Minnesota Native News continues its reporting on legislative , tribal and agency efforts to help women victimized by the sex trade.
A tent encampment of homeless folks continues to grow in Minneapolis. There are about 300 people there, many of whom are Native.
The camp shines a light on the crisis caused by the shortage of affordable housing, shelter beds, and culturally sensitive social and addictions services.
Tribal and urban leaders are making plans to provide more sturdy shelter over the coming months. But what else is needed to support those living in these tents?
This is Minnesota News, I’m Marie Rock.
A tent encampment of homeless folks continues to grow in Minneapolis. There are about 300 people there, many of whom are Native.
Tribal and urban leaders are making plans to provide more sturdy shelter over the coming months. But what else is needed to support those living in these tents? Reporter Melissa Townsend tells us more.
A lot of people involved in this camp say the first priority is stable, affordable housing. Joy Friedman is with Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center.
FREIDMAN: You need to be able to have affordable housing to rest your head to be able to start thinking about - now what do I do? But if I don’t even know where I’m going to sleep tonight, I can’t worry about anything else. Tonight i have to find a safe location, I have to hold down my tent, I got to watch over my stuff. This is making it so I don’t have time to deal with anything else that’s going on with my life. (:20)
When I talked with Charyl from Lac Courte Oreilles [la coo du ray], she’d been living in the camp for about a month.
CHARYL: I’m looking for an apartment and I’m looking for like some therapy and stuff because like I told you what I went through was very traumatic. And I prefer the Native ways. (:12)
To fill the need for housing in the short term, the Red lake Nation has struck a deal with the city and county leaders. The tribe will host FEMA style trailers on their land in south Minneapolis The tribe wants the trailers to be paid for and managed by the city and county. It’s a short term solution while local officials and Native leaders make a plan for long term permanent housing.
But not everyone in this camp is ready for that. Donald John Banks is from Mille Lacs. He’s spent a few nights off and on in the camp over the past few months.
REPORTER: So I guess the Mayor has a plan to potentially put people in housing.
BANKS: I’d be OK with housing but first I want to - I got to relearn a lot of things and redo a lot of things just so I could say I did it the right way. (:16)
Banks says he struggles with addiction and depression. He says he just needs to be in a different place emotionally and have like a 5-year plan before he can commit to a permanent address.
REPORTER: So you think now you’re ready for a 5 year plan?
BANKS: I have the foundations for a 5 year plan, that’s about it. That’s it. (:11)
For Banks and people like him who aren’t in shelters, street outreach is key.
At the camp, a coalition of tribes and Native led urban organizations are providing everything from meals, showers, snacks, advice, spiritual resources, some security and connections to health and social service programs. But one organization hasn’t been able to help.
STATELY: From very early on people were telling us we need people to come in and provide onsite medical care that we have some people there with a range of things. (:07)
Antony Stately is CEO of the Native American Community Clinic. NACC is just a few blocks away from the camp, but too much legal red tape kept them from doing the kind of outreach they wanted to do.
STATELY: Which was challenging for me and my staff because these are our patients. We wanted to help them. (:04)
And here again the Red Lake nation comes through. Stately says a valuable partnership with the Red Lake Nation and Livio health group helped them cut through the red tape. NACC no longer needed multiple layers of approval because Red Lake is a sovereign government. And they licensed NACC to provide onsite medical care on their behalf.
ANTONY: Some of the leadership at Red lake is very innovative and forward-thinking in the way that they conceptualize the responsibility they have to their urban dwelling members. (:10)
Stately says in one week NACC staff was able to go tent to tent and offer screenings for HIV, Hep-C and Syphilis. For those testing positive, docs and nurses connected them with services at the NACC clinic just blocks away.
Red Lake and NACC have also partnered on a brand new intensive out-patient drug treatment program. On October 1st, the program opened its doors in two locations— in Little Earth and in the Ancient Traders Market Building on Franklin. The program is culturally based, medically assisted treatment using Suboxone. Stately says they hope to work with up to 50 clients this year.
