STORY #1 - MUID WORKING FOR SOLUTIONS FOR PEOPLE STRUGGLING WITH HOMELESSNESS AND ADDICTION
In South Minneapolis, urban Native leaders are focused on public safety concerns tied to people who are homeless and using opioids on the streets.
Reporter Melissa Townsend tells us more.
At a recent community meeting I met Abel [geb-reh-hee-wut]. He works with the Indigenous People’s Task Force Needle Exchange. The program is on the ground in the Phillips neighborhood in South Minneapolis. They offer many services for intravenous drug users, including handing out clean syringes in exchange for used ones.
Abel and his co-worker Mo Mike also do sweeps around the neighborhood - most mornings and most evenings. Today, I’m along with Abel today.
ABEL: This right here is the first place we’re going to stop. Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center - they have a park for their kids and often times what we noticed is that any place there is somewhere to sit , if you can’t be seen from the street, that’s where people will use. (:20)
He has a silver bucket and what I’ll call a grabber, like a metal pole with a mechanical hand on the end. He doesn’t want to touch the needles on the ground.
ABLE: I kind of keep my eye open for the orange caps. And if we find an orange cap then a syringe is probably near by. And there goes another one eyeing me down right there [clang in the bucket]. (:17)
Hepatitus C and H-I-V can be transmitted from sharing a needle or from being stuck by a used needle. So collecting stray needles help stop the spread of the disease and keep people safe.
ABEL: We don’t want the kids to climb over people or even have to watch every step for syringes and that’s really a big part of why we started doing the sweeps. (:10)
We walk down the block behind All Nation’s Church. There are a handful of needles on the ground, lots of orange caps. And someone is laying under several blankets in the corner. Abel whispers:
ABEL: [whispers] We’ll probably just go around him.
We’ll probably just go around him. He says normally he would check to make sure the person was alive and then he would ask him to move.
ABLE: In a situation like that it kind of breaks my heart because you don’t want to shoo them away to nowhere.
Abel doesn’t feel good about telling people to move — because he knows there’s no. where. for them. to go. There is some frustration that these problems persist after all the attention that was given to the tent city that was in this area last year. But urban Native leaders are meeting intensely to figure out what they can do now. And they are engaging city, county and state officials on how they can contribute to the solution.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Melissa Townsend.
STORY #2 - JOKER MOVIE REVIEW
Movies about superheroes and super villains are super popular.
MARIE: Gerry Zink is 16 year old. He’s Mnicoujou [mini-CON—joo] Lakota from Cheyenne River. And he’s a comics aficionado.He has recently started posting his movie reviews on Facebook. And today he shares his review of a blockbuster film out in theaters now.
The movie “Joker” is a great, thought-provoking character study of Arthur Fleck, and his descent into the sociopathic Joker. If you are expecting Joker to be a superhero movie, then you are going to be surprised with how darkly character driven it is.
The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a working class clown performer who has dreams of becoming a comedian.
In the beginning, we see some of Arthur’s more disturbing sides, but he can still control them. As the movie progresses, however, we see what social isolation, backstabbing, and abuse can do to a person like Arthur. He becomes more disturbing. The movie wisely does not stylize, sanitize, or justify Arthur’s horrible deeds. The violence is genuinely unnerving and hard to watch.
Joaquin Phoenix is incredible in the movie. He embodies the loneliness, social isolation, and mental disorders that make Arthur such an interesting character. He is somewhat sympathetic, but Arthur is a sociopath and the movie doesn’t mask that. Because the story is told from Arthur’s perspective, it’s up to the viewer to interpret wheather different scenes are real or not. This gives the film an amazing ambiguity that will be discussed for a while.
The only problems with the movie have to do with the fact that it focuses so tightly on Arthur Fleck. There’s not much depth to the supporting characters. The motivations of many of the side characters are intentionally unexplained.
The movie is also a complete deviation from the version of the Joker from other media. If the movie wasn’t called “Joker”, there would be very few connections to the Batman franchise.
In conclusion, I think “Joker” is a game changer for comic book movies. It is an incredible, standalone character piece, that is still able to offer up a great critique of society. I give the movie 9 out of 10.
MARIE: That was Gerry Zinc, the 16 year old Lakota comics enthusiast with his review of “Joker”.
This week on Minnesota Native News we hear about what urban Native leaders in South Minneapolis are doing about public health problems connected to people who are homeless and using illicit opioids, and Gerry Zink shares his movie review of "Joker".
We amplify stories of people within Minnesota’s Native communities. We explore the history, work, strength, and resiliency of Native people who are shaping the future while appreciating those who came before.
The podcast is hosted by Leah Lemm and Cole Premo, siblings, who are both members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, in addition to being part of the Minnesota Native News producing team.
Season one of Native Lights Podcast covers of topics including music, art, parenthood, adoption, foster care, addiction, and violence. We examine media portrayals of Native people and the absent or invisible narratives that allow stereotypes and misconceptions to persist.
