News and Events: Sacred Site Tours Restart; Book Release: White Birch, Red Hawthorn; First Minnesotans Caucus at the Legislature

With the weather warming, Healing Minnesota Stories is restarting its Sacred Site Tours. The first open tours are Saturday, April 15, 2017  and Saturday, May 13. Both run from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Tours are led by Jim Bear Jacobs (Mohican) and Bob Klanderud (Dakota). The tours offer an opportunity to learn about Minnesota history from a Native perspective through story-telling and experiencing the sites in silence, meditation, and reflection. To register, to be placed on a waiting list, or for information on a future tour, contact us at

There is no cost for the tour, but a free will offering is appreciated. Contributions for individuals are invited in the range of $20-$40. Donations support Healing Minnesota Stories programs and events. Space is limited to 40 people.

We are happy to arrange custom tours for faith communities, community organizations, or other groups of 12 or more.

White Birch, Red Hawthorn

HMS friend Nora Murphy is having a book release event for her memoir: White Birch, Red Hawthorne. The event is Thursday, April 20, 7 p.m. at Common Ground Books, 38 Snelling Ave. S. in St. Paul.

Murphy describes herself as a fifth generation Irish Minnesotan. She was born and lives in Imniża Ska, the white cliffs overlooking the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in St. Paul. Her book tells the story of her ancestors’ maple grove that, long before the Irish arrived, was home to three Native tribes: the Dakota, Ojibwe, and Ho-Chunk.

Her Irish ancestors were a dispossessed people. But that their homestead was built upon another, far more brutal dispossession is the hard truth underlying Murphy’s book, and her search for the deeper connections between this contested land and the communities who call it home.

Murphy has worked and volunteered in the Native community since 1995.

First Minnesotans Caucus

MinnPost wrote a great piece on the Minnesota Legislature’s First Minnesotans Caucus, four leaders who are elevating Native issues.

The article starts with state Rep. Susan Allen, the first woman to identify as American Indian elected to the Legislature. (There were Native Americans who had served before; they just didn’t draw attention to their heritage because of the prejudice that existed.)

“If you could pass for white, you often would,” Allen told MinnPost.

Allen is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Other members of the First Minnesotans Caucus are:

  • DFL Rep. Peggy Flanagan, who represents St. Louis Park and also is a member of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe.
  • Freshman Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, who represents Roseville, and also is a  Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe descendant.
  • Mary Kunesh-Podein, who lives in New Brighton and represents parts of Columbia Heights and St. Anthony, and is a descendant of the Standing Rock Lakota tribe.

Again, from MinnPost:

When it comes to legislating, their interests hit just about every major policy area in state government. Environmental protection issues are a major concern for American Indians, and Becker-Finn has introduced a bill to ban lead ammunition, which can poison venison and harm bald eagles, significant spiritual figures for American Indians. Becker-Finn and Kunesh-Podein … sponsored a proposal to ban oil pipelines from running within a mile of waters where wild rice is grown.

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