Poor Native American Nutrition Linked to Historic Trauma; Pipeline Updates

Minnesota Public Radio reported on the First Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition and interviewed Ryan Bad Heart Bull (Oglala/Hunkpapa Lakota) the first Native American to graduate from the University of Minnesota’s Dietetic Internship program.

Ryan, enrolled at Pine Ridge, said:

I go back and I always feel like I have to have my guard up, unfortunately, because I walk and I see the young men, and they’re angry, they’re mad. And you can see the history of oppression, the history of pain, and the racism that we have faced, and alienation as well. I think if you’re dealing with issues like this, the last thing anyone cares about is what they’re eating.

For the full story, click here. Continue reading

Standing Rock Sioux Have Every Right to Worry About their Water

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Sign at the Water Protectors Camp near Cannon Ball, ND

People living on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation have something in common with people living in Bismarck, North Dakota’s Capital City: None of them apparently want a crude oil pipeline running near their water source.

As noted in the Bismarck Tribune: “An early proposal for the Dakota Access Pipeline called for the project to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, but one reason that route was rejected was its potential threat to Bismarck’s water supply…” So if it is too dangerous for the Capital City, why would it be any safer, or more acceptable, near the Standing Rock Reservation?

Then of course there is the history of an increasing number of oil pipeline spills. Continue reading

St. Paul’s Indigenous Day Parade; The Pope on Climate Change; Horse Ride to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline; and More

On Monday, October 10, St. Paul Public Schools is hosting an inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day Parade. In 2015, the City of Saint Paul declared Oct 10th, formerly recognized as Columbus Day, as Indigenous People’s Day. Parade organizers say this is the first year they had enough planning time to coordinate a public celebration.

The Parade will start at 11 a.m. at the American Indian Magnet School, 1075 East 3rd Street, St. Paul. It will end at Indian Mounds Park. In addition to the parade, there will be food, speakers and demonstrations. This year’s theme is “Water is Life.” Here is a link to the saint-paul-indigenous-peoples-day-parade-flyer.

For more information on the event, contact: Contact Danielle DeLong, danielle.delong@spps.org, 651-744-4018, http://www.spps.org/indianeducation.

The Minnesota History Center also is hosting an Indigenous Peoples Day event, 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 10, with precolonial foods prepared by the Sioux Chef. Speakers include State Representative Peggy Flanagan and Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano. (There is a $25 admission fee.)

For more on climate change and efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, keep reading.

Continue reading

Water Protectors Camp Near Standing Rock: A Photo Essay

The Sacred Stones Camp where we stayed was just outside the reservation.
The Sacred Stones Camp where we stayed was just outside the reservation.

My friend Bob Klanderud and I drove to North Dakota this weekend to spend a few hours standing in solidarity with those who are working to protect the water and the sacred lands near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

It’s about an eight-hour drive from the Twin Cities.

In previous blogs, we have provided some of the political and legal context behind this story. With this post, we simply want to share images from the campground.

Still, for those who have not been following it, here is a quick rehash of the news. In previous blogs, we have linked to reports that state the original pipeline route would have crossed the Missouri near Bismarck, ND, “but authorities worried that an oil spill there would have wrecked the state capital’s drinking water.” So instead, it got rerouted so that plans now call for the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River just one mile upstream from the Standing Rock Nation’s fresh water intake. The pipeline also would pass over sacred ground, including burial sites.

This blog has shared articles about how the pipeline company provoked a confrontation by using heavy equipment to dig up a sacred site while a court case was pending, instigating a clash between pipeline opponents  and the pipeline company’s private security guards, who had mace and attack dogs. We have written about how religious leaders are coming out in support of the Standing Rock Nation.

There are multiple camp sites, and we stayed at the main camp. The main camp is just outside the reservation on federal land. Until recently, the camp was operating illegally. According to Indian Country Today, last Friday the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe got “an official permit to use federal lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ‘gather to engage in a lawful free speech demonstration … ‘”

OK, enough background. I have no knowledge of the camp politics or any developing strategy regarding the pipeline, but here (more or less in focus) is what I saw. Continue reading

Dakota Access Pipeline Fight is a Watershed Moment in Tribal Unity, Environmental Policy

MinnPost reporter Ron Meador wrote a terrific piece today analyzing the long-term impacts of the Native-led efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. It notes that the tribal collaboration to protect land and water surpasses the alliance that came together prior to the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn). This collaboration likely will have long-term benefits to Indian Country.

The article also put the project in the context of changes in environmental review policies. (This will not be new to those who have followed the pipeline debates more closely, but it was news to me.) Until recently, multi-state petroleum pipeline projects products like the Dakota Access Pipeline needed federal review under the National Environmental Policy Act. However:

… in a shift most commentators trace to the Obama White House, several large pipeline projects have gotten federal signoff under NWP 12, which is administered by the [the Army Corps of Engineers] as part of its authority to protect the nation’s surface waters and wetlands.

Designed for power lines, substations and similar public utility projects, this permit assumes minimal impact from, say, a tower or building whose surface disturbance would be less than a half-acre in size. By approving DAPL under NWP 12, the Corps essentially decided to treat it as a series of small wetland crossings instead of a four-state infrastructure project that will transport perhaps a half-million gallons of petroleum products per day, with high risks for spills and a huge contribution to global warming.

That is a ridiculous and disturbing policy change and needs to be reversed.

Click on Why the Dakota Access pipeline fight may be a turning point in U.S. environmental politics for the full story.

[Update: Well, that’s embarrassing. The original photo that accompanied this post was, in fact, from Woodstock. My apologies. It has been deleted.]

Mni Wakan: Water is Sacred, an International Conference Planned for Minnesota

Bde Maka Ska
Bde Maka Ska

Members of the LaPointe family, other local Native leaders and their allies are working to launch an international conference next year called: Mni Wakan: The Decade of Water. It would be hosted in Minneapolis. Bde Maka Ska would be a focal point.

Bde Maka Ska is the original name for Lake Calhoun (it was the name the lake had before white settlers came.) The name Bde Maka Ska is in the process of being restored; that debate has received considerable attention. Less well known is the work going on behind the scenes to not only to change the lake’s name but to change the lake’s culture and hold up the sacredness of water. Continue reading

Religious Leaders are Standing with Standing Rock to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

In our blog yesterday, we included a list of the denominations that had issued statements on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Since then, we learned that we missed some. Those taking a position include leaders from: the Episcopal Church; the Mennonite Central Committee (Central States); the United Church of Christ; the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; the ELCA; the Unitarian Universalists, and the Presbyterian Church USA.

Please let us know if we have missed any statements from religious leaders. We will continue to update the list.

Quick background: The proposed pipeline would pass under the Missouri River, just one mile from the fresh water intake for the Standing Rock Reservation. The Pipeline also would pass through lands sacred to Standing Rock, including burial grounds.

The pipeline’s original route took it within 10 miles of Bismarck, but concern about the potential impact on the Capital City’s drinking water lead to a reroute near the reservation.

Things are currently in limbo. On Sept. 9, a federal judge turned down the Standing Rock Nation’s request to stop pipeline construction, according to MPR. The judge concluded that the Army Corps of Engineers had followed the law in approving the project. That same day, the federal government ordered “work to stop on the segment of the project in question, asking Energy Transfer Partners to ‘voluntarily pause’ action” on the culturally significant areas.

Below, each statement from religious leaders on this issue is powerful on its own. Collectively, their power is magnified and shows that this truly is an issue of conscience. Continue reading for excerpts and links to their full statements. They are listed in chronological order. Continue reading