Native Lights Podcast is a production of Minnesota Native News and Ampers, Diverse Radio for Minnesota’s Communities, and made possible by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Culture Heritage Fund, and the Citizens of Minnesota.You
You can find Native Lights wherever you get your podcasts.
Or you can listen here: https://www.blubrry.com/nativelights/
This week on Minnesota Native News, Bois Forte joins Fod du Lac as the second Minnesota tribe to participate in the Land Buyback Program for Tribal Nations.
Marie: This week on Minnesota Native News, Bois Forte becomes the 2nd Minnesota tribe to take part in the Land Buyback Program for Tribal Nations.
This is Minnesota Native News. I’m Marie Rock.
[Story #1 LBB]
The Land Buyback Program exists because of the largest class action suit in U.S. history. Thousands of people and 3 million acres of Indian land are affected - including parts of Fond du Lac and – now - Bois Forte. Laurie Stern reports.
Laurie: Thirty years ago a banker on the Blackfeet reservation in Montana found a problem with how the US government distributed money for Indian land it held in trust. The land had been allotted to individuals under the 1887 Dawes Act, and had been divided and subdivided through generations. Oil and mineral companies, ranchers and loggers were making money from the land. The U.S. was supposed to be paying Native landowners accordingly. But Blackfoot banker Elouise Cobell smelled a rat. Not only had the United States been underpaying Native landowners, it had NO accounting system to measure the value of Indian land. So, in 1996, together with the Native American Rights fund, Elouise Cobell sued the United States government.. This is Elouise Cobell testifying before Congress.
Mary Johnson a Navaho cannot replace the windows on her small home because she lacks the funds, yet there are five oil wells pumping for decades on her land….
The clip is from a documentary called 100 years.
America said we will manage those lands for you and we will lease them and give you that check for as long as the grass grows and the wind blows. That was our money and they were using it whatever way they wanted to.
Elouise Cobell fought in court for more than 20 years. Originally she asked for 180 billion dollars. As the appeals and hearings went on, she watched elders - who might have benefitted - become frail and passed on. Cobell decided to compromise. So in 2009, she settled for 3.44 billion dollars.
PK: A lot of people opposed the settlement because it really was pennies on the dollar.
Patrice Kunesh was involved in the Cobell case from the beginning when she was a young lawyer at the Native American Rights Fund. She worked for the Obama administration and now she’s director of the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Kunesh is Lakota from the Standing Rock reservation, one of 13 kids. She knew about allotment checks.
PK My mother was always wringing her hands. Is it going to come? How much is it going to be? We’re not talking a lot of money. But when times were tight it was just enough to get us over.
The 2009 settlement is making things. things a little better. $60 million dollars was will go toward the Cobell scholarship Fund for Native kids to go to college. But the bulk of it – nearly 2 billion dollars has to has to be spent on the land buyback program. Under the buyback program, the government pays people fair market value for their allotment, and then turns that land over to the tribe. In Minnesota, more than a thousand people with land on Fond du Lac decided to sell . Three thousand more turned down the government’s offer. Now, with about two years and 300 million dollars left to disburse, Bois Forte is eligible to participate.
Roger Heger is the fiduciary agent in charge of the program in Minnesota.
they will send you an offer that says here’s what we’re willing to pay you if you’re willing to sell that fractionated interest.
For Patrice Kunesh’s family, it was a tough decision. Her mother held on to the land.
PK: it was very important that we kept our original tract and the connection to the land. Other members of our family didn’t have that emotional connection and decided it would be better to give it back to the tribe.
You don’t have to be a member of Bois Forte or Fond du Lac to be eligible. You just have to hold an allotment there. For more information and to see if you may be eligible, you should check the tribal websites.
Marie: You can also call the trust beneficiary center. That number is 1 888. 678. 6836. 1 888. 678.6836.
This week on Minnesota Native News, we explore Athena Latocha’s new exhibit in Grand Rapids that explores the relationship between man made objects and untamed nature. We’ll also check out the 2nd annual Leech Lake Days.
MN Native News: Athena Latocha Exhibit In Grand Rapids & 2nd Annual Leech Lake Days
MARIE: This week on Minnesota Native News, we explore Athena Latocha’s new exhibit in Grand Rapids that explores the relationship between man made objects and untamed nature. We’ll also check out the 2nd annual Leech Lake Days. First, here’s reporter Cole Premo.
ATHENA: “Letting the iron, just letting it run, letting it pool and letting it spatter and capturing that. I'm capturing that, those kind of moments, you know, and freezing them.”
Athena LaTocha says she’s more of an instigator than an artist, letting the raw material speak for itself. She’s worked with paper, ink, lead, tire shreds, grass, and many other types of materials. The list goes on..
Using these elements, her pieces often reflect the relationship of untamed nature and what is man made. She says she has an...
ATHENA: “Intrigue with materials, you know, and how, how place can influence that and how place has stories as well that can, um, that can learn to what it is that you do. You know, so there's a confluence.”
