Marie: This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock.
Headlines: Lives are changing drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are out of work, more and more people are holding work meetings virtually, and everyone is making major adjustments.
Students are also home from school. Which means families are trying to find ways to keep the learning going. And for Native students, there are online resources that provide culturally focused learning through language and art.
Here’s reporter Leah Lemm with the story.
STORY #1 - CULTURAL LESSONS WHILE HOME WITH KIDS
SOUND OF THE LEMM HOUSEHOLD
REPORTER: Most students have been home from school since Wednesday March 18th due temporary school closures, leaving families to make arrangements for care and continued education at home.
As a parent, I immediately started searching for cultural resources to supplement our school districts online learning resources.
And… artist Marlena Myles is helping us out with a few of those.
MARLENA MYLES: I’m Spirit Lake Dakota, I live in Saint Paul, MN, I like to create digital art, fabrics, illustrate children’s books and animations, and I also teach in classroom.
REPORTER: My son sits side by side with my spouse as they examine the laptop screen. They have Marlena’s Dakota Land Map open.
The map is colorful and full of information all on a single page with Dakota language throughout.
Also included on the Dakota Land Map are symbols for the places represented. From Dakota villages, sacred sites, along with bodies of water, and locations such as the Mall of America, public transportation, and the University of Minnesota. (Might switch this around given their convo. Marvin says Bde Makha Ska super easily, so that’s awesome.)
And each location has an accompanying symbol, which Marlena highlights as a project opportunity for families.
MARLENA MYLES: Each of the places that I illustrated- they all have a little symbol I sort of drew to illustrate what that place may mean. And so if parents are with their children, they can teach about their own family history to their kids , and then the kids can draw the symbol that represents the family history that they heard.
A lot of Dakota art is personal. It’s something they can do with with any sort of art materials. Could be collage work, they could look through a magazine and clip out pieces of things that remind them of the story they just learned, use markers or crayons…
Marlena also has a Dakota Coloring Book on her website. Marlena m y l DOT e s That’s her name Marlena m y l DOT e s
The Dakota Land Map and the Coloring Book are available as free downloads.
And… other educators are turning to social media and live streaming to help students continue learning.
//SOUNDS OF JEI’s STREAM
Jei Herald-Zamora works at Bdote Learning Center on the Middle School team as an Ojibwe Language and Culture Teacher.
Jei: I am wolf clan, I am Spirit Lake Nation enrolled, but I was raised and identify as LCO Ojibwe in Wisconsin.
REPORTER: Jei is utilizing Instagram and Facebook streaming platforms to read and instruct participants.
Jei: Right now my social media teaching project is doing storybooks for about one hour and the second hour is doing Ojibwemowin instruction for an hour and to give basic vocabulary, sampling what I usually give as content within my lessons.
//SOUND of stream
JEI: In a way I just wanted to give something that people could look forward to. It’ll give me an excuse to get out of bed and do my makeup and give me an excuse to put on something besides pajama pants.
REPORTER: And Jei has been getting positive feed back about the project.
JEI: I have family members that are really enthusiastic, teachers are appreciate and parents are appreciative.
REPORTER: Jei Herald-Zamora hosts the public live streams at 1 and 2pm on Wednesdays and Fridays, and videos are archived for future viewing.
Links for both of these resources are on the Minnesota Native News facebook page
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Leah Lemm.
Lives are changing drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are out of work, more and more people are holding work meetings virtually, and everyone is making major adjustments. Students are also home from school. Which means families are trying to find ways to keep the learning going. And for Native students, there are online resources that provide culturally focused learning through language and art.
Today, a healing ceremony in honor of George Floyd, plus Native art and stories.
Here’s reporter Leah Lemm.
Marie: This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock.
Today we look at Native stories, art, and healing ceremony in honor of George Floyd.
Here’s reporter Leah Lemm.
STORY #1: ON GEORGE FLOYD
Sounds from ceremony.
Reporter: Native community members in Minneapolis offer healing after the death of George Floyd.
A letter was released by the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group. The collective of about thirty Twin Cities American Indian organizations responded to the tragic death of George Floyd and QUOTE “Condemns the murder of one of our fellow citizens."
And George Floyd’s murder has sparked mourning, peaceful protests, and opportunist agitators. Buildings burned, including MIGIZI, an organization in South Minneapolis that is dedicated to empowering Native youth.
But so many helped take care of people during this time of heartbreak. Donations to organizations like MIGIZI have been substantial. Community members have been helping to protect organizations from violence. A week after George Floyd’s death on 38th and Chicago, jingle dress dancers came and danced at the same intersection. The jingle dress has been shared to provide medicine and healing.