This tent city has shown a light on the crisis created by the shortage of affordable housing and addiction services. These partnerships are a good example of the kind of resources tribes and urban leaders want to see more of — culturally sensitive approaches to supporting urban Native relatives who are currently struggling.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Melissa Townsend.
This week on Minnesota Native News, we get an update on the Minneapolis homeless encampment, also known as “the wall of forgotten natives.” We also hear about a new police agreement between the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe and the county sheriff’s office that ends a two-year impasse.
MARIE ROCK: This week on Minnesota Native News, we get an update on the Minneapolis homeless encampment, also known as “the wall of forgotten natives.” We also hear about a new police agreement between the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe and the county sheriff’s office that ends a two-year impasse.
Here’s reporter Cole Premo.
MAGGIE THUNDERHAWK:“I really been homeless for a long time. I just got here like maybe a month ago.”
(That’s Maggie Thunderhawk)
JAI-PHOENYX: “I'm transgender and I moved here a little over a year ago to Minneapolis”
JAI-PHOENYX: “For me personally, it's been a little rough, you know, especially just being new here at first I'm just being a mostly white.
MAGGIE THUNDERHAWK: “It's better. Yeah. Because, um, where, where wherever we went we either got chased away from that spot or to call cops were called on us because we couldn't be there.
JAI-PHOENYX: People warmed up to me and I got pretty close to a lot of people and it kinda feels like family now, which is good and I'm getting a lot of help. And actually just today got my referral for housing.
MAGGIE THUNDERHAWK: You get a lot of services here. I signed up for housing.
As fall sets in and with winter just around the corner, Jai and Maggie are just two amongst hundreds livings at the Minneapolis homeless encampment on Hiawatha Avenue.
Nicknamed “the wall of forgotten natives”, the nonetheless diverse camp has been expanding for months. And the options are limited for moving the camp to a preferred spot for all parties involved, and it’s all happening within a shrinking timeline.
The Minneapolis City Council recently delayed their final vote to choose between two options… a parking lot on 2600 Minnehaha, which is a controversial location due to it being near two charter schools with young students, or the Roof Depot location, which would require millions of dollars to prepare.
Meanwhile back at the camp, outreach groups have been assisting the camp with food, shelter and services.
JAI PHOENYX: “There's a lot of community here, especially now with the Natives Against Heroin tent.”
As the name Natives Against Herion implies, a big problem at the camp is addiction.
JAMES CROSS: “we do confront them in a good way. Uh, we let them know that we don't want them here” … “we don't need it in this community and you want it because we got elders, we've got kids, we've got the whole life cycle in there.”
James Cross, founder of Natives Against Heroin, says he’s been out here working at the camp since day one and considers himself the camp spokesperson.
JAMES CROSS: “Securing it, desescalating it and negative behaviors. Doing ODs, saving lives. 10:29 Make sure there's coffee cigarettes and something to eat every morning so we can wake up in a good day so that they know that natives against heroin hasn't forgotten about our people.
Cross, a former addict and gang member who has lived though homelessness, says the camp has been a long time coming. Building a closer knit community has provided help for addicts and families alike.
JAMES CROSS: Before it was all silo organization, Silo programs, silo, everything. And at this time it's bringing everybody together.
But there is still the need of where to move the camp for the winter, which is brutal in Minnesota. It’s current location is not ideal for those types of conditions.
But the camp needs to find a better place for the winter, which is of course brutal in Minnesota. The current location isn’t ideal for blizzard and extreme cold-types of conditions.
According to recent news reports, Red Lake Nation recently proposed moving the camp to a location on nearby Cedar Avenue owned by the tribe. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said it’s a viable option. The only catch is that demolition of the buildings would need to begin soon in order to get the camp moved there within six weeks.
Whichever location is chosen, Cross says the biggest change needed isn’t to move these people into another camp, or navigation center, but into stable housing free of addiction.
CROSS: “Get these people somewhere where they can better themselves, better people and better the community and start living in a good way. The good life.”
With the mayor vocalizing his support for action, the Minneapolis City Council will meet soon to decide the location.
In other news...
