Minneapolis State of the City addresses Native issues, marks important step in connecting citywide policies and Native communities

For 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.

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Lacrosse clinics teach indigenous culture and engage community

Indigenous Lax kicked off its first lacrosse clinic on Feb. 15 with special guest speaker and Edmonton Rush player Jeremy Thompson (Onondaga). He also plays for the Iroquois Nationals, is a Nike N7 Ambassador and the co-star of a documentary titled, “The Medicine Game.” He shared his knowledge and experiences with 30 Native youth representing the Arapaho, Blackfoot, Dakota, Ho-Chunk, Lakota, Ojibwe, Omaha, Potawatomi and Yakama nations.

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THEATER REVIEW | The Naked I: Insides Out explores experiences of gender-nonconforming artists

On February 14, 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities premiered The Naked I: Insides Out, the third iteration of performances focusing on trans* and queer experiences. In sum, the production features contributions by 81 LGBTQ artists and allies, including 15 directors and 35 performers from the Twin Cities area. The performance represented artists from across the age and gender-identity spectrum, showcased queer artists of color, and tackled issues such as gender stereotyping, transphobia, and the experiences of both transgender parents and the parents of transgender children.The first production in the series, The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary, was originally performed in 2009. Written by Tobias K. Davis, the production used an approach similar to Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues to explore the experiences of a wide range of gender-nonconforming people. The show was such a success that 20% Theatre went on to produce a second installment entitled The Naked I: Wide Open in 2012, which also met with great acclaim.“It should not be understated how important it is that these stories are getting told,” said Lee Conrads, who directed two pieces in The Naked I: Insides Out. Continue Reading

Police brutality cause for Minneapolis ballot issue

The Committee For Professional Policing is working to pass an amendment to the Minneapolis City Charter, which would be voted on as a ballot issue in the November 2014 election. This amendment would require police officers to carry personal liability insurance, much like the malpractice insurance doctors are required to carry.CFPP officially formed as a political committee in the spring of 2013. The original idea for the liability insurance model came from Communities United Against Police Brutality, an all-volunteer organization founded in 2000 which focuses on advocacy, education and political activity to end police brutality in Minneapolis and the surrounding metro areas.According to statistics gathered by CFPP, the City and its taxpayers have spent $20 million on police misconduct payouts since 2006.“Right now, the city covers pretty much all acts of misconduct by police officers, but it’s not actually required to do so,” explained Dave Bicking, the Chair of CFPP.This means that officers are covered only arbitrarily by the city’s current provisions.“This is not an anti-cop deal by any means,” said Michelle Gross, President of CUAPB. “It is a way to get rid of the bad officers and keep and protect the good ones.”According to Bicking, the impetus for the charter amendment comes from a long history of issues with holding police officers accountable for misconduct.“We’ve been frustrated with the fact that the city politicians, the police chief and the union really have no interest in disciplining officers or holding them to account for their conduct,” Bicking said. “All that’s been effective is lawsuits. Continue Reading

Change the Name protest — Video report

AIM Twin Cities, Little Earth of United Tribes and Minneapolis American Indian community members gathered on Nov. 7 on East Franklin Avenue to protest the Washington team on during their game against the Minnesota Vikings. The event, led by AIM Twin Cities co-founder Clyde Bellecourt, featured Billy Mills (1964 Olympic Gold Medalist, Oglala Lakota), Gov. Jesse Ventura (former Minnesota governor), Nathaniel Khaliq (St. Paul City Council member, Ward 1), U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Joey Browner (Minnesota Vikings, 1983-1991) and Betsy Hodges (Mayor-Elect, City of Minneapolis).(Footage by Jamie Keith, Edited by Alfred Walking Bull)Related stories:OPINION | Again we speak against injustice (Alfred Walking Bull, 2013)University of Minnesota panel refocuses Washington football mascot controversy on protecting youth (Ben Markhart, 2013)NEWS DAY | Protesting the R word (Mary Turck, 2013)Protesters march to Metrodome, denounce Washington team nickname as racist (Ben Markhart, 2013) Continue Reading

Ojibwe youth takes on education reform through Minnesota Youth Council

Guadalupe Thornhill, an Ojibwe youth from Saint Paul, hears many stereotypes about youth like her. These stereotypes tell her that Native youth drop out of school, do drugs, live only on reservations, and get rich from casino pay-offs.“Not every Native American thinks about things in a certain way – look at me,” she said. “I’m a Native American and I’m not living on a reservation or getting money from a casino.”Guadalupe, who goes by Lupe among family and friends, is hardly alone. According to data from the US Census Bureau released this year , more than seven in ten Native Americans live in urban areas and 27% of all Natives nationwide live in poverty.Another prominent stereotype about urban Native Americans is that they retain little connection to their cultures. Lupe, however, is an avid seamstress and has just finished designing and sewing her own powwow regalia. Continue Reading