Doris Stengel grew up on the North Dakota prairie, and then moved to the woods and lakes of Minnesota. She’s been a high school teacher and has mentored students in poetry from elementary school through college. She belongs to Heartland Poets in Brainerd, The League of Minnesota Poets, The National Federation of State Poetry Societies, and has served as President of each of these organizations. Doris Stengel’s latest collection of poems, “Small Town Lines,” was released in 2012. The Beat is a daily reminder that, in Minnesota poetry matters, and Minnesota poets prove that every day.
Minnesota Native News: Midterm Elections Make History And A New Play Makes Its Premiere
Marie: This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock.
Headlines: Coming up…:
We’ll hear from Minnesotans and their reactions to Lieutenant Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan’s historic election…
And, a new play by a Navajo playwright makes its world premiere in the Twin Cities…
Here is reporter Leah Lemm with these stories…
STORY #1 - HISTORIC GOVERNOR’S RACE
The 2018 mid-term election had many firsts throughout the country… and Indian Country. Two Native women, Sharice Davids of Kansas and Debra Haaland of New Mexico, have been elected to Congress.
And in our own state, Lieutenant Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan, citizen of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, will be the next Lieutenant Governor. She is the first Native woman to be elected to a state-wide executive office in United States history.
I spoke with Kayla and Waase Aubid in their home in Grand Rapids, MN about the election, and specifically what Peggy Flanagan’s new role means to them.
KAYLA AUBID: Women have always been leaders in our communities from time immemorial, from our creation stories until now. It’s exciting to see someone like Peggy who has a knowledge of what it's like to grow up as a native person in this position.
REPORTER: Kayla’s husband Waase also had thoughts, as he held their 3 month old daughter in his arms.
WAASE AUBID: I think it's a great thing that we have Native Americans getting into positions now. Especially a woman. I'm all, I'm all for empowering women and uplifting my wife and my daughter to be all they can be in just here to support and help.
I also traveled over to Old Central School in the heart of Grand Rapids and spoke with artist Leah Yellowbird.
YELLOWBIRD: This is really, really exciting and I hope that we can do something with the Native population here in Minnesota and really advance on what we have to offer.
She then showed me a piece of her artwork that was hanging in the studio that she made for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
It took a moment to look beyond the floral designs and intricate beadwork and quillwork to see faces and red hand prints. Although the artwork was beautiful, for me, it also carried a sadness below the surface.
Leah described Peggy Flanagan’s new role as a new opportunity to reveal more issues that Native people face in an honest manner.
YELLOWBIRD: Let's just talk pretty. And that's kind of what it's like being marginalized. There's so many underlying things. Maybe this, this lady will find those things and bring them to the surface.
That lady’s a warrior.
REPORTER: She then put her finger to my jacket…
YELLOWBIRD: We are warriors.
REPORTER: The Minnesota Constitution lays out the official role of Lt Governor as to simply take over as governor in the case of a vacancy for whatever cause. State statutes though include prescribed duties such as any function delegated by the governor.
From chatting with others, it’s clear that Peggy Flanagan has already begun her work as a point of hope and inspiration. Here’s Peggy Flanagan on election night:
FLANAGAN: I want every young person in Minnesota tonight to know - Black, White, Brown, or Indigneous - that you can grow up and you can lead this state.
STORY #2 - RED RUNNING INTO WATER TOURING TWIN CITIES
REPORTER: Next, New Native Theatre is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a season full of new and classic plays, including the world premiere of the play RED RUNNING INTO WATER, which is now touring in the Twin Cities.
The play follows Nana Blackrock, a young Navajo woman, and the women in her family… whose clan is Red Running Into Water.
Blossom Johnson is the playwright. She is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in Dramaturgy at Columbia University in New York City, and has worked with New Native Theatre in the past, including the theatre’s ten minute play festival.
JOHNSON: I never saw so many stories that I related to. It sort of turned a switch on and gave me hope for Native theater and Native stories. New Native Theatre does work with the Native community, and that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do - to connect my plays with a Native audience.
REPORTER: The play explores issues such as sexual assault and land rights. There is a trigger warning on the event’s description.
The play runs through Sunday, November 18th, and takes place at various locations throughout Minneapolis and Saint Paul. More information can be found at newnativetheatre.org.