Her newest exhibition, showing at the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, features an element well-known to the region. Iron.
ATHENA: “I've always wanted to, you know, for what, for almost 15 years now, I've been wanting to work, spend some time with iron, you know, and get to know iron a little bit more. But when you're getting to know the material, it's getting to know the history too, you know? And it's not just this, this thing, you know, there's something that brought it there, right? There's people that handled it. There's people that have stories about it.”
Fittingly, the exhibition is called “Mesabi” after both the Ojibwe word Mizaabee-wajew, meaning giant mountain, and the Mesabi Iron Range …a rough line of iron deposits in Minnesota -- and where she’s doing her exhibition.
So, in a way, she’s going to the “source”.. to work with iron in its many forms and create a piece of art reflecting the area.
The project required working with molten metal.
ATHENA: “There's the lure of the molten metal, you know, and there's a seductiveness with that. It's very, um, it's very hypnotic. You know, and it really kind of pulls you in because it's working with a different element, not just the element of, um, the element of the iron, but it's working with fire, you know, and liquefying it, right? And then seeing it move and flow and wanting it to move and flow in a way that you weren't controlling it. You're kind of like letting it do what it does, you know? So there was a certain kind of, there was a certain allure with that too.”
While Athena Latocha is not from Minnesota, she’s Lakota and Ojibwe from Alaska and says working with iron helped ground her to the area, like a coming home of sorts.
ATHENA: (41:39)”everything just kind of lit up, you know, the possibility of being in the woodlands, possibility of working iron, the possibility of being around Ojibwe and Lakota communities.”
As for the art itself, this Mesabi exhibition, I’m going to admit that I’m not the greatest at describing art… so let’s have Athena walk us around her piece, which was at the time a work in progress, and kind of bring it to life for us.
ATHENA:Speaker 1: (01:05:53) (WILL EDIT DOWN)
“I work on the floor. I can often see better when things are on the floor and I have some distance from them and they're not on a table or on an easel. So I can walk around them and consider them from all directions, from all sides, um, and access it more freely. So we're looking at, um, a lot of these poured iron forms and Spatters. some of them are spirals or um, ovoid spatter forms with an opening. And I'm also developing some works on paper using the, uh, some of the um, the spill from the poor little spatter forms, little minute spatter forms at, um, are separate from the larger forms that are just extra. Um, so I gather all those in a bucket and together with, you know, filings as I've worked on some of the pieces and laying them out on pieces of paper and introducing various chemicals and liquids to them to get them to rust. And moving them around on the paper and situating them in places and letting them rest there for a little while and stain the paper and to build up layers of rust on the paper. And then saturating the paper, relocating those iron elements to a different location and letting them rust and stain. Um, so there's, in the, in the works on paper there's more of an element of hand. There's more evidence of the hand cause you see a gesture or movement.”
You can see Athena Latocha’s exhibition, Mesabi, all through the month of July at the Macrostie Art Center in Grand Rapids. I’m Cole Premo.
MARIE: Next, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe recently celebrated its 2nd annual Leech Lake Days. Reporter Kayla Duoos was there and she shares some of the sights and sounds from the celebrations.
[ambi sound with clip of Chairman Ferron Jackson’s speech] (if you’re crunched for time, upload what you’ve got and I’ll cut it)
REPORTER: That’s Leech band Member and MNDOT Tribal Liason Levi Brown on June 28th welcoming a crowd of about 800 people to Leech Lake Days.
[ambi from crowd cheering?] (upload what you’ve got and I’ll cut it.)
This is an official Band holiday for Leech Lake.
Band Leaders decided that in addition to celebrating the usual U-S federal holidays, the Band would create its own holiday.
It’s a time to acknowledge all of the positive things about being indigenous and living on the Leech Lake reservation.
Deputy Director Gordon Fineday sits on the planning committee.
I asked him to share his thought process behind the event.
FINEDAY: I think growing up here at home, we don't really have a chance to celebrate who we are, we always celebrate different things, different holidays. We never had a day designated for us and for who we are and to show that we’re still here, for me that's what resonates with me. I wanted this event so my kids and my grandkids will have something that they can say hey i'm from here, this is home, we’re still here.
It sounds like others agree that this event was needed.
Sydney Harper shared why she’s proud to celebrate being a Leech Laker.
The holiday celebration is spread over 3 days.
Over the first two days there are 12 booths from the Band’s various programs and over 15 activities.
There’s a hand-drum contest…
[more ambi sound - hand drumming contest]
There’s also games, crafting, cook-offs, car pile-ins and a best of “rez cars” display.
On the third day of the celebration is the Band’s pow wow.
It used to be on July 4th.
But the planning committee moved it to coincide with the Band’s holiday rather than the U-S federal holiday.
For further coverage on Leech Lake Days, check out LeechLakeNews.com
I’m Kayla Duoos with the DeBahJimon, for MN Native News
This week on Minnesota Native News we hear the latest in an effort to connect global indigenous work on water, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe election results and the anniversary of a landmark court case.
