2012, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections for the wolf in the Great Lakes region. But in December a judge reversed that decision.

When proposals emerged in Congress to remove wolves from endangered species protection altogether, the Humane Society of the United States asked the federal government to classify wolves everywhere as threatened.

The group called that a compromise between the more restrictive endangered listing for wolves and removing wolves from that list.

"This is something that we think you could extend throughout the country," said Ralph Henry, a Humane Society attorney. "It would alleviate a lot of the pressure that we're seeing, especially in the most populated areas like Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin."

The Fish and Wildlife Service said the petitioners didn't demonstrate that reclassifying the wolf was warranted.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR’s statewide radio network or online at www.mprnews.org.

Confronting Calhoun: a bike ride meets the living legacy of white supremacy
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Junauda Petrus, TC Daily Planet,
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confronting calhoun 1.jpgIndependence Day 2015. We were Indigenous, Eritrian, Nigerian, Korean, Sudanese, Black-American, White, Puerto-Rican, Columbian, parents, dancers, teachers, artists, queer, avid cyclists, borrowing bicycles for the day, babies riding in the bicycle chariot of a parent.

And we were Minnesotans. We believed that the beautiful waters previously known by the Dakota of this land as Mde Maka Ska should no longer honor John C. Calhoun. This charmer enslaved Black people and fought to protect enslavement in the south. We were riding to change the name and we were beautiful, unexpected, and powerful.

Jeremy Little is the director of the Minnesota Black Riders Association. He is a dynamic young man in love with bicycling and the community. Little reached out to me and other activists and artists to help him organize a “Freedom Ride” on the 4th of July to Lake Calhoun in order to bring attention to this issue. We also had a culminating community BBQ.

We didn’t have much time to plan but once we got the ball rolling, the support and interest was amazing! We had beautiful bicycle caravans hailing from north and south Minneapolis as well as St. Paul. Volunteers were ready with food at Lake Calhoun for hungry riders and games for children. We wanted it to not only be revolutionary, but celebratory and joyful.

After we sang a protest song together, an older white man who approached the crowd and told us to “get over it,” that “George Washington owned slaves,” “those were the times” and all sorts of other white supremacist brainwashing that is used to justify naming public places for celebrated murderers, rapists, and enslavers.

“It shouldn’t surprise us that white supremacy has arrived to rear its ugly head,” said with elegance and earned wisdom by Nekima Levy-Pounds, Minneapolis NAACP president, activist and lawyer to the diverse group of peaceful and joyful bicyclists enjoying the day as we were interrupted by the irate and hateful bystander.


A Goldilocks show at Bockley Gallery: Not too big, not too small
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Mason Riddle, TC Daily Planet,
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a goldilocks show at bockley gallery-denomie 1.jpgSince opening his first gallery in the Minneapolis warehouse district’s Wyman Building in September 1984, dealer Todd Bockley has carved out an idiosyncratic and activist vision for art in the Twin Cities, one that is recognized not only by the local cultural complex, but also far beyond. His unique and personal purview on what art needs to see the light of day includes that by a dozen Native American artists, both living and dead, whose work finds consort with that of an equal number of other artists, a broad-based cache of work that is largely defined by a distinctive narrative stance or tinged with an untrained artist sensibility.

Consequently, Bockley Gallery’s summer offering “Artists Singular: A Group Show” in his modest storefront space on the west side of Lake of the Isles, is more anticipated than unexpected. With eight works (really nine) by eight artists, “Singular” follows the art world tradition of summer shows being group shows that adhere to the Goldilocks principle — not too big, not too small, but just right. As such, “Singular” is a spirited mix of mostly untitled work both stylistically figurative and abstract, by Bruce Anderson, Frank Big Bear, Jim Denomie, George Morrison, Norval Morrisseau, Dietrich Sieling, Elizabeth Simonson and John Snyder.

Sieling’s work just keeps getting better in his provocative synthesis of figurative form and abstract space. Working with marker on board, the artist has concocted an oblique narrative that is rooted in a personal karaoke experience, one that is riveting to observe. Multicolored abstract shapes, suggesting a disco ball’s reflected patterns of light, hover above, on and through mysterious figures in a spatially flat composition that is remarkable in its complexity.