[SOUND OF COUNTY BOARD HEARING]
The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office have a new policing agreement.
Full disclosure, I am a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, but am reporting this without bias.
The agreement, which took effect on September 18th, is a resolution to a two-year impasse that began after the county voted to terminate 25 years of cooperation with the tribal police. It again allows the Mille Lacs band to resume state law enforcement activities.
Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren said at a recent county board meeting that the agreement is a result of many difficult decisions and compromises from the band and county.
“I now look forward to implementing this new Mutual Aid/Cooperative Agreement over my few remaining months as Sheriff,” he said.
The band’s chief executive, Melanie Benjamin, released a statement, saying the past two years have been tragic and difficult years on the Mille Lacs Reservation and that the new agreement is the beginning of a long journey in restoring law, order and hope in our community. She ends by saying the journey will take many years.
The policing agreement does not have any effect on a federal lawsuit filed by the Mille Lacs band arguing reservation boundaries.
This is Cole Premo.
This week reporter Melissa Townsend has the latest on a homeless tent camp in Minneapolis. There are roughly 300 people – mostly Native – in the camp. Some are calling it “The Wall of Forgotten Natives”.
This week reporter Melissa Townsend has the latest on a homeless tent camp in Minneapolis. There are roughly 300 people - mostly Native - in the camp. Some are calling it “The Wall of Forgotten Natives”.
MELISSA: Linda Eaglespeaker is a Blackfeet elder who works with the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center in Minneapolis.
EAGLESPEAKER: When I first heard about these camps, there were only 5 tents then. And so now it’s population has climbed up to 300 people. I came walking over. As I went through and I talked to all the familIes as I’m coming along, their number one fear is their fear of being here at night. Because the way this camp is set up is that on this side closest to the Indian Center and Wakiagan, you’ve got all the families and healthy families, and then you have all the single adults that are working and who are trying really hard, but at the other end of the camp you’ve got all those who are addicted to every kind of drug you can imagine. And at night time when we go away, they come out to play. (1:09)
[ambi of camp]
On one end of the camp two young girls are playing with dolls in a cardboard box near an elder woman sitting in her wheelchair and younger adults standing talking. At the other end of the camp it’s mostly young men and women - no elders, no children. I saw one person in a tent filling a syringe. Two people have died here in the past few weeks. One woman reportedly from an asthma attack. One man from causes not yet made public.
JOY: Fruit snacks? Fruit snacks! … (:02)
Joy Friedman walks through the tents handing out snacks. She’s an outreach worker also with the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. At the Center’s headquarters she runs support groups for women who have left abusive relationships.
She’s here to connect with her relatives and begin conversations about getting helpful services. But she says when folks decide they do want help - it’s getting harder and harder to find it.
JOY: Like I said I used to be an individual who slept on the streets and wherever I could and ate out of trash cans. And it’s like the services I had then, are no longer here now. So that makes it even less. I can get a girl a Rule 25 today but she has to wait 4-6 weeks for a bed. (:18)
A rule 25 is the first step to getting into a drug treatment program. A bed would be in an in-patient treatment facility.
JOY: Shelters - I can’t even get them in shelters right now. They’re full. domestic violence shelters? They’re full, around Minnesota - so this is not just here. (:11)
It’s in this landscape of scarce resources that Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey has committed to partnering with tribes and urban Native leaders to create housing for everyone at this camp before winter.
[city council ambi]
The City Council Housing Committee met on September 12th to talk about a short term plan to do that. In the next 3 weeks — yes 3 weeks! - city council plans to find a site and build a temporary structure to house services and beds for those in the camp.
It would be called a Navigation center — to steer people into support services and long term housing.The location is unclear but Metro Native leaders want that site to be near the Native American cultural corridor. What’s also unclear is — who going to pay for it.
At the city council meeting, Councilmember Lisa Goodwin spoke up:
GOODWIN: I don’t see any leadership from the county here. We don’t have the deepest pockets and we should hold our colleagues at other levels of government accountable for stepping up. (:08)
Councilmember Alondra Cano didn’t necessarily disagree with her. But she did add …
CANO: I don’t want to kick the can to the county, I don’t want to kick the can to the schools or to MPHA, I want to be held responsible for the power and the position and the responsibility that we have here today. (:12)
The two women then shared some tense words off mic.