Story #1 - LaPionte Tiwahe Report from UN (2:05)
HOST: The Minnesota-based organizers of Mni Ki Wakan were at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues this past April. Earlier this month they held a community meeting in Minneapolis to report back on their experience at the UN. Reporter Melissa Townsend was there and has this report.
The LaPointe family is Sicangu, Lakota and based in Eagan, Minnesota. They started the Indigenous Decade of Water. mni ki wakan in 2016. Wakiyan Lapointe explains:
LAPOINTE:: Mni ki wakan is a global indigenous water movement that brings together indigenous peoples and youth for the future of water - to develop innovations, transformations that we can coordinate and plan together. (:13)
For the past 2 years the LaPointe family has organized a Mni Ki Wakan summit in the Twin Cities Metro. There, Indigenous people from across the globe have come to share knowledge and gain support for their local efforts.
It’s that work that the Lapointe family wanted to share at this year’s UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.It was timely, since the theme of this year’s UN conference was Traditional Knowledge Transmission, Generation and Protection.
LAPOINTE: Many indigenous peoples and youth contacted us and we met with them on their indigenous water initiatives, working on the areas of indigenous water governance, water policy, food sovereignty as it connects to water, indigenous human rights as it connects to water. (:19)
Wakiyan and his family plan to continue their work at the third Mni ki wakan conference.That’s happening this August in the Black Hills in South Dakota. For more information, check facebook for mni ki wakan
Wakiyan Lapointe: M-N-I SPACE K-I SPACE W-A-K-A-N.
There’s also a video from their trip to the UN.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Melissa Townsend.
STORY #2 - WHITE EARTH ELECTIONS RESULTS READER (:30)
In Minnesota ChippewaTribe election results ….The White Earth and Grand Portage Bands of Ojibwe have held their primary elections for new tribal Chairmen. At White Earth 2 candidates moved through the primary and will face off in the general election on August 6th.
It’s the same situation in Grand Portage.Two primary winners will compete in their General election on July 1st.
Both elections were scheduled after the tribal chairman of each Band passed away this spring. The winners of the upcoming general elections will serve out the remainder of the current term.
STORY #3 - ANNIVERSARY OF LANDMARK COURT CASE THAT MADE WAY FOR TRIBAL CASINOS (2:00)
HOST: June 14th marked the 43rd anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Bryan v. Itasca County. The ruling limited taxation on Indian reservations paving the way for tribal casinos.
Reporter Kayla Duoos has the story.
I asked the Director of the Indian Law Program at Mitchell Hamline School of Law Colette Routel to tell me about the history and implications of this case.
ROUTEL: In 1972, Helen and Russel Bryan were living on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation, on a parcel of land that was held in trust by the United States, and that Helen Bryan had actually been born on. It was her grandfathers allotment, and the couple had recently purchased a mobile home which was on the property and Itasca County had decided to tax that property. (:25)
REPORTER: The Itasca county tax was levied according to the Termination Era Public Law 280.
ROUTEL: The state generally does not have the authority to tax tribal property, or property that's owned by tribal members on an Indian reservation unless Congress has explicitly granted the state that authority. The question in Bryan vs Itasca County really was whether Public Law 280 authorized local government [cut] to tax [cut] mobile homes on Indian reservations within the state of Minnesota. (:26)
REPORTER: The case went through serval court houses debating the true meaning of Public Law 280 before ultimately being presented to the Minnesota Supreme Court that ruled in the tribal members’ favor. Leech Lake Government Relations Attorney Lenny Fineday shares the impact that this case had on the tribe and Indian country.
FINEDAY: Bryan vs Itasca county was actually a seminal case that laid the foundation for the multi-billion dollar Indian gaming industry that we have today and it all started with a band member who was assessed for tax on trailer on trust property. (:18)
This case was the first big win for the Leech Lake Reservation Legal Services Project, now known as Anishinaabe Legal Services, a non-profit legal aid for Band members.
To this day Helen Charwood-Bryan resides on the property over which the initial dispute arose.
I’m Kayla Duoos with DeBahJiMon for Minnesota Native News.
A new exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art honors indigenous women artists from many nations in North America.
Marie: This week on Minnesota Native News, a first-of-its-kind celebration of Native women.
This is Minnesota Native News. I’m Marie Rock.
[Story #1 Hearts of our Peope]
A new exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art – or Mia – honors indigenous women artists from many nations in North America. Reporter Laurie Stern met up with Mia’s Dakota Hoska for a tour.
Tape: Lakota greeting My name is Dakota. I'm a Lakota woman enrolled in the Pine Ridge reservation and I live in the twin cities.