Jim Denomie’s untitled ink on paper drawing is a departure from his typically color-laden work. Combining Indian symbols and traditions with those of contemporary American culture as he typically does, Denomie’s bawdy narrative references the Wizard of Oz acted out by a rough-around-the-edges Kabala of creatures and characters. Unexpectedly there is a visual clarity to the work – which is not to suggest the narrative is easily understood – in its straightforward graphic presentation, a quality that not always defines his more vividly hued works.

Rally Against Pipeline Expansion
Tuesday, July 21 2015
 
Written by Jim Lenfestey,
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rally against pipeline expansion.jpgOn June 6, more than 5,000 colorful, committed marchers snaked through the streets of downtown St. Paul from the banks of the Mississippi River to the State Capital, the first shrouded in morning mist, the second shrouded in construction scaffolding. Marchers were rallying to say no to expansion of the matrix of pipelines that cuts through northern Minnesota carrying Alberta tar sands oil and fracked Bakken crude, potentially endangering the freshwater heart of Minnesota’s native land.

Aztec drums and conch musicians led the march. At the capital, Greg Grey Cloud offered a welcome song and later there was a performance by Frank Waln, Sicangu Lakota hip hop artist, among other musicians.

Many native speakers led the rally in front of the capital building, as Native communities are directly faced with the impacts of pipeline expansion and are leading the charge against them. Winona LaDuke (White Earth Anishinabe), founder of Honor the Earth, and Tom Goldtooth (Dine/Dakota), executive director of Indigenous Environmental Network, have organized for decades to call attention to better ways to manage our planet than tearing out its natural resources and are leaders in the effort opposing pipeline expansion.

LaDuke asked the crowd to support, “us and tribal governments tribal leadership” who are in saying “no” to pipelines crossing reservation and treaty lands. “[They] cannot poison us,” she declared, telling the audience, “you have a choice between water and oil. Make the right choice.” She told a story that, at a protest in in Washington, D.C. a year ago, she walked from her tipi to a ride in an all-electric car. “That’s what the future looks like,” she said,” from a tipi to a Tesla.”

Melissa Daniels (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation) spoke on behalf of the estimated 23,000 Aboriginal people who live in the devastated area of Alberta’s oil sands development – 18 First Nations and six Métis Settlements located in the region. She testified to the dramatic local impacts of tar sands development and the robust resistance of native communities and allies across Canada to pipeline expansion.

How bad is tar sands oil extraction in Alberta? A google search for photos of Alberta tar sands turned up this from an article in Business Insider: “These Pictures May Give you Nightmares about The Canada Oil Sands.” And this: “We're not saying the project is good or bad. We're just saying the scale and severity of what's happening in Alberta will make your spine tingle.” And this from Wikipedia: Or read this selection from Wikipedia: “The Athabasca River is the largest freshwater delta in the world but with Suncor and Syncrude leaking tail ponds the amount of polluted water will exceed 1 billion cubic meters by 2020.”


A History of Owamni Yomni: Lock Closures Signal Healing for Mississippi River
Monday, July 20 2015
 
Written by Jon Lurie,
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history of owamni yomni.jpgTo the Dakota, the only waterfall on the Mississippi and its surroundings is known as Owamni Yomni (Whirlpool), revered for centuries as a place of tremendous spiritual power and inspiration. Wita Waste (Beautiful Island) the key above the falls, once covered in maple trees, was the site of annual sugaring camps. The island below, Wita Wanagi (Spirit Island) shrouded in mist and the peaceful din of rushing water, was a calm and sheltered place where women gave birth to generations of Dakota children. The people shared the area with a large population of Eagles, for whom the waters provided a plentiful source of fish.

A rich oral tradition informs the Dakota understanding of Owmani Yomni. One of these stories was first written down in 1908 by historian Henry G. Allanson, whose records remain in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.