Miiskogihmiiwan Poupart-Chapman told her story of witness and healing at the ceremony, and shared these words with MN Native News team member Justus Sanchez:
Miiskogihmiiwan Poupart-Chapman: My name is Miiskogihmiiwan Poupart-Chapman. I'm 19 years old. I attend Augsburg university. I live in this area. I have family members just around the corner. Um, I represent the Minnesota Indian education association and I'm a woman's powwow dancer.
Justus Sanchez: Fantastic. Who are you dancing for today?
Speaker 1: I'm dancing for the people. I'm dancing for healing. I came here with compassion in my heart with empathy. I know how these families are feeling because it happens to ours and it happens to all these families daily. You see it in the news all the time and it's not every day that we get to record what's happening and you know, a movement like this, we're all hurting and I'm here dancing for the people. That's why all these dancers are here. The jingle just came in the 1920s when the pandemic was happening back then too. And it's not a surprise that it's showing back up in these times. We need healing and that's what these dances are for.
STORY #2: DIVISION OF INDIAN WORK HOLDS ART CONTEST FOR AMERICAN INDIAN MONTH
May was American Indian Month in Minnesota, and had a very different look to it this year through the pandemic and distress in Minneapolis. No celebration, no powwows, no smell of Indian Tacos down Franklin Avenue. but it was still celebrated.
One such event came from The Division of Indian Work. They announced the winners of their Video/Art Contest. Attendees joined over video conference to appreciate the art of the community and to choose their favorites. Hosting the event was Ashley Zukowski from DIW.
Ashley Zukowski: "All of the artwork here was submitted by a large variety of people, mostly in the Twin Cities, but even from Wisconsin. A lot of younger kids, lot of varying age ranges. Uh, we really appreciate everyone that submitted things. I think this is just something fun to be able to look at and experience today. You know, this month has been difficult for a lot of people, especially this week, and it's nice to be able to have something to enjoy and come to."
There were art pieces painted by youth, traditional dancers, and even some lively chalk art all celebrating this years theme of We Are Still Here.
Though there were over a dozen entries, only three could win. Co-host of the event, Afton Delgado, introduced the first place winner Adam Nelson’s piece.
Afton Delgado: "And this is Adam Nelson. So this is a great piece. It really shows the importance of how the Plains and how everyone feels about Bdote, which is the center of a lot of our communities."
Reporter:… with hashtag We Are Still Here displayed in the center.
STORY #3: TASHIA HART RELEASES GIDJIE AND THE WOLVES
In other news, Tashia Hart from Red Lake Nation has a new young adult novel that recently made its debut. Gidjie and the Wolves is the first in a series of books called the Intermediaries. Gidjie, a young Anishinaabe girl has friends and loved ones who are intermediaries, beings who walk as both animal and humans.
Tashia Hart: This series, like this first book gets you in the wolves. It's sort of like the intro into this world.
Reporter: Tashia describes the novel as embracing both the real and the fantastical, all the while embracing Anishinaabe culture and the landscape of Minnesota. Find out more at Tashia hart DOT com. T-A-S-H-I-A H-A-R-T DOT COM
For Minnesota Native News, I'm Leah Lemm.
As Minneapolis moves to re-open during the pandemic, protests erupted in the streets following the death of George Floyd. A Minneapolis office has now been charged with his murder.
But as anger and frustrations took over demonstrations, hundreds of buildings in Minneapolis were set on fire and burned to the ground.
Among them was the new offices of a beloved Native non-profit, MIGIZI.
This week on the Minnesota Native News Health Report, we answer some of your questions and hear the first entry in a Covid-19 diary. And we are calling on Dr. Antony Stately from the Native American Community Clinic in Minneapolis to help answer them. Laurie Stern has the story.
KAXE’s Heidi Holtan hosts Asst. Commissioner of Health Dan Huff during the weekly Covid 19 statewide conversation
Daily Update for May 29th: In lieu of it’s usual commencement ceremony, the Leech Lake Tribal College held a drive-thru event that kept state guidelines of social distancing in mind.
For the Daily Update, this is Kayla Duoos.
Host Leah Lemm explores how Indian Country in MN is responding and adapting to the COVID-19 health crisis.
Today’s in-depth conversation looks at how Tribal leaders are deciding when and how to re-open businesses and assessing how to keep employees, patrons, and community members safe.
