Weekend Reads: Prairie Island Community prepares a move; New Doctrine of Discovery video, and more

In this blog:

  • Worries over nuclear waste, flooding, have Prairie Island Indian Community preparing to move
  • Presbyterian Stony Point Church in New York becomes Sweetwater Cultural Center to preserve indigenous culture and lifeways
  • New Doctrine of Discovery video: Stolen Lands, Strong Hearts
  • Enbridge security firm stokes fears of water protectors

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PUC to offer encore performance of “Ignore the Risk,” starring Enbridge Line 3

PUC’s new mascot? Image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures.

If the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) were to have a mascot it would be the ostrich, its head buried in the sand.

The PUC approved permits for the deeply flawed Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline in 2018. Line 3 would run 340 miles through northern Minnesota, burrowing under the Mississippi headwaters, cutting through state forests, and crossing more than 75 miles of wetlands and more than 200 water bodies.

The PUC ignored Line 3’s climate damage — more severe storms, drought and other impacts — estimated at $287 billion worldwide over three decades. It ignored treaty rights, choosing instead to side with Enbridge’s interpretation of Constitutional law. It ignored experts at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, who said Enbridge had failed to prove the pipeline was needed. It ignored the increased risk of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, a risk that would have received serious attention had it affected more affluent communities. It undervalued Line 3’s spill risks to our clean water and wild rice.

According to its own documents, Enbridge openly admits it can’t build Line 3 and meet all of Minnesota’s water quality standards, “given northern Minnesota’s topography and environment (e.g., avoiding wetlands).”

Line 3 opponents filed three major challenges with the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The first case challenged Line 3’s environmental impact statement. Last fall, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found the statement inadequate because it failed to consider the impacts of a spill in the Lake Superior Watershed. That seems like a major oversight the PUC should have caught. The state has now patched up the environmental impact statement and the project is going back to the PUC for approval.

And now the stage is set for an encore performance of the PUC’s “Ignore the Risk.” Continue reading

Food, gear drive for Indigenous front line water protectors #StopLine3

A Mutual Aid Drive is being organized to support Indigenous leaders working on the front lines to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tars sands oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. The drive is being organized by a coalition of MN350, Camps-A-Rising, and the Twin Cities Logistics Collective. It’s responding to specific requests from Indigenous water protectors and is reaching out for public support. Continue reading

Weekend reads: The Episcopal Church hires racial reconciliation staff; Efforts to strip Medals of Honor from Wounded Knee Massacre, and more

In this blog:

  • Episcopal Church appoints Rev. Isaiah “Shaneequa” Brokenleg (member of Rosebud) as officer for racial reconciliation
  • Remove the Stain Act introduced in Congress, an effort to strip Medals of Honor from soldiers participating in the Wounded Knee Massacre
  • Chief Standing Bear, a civil rights hero, honored with a statue in Washington D.C.’s National Statuary Hall

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The historical backdrop to the Hiawatha encampment: The Indian Termination Policy

This is the last in a series looking back at the 2018 homeless encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues. Part 1: Hiawatha encampment: Last year’s tent city is a lesson in unintended consequences. Part 2: Hiawatha encampment: Lessons learned from last year’s homeless tent city. Part 3: Hiawatha encampment: The camp is gone. The problem’s still here.

Hiawatha encampment. (Photo: Hennepin County)

This series has covered the tent city that sprang up in south Minneapolis in 2018, predominantly occupied by homeless Native Americans. The encampment is part of the legacy of the Indian Termination Policy, yet one more example of broken treaties and the U.S. government’s efforts to force Native Americans to assimilate into white society.

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Hiawatha encampment: The camp is gone. The problem’s still here

This is the third in a series looking back at the 2018 homeless encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues. Part 1 was Hiawatha encampment: Last year’s tent city is a lesson in unintended consequences. Part 2 was Hiawatha encampment: Lessons learned from last year’s homeless tent city.

Fencing has been erected to prevent a return of a large homeless encampment at Hiawatha and Franklin. (Facing east on Franklin.)

In August of 2018, a large homeless encampment sprung up along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues in south Minneapolis, reaching 150 tents and nearly 200 people. Most of those in the camp were Native American. Indigenous-led nonprofits and government agencies mounted a crisis response. With the help from the Red Lake Nation, it included construction of the Navigation Center, a temporary structure to provide people at the encampment a safe and warm place to sleep during the winter and connections to housing services.

The Navigation Center is closed. The Minnesota Department of Transportation erected fences to prevent people from camping on its right of way at Hiawatha andHiawatha. It posted ‘No Trespassing” signs. The Minnesota Police Department has new policies to intervene early when homeless camps form so they don’t get big.

Yet just because the crisis is no longer visible doesn’t mean there isn’t a crisis.

“The problem is still here,” said Mary LaGarde, executive director of the Minneapolis American Indian Center. “We have people who are out on the streets,” she said. “The opium/heroin epidemic has not gone away.”

The winter cold and snow are back. Here’s a look at questions moving forward. Continue reading

Hiawatha encampment: Lessons learned from last year’s homeless tent city

This is the second in a series looking back at the 2018 homeless encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues. Part 1 explored the reasons the camp formed when it did: Hiawatha encampment: Lessons in unintended consequences.

Photo of the encampment. (Hennepin County)

In August of 2018, a large homeless encampment — reaching 150 tents and more than 190 people — sprung up along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues in south Minneapolis. Most of those in the camp were Native Americans — and it was key that Native American led-organizations played a lead role in responding.

Patina Park, President and CEO of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, recalled conversations about the camp in early August, 2018 with Mike Goze, CEO of the American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC), Mary LaGarde, executive director of the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC),  Dr. Antony Stately, CEO of the Native American Community Clinic, and Robert Lilligren, President and CEO of the Native American Community Development Institute.

They had concerns about the looming health care crisis, Park said. Hepatitis A was going around, and they were concerned about MRSA, too, an antibiotic-resistant infection. People were crowded together in the encampment and disease could spread quickly. One of the first things the group did was get fresh water to the camp by getting the city to hook up a water station at a fire hydrant.

Their work grew quickly. “I really learned the power of all of us coming together and just doing it,” Park said. Continue reading