This week's Minnesota Native News previews Dodging Bullets, a new film about historical trauma.
This week on Minnesota Native News, the robotics team from White Earth’s Circle of Life Academy takes their robot to compete in the regional tournament in Minneapolis. Reporter Melissa Townsend brings us the story.
INTRO: This week on Minnesota Native News, the robotics team from White Earth’s Circle of Life Academy takes their robot to the regional tournament. Reporter Melissa Townsend brings us the story.
SOUND OF STUDENTS AND MENTOR WORKING IN COLA LAB
DOUG: What we’re going to do is, we’re going to put those on…
MELISSA: Doug Schulz is the adult mentor to the robotics team at the Circle of Life Academy.
There are 6 students in the group and they meet 4 times a week.
It’s early February and the group is building their robot from scratch.
The team is building this robot designed specifically to compete in a big robotics tournament in late March.
DOUG: We’re going to have some motors that suck the cube in here…
The robot has to be able to pick up a stuffed cube, lift if over its head and drop it on a platform behind its back.
The robot will do all these things — by remote control.
[fade out building sounds]
[fade in tournament sound]
It’s the end of March now and we’re here at the North Star and Medtronic Regional FIRST Robotics Tournament in Minneapolis.
We’re at an arena on the University of Minnesota Campus.
The Ogichidaa team from White Earth is here with Squeevercoon - their robot.
They’re competing with 59 other teams from around Minnesota.
They are the only tribal school team here.
The team includes TITUS, JOEY, CAMERON, OLIVIA AND DEREK.
Titus Alvarado is the team captain. He is 15 and in 9th grade.
MELISSA: How long have you been doing robotics?
TITUS: Ah, first year.
MELISSA: What got you interested?
TITUS: Friends told me to join robotics and I got nothing to do at home so. Gave it a shot and I like building, engineering, learning about new things.
MELISSA: What do you think about all these other teams?
TITUS: Good robots, cool designs.
The Ogichidaa robot is also a cool design.
It stands about 3 feet tall.
It has a metal frame with plexiglass sheets that protect its inner core of wires, tubes and other machinery.
It moves on wheels.
MELISSA: So are you excited to be here? How does it feel?
TITUS: A little nervous. But fun. (:09)
There is a field set up on the arena floor where the robots compete.
Each team is trying to score as many points as they can in each round.
How do you score points?
Your robot picks up small yellow stuffed cubes from the floor and puts them on one of two small platforms.
It’s actually more complicated than that - but that is the basic idea.
[doot doo doot music]
The round begins and the Circle of Life robot takes off toward the middle of the field but then it stops.
It stutters back and forth.
I’m watching with Team member Olivia Mason.
MELISSA: Is it stuck?
OLIVIA: Seems - probably the connection went out with the robot and the system.
When the round is over, the team carries the robot off the field back to the pit.
I catch up with Titus again.
MELISSA: OK, so that first round didn’t exactly go as you had planned, huh?
TITUS: Yea, we lost the left side of our motor. So we are trying to figure out what’s going on. We got a new joy stick to figure out if that does anything.
In a few minutes, with a new joy stick and a new computer, the team gets another chance in round 2.
[doot doo doot music]
Squeevercoon takes off.
MELISSA: Man it’s working great now. 1,2,3,4,5 cubes. Oop - there is another robot totally in the way. Oh that aint right. That robot is totally blocking you - on purpose?
OLIVIA: Yup, they are trying to defend the blue shoots on the other side.
Even with the other team’s block, the Ogichidaa team does exactly what they planned.
In the end Squeevercoon has landed 5 cubes on the switch.
Back at the pits — Doug Schulz talks to his team
DOUG: I am the proud proud proud coach of team 3367 Ogichidaa robotics. That was awesome you guys. We had failed but we found some resources, we got some help and we competed. I’m super excited about that match. And now we’re going to run for it.
The Ogichidaa team and their robot Squeevercoon competed in 10 qualifying rounds in total.
In the end, they were awarded the Switch Master Award.
Congratulations Ogichidaa team from Circle of Life Academy.
For Minnesota Native News, I”m Melissa Townsend.
This week on Minnesota Native News, we hear about Native American Church’s lawsuit against the TSA and how it resulted in better training for screening sacred items (in Minnesota and elsewhere). Here’s reporter Cole Premo.
This week on Minnesota Native News, we hear about the Native American Church’s lawsuit against the TSA and how it resulted in better training for screening sacred items (in Minnesota and elsewhere).
And The Sioux Chef is a finalist for a national culinary award.
“Wellness Rising: Coming Together to Prevent and Manage Diabetes” is a magazine style show, featuring vital perspectives from health providers, community members, and people with diabetes, all sharing their insights and wisdom on how to prevent and manage diabetes.