Leah talks with Casino employee RJ Dahl. And MN Native News reporter Melissa Townsend talks with Joe Nayquonabe, CEO of Mille Lacs Band Corporate Ventures. MN Native News Special Edition: COVID-19 Community Conversations is supported by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health.
This week on Minnesota Native News, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe elections are coming up on June 9th, some tribes begin to reopen their casinos after closing in mid-March to slow the spread of Covid-19 and the EPA reaches a decision on the Superfund site on the Leech Lake reservation.
Headlines: This week on Minnesota Native News, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe elections and more. This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock.
STORY 1: MCT Postponed Primary Happening on June 9
HOST: The 6 Bands who are part of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe are holding their primary election on June 9. Reporter Melissa Townsend has the details.
MELISSA: Mille Lacs, White Earth, Boise Forte, Leech Lake, Fond du Lac, and Grand Portage will be choosing candidates for Band Chairmen and several District Representatives seats. The primary election was postponed from March 31 because of safety precautions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gary Frazer is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.
FRAZER: I think the voter turnout is going to be way lower at the polls because they’ve been requesting people vote with absentee over the last month and a half. (:10)
He says tribal leaders are taking a number of precautions to keep voters safe. MCT members can vote by absentee ballot up through June 9.
At polling places, some Bands will practice social distancing and some may require a temperature check before you can vote. If a person has an elevated temperature, they can get an absentee ballot.The candidates who make it through the Primaries will run in the General Election. That’s scheduled for August 18.
In other news… Some tribes in Minnesota are reopening their casinos.
All tribes in Minnesota closed their gaming enterprises in mid-March as a part of social distancing to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Joe Naquanabe, the head of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s Corporate Ventures says that decision to close was really tough.
NAQUANABE: It was really scary knowing what the properties represent to the region and especially the Mille Lacs Band. (:08)
But he says - the decision to reopen is even more difficult.
NAQUANABE: It’s harder because there’s this fact that we will be increasing the same risks that we are trying to avoid by closing. (:13)
The Upper Sioux community opened their doors earlier in May. The Shakopee Mdewaukanton Sioux Community, Prairie Island Indian Community, the Red Lake Nation and the Mille Lacs and the Bois Forte Bands of Ojibwe casinos are reopening this week.
Angela Heikes [HIGH-kiss] is President and CEO of the Shakopee Mdewaukanton Sioux Community Gaming Enterprise. Both Naquanabe and Heikes say their tribes are consulting both with their own internal health and safety departments and outside agencies.
HEIKES: We are really watching and understanding the guidance coming form the federal government, the CDC, different health organizations, coming from the state of Minnesota. We also have our own tribal public health department. (:19)
The casinos are not opening to full capacity so that patrons can practice social distancing. Customers will have their temperature taken at the entrances. Shakopee is requiring everyone to wear masks; Mille Lacs is not. Other tribes around the country are also reopening their casinos.
GILES: Casinos in different states are further along in the process, particularly Oklahoma. (:05)
Jason Giles, Muscogee Creek, is Executive Director of the National Indian Gaming Association. It’s a non-profit advocacy organization for tribal gaming operations.
GILES: To be honest it’s not without its hiccups right off the bat. There are reports of employees showing up a-symptomatic but they have the virus. There have been other reports of people showing up not wearing a mask. (:15)
Giles says there are some tribes who say they will NOT reopen their casinos in the near future.
GILES: There’s plenty of tribes in South Dakota, North Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico - some of the tribes that just don’t have strong health care systems on the reservation and are a commute away from the nearest hospital, they are at particular risk if the virus starts to spread. They just can’t afford to have it run through their populations. (:20)
Here in Minnesota, tribal casino heads say they will pay close attention to what’s happening and adjust as needed.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Melissa Townsend.
HOST: And finally, The Leech Lake tribal newspaper, the Debahjimon [dih-BOJ-ih-mon] is reporting that the US Environmental Protection Agency has reached a decision on the Superfund site located within Leech Lake reservation boundaries.
The agency has gone agains the wishes of the tribe and has decided to retain the contaminated soil on site rather than truck it off the reservation.
This decision comes after decades of consultation over the St. Regis Superfund site where the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe voiced opposition to this very plan.
The Band is exploring their options for further action.
Boozhoo! Today we catch up with Marie Rock (White Earth) who is the Program Manager at KOJB-FM “The Eagle” Radio which broadcasts to the Leech Lake Reservation, where she hosts the morning show. Marie is also the host of MN Native News, so her voice is familiar throughout the state. Enjoy our fun and lively chat with Marie who shares how she copes and keeps spirits high during the pandemic.