Proposed legislation to waive building codes for traditional Dakota earthlodges, and other news

In this blog:

  • Legislation would waive building codes, allow traditional Dakota structures
  • Buddhists and friends invited to Water Protectors Welcome Center Feb. 28
  • Civil Rights arm of the bar association links environmental racism to higher pandemic rates and other harms

Legislation would waive building codes, allow traditional Dakota structures

A bill has been introduced in the Minnesota legislature to protect Dakota cultural practices by waiving building codes and allow the construction of traditional earth lodges.

The bill is being pushed by the Dakota nonprofit Makoce Ikikcupi (Land Recovery) and has bipartisan support. The bills are HF1042, authored by Representatives Heather Keeler (D-Moorhead), Jamie Becker-Finn (D-Roseville) and Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), and SF 1087, authored by senators Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) and Justine Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids).

Makoce Ikikcupi’s Executive Director Waziyatawin is asking people to write their legislators in support of this legislation.

Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is hosting a Zoom action hour on the legislation, Tuesday, March 2nd, 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Waziyatawin will present and answer questions. Here’s the Facebook Event Page.

Here’s more background on the bill:

For thousands of years Indigenous people successfully designed, built, and inhabited our own homes. It is only in
the last half century that the State of Minnesota passed building codes affecting Indigenous people’s right to build
according to our cultural traditions.

[In 2019, Makoce Ikikcupi] purchased 21 acres of land in Granite Falls through settler donations to establish a culturally-oriented and sustainable community. As part of our recovery of traditional knowledge, we began constructing Dakota earthlodges, a practice recently revitalized on the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota. Earthlodges provide a perfect solution to our cold-weather climate and help preserve an ancient building tradition not regularly practiced by Dakota people since the mid-1700s in the Mille Lacs area. In September 2019, under authority of the State of Minnesota, the local building inspector issued Makoce Ikikcupi a Stop Work Order for lack of compliance with State Building and Fire Codes.

Given that we would have to change the architecture and design of our traditional structures to accommodate those codes, along with the Granite Falls city council, we believe the best solution is to establish a process for code exemption for Indigenous people revitalizing ancient practices. We believe that as the Original People of this land, we ought to be able to build according to our traditions.

Makoce Ikikcupi

For further information visit makoceikikcupi.com or send an email to makoce.ikikcupi@gmail.com.

Buddhists and friends invited to Water Protectors Welcome Center Feb. 28

Clear cut corridor for the Line 3 pipeline route as it nears the Mississippi River. Photo: Watch the Line

On Sunday, Feb. 28, Indigenous leadership and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light welcome Buddhists and friends to meet at the Water Protector Welcome Center on the Great River Road northeast of Palisade. The Center, one of several frontline, Indigenous-led camps along the pipeline corridor; it’s about a two-and-a-half hour drive from the Twin Cities. The gathering will start at 11 a.m.

Click here for directions.

Click here to register. This will allow us to share information on the gathering with you.

An optional orientation training will be held Friday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. After you register, you will receive a Zoom link for the orientation.

This is a day of prayer and bearing witness to the environmental destruction and treaty violations done by the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. The Welcome Center abuts the pipeline route at one of the two sites where Enbridge plans to bore a tunnel under the Mississippi River.

Law enforcement has created a lengthy no parking zone around the camp. You will see the signs. On arrival, please park your vehicle 1/4 mile south of the Water Protector Welcome Center and walk to camp.

We are invited to be present in a good way. Please follow Covid protocols, dress warmly, and be self sufficient in general. The group will be outside for several hours and leaving no trace.

The group will gather at the camp entrance, then walk to the construction site from there. Someone will speak to the importance of showing up and lead a chant.  The group will then walk to the Mississippi River. Once there, someone will lead a simple guided meditation and chant. We will walk back to camp for lunch, which will be provided.

During lunch there will be an opportunity for participants to share how this experience, and this work, will continue to be moved forward through council practice. The day will end around 3 p.m. for participants to travel home.

Participants are invited to bring art and songs to leave as gifts to water protectors and the camp. You also are invited to donate to the following Indigenous organization who are steadfastly working to stop Line 3: 

If you have questions, please contact: Onryu@cloudsinwater.org

Bar association group links environmental racism to higher pandemic rates and other harms

“The civil rights arm of the American Bar Association is calling for legal reforms to prevent pollution threats and other environmental injustices linking tribal communities and communities of color to everything from higher COVID-19 contagion to increased lead poisoning,” The Medill Reports wrote Friday.

“The ABA’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice held a virtual teach-in Feb. 3 that addressed the impact of systemic racism on environmental injustice, citing roots in ethnocide and needs for stronger regulations.”

Full story here.

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