Spoken word, seed art and being Minnesotan

All photos taken by Brea Lobley
Among the games, rides, various foodstuffs on a stick and the Black Lives Matter action at the Minnesota State Fair were two female artists—interdisciplinary mixed media artist and performer Ifrah Mansour and the late “Seed Queen” Lillian Colton—who offered poignantly moving and still images of what it means to be a Minnesotan. Colton, whose work has been at the State Fair since 1966, is undoubtedly a popular display and epitomizes the State Fair tradition. Colton took a very gendered tradition, women as gatherers, and transformed it into fine art—and, in the process, gave herself and other crop artists a space to express a complexity to an agricultural background that may have otherwise been overlooked. And she certainly deserved her praise: Colton’s lifelong work of using seeds as an art medium offered a transformative perspective and complexity for the way Minnesotans and non-Minnesotans alike view agriculture. A stroll down Cosgrove from Colton’s exhibit, over at the Education building’s courtyard, was Mansour. Continue Reading

The PGBC Marching Saints dance and drill team raise their fists during the Black National Anthem at intermission of the Rondo Days dance competition.

“Your Crew vs. My Crew” creates community amidst competition at Rondo Days [Photos]

The second annual “Your Crew vs. My Crew” dance competition finished out this year’s Rondo Days, which celebrates the black community that once thrived where I-94 now cuts through St. Paul.

“Every year we celebrate Rondo Days and the people and community who once stood there,” Leviticus Martin, the host of the event, proclaimed to a cheering audience during intermission of the competition. “So keep that in your minds and in your hearts when you come to Rondo Days, to the festival, to the parade, to the competition, that’s what it’s about. It’s about the community, it’s about love.”

The competition took place at Gangelhoff Arena on the Concordia University campus on Saturday, July 18th and lasted almost three hours. The competition and dance exhibition included nine crews from Minnesota, Indiana, and Nebraska. Continue Reading

Flags waved while DJs played music at the Somali Independence Day festival in Minneapolis on June 13.

2015 Somali Independence Day Festival in Photos

The Minnesotan Somali community celebrated the 55th anniversary of Somalia’s independence from Britain and Italy this weekend at a festival that spanned three blocks of West Lake Street. According to the 2010 American Community Survey data, there are around 25,000 Somali-Americans in Minnesota, a third of the Somali population of the United States. Although Somali Independence Day is technically July 1, the Minneapolis festival was held on Saturday, June 13 because it will be Ramadan from mid-June until mid-July. Somali flags and balloons with the logo of Progressive Insurance, one of many sponsors of the event, were prominent features around the festival. Friends and families came together to celebrate on Lake Street, between Blaisdell and Grand. Continue Reading

Bernie Sanders makes his first campaign appearance in Minnesota

It’s no secret that most of the heavy-hitters in the DFL are already pledged to Ms. Clinton. So who were the people who turned up to hear and cheer for Bernie Sanders? Generationally, they appeared to be a diverse crowd, ranging from 18 to 80-plus. The crowd was noticeably less diverse with perhaps 5 to 10% people of color. Primer on Bernie Sanders: He’s 73 and has been the junior Senator from Vermont since 2007. Continue Reading

mille Lacs band logo

Tackling achievement gap for American Indian students

Before the first class bell rings on Monday mornings, students at Nay Ah Shing High School gather to participate in a tradition that was instituted long before they were born. “Pipe and Dish” sets the tone for students and staff at the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe-run school in Onamia. The ceremony allows participants to “offer” tobacco and food to the Creator to ask for help in their studies and work in the days ahead. The morning ritual serves as a symbolic opportunity for students and staff to recognize the cultural roots the school was founded on 40 years ago. But Nay Ah Shing’s emphasis on its American Indian culture is not limited to the “Pipe and Dish” offering, according to Suzanne Wise, education commissioner for the Mille Lacs Band. Continue Reading


A Bemidji statue reveals uncomfortable Native history

We grew up hearing the story of local trader and store owner Andrew Myrick, who told starving Dakota people to “eat grass or their own dung” if they were hungry. He was one of the early fatalities of the 1862 US-Dakota War, a figure our very conservative father offered as a cautionary figure to encourage us to use civil discourse Continue Reading


Backers push for vote on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants

More than three hundred Latino residents rallied in front of the St. Paul Capitol building to urge Governor Dayton and House Speaker Paul Thissen to pass HF348, a bill  that would allow drivers licenses for all.  Organized by Mesa Latina and supported broadly by the immigrant rights movement  protesters raised signs and chanted “Si se puede!” “Yes we can!” Many drivers and passerby joined in solidarity, supportively honking or walking along. The demonstration concluded at the Cedar Street Armory in a cultural celebration with musical performances by local artists.  
Currently, more than 34,500 Minnesotans with temporary visas or deportation reprieves under a 2012 Obama program have driver’s licenses that say “Check status” and list their visa expiration date. Continue Reading


American Indian Month Kickoff

May is American Indian Month in Minneapolis. To celebrate thebeginning of the month and all the activities and celebrations that will follow, people and organizations gathered at Little Earth on Friday, May 1 for a parade through the Phillips Neighborhood. Continue Reading

MinnesotaCare should not be eliminated in the state budget

The Minnesota House passed a Republican-led budget plan last week that eliminates MinnesotaCare, a public health care program that provides coverage for the working poor. Unfortunately, such a plan would harm these individuals the most. The strongest justification that conservatives use for their budget is that the nearly 100,000 Minnesotans currently on MinnesotaCare could switch to MNsure, the insurance exchange set up through the Affordable Care Act. Even with tax credits, poor Minnesotans could pay more under MNsure than MinnesotaCare. Individuals on MinnesotaCare pay between $15 and $50 in monthly premiums for their plans. Continue Reading


Hooray for Mayor Hodges’ Courageous Soccer Stadium Stand!

Bill McGuire and his sports buddies the Pohlads, who own the Twins, and Glen Taylor, who owns the Timberwolves, want to build a stadium in downtown Minneapolis just for soccer.  And here’s the good news: They want to build it using private money.  And here’s the bad news: They want a rebate on sales taxes and they want a permanent exemption from paying local property taxes. Mayor Betsy Hodges went on record as saying “No,” and she said it in a public and detailed letter:
“There is no need for a subsidy for this facility, or this ownership group, whatsoever. The subsidy they are requesting will have a direct and negative impact on the taxpayers of Minneapolis. “First, the McGuire group is asking to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes—not just for a limited term of time, but forever. “The land where the MN United ownership group proposes to build the stadium is currently privately owned, so it currently pays property taxes [$334,000 a year] that would disappear if the soccer stadium were exempted from taxes. Continue Reading