Back at the camp Linda Eaglespeaker - elder with the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center is walking through the tents with a person from the county’s housing services.
Linda took her to 5 specific families.
I interviewed the county worker who was with Linda Eaglespeaker. But they later told me they didn’t want to go on the record because the situation was becoming more political than they had realized.
Linda Eaglespeaker is among those who hope a game of political football doesn’t leave homeless Native American families out in the cold.
EAGLESPEAKER: I’m going to come through in the next couple of days and I want to see those tents gone. (:06)
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Melissa Townsend.
This week on Minnesota Native News, hard work is underway to address the housing crisis – and the wild rice harvest begins.
Marie: This week on Minnesota Native News, hard work is underway to address the housing crisis – and the wild rice harvest begins.
This is Minnesota Native News. I’m Marie Rock.
Story #1: Housing/Kateri update:
Marie: A tent camp near Hiawatha and Cedar Avenues has been growing all summer, and drawing lots of media attention and community response. Now urban Indian leaders and public agencies are providing toilets and fresh water – and trying to find people homes. But homelessness and housing insecurity has been part of Native life in Minnesota for decades. Laurie Stern reports on two efforts to make long-term change.
Laurie (tape 2:40): Last winter we reported that the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center – M-I-W-R-C might take over Kateri Residence. Kateri was the only long-term housing available to help Native women reunite with children in the child protection system . But Kateri closed in June. Patina Park is Executive Director of M-I-W-R-C.
The kids can’t be placed with them until they have housing but they really can’t get housing until the children are with them.
Park calls the housing voucher requirements a Catch-22 that makes family housing nearly impossible for women with children in the system.
Safe and suitable housing is always an element of the case plan. So if the child's an out of home placement, the parent may complete CD treatment, may complete the mental health assessment, do therapy, might be doing all of the things they need to in order to get their child re- unified, but they can't find safe and suitable housing.
Park says that Kateri served a vital function that gave families time and a place to stabilize. But the old building needed even more repairs than she thought it would. So she and the M-I-W-R-C board are deciding whether those repairs are worth making.
At M-I-W-R-C, we remain committed to restarting that programming as soon as we possibly can either there or continually raising money to go ahead and purchase a new place or to build something because it's so vital.
Park says she and St. Stephens - the building’s owner – found housing for most of the former residents, but that at least one woman who used to live at Kateri is now living at the tent camp.
Plans for much-needed housing are also underway on University Avenue in Saint Paul. A new 42-unit supportive shelter for American Indians age 18 to 24 is scheduled to start construction next month and open in about a year. One of the forces behind it is Ain Dah Yung, the non-profit that helps to strengthen Native families, with an emphasis on youth. Executive Director Deb Foster explains the culture has been deliberately destroyed since colonization.
The youth that walk through our doors now are being raised by these parents and these grandparents who were in boarding school potentially in boarding schools and were stripped of their identity and language and traditions and beliefs and everything.
Foster says the new shelter will help Native youth who have aged out of foster care. They’ll learn job skills in technology classrooms, get counseling and gather with others for ceremonies. The new center will be called Mino Oski Ain Dah Yung, or “Good New Home” in Ojibwe. For MNN I’m LS.
Story #2 Wild Rice
(start ricing tape)
Marie: Finally, the season for wild rice is nearing peak time.
In the canoe is Jeff Savage, artist and director of the Fond du Lac Cultural Center.
(tape :16) When the harvesters come in, they’ll take their unfinished wild rice and sell it to the reservation who will get it finished into the finished product and then that’s distributed out to band members and to tribal government for programs and ceremonies for the whole next year.
Only American Indians may take wild rice from the waters within the original boundaries of the White Earth, Leech Lake, Nett Lake, Vermilion Lake, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs reservations.
Most tribal websites will have updates on conditions.