Laurie: Dakota Hoska is a painter who has spent much of her adult life making and studying art. She’s been working for Mia on the new exhibit for four years.
one of my favorite parts is this Rose Simpson tricked out El Camino. And this is a car that this artist built from the ground up
Laurie: I had noticed the black lowrider-pickup in the middle of the room, but for some reason I didn’t realize we were already in the exhibit. Dakota Hoska pointed out the detail:
The black glossy design on the black matte finish; the black suede covers on the black leather seats; the metal work on the mirrors, handles and grille, the rebuilt engine, the pulsing sound system, the special brakes a powerful car needs – it’s all part of Rose Simpson’s idea.
She still drives this car. She actually offered to drive it up for the exhibition. We're like, no, no, no. We'll ship it.
Laurie: Rose Simpson – the artist – lives in Espanola New Mexico, which is the self-proclaimed lowrider capital of the world. Simpson has been working on cars since she was 12. She named this 1985 El Camino “Maria.” It’s design honors traditional black-on-black Pueblo pottery. It’s power defies machismo culture.
her artwork just in general does challenge gender stereotypes. So she's doing a lot about questioning gender, questioning power questioning tradition and stereotypes and it's all kind of encapsulated in this one work.
Laurie: Just beyond the El Camino is a gallery with a video screen. The artist Mona Smith recorded the activist Juanita Espinosa greeting visitors to the exhibit. This is Juanita.
I am Dakota Ojibwe from Spirit Lake nation and I've lived in the twin cities for about 40. You told my knowledge of, of what I understand to be date of art is that it's the act of doing, because there is no word for art in our culture specifically. Many of us forget that in this culture that we've come to adapt to. Um, it puts labels and titles on who we are and how we should be, and then it creates a measure in our way of life. The act of doing and creating and sharing encourages a communal family approach to how we live our lives and how we, um, encourage each other. So there is no scale but only a recognition of the act of being a maker.
Laurie: After the greeting from Juanita Espinosa, visitors enter galleries that display regalia, paintings, videos, sculptures and other installations, each one as carefully curated as it was made. A panel next to each piece of art tells visitors about the artist and the context – in English and, where possible, in the language of the maker. Dakota Hoska says at last count 68 languages were represented.
We were Gung Ho about translating all of the languages, but some communities came back and said, you know, we don't share our translations with the outside world, you know. So there, there was a lot of like give and take and deep listening. I think that was important in, you know, it's, it's really hard to listen deeply because we're not used to doing that.
So it was hard. It was hard for a Western institution who is running on like deadlines and timelines. And budgets and those things like deep listening kind of pushes the boundaries on all of those things.
Maybe good art always pushes boundaries, but THIS exhibit does it deliberately. Every single piece challenges conventional thinking. The exhibit was produced by a 21-member all-woman, mostly Native board. It will be at Mia through August 18, but will live on in a catalogue that’s available at the bookstore or online.
a lot of them were saying, I was looking for this stuff in the scholarship and I couldn't find that. I want to leave a legacy for our children. I want our young women artists to be able to find this when they are looking. And so like the catalog that the exhibition is great and I love it, but the catalog was in some ways more important for us because that was really a directive from our board that we created something that went on.
MARIE: You can see “Hearts of Our People” at no cost if you’re Native. You just have to say so at the ticket desk. You can learn more about the exhibit by visiting artsmia.org.
Organizations along the American Indian Cultural Corridor have collaborated with NorthernLights.MN to bring the late night arts festival… Northern Spark… to Franklin Avenue.
Marie: This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock.
Headlines: Organizations along the American Indian Cultural Corridor have collaborated with Northern Lights Dot M-N to bring the late night arts festival… Northern Spark… to Franklin Avenue.
Here’s Reporter Leah Lemm with the story.
STORY #1 - THE AMERICAN INDIAN CULTURAL CORRIDOR JOINS NORTHERN SPARK
REPORTER: This year’s Northern Spark will include artist installations and performances along the American Indian Cultural Corridor on Franklin Avenue in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.
The event takes place Friday and Saturday, June 14th and 15th, 9pm to 2am each night.
Sarah Peters 1: (00:54) the theme of the 2019 Festival is we are here, resilience, renewal and regeneration.
Sarah Peters is the co-director of Northern Lights DOT MN, which produces Northern Spark each year.
Sarah Peters: (01:01) that theme was sourced from the communities and neighborhoods and people were the event this year is taking place.
REPORTER: There two other locations included in this year’s Northern Spark. The Rondo Neighborhood in Saint Paul and the Commons in Downtown Minneapolis. All events happen in all three locations on the same nights.
Sarah and her organization did a bunch of outreach in the neighborhoods to hear from the communities.
Sarah Peters: (01:36) we got a whole range of answers back about that that were, um, difficult issues like gentrification and housing and racism, to celebratory issues. which is where those beautiful words like resilience come from.
Sarah Peters: (01:54) we took it to our program council, which is a group of artists that are deeply embedded in their communities, who helped us knit together the theme and to the theme that we have today.
REPORTER: And together they worked to form the theme We Are Here; Resilience, Renewal, and Regeneration. Next, I spoke with someone who was on the program council.
Alex Buffalohead: (06:42) I was actually invited to participate in the planning of the theme, back in the summer.
