News: ELCA Synod makes reparations payment, a ‘2023 Indigenous Rights, Climate Justice Platform’, and more

In this post:

  • Northeastern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA makes $185,000 reparations payment to MN Chippewa Tribe
  • America’s Biggest Museums Fail to Return Native American Human Remains
  • MNIPL, Indigenous leaders, launch 2023 Indigenous Rights, Climate Justice platform
  • Report: Roots, solutions to Native American over incarceration
  • Land Back in Alaska
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Court: Mille Lacs County improperly limited the Mille Lacs Band’s inherent law enforcement authority

Almost all people, regardless of race or income, agree that it’s important to honor your agreements.

Yet all too often, local, state and federal governments seem incapable of living that value when it comes to honoring treaties with Native Nations.

Native Nations received very little in treaty agreements. Native Nations have relatively small populations, making them easy targets for bullying. At every turn, when treaty disputes arise, Native Nations have sue to enforce what benefits they have.

The latest case comes from Mille Lacs County, where the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe won the latest legal dispute with the county over the Band’s reservation boundaries and the extent of Tribal police authority.

Perhaps county leaders are pressing the case to hold onto power through division, treating the Mille Lacs Band as an enemy.

In all likelihood, the county will continue challenging the Band’s treaty boundaries.

Everyone in Mille Lacs County has the opportunity to honor the treaty agreements that have not, and are not, being followed. They can encourage county leaders to drop any further litigation.

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Events: The connection between extractive industries and MMIR, Reparations Learning Table, and more

In this post:

  • Webinar: Intersection of extractive industries and human trafficking in relation to the MMIR crisis, Monday
  • Reparations Learning Table (three events starting Thursday, Jan. 26)
  • Ojibwe Storytelling Series
  • Online Tar Sands Action Party, Sunday
  • Webinar: Christian Nationalism and the Threat to Human Rights, Wednesday, Jan. 25
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No one is protecting East Phillips from air pollution, notably those who promised to do so

It’s part of a larger pattern of regulatory failures

(Correction: An earlier version misstated the pollution contribution from individual industries to East Phillips’ overall pollution problems. It has been corrected. This post also was updated with information from the MPCA.)

The City of Minneapolis has declared racism a public health emergency, pledging to “allocate funding, staff, and additional resources to actively engage in racial equity in order to name, reverse, and repair the harm done to BIPOC in this City.”

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has committed to environmental justice, saying it will focus “on developing strategies to reduce pollution and health disparities in communities most at-risk.”

Unfortunately, neither of those promises are protecting the residents of East Phillips, one of Minneapolis’ poorest and most racially diverse neighborhoods, and home to Little Earth, a 212-unit housing development that gives preference to Native American applicants.

The neighborhood has several pollution sources: Smith Foundry, an iron works; Bituminous Roadways, an asphalt plant; the city’s Hiawatha Public Works yard, and Hiawatha Avenue, a major thoroughfare.

City leaders should know that East Phillips is part of the “pubic health emergency.” The city’s 2021 Racial Equity Impact Analysis said residents living in the area “experience much higher levels of cumulative pollution than residents from majority white city neighborhoods … leading to [higher] levels of asthma and hospitalization for children and adults.”

(East Phillips asthma levels were more than double the state average in 2019, MinnPost reported.)

Unless things change soon, East Phillips will soon get even more pollution and related health problems, further exacerbating health disparities.

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Practical ‘Land Back’ opportunity, understanding the Two Spirit story, and more

In this post:

  • Practical ‘Land Back’ opportunity through the Indian Land Tenure Foundation
  • Understanding the Two Spirit story
  • MPCA, DNR use law firm with ties to mining interests
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Rocky backstory to 2023 ‘International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’

Last year, Rev. Dr. Kelly Sherman-Conroy and two colleagues traveled to the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the liturgy, weekly reflextions, and Bible Study they had been asked to create for the 2023 International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. “They wanted the perspective of Black and Indigenous people,” said Sherman-Conroy, who is Lakota.

What should have been positive experience was traumatic, as Sherman-Conroy’s Christianity was called into question.

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This day in history: The Ghost Dance begins, and other news and events

In this post:

  • This Day in History, 1889: A prophetic vision for the Ghost Dance
  • Under treaties, the U.S. has a ‘Duty to Protect’ Native Nations — and it should be court enforceable, author says
  • Indigenous and Faith Leaders United in Climate Justice Zoom event, Tuesday, Jan. 10
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Scrutinizing whether enslavers should be honored in U.S. Capitol art, and other news

In this post:

  • U.S. Capitol artwork reviewed for connections to slavery, Confederacy
  • Hennepin County Board approves ‘Dakota Land and Water Acknowledgment Statement’
  • Social Services disproportionately terminate parental rights for Black, Native American families
  • Higher levels of heavy metals found in BIPOC communities’ drinking water
  • Winter storm hits Pine Ridge hard
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Thousands of captured Ukrainian children sent to Russia for adoption

As horrific as that is, it’s happened here, too

Russia troops have absconded with thousands of Ukrainian children who were separated from their families during the war, the Washington Post reports. While the numbers aren’t clear, Ukraine’s top children’s rights official said family and friends have reported more than 10,000 unaccompanied Ukrainian children have been sent to Russia.

For example, Oleksandr, a 12-year-old boy injured in a Russian attack in Mariupol, was separated from his grandmother while seeking medical help, the Post story said. Troops took him to a hospital in Donetsk, in Russian-occupied Ukraine, where he was told Russian parents would adopt him.

Lyudmila, the grandmother, somehow was able to save him before he left for Russia. She shared her grandson’s experience: They “told him that Ukraine is bad and Ukrainians are evil,” she said. “They forced the children to speak Russian.”

I couldn’t read this story without thinking about the legacy of Indian boarding schools and other U.S. assimilation policies.

We rightfully condemn Russia’s actions, which are war crimes. At the same time, we need to take a hard look at our own history, and our failure to repair the deep harm U.S. actions have inflicted on Indigenous children, families, and communities.

We can’t condemn the one, and ignore the other.

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Red Lake Nation to consider changing citizenship rules, and other news from Indian Country

In this post:

  • Red Lake Nation to explore ‘lineal descent’ instead of ‘blood quantum’ to establish Tribal membership
  • Weisman Art Museum gets $240K for Indigenous reconciliation project
  • Court win for Native student denied request to wear an eagle feather in her graduation cap
  • Ohio history group working to preserve the largest remaining complex of Indigenous earthworks in the world
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