February 14th marks a day of honoring relatives lost in the ongoing epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives (MMIWR).
A recent report from the Minnesota Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women reveals a heartbreaking statistic: while Indigenous people make up just 1% of the state’s population, a stunning 9% of all murdered girls and women in Minnesota over the last ten years were American Indian.
Today we talk with Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith (Bois Forte Band of Chippewa) who is a mother, survivor, Two-Spirit warrior, Indigenous scholar, and researcher, MMIWG2S Legal Advocate, and so much more. Jessica shares how her own experience seeking healing as a survivor of domestic violence and human trafficking, led her on a path to become a national speaker, leader, and advocate for others.
We hear Jessica’s powerful story of how her “Inner Warrior” pushed her to step forward and speak up, sharing her own story of survival, to advocate for legislation aimed at strengthening law enforcement’s ability to track and solve cases of murdered or missing Native Americans.
We are thankful for Jessica Smith’s powerful voice and for all the work she is doing to help others find safety, healing, and their own voices. You can learn more about Jessica Smith and her work at www.gidagaakoonsresearch.com
Sovereign Bodies Institute (SBI) builds on Indigenous traditions of data gathering and knowledge transfer to create, disseminate, and put into action research on gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people. www.sovereign-bodies.org
If you or someone you know needs help right now, you can reach out to these hotlines:
StrongHearts Native Helpline provides culturally appropriate support and advocacy for American Indians and Alaska Natives, including resources for victims, families affected by domestic violence and dating violence, and it is anonymous and confidential at: 1-844-7NATIVE or 1-844-762-8483.
National Human Trafficking Hotline serves victims and survivors of human trafficking and anti-trafficking community in the US: 1-888-373-7888
Anishinaabe writer Marcie Rendon has just been awarded the prestigious McKnight Distinguished Artist Award for 2020. Rendon is a citizen of the White Earth Nation who lives in south Minneapolis. She is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, play write, author and poet. The McKnight honor comes with 50-thousand dollars. Reporter Melissa Townsend talked with Rendon about her work and the most recent recognition. This is the extended, edited version of their conversation.
Tribes across the U.S. have been expecting their share of 8-billion dollars from the federal CARES Act that was passed at the end of March to support those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Some of those funds just started to flow to tribes the week of May 4th. Reporter Melissa Townsend talked with Minnesota’s U-S Senator Tina Smith, who sits on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
They talk about the delay in the disbursement of the $8-billion promised to tribal governments, problems in the way the money is being allocated for each tribe, new financial assistance for tribal casinos and a possible investigation into Indian Affairs Assistant Secretary Tara Sweeney over her conflict of interest in allocating federal assistance to Alaska Native Corporations that was intended for tribal governments.
Hosts Leah Lemm and Cole Premo check-in with Tall Paul (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) an Anishinaabe and Oneida Hip-Hop artist.
Tall Paul calls in to talk about family life, staying safe and smart, and how to continue with a workout routine while in the comfort of his own home.
And, of course, we talk about creating music in times of uncertainty.
We talk with Brenda Child (Red Lake Nation) about the origin story of the Jingle Dress and how it relates to the 1918 Flu epidemic, and what the past can teach us about our current pandemic.
Biidaapi: s/he comes laughing. (Ojibwemowin)Greetings from Native Lights! Sometimes we just want to talk to a parent or elder during uncertain times, and today we chat with our dad, Bill (“Papi”) Premo (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe). Bill Premo lives at Owl Hoot Station –what he calls home –just Northeast of Hinckley with his dog Kek Kek, and is always full of advice and perspective. He’s an associate judge for District III for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and serves on the board for MLB Corporate Ventures.
Biidaapi: s/he comes laughing. (Ojibwemowin)
Greetings from Native Lights! Thanks for listening. During this COVID-19 pandemic, when we’re encouraged to keep a greater distance from our community members, friends, and loved ones, it’s so important to keep our relationships strong. And that’s what we’re doing here on Native Lights: Biidaapi. To us, “biidaapi” (s/he comes or arrives laughing) reminds us to keep our spirits up through connection and conversations. So, join us as we hear from people in our communities as we share how the COVID-19 pandemic affects us at home.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s Understand Native Minnesota is a new multi-million dollar philanthropic campaign to improve the Native American narrative taught in K-12 schools. The narrative change initiative was introduced by it’s campaign leader and SMSC’s Secretary/Treasurer Rebecca Crooks-Stratton during the 35th annual Minnesota Indian Education Association (MIEA) Conference 2019 on Thursday November 14th, 2019.
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://minnesotanativenews.org/category/native-lights/
Reporter Melissa Townsend sits down with Dr. Arne Vainio and Dr. Mary Owen to talk about the rising rates of diabetes in Native communities and other issues in culturally appropriate Native healthcare.
Dr. Vainio is from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. We is a physician at the tribal clinic on the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation.
Dr. Owen is Tlinket from southeast Alaska. She is a family physician at the Leech Lake tribal clinic in Cass Lake. She is also the Director of the Center on American Indian and Minority Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. She is based in Duluth, Minnesota.