I spoke with Alex Buffalohead who was one of eight people from the communities that worked on the theme of the festival. Alex is the arts and cultural engagement manager at the native American Community Development Institute or NACDI. NACDI is one of the festival Partners.
Speaker 1: (01:48) one of the first northern sparks, one of the notes, um, was here in the corridor. Um, I believe it was on in the parking lot of all my relations in NACDI but, um, since I've started, the partnership has been really great and um, we've asked for reciprocity and they've definitely delivered that up over and beyond.
REPORTER: Alex speaks very positively about the collaboration which has been built upon a strong relationship between the American Indian Cultural Corridor and the festival staff. Northern Lights has shared its resources with the corridor and has hired from within the community for festival security and tech jobs.
Speaker 1: (05:01) there's just like a collaboration in all levels of the planning of festival.
REPORTER: One of the many artist involved is Jonathon Thunder. His piece is called Manifest’o. Manifest’o is a series of animated short stories that will be projected onto the Many Rivers apartment building both nights of the festival.
The Many Rivers building is right across from the NACDI parking lot, at 15th Avenue South and Franklin Avenue East. But I was told you won’t be able to miss it.
Jonathan Thunder: (04:52) If you get on the Ave, you'll be able to see it from blocks away and it'll include, the imagery that I animated for Manifesto and it will also include the soundscape, which includes Ojibwe language and themes.
REPORTER: Manifesto fits right into the theme of the festival… With the combination of visuals, sounds and language… the stories are representations of a resilient culture.
The animations show Jonathan’s interpretations of stories he heard growing up.
Jonathan Thunder: (02:05) I call them vignettes… that are my interpretation of stories that I've heard in a Ojibwe communities around Minnesota. I wanted to create those vignettes as a way of showing how they influence a culture, which influences artists, consciously or intuitively and how that works shows up in contemporary artwork by artists of native heritage.
REPORTER: For those who can’t make it to Northern Spark, Manifest’o also lives on at the Tweed Museum in Duluth.
REPORTER: For a list of all the artists and more information about Northern Spark, visit: 2019 DOT northernspark DOT org. Northern Spark is free and open to the public.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Leah Lemm.
The Minnesota legislature, the U.S. Supreme Court and water walkers are moving forward in ways that may impact Native Minnesotans.
This week on Minnesota Native News: young Native writers in Minneapolis publish a book and Leech Lake Tribal college gears up for another winning basketball season.
STORY #1 - YOUNG NATIVE AUTHORS AT SOUTH HIGH IN MPLS
A group of Native students at South High school in Minneapolis have just published a book! It’s entitled Indigenous Originated: Walking in Two Worlds. Students created all of the poetry, stories and art work on its pages. It’s on sale now at local book stores in the city. Reporter Melissa Townsend was at the book’s release party and has this story.
We’re at Moon Palace Bookstore — it’s about a mile from South High school in Minneapolis. Students, teachers, families are chowing down on pizza and cake. We’re all waiting for the program to begin where students will be reading from the book. I can tell the students are nervous.
It’s got to be tough to be in 9th or 10th grade and read your poetry in front of 50 people!
These students have been working for 6 months with their teacher and a local writing organization called Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute.
If that name sounds weird — it’s supposed to. It’s an organization dedicated to writing for fun — writing things that are goofy or funny or serious or sad or whatever flows out of your mind.
Cristeta Boarini is program director. She kicks off the program.
CRISTETA: Welcome, thank you for being here!
Local Anishinaabe rapper Tall Paul worked was an advisor to the students in the program. He offers this advice to the young writers who are about to take the stage:
TALL PAUL: I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now but even today I still get nervous before my performances. It’s just managing to overcome that nervousness. because courage isn’t the lack of fear, it’s just the willingness to face it in order to inspire the world in the ways that you can. So I believe in you all, You all gonna kill it tonight. Everyone make some noise for these young poets please…. [applause]
As you might imagine - no student has volunteered to go first.
CRISTETA: I promised the students that we would draw names out of a hat. So I’m shuffling the names around. Going first, the first one up here tonight…
It’s 10th grader - Ava Keezer! She’s got a heart-felt, serious piece. This one is actually not in the book; she just wrote it just a day ago.
AVA: What is a poem of a drum with no beat?
We lost our song, so what do we dance to?
What song do we sing?
We play the Creators game, but forget the Creator’s ways
Some might dance jingle but forget the meaning behind that dress
Our grandmothers call from detox early in the morning —
intoxicated by these city lights that raise us
She finds home and refuge on park benches
Is this it for our Anishinaabe people?
is this our way?
Is this our song?
CRISTETA: MY GOODNESS. See what I’ve had to work with all year? My goodness!
After Ava breaks the ice more students take the stage with stories about family and the city and basketball and space aliens. For more information, pictures and poems from the students, go to facebook and find mid-continent oceanographic institute. It’s a mouthful but it’s worth it.
