Hiawatha encampment: Last year’s tent city is a lesson in unintended consequences

This is the first in a series looking back at the 2018 homeless encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues.

In August of 2018, a homeless encampment exploded near the intersection of Hiawatha and East Franklin avenues in Minneapolis, reaching nearly 200 people at its maximum, mostly Native Americans.

Indigenous-led non-profits and the public sector sprang into crisis response. Minneapolis has long had a homeless people, some living in emergency shelters, others riding metro transit all night, and still others living outdoors. But Minneapolis had never had this kind of tent city before.

Perhaps the surprise is that it hadn’t happened before.

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Thanksgiving reads, and a fundraising request for Minneapolis Thanksgiving Pow Wow

In this blog:

  • Spoiler Alert! Thanksgiving Doesn’t Prove the Indians Welcomed the Pilgrims, by By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker
  • Thanksgiving Promotes Whitewashed History, So I Organized Truthsgiving Instead, by Christine Nobiss
  • The Minneapolis Thanksgiving Celebration Pow Wow, funding request

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The Kansas City Chiefs name represents a form of cultural appropriation, but the backstory is more bizarre than you think

The Washington football team has received considerable criticism over the years for its offensive name, and deservedly so. Less well known is the story behind how the Kansas City NFL franchise got the name “Chiefs,” and its ties to Boy Scout history.

There are several versions of the story, but one consistent thread in the telling is that the team is  named after a white man who appropriated Native traditions for the Boy Scouts — and who went by the nickname “Chief.”

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Kindred Spirits: How the Choctaw Responded to the Irish Potato Famine

In the early 1830s, the United States forcibly removed nearly 15,000 people of the Choctaw Nation from their homeland in the deep South to what was called “Indian Territory” (now Oklahoma). Along their Trail of Tears, 2,500 died, Wikipedia said.

About 15 years later, the Choctaw people learned about the Irish suffering from the Great Potato Famine and scraped together $170 to send to alleviate their suffering, a gift memorialized in 2015 in Ireland with a beautiful sculpture. Continue reading

Racist Editorial Cartoon Mocks Phillips, Native Americans: How Best to Respond?

Sometimes the best response to racism is to ignore it and walk away, declining to give oxygen to the fires of hate. Sometimes the best response is to try to calm the situation; that’s what Native American elder Nathan Phillips did when he tried to intervene in a racially charged situation between Black Hebrew Israelites and a group of Catholic high school teens near the Lincoln Memorial. (For background, see Indian Country Today’s news roundup).

And sometimes the best response is to speak difficult truths about what you see.

The question came to me recently in a group email where people where sharing their anger over an ugly political cartoon that mocked Phillips and Native Americans in general. Continue reading

Here’s to the Upcoming ‘Greatest Generation’

I am proud to know a few of the indigenous leaders and youth of all colors who are working tirelessly to stop climate disaster by opposing the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects. I believe these will be part of our next “Greatest Generation.”

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Evangelicals Beginning to Take a Hard Look in the Mirror Around Race and Politics

There are deep rumblings within the evangelical movement, a movement defined for decades by being mostly white and politically conservative — and more recently, pro-Trump. The current divisiveness and political rhetoric has shaken some evangelical leaders to their core and they are questioning the ways they and their religious kinfolk are living out their values.

Perhaps one silver lining to the current political mess is that it’s so jarring that a lot of people are waking up, getting active, and questioning their reality in a way that might not happen if things were “normal.”

This blog diverts from past writings, which have focused on issues important to Native American communities (and educating white readers about those issues). Instead, this blog will focus more broadly on the issue of racism, the current political climate, and the self-indictment now emerging among evangelical Christians.

Consider two recent articles that stem from dialogue among evangelical leaders held at Wheaton, an evangelical college in Illinois and Billy Graham’s alma mater. Continue reading