Darren Vogt (Vote) with the 1854 Treaty Authority says conditions this year are just so-so.
Across the 1854 ceded territory which is Northeastern Minnesota I would say the rice is below average this season. We had some early rain events which seem to really impact the harvest.
Updates are available on the website, www.1854treatyauthority.org.
Jazz guitarist, Briand Morrison, talks about his and his father’s art.
Concerned community members come together to show support to those battling addiction in Mille Lacs, and jazz guitarist Briand Morrison talks about his and his father’s art.
Marie: This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Leah Lemm, in this week for Marie Rock.
Headlines: Coming up…:
Concerned community members come together to show support to those battling addiction in Mille Lacs…
and jazz guitarist Briand Morrison talks about his and his father’s art….
Here are the stories…
STORY #1 - PER CAP PATROL
REPORTER: I recently visited with a group called the Per Cap Patrol at the Woodlands National Bank parking lot, just North of the Grand Casino Mille Lacs in Onamia.
The morning was clear and sunny, and the smell of the fire pit with tobacco offerings moved through the air. I was immediately welcomed by Luther Sam. He explained what Per Cap Patrol is and what it does:
SAM: I grew up here, and the Per Cap Patrol is a group of community members few and far between… different backgrounds, different upbringings, but sharing the same common goal which is to offer people a different type of lifestyle to live, opposed to drinking using drugs or selling drugs.
REPORTER: The first Thursday of the month is “Per Cap” distribution day for members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
“Per Cap” is short for “Per Capita Payments” which according to the IRS is “a distribution of tribal property or money to an individual tribal member on a per capita basis.”
Luther reports a noted increase in drug deals that takes place soon after checks are dispersed.
SAM: People get their checks, there's no secret about it. So this day more so than any people got people got money. The dope peddlers, they know first come first serve right outside the bank door.
REPORTER: Luther and the Per Cap Patrol are a positive presence, aiming to dissuade dealers from parking in the lot. Plus they have a bullhorn (COME BACK HERE! (laughter)).
Luther has first hand knowledge of addiction and knows how meaningful being surrounded by support really is.
SAM: When I was in my addiction, I was a IV user for a couple of years on heroin and?when I sobered up though my biggest kind of help was the people never turned their back on me.?
REPORTER: Per Cap Patrol not only tries to prevent drug deals, they actively support those who face addiction with medicines, food and love.
SAM: We bring it to the people. We got the pipe out here, we got the drum, we got the medicines and one of the biggest spiritual tools out of everything is the bodies - each other… is one of the biggest spritual tools we got.
STORY #2 - BRIAND MORRISON TALKS GEORGE MORRISON AND UPCOMING EVENT
MUSIC: briand’s musical intro from impressions
REPORTER: We’re listening to Briand Morrison, a jazz guitarist who lives in Grand Portage. He spends his time performing and creating music among his father’s artwork.
MORRISON: We have a show coming up of my father's work, his name is George Morrison. He's an abstract expressionist painter who happens to be an Indian… those are his words.
REPORTER: George Morrison’s work is widely appreciated and recognized, and can be quite costly. Even his original drawings range in price from two to eight thousand dollars.
Briand is working to make George’s drawings accessible to the general public… by creating high quality prints, called GICLEES, so that high art isn’t just available to those with substantial pocketbooks.
MORRISON: I've always wanted to do a show of just giclee prints of my dad's work because the giclee prints are of low cost. I wanted art for everyone. So this is the first time that anybody has ever done a show of giclee prints.
REPORTER: Briand has also composed jazz works to play alongside a series of his father’s visual art. This collection is called Musical Impressions: The Art of George Morrison. And is what we are listening to.
The exhibit will be on display at the JOHNSON HERITAGE POST ART GALLERY in Grand Marais from October 12th through November 4th. Briand’s artist talk and performance of Musical Impressions takes place on Saturday, October 13th at 2pm.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Leah Lemm.
Treaty Rights, Climate Justice, and Decolonization were discussed in packed house in Duluth.