For Minnesota Native news, I’m Melissa Townsend.
STORY #2 LEECH LAKE BASKETBALL
The Leech Lake Tribal College has a winning basketball team. They’ve got four out of five winning seasons, an All-Conference Award, and an All- Academic Conference Award. Reporter Kayla Duoos talks with Leech Lake Basketball Coach Brady Fairbanks about how he manages to help his players shine.
FAIRBANKS: Boozhoo I’m Brady Fairbanks, I’m the Leech Lake Tribal College Athletic Director, and recruiter for the men's and women’s basketball team. We are are a small school but we have a lot of grit and determination to be successful on and off the court.
REPORTER: The Lakers currently do not have athletic scholarships, there are no dorms, they don’t even have their own gym. But they still manage to take on divisions one and two schools - and win. That’s mostly thanks to Fairbanks’s coaching method. He inspires players to think outside the box.
FAIRBANKS: We want to show the younger players, or younger generation that we can train anywhere, you can be a better basketball player and become a very good basketball player by doing the little things right.
REPORTER: The Lakers team will be holding a pre-season camp August 6th-8th for youth in elementary and high school.
I’m Kayla Duoos with DeBahJiMon for Minnesota Native News.
This week on Minnesota Native News, we’re showcasing Isabella Callery, the Minnesota High School senior who recently won a national poetry recitation competition, Poetry Out Loud. She talks about the experience, shows off her poetry skills, and explains the importance of her connections to indigenous poets.
That’s Isabella Callery at the Poetry Out Loud national competition, held in early May in Washington D.C. She was reciting Charles Lamb’s “Thoughtless Cruelty”, one of three poems she performed in the competition.
Callery, a senior at Arcadia Charter School in Northfield, Minnesota, made it to nationals for the first time this year. But she’s made it to the state finals every year since she was a freshman. And it’s a pretty big deal.
CALLERY:“From the state competition, they’ll choose one person that will go on to nationals. And so nationals, there's 53 people, one from each of the 50 states and then Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and district of Columbia. And we performed there and they lower us to nine and then to the top three.”
It’s a poetry recitation competition that requires weeks of memorization.. and a compelling performance.
Speaker 1: (09:55)
CALLERY: I think if it lets them acting and more of just like how can I take this meaning and convey that the best I can with my face, body and inflection
This year, more so than other years, she says she had deeper relationship with her poems. Of the three poems she featured for her recitations, two are from indigenous poets.
CALLERY: I was able to find two women, native artists that I really connected to like their words and their story and the things they were saying. Um, so those poems, I just had a really deep connection to the first time reading them.
Callery, who is anishinabe of White Earth, says she wasn’t raised with indigenous culture growing up, but is now reclaiming her native heritage. These poems have helped her in her process.
Here she is..
CALLERY: so the first poem is perhaps the world ends here by Joy Harjo and it's about how life centers around the kitchen table, how we give birth by the table and we prepare parents for burial there. And we eat there, we gossip there, we just sit with our family and like all these things that does revolve around the kitchen table. And I feel like that's very true. And then the second poem is a really long title. It's called ABC dairy. And requiring further examination of Anglican Sarah fem subjugation of a wild Indian reservation by Natalie Diaz. Um, and, uh, that poem is a really beautifully written poem I connected with at the most. Um, it's about how do you as a native person tried to forgive Christianity and the live with the things that you can still see Christianity doing to our culture. Um, and the ways that it's pushing us back and like reinforcing the fact that native people aren't equal in that way. And I feel like that's a conversation I've had with myself a lot of times. So that was just a really important poem to me.
Isabella Callery very graciously recited part of that last poem.
CALLERY: Like I said, no Indian I've ever heard of has ever been or seen an angel maybe in a Christmas pageant or something. Nazarene church holds one every December organized by pastor John's wife. It's no wonder pastor John's son is the angel. Everyone knows angels are white.
As for the first poem we heard her reciting, she said one had to be pre-20th century.
CALLERY: So Charles Lamb was my pre 20th century author and that poem is just about not killing bugs. It's the whole thing about it. I'm like, this sounds like it's just like, oh. So I would just really like, I don't kill any bugs. I'm a total wimp. I don't even come mosquitoes. Um, so I think that palm just fun for me to do and to think about and it kind of has that same my thing of that same idea of just respecting the earth and respecting animals as being equal.
But let’s get back to the contest!
[SOUND OF CALLERY WINNING, Kinda long… pretty good celebration sound]
Callery talks about the moment she learned she’s a national champion.
CALLERY: I had a total anxiety shutdown and just kind of got on stage and shutdown. So that's what, that's what happens when we see pictures of you up there. It's, you shut it down completely. Yeah. I like donate for, I don't really remember it. I like blacked out.
As for what the the future holds for Isabella Callery, well, that $20,000 grand prize is going toward her college in Wisconsin.
