White Earth constitutional reform stalled by infighting

“The people of White Earth voted for a new constitution, and a judge upheld the validity of that referendum. So why don’t we have a new constitution at White Earth?” For Lorna LaGue, White Earth’s Director of Constitutional Reform, the question is rhetorical. After all, she’s had a front row seat to the clash taking place on her reservation between those who support the new tribal constitution and those oppose to it. Both sides are polarized, passionate, and deeply entrenched after years of infighting which surfaced in conjunction with the first White Earth Constitutional Convention in 2007.The latest dust-up — between White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor, who supports the new constitution as “the will of the people” and those who oppose her efforts — has taken place in the pages of White Earth’s newspaper, Anishinaabeg Today.In the December issue Vizenor used her monthly column to explain that a gag-order had been imposed to prevent the tribal newspaper from printing information about constitutional reform efforts.“The White Earth Tribal Council voted to censor the press from printing any more information or updates on the Constitution of the White Earth Nation,” Vizenor wrote. “The vote took place on Nov. Continue Reading

Native Lives Matter: A Solution to Police Violence in Indian Country

“Black Lives Matter!” The chant has echoed through America’s streets since Aug. 9, the day unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. The Brown case focused attention on longstanding problems in black communities: racial profiling and police violence against young black men.The perceived lack of justice in these and many other cases sparked major demonstrations, including a Dec. 20 rally at the Mall of America that drew more than 3,000 protesters.But as millions rallied around the cause of human rights for African-Americans, many Indigenous people wonder if America thinks their lives matter. For every Michael Brown, for every Eric Garner, they say, there is a victim of police violence in Indian Country whose name you probably don’t know.“It’s imperative to understand that this issue is not just about black people and white people. Continue Reading

Warroad Warriors rededicated amid National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media’s ongoing campaigns

In its 30 year quest to influence teams to change their names, mascots and logos from those that are offense to Native Americans, the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media is making strides. Thousands of high schools and colleges across the country have felt the pressure and given up names which encourage stereotyping of indigenous people.

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Native youth farmer markets sell veggies from heirloom seeds

Two new farmers markets serving the Twin Cities American Indian Community have sprung up in recent weeks. These unassuming produce stands, comprised of just one or two tables each, would be easy to miss. It would be a mistake, however, to equate the humility of these burgeoning enterprises with their potential impact. These markets are, in fact, the final link in a grand, multi-generational vision that has sought to restore the once prominent notion of food as spirit-nurturing medicine.  Much of the produce offered at the Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) Indian Farmer’s Markets has been grown by Native farmers from heirloom seeds preserved by Potawatomi elder Cora Baker. 

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FREE SPEECH ZONE | Minneapolis gathering urges Canoe Nations back to the water

This time of year kids in the Twin Cities typically celebrate the end of school with a field trip to Valley Fair amusement park or the Minnesota Zoo. But for the past two years many American Indian students, teachers, and community members have forgone those outings in favor of the Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering, an event that combines traditional teachings about the waters with hands-on canoe experiences.The gathering, according to its organizers, is a meant to seed the resurgence of Native canoe culture in a region with a rich history of water-based peoples. “This is a way to reattach ourselves to our culture,” says LeMoine LaPointe, Director of Healthy Nations at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, coordinator of this year’s gathering. “If we never make these health giving connections, we may never again associate ourselves with those elements, such as water, which are essential to our culture.” Mde Maka Ska is Dakota for White Earth Lake, the original name of Lake Calhoun, one of the lakes in the Minneapolis chain. Continue Reading