Making a career in the arts can be a challenge, but Native Artists are found flourishing in the sector. There are many lessons to learn from them – from combating misconceptions to the necessity of art for community health. Reporter Leah Lemm has the story about this program hosted by The University of Minnesota Twin Cities Department of American Indian Studies.
Marie: This week on Minnesota Native News:
A Native Artist Talk Series exploring the careers of Native artists in Minnesota.
This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock.
STORY 1 AND ONLY: NATIVE ARTIST TALK SERIES SHOWCASES CAREERS
HOST (Marie): Making a career in the arts can be a challenge, but Native Artists are found flourishing in the sector. And… there are many lessons to learn from them… from combating misconceptions… to the necessity of art for community health.
Reporter Leah Lemm has the story about this program hosted by The University of Minnesota
Twin Cities… Department of American Indian Studies.
REPORTER: Once a month, an artist from the Minnesota Native community presents on their artistic careers to the public at the Native Artist Talk Series hosted by the U of M’s Twin Cities Department of American Indian Studies.
They are chosen by the department based on the strength and length of their careers, but also how their work positively impacts the Native community.
Fawn Grauman-White is the department’s Community Engagement Coordinator.
FAWN: We actually received funding from a donor that wanted to highlight local native artists. So that's how it started.
REPORTER: There had been a stronger relationship between local Native artists and the arts programming at the university, so there has been a push to foster those relationships once again.
Fawn began her current position in August and immediately got started looking for artists for the series.
FAWN: One of my first tasks was to start locating artists and start developing the series. They wanted to feature up and coming artists, established artists, local artists, u of m alum. So anybody in the area that is, you know, doing something for the community, is really well known within the area and who are also indigenous people.
REPORTER: This year, the series has featured artists from a wide array of mediums. There have been several visual artists… also writer Carter Meland, hip-hop artist Tall Paul, and… coming up on April fifth… the Native Artist Talk Series will showcase playwright Rhiana Yazzie.
FAWN: I just think it's important for people to get to understand the journey that each individual artist has and that it's not an easy task for a majority of people. This is really an in-depth talk with each artist and you can to kind of see them on a different level rather than just the performing or them presenting their work.
REPORTER: Fawn also notes how there can be misconceptions about a career in the arts, that it’s either more glamorous than reality or that making a career in the arts is impossible.
FAWN: To see actual people flourishing in their careers and being able to support them, especially at the university I think is highly important.
REPORTER: I caught up with upcoming Native Artist Talk Series guest Rhiana Yazzie at a recent performance at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre on Lake Street in Minneapolis, where she directed the production of ‘Star Girl Clan’ by Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra and Magdalena Kaluza.
[Clapping Sound from end of show]
YAZZIE: I just opened a play that just closed today. It’s called Star Girl Clan. I was asked to direct it. This is a beautiful puppet play.
REPORTER: It was a vivid production with brightly colored puppets that explored the path of an Indigenous Maya grandmother going through a journey of remembering with help from the ancestors.
Rhiana, a Navajo playwright, film, and theatre-maker, has recently wrapped up filming of ‘A Winter Love,’ a feature film that she wrote, directed and acted in. She is also the Artistic Director and creator of New Native Theatre, and was excited to share their upcoming project that will open on May ninth.
YAZZIE: The next project coming up is ‘Native Woman, the Musical’ at New Native Theatre. We're looking for native women to tell stories. In 2014 we did a play called ‘Native Man the Musical.’ And we were asking what does it mean to be a native man? What does it mean to look at these different stereotypes that native men have been given? …Like being warriors or being protectors, et cetera. A lot of this stuff are things that non-native people have taught us to be. And so we're kind of flipping, flipping the coin now and asking native women to tell their stories.
REPORTER: Rhiana wants to encourage those attending the Native Artist Talk Series to look at performing arts as a meaningful career option. Storytelling and creative expression are a big part of the art form, however, honest portrayals of Native people in the media have a positive effect on artists and community.
YAZZIE: When more native people are creating the images that young native people are seeing, then it makes a healthier world, a healthier environment. And especially when as a native person, you're encouraged to express yourself creatively. It helps you be the full person that you are. And I think that that's really powerful.
REPORTER: More information about the Native Artist Talk Series can be found on Facebook.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Leah Lemm.
Reporter Melissa Townsend sits down with Dr. Arne Vainio and Dr. Mary Owen to talk about the rising rates of diabetes in Native communities and other issues in culturally appropriate Native healthcare.
Dr. Vainio is from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. We is a physician at the tribal clinic on the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation.
Dr. Owen is Tlinket from southeast Alaska. She is a family physician at the Leech Lake tribal clinic in Cass Lake. She is also the Director of the Center on American Indian and Minority Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. She is based in Duluth, Minnesota.
For decades now there have been active efforts to recruit more American Indians to be medical doctors. Reporter Melissa Townsend has this report about why Native doctors are so important and how well current recruitment efforts are succeeding.