He wrote, “Legend states that Anputa Sapa Win, commonly known as Clouded Day, was the first and devoted wife of a Dakota warrior. However, in time in accordance with the custom, the husband introduced a second wife within the tipi. One day the band camped near the falls of St. Anthony. Clasping her little son, Clouded Day entered a canoe, pushed out into the swift current chanting her death song. The Dakotas say that in the mists of morning, the spirit of the Indian wife with a child clinging around her neck is seen darting in a canoe through the spray, and the sound of her death song is heard again in the winds and roar of the waters. In seeming remembrance, a bear and her cub occasionally appear coming out of the water.”

As the only portage on the river, Owamni Yomni was a practical place for people of many nations to gather, meet, rest, and trade. Even during times of turmoil between the Dakota and Anishinabe, it remained neutral territory.

Owamni Yomni served as a natural obstacle to human movement on the river and did the same for the myriad species of fish, plants and aquatic mammals that lived in its waters. Distinct ecosystems flourished above and below the falls, protected from the potentially devastating effects of organisms whose introduction might offset the delicate balance of each natural sector.

So impressive was this feature of the river – a horseshoe cascade that some European travelers compared in grandeur to Niagara Falls – that the Dakota named the entire 2,552-mile waterway Haha Wakpa (Waterfall River) in its honor.

From those times forward, the governments of France, the United States, Minnesota and Minneapolis, along with their partners in industry and organized religion conspired to makeover the sacred falls of Owamni Yomni,and many other immovable landmarks, in their own image.

American history books claim Owamni Yomni was discovered in 1680 by Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan Friar who had been dispatched to explore the western part of “New France,” an area which, at its peak in 1712, extended from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains, and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.

It is clear from Hennepin’s written accounts of that journey that the priest considered himself the first man to bear witness to both Niagara Falls and Owamni Yomni; in 1683, he published a book about Niagara Falls called “A New Discovery.”

The Frenchman, upon arrival in Mni Sota Makoce (Dakota Homelands) wasted no time imposing his vision on the area’s natural features. He renamed Owamni Yomni “The Falls of Saint Anthony,” after Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of finding lost things and people. Why Father Hennepin chose Anthony of Padua – a man who lived and died in Europe (1195-1231) – as the new namesake for Owamni Yomni is shrouded in the mists of time.


Mille Lacs diversifies with ties that bind
Monday, July 20 2015
 
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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mille lacs band diversifies with ties that bind.jpgWhen his peers in the Native American Finance Officers Association honored Joe Nayquonabe, Jr. this spring as their Executive of the Year, attention was given to the progress the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is making in diversifying its investments and business enterprises.

Nayquonabe is Commissioner of Corporate Affairs for the Band and is chief executive officer of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures (MLCV), the Band’s business investment arm that operates like a holding company with management responsibilities.

MLCV now has more than 35 different business entities. Together with the Band’s government and earlier investments in enterprises, the Mille Lacs Band is responsible for creating more than 3,500 jobs on and off the reservation.

The two anchors of the Band’s enterprises at the reservation, Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley, have 2,648 employees while non-gaming businesses located there have 225 employees. Other businesses are scattered around neighboring communities in East-Central Minnesota, in the Twin Cities metro area and now include a hotel in Oklahoma City.

The Mille Lacs Band entered the gaming business 24 years ago. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) then listed reservation unemployment at a staggering 80 percent. The Band now assesses its unemployment rate at 14 percent, a rate derived from knowing who is still in need of a job. That is a more simple, accurate but unofficial formula than methods used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to measure unemployment for states, counties and cities.

“We are continually evaluating opportunities and looking for the next potential deal,” Nayquonabe said. No new deals are imminent, he added, “but I can share that we have our eye on a few properties throughout the country that would possibly make nice additions to our portfolio.”

Diversification was a stated goal at Mille Lacs when Band chief executive Melanie Benjamin named Nayquonabe to the commissioner’s post three years ago. With acquisitions and business expansions along the way, Mille Lacs leaders have insisted that gaming revenue is flattening out. Future economic growth must come from non-gaming enterprises.


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