CALLERY: So I'm going to Beloit this fall and I'm planning on doing something with sociology, psychology, public health. I've been doing social work for a long time now, so I want to continue doing that cause that's what I really like doing. And why is that? Um, I think it's just like being able to connect with people who are going through really hard times and like having people who have connected with me at really hard times and just knowing like how helpful that is and how life changing it can be.
A while her focus in college education isn’t spoken word or poetry, it remains a big part of her life. She plans on getting more into that community.
CALLERY: I just think that you have to find something you can connect to no matter what it is and that finding people who have a similar background to you and like understand your way of thinking and going about the world is super important no matter how you find that. And for me it was her poetry, but it can be through art or any other kind of thing in the entire world.
Callery also runs her own native beading business, BellasBeading, on Instagram.
I’m Cole Premo.
It’s American Indian Month in Minnesota! This week on Minnesota Native News we take you to the kick off event in Minneapolis and we hear about the Leech Lake Band’s efforts to overhaul their tribal education system.
This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock
STORY #1 - LEECH LAKE ED (1:10)
HOST (Marie) : The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is in the final stages of overhauling its tribal education programs. Reporter Kayla Duoos from Leech Lake News tells us more.
REPORTER: Young people often feel they need to leave the reservation to be successful in school and to find good jobs.
Leaders within the Band are working to change that.
HARPER: Aaniin I’m Laurie Harper and I’m the tribal education director for the leech lake band of Ojibwe. We are currently in the process of developing a tribal education code that will allow us to re-establish our sovereignty in education.
REPORTER: Laurie Harper is making changes across the band’s 18 programs including K through12, post secondary, alternative learning and job training.
She wants to keep young Leech Lakers at home with good education options that lead to good jobs.
HARPER: Instead of educating our tribal members to seek work elsewhere I really believe that bringing our tribal members back home will help us to rebuild our tribal nation and tribal structure.
Harper has been working to revamp the education system since 2016.
Band members will have several chances over the next few months to offer their input at public forums on the future direction of the education department.
I’m Kayla Duoos with DeBahJiMon for Minnesota Native News.
STORY #2 - INDIAN MONTH (WAY TOO LONG - PLEASE SUGGEST CUTS)
On May 1st more than two hundred Native folks and others gathered in Little Earth to kick off the 50th annual American Indian month.
Reporter Melissa Townsend was at the kick off event on May 1st and she shares some of the news from that morning.
SPEAKER: Welcome, we love that you’re here, yea! [cheers] (:09)
Before the parade, everybody gathers here, in the park at Little Earth of United Tribes Housing complex.
Nolan Bergland is here with a few friends. He is Northern Cheyanne and Oglala Lakota.
NOLAN BERGLAND: I’m excited to be here today particularly because we don’t have many opportunities to get together as a community and to be able to hug my relatives , visit with people that i recognized, it just feels really good. Chante Washte, makes me feel good in my heart.
I hear this from a number of people — folks are happy to be together to celebrate.
The gathering kicks off with a prayer, a song and a short line-up of speakers.
White Earth tribal citizen and Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan addresses the crowd.
She reads an official statement declaring May as American Indian month across the state.
FLANAGAN: …the land now known as the state of Minnesota is the home of American Indian people that have occupied this land since time immemorial… (:10)
It’s a pretty long proclamation — let’s skip to the end…
FLANAGAN: Therefore I, Tim Walz, I’m not Tim Walz, Governor of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim the month of May 2019 as American Indian month in the state of Minnesota. [cheers] (:15)
In her speech Flanagan says she is disturbed by recent news concerning Bde Maka Ska and Bdote.
In case you missed it, a Minnesota Court recently ruled that the state did not have the authority to reclaim the Dakota name Bde Maka Ska for a Minneapolis lake also known as Lake Calhoun.
Since then the Minnesota state Department of Natural Resources says it will appeal that decision.
Also in the last two weeks, the Republican controlled Minnesota state Senate passed a bill cutting the budget of the Minnesota Historical Society. Why? Because it has signs on the property acknowledge Fort Snelling is also known as Bdote — the Dakota sacred site where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers meet.
I asked some folks in the crowd how they feel about this recent news.
This is Shelly Diaz. She is from Mille Lacs.
SHELLY DIAS FROM MILLE LACS: It’s going to be like the confederate statues that are coming down. It’s contention. We have to teach people the truth and one we reconcile that, we can move forward together. (:16)
Jewell Arcoren agrees. She is Dakota.
ARCOREN: Bde Maka Ska - I think that Minnesota needs to look at their own parallel trauma that they carry, it’s a perpetrators trauma, I’ll say that. (:17)
None of this news seems to dampen anyone’s celebration. Afterall the theme of this year’s Indian month is We are still here!
Here’s Jewel Arcoran again:
ARCORAN: As I was riding in with my granddaugther and dropped her off at Bdote Learning Center today, I was telling her that this was an occasion to celebrate that we are still here. For sure. (:12)?
So on this chilly, rainy morning, — the crowd starts down their parade route with banners, dancers, and drum groups and floats on trucks.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Melissa Townsend.