For decades now there have been active efforts to recruit more American Indians to be medical doctors.
Reporter Melissa Townsend has this report about why Native doctors are so important and how well current recruitment efforts are succeeding.
Health disparities for American Indians in Minnesota are some of the most stark in the country.
Part of the solution to improving health in Native communities is connecting more Native people with good health care.
But that can be a problem because of the history of genocide and ongoing oppression in our country.
OWEN: There’s a huge wall of distrust that we have to get past to get people to continue to come to the door and get taken care of. (:06)
Dr. Mary Owen is from the Tlinket Nation, originally from Alaska.
She’s been a family doctor for over 15 years.
She is also the Director of the Center for American Indian and Minority Health at the University of Minnesota based in Duluth.
OWEN: We know there's not always been a good history of things that are done for Native people by our government. We have lots of stories about people having either had someone injured in our health system or someone even die in their health system. (:12)
Dr. Owen says the key to improving healthcare for Native people is to have more Native doctors who understand the importance of history and culture.
The University of Minnesota - where Dr. Owen is based - graduates the second highest number of Native medical students in the country.
University of Oklahoma graduates the most.
But nationally the numbers of Native students entering medical school and graduating medical school are decreasing.
OWEN:Across the country, we only graduate 30 to 40 Native physicians out of 19,000 physicians each year. (:06)
At Indian health Services clinics, there is a 47% vacancy rate for doctors in the region that includes Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
The need for more Native doctors has prompted a national campaign called We Are Healers.
The website features videos of Native medical providers telling their stories.
One video features Dr. David Baines.
CUT OF BAINES FROM VIDEO (:43 - 1:52): [music in] I had no concept growing up on the reservation of growing up and going to college. Nobody expected anything of us so we didn’t expect anything of us either. (:17)
He got a job at the tribal saw mill, but a few months in, terrible accident crushes his legs.
They eventually did surgery and I went down to Arizona to stay with my mom because I needed someone to take care of me. She was going part time to the community college. So went into the career office and took one of those tests that asks you if you’d rather play basketball or read a book. And the first one was truck driver. And then 7 of the 9 were all in the medicine. [music out] (:29)
Dr. Baines was an early mentor to Minnesota’s own Arne Vainio.
Dr. Vainio is a family physician at the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior tribal clinic.
VAINIO: I’m first generation college and my cousins, when I first started out, um, even before I was in medical school, they said, why don't you get a real job? And those kinds of things, they hurt a little bit, you know, because it's hard, you know, when you're trying to get into medical school or in medical school and people think you're just skating by when you're really just, it's sink or swim all the time. (:23)
Dr. Vainio says being with his mentor was a huge motivator.
VAINIO: To be able to go and spend time with David Banes in Idaho, and see somebody who's Native American, honors this tradition. We would mule pack way up into the mountains and he was bow hunting elk all the time. And I was sitting on a rock by a stream studying hematology. But to see a Native physician like that, totally competent, he just totally rocks. And to see that it changes everything. (:26)
Dr. Vainio says Dr. Baines taught him that there is a community of Native doctors who are holding on to their traditions even while they immerse themselves in Western medicine.
Dr. Owen from the Center of American Indian and Minority Health says there’s much work to be done to recruit more Native doctors, but she says one of the keys is culture.
OWEN: I think appealing to our culture and letting people know you can maintain it, … that can be part of who you are. You don't have to lose it just because you're going through the medical system. And I think you've become a better doctor in the end. (:11)
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Melissa Townsend.
This week on Minnesota Native News: Reporter Cole Premo explores the controversy surrounding a popular native comfort food, fried bread.
A grassroots effort to help people struggling with opioid addiction is expanding from Minneapolis to Duluth. Since 2016 Natives Against Heroin has lead street outreach efforts, community gatherings and sweat lodges to promote healing.
A grassroots effort to help people struggling with opioid addiction is expanding from Minneapolis to Duluth.
Since 2016 Natives Against Heroin has lead street outreach efforts, community gatherings and sweat lodges to promote healing.
Babette Sandman says that’s exactly what she wants to have in Duluth for people struggling with opioid addiction.
SANDMAN: This emanates love. This emanates, we care about you. We are fighting for your life. (:05)
Sandman is part of the Duluth Indigenous Commission.
The group kicked off the new Chapter of Natives Against Heroin with a community fire and a feast on Saturday February 24th in downtown Duluth.
Sandman says the group plans to have weekly gatherings at One Roof Community Housing on 4th street in downtown Duluth.
SANDMAN: We are going to have some fire side teachings starting with basic cultural 101 teachings about the fire and slowly building up to teaching about sweat lodges and then eventually we are going to have sweat lodges. (:13)
The work is lead by American Indians in Duluth but Sandman says they’ve got great support from the mayor, the fire chief and a number of local organizations.