Treaty Rights, Climate Justice, and Decolonization were discussed in packed house in Duluth…
and Franklin Avenue bustled with energy for Open Streets Minneapolis.
Marie: This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock.
Headlines: Coming up…:
Treaty Rights, Climate Justice, and Decolonization were discussed in packed house in Duluth…
and Franklin Avenue bustles with energy for Open Streets Minneapolis
Here is reporter Leah Lemm with these stories…
STORY #1 - Treaty Rights, Climate Justice, and Decolonization Forum
REPORTER: The Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center, an auditorium at the American Indian Community Housing Organization in Duluth, was filled with two hundred community members on a warm mid-August evening. [GENERAL SOUNDS OF THE GATHERING]
The audience was there for the Treaty Rights, Climate Justice, and Decolonization Forum.
The evening’s speakers included Ricky Defoe, Lyz Jaakola, Niib Aubid, and Dr Joseph Bauerkemper.
A main thread in the conversation was that most of the time treaty rights are very misunderstood… and that treaties do not give rights to Native people, but instead they give rights to the settling population.
JAAKOLA: There's been a collective amnesia about those treaties.
REPORTER: Lyz Jaakola is an educator and has noticed considerable misunderstandings about treaties and treaty rights throughout the public, social and media education systems .
JAAKOLA: Everybody needs to just really take a look at those treaties and say, “Oh, I guess these are treaty rights for non-Natives.” To acknowledge that indigenous peoples have all of the rights that they had before the treaties.
REPORTER: Dr Joseph Bauerkemper is a professor at the University of Minnesota - Duluth in the Department of American Indian Studies.
BAUERKEMPER: As a settler person to this place, I have treaty rights. Everything that I do on a daily basis, I work my way down the hill this afternoon to come here. I'm exercising my treaty rights to be in this place. If it weren't for the 1854 treaty, I have no business being in this place.
REPORTER: The panelists each highlighted the importance of treaties in relation to the climate and environment - topics such as clean water, lumber. and wild rice.
BAUERKEMPER: If we are regulating development, regulating mining, regulating whatever it is, and that activity compromises a treaty reserved resource… We are in violation of the treaty. If we're behaving in ways, in ways that contribute to climate change (and you may have heard we are, right?) we are behaving in ways that violate the treaty because those behaviors are impacting those resources.
REPORTER: There will be more public events and workshops in the coming months about treaty rights and the relationship with environmental and climate justice.
Event organizers included the American Indian Community Housing Organization, Take Action MN, Minnesota InterFaith Power and Light, and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
OPEN STREETS MINNEAPOLIS - FRANKLIN AVE
SOUNDS OF OPEN STREETS
REPORTER: On a recent Sunday afternoon… I walked up and down Franklin Avenue for the free public event called Open Streets. I heard bands performing and the music of a parade, I smelled the delights of Powwow Grounds’ outdoor kitchen, and saw people from the Minneapolis American Indian Center, Nawayee Center School, Dream of Wild Health, and the Hennepin County Library… just to name a few.
WAUKAU: Open Streets is through the city of Minneapolis and really what it is is an organized a block party so the businesses have an opportunity to really showcase what they're all about.
REPORTER: I spoke with Allison Waukau who is the Community Liaison for the Hennepin County Library, and works specifically with the Native community.
WAUKAU: Franklin Avenue has the American Indian corridor, which is a lot of Native owned businesses and organizations and clinics.
REPORTER: The Ave was transformed into a car-free, community building space between Portland Avenue S to 27th Avenue S… which is about 1.7 miles.
The American Indian Cultural Corridor covers about half of that span.
The library hosted several Native artists, made books available outside, and held art-making activities. They even had a giant chess set for people to play.
WAUKAU: I think what the library now is really trying to do, especially with my position, is to let the Native community know that Franklin is here to support them in any way possible, but also to let the neighborhood know that there is a native community here. I think a lot of times we are invisible and just go unnoticed, and so today I really want to feature Native artists and to show the neighborhood that we are here and the library supports them.
REPORTER: For Minnesota Native News, I’m Leah Lemm.