News/Events: Native Youth Visit Vatican; ‘Horse Nation’ Art Opening; and The ‘Necessity Defense’

Some quick thumbnails of news and events.

Report on Native Youth’s Visit to the Vatican: On Thursday, June 14, Mitch Walking Elk and one of the Native youth who traveled to the Vatican in May will give an update on their trip and their efforts to get the Pope to officially revoke the Doctrine of Discovery. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held at St. Olaf Church (215 South 8th Street, Minneapolis) in the Forliti  Gathering Room. Supper (also free) and social begins at 6:30 p.m. and the program runs from 6:45 – 8:30 p.m. Continue reading


Why it’s Problematic to Include Native Americans Under the “People of Color” Umbrella

Perhaps you’ve read the term “People of Color and Indigenous People” wondered: Why the long title? Aren’t Native Americans people of color, too?

It’s not a redundant phrase; it’s about Native sovereignty. A recent example is the Trump administration’s efforts to strip Native Americans of treaty-protected health care rights by labeling them as a race instead of members of sovereign Native nations.

Quick background: This January, the Trump administration began allowing states to impose work requirements for “able-bodied” Medicaid beneficiaries, according to a story in The Hill.  (In Minnesota, Medicaid is called Medical Assistance). The story called the proposal “a major shift in the design of the health insurance program for the poor and disabled.”

According to the Politico story: Trump challenges Native Americans’ historical standing:

The Trump administration says Native Americans might need to get a job if they want to keep their health care — a policy that tribal leaders say will threaten access to care and reverse centuries-old protections. …

[T]he Trump administration contends the tribes are a race rather than separate governments, and exempting them from Medicaid work rules — which have been approved in three states and are being sought by at least 10 others — would be illegal preferential treatment. “

The three states to impose Medicaid work requirements already are Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana, according to an article in Telesur. Minnesota lawmakers introduced similar legislation this session but it was voted down. Still, this issue highlights the importance of recognizing indigenous peoples as citizens of sovereign nations, and not lumping them in with people of color.

Here are few links and excerpts with more information on this issue: Continue reading

News Updates: Faith Leaders Stepping Up to Oppose Line 3; U.S. Crude Exports Hit Record High; and More

Here’s a quick news wrap on issues related to Enbridge Line 3.

‘This is a moral issue’: Faith leaders team up against Line 3 oil pipeline: MPR reports on a Monday event where religious leaders from different faith traditions are speaking with one voice against the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. The event starts at 2 p.m. just west of the Capitol in Leif Erickson Park.

Comment: Here is the Facebook event page with more details. Hope you can join us! (The event is being sponsored by Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light and the Poor People’s Campaign, a National Call for Moral Revival. The campaign is uniting 40+ states in 40 days of action around the impacts of and connections between Structural Poverty, Systemic Racism, Ecological Devastation, and the War Economy.)

U.S. Oil Exports Eat Into OPEC Market Share In Asia. The website is reporting that U.S. Asian crude oil exports are increasing. (OPEC and Russian agreed to production cuts, an apparent effort to boost prices.) According to the story:

The United States is expected to export 2.3 million [barrels per day] of crude oil in June, including 1.3 million [barrels per day] bound for Asia, according to estimates by a senior executive at a U.S. oil exporter who spoke to Reuters.

U.S. crude exports hit a record high 2.566 million [barrels per day in the second week of May, EIA [U.S. Energy Information Administration] data shows.

Comment: While the U.S. is still a net crude oil importer, it’s important to note that our crude oil exports are peaking. It says we are importing more crude oil than we need for our own energy security. In addition, according EIA data, the United States is now a net exporter of finished petroleum products (gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil, etc.) This should be sufficient reason for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to reject Enbridge Line 3, which seeks to increase Canadian crude oil imports into the United Stats. It is not needed.

Gov. Dayton Vetoes ‘Guilty by Association’ Bill that Favored Outside Corporate Interests Over MN Democracy. The Land Stewardship Project reports that Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed “a bill driven by outside corporate interests with the intent to chill dissent and curtail free speech. The ‘Guilty by Association bill would have imposed criminal and financial liability on those who attend or support a peaceful protest where critical infrastructure is damaged by a separate individual. During the announcement, Governor Dayton said he was concerned it could lead to conspiracy charges for ‘mere conversations.’”

Comment:  This is a win. Thank you, Gov. Dayton!

Canadian Government announces it will purchase Kinder Morgan Pipeline for 3.45 billion US. Indian Country Today reports that the Canadian government “will purchase the Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline — a controversial pipeline that runs from the Alberta oil sands to the country’s pacific coast — for $3.45 billion.”

Comment: This is a blow to the provincial government of British Columbia which had opposed the project. It also means there are other outlets for the Alberta Tar Sands Oil to get to market other than through northern Minnesota.

Bill Gutting Wild Rice Water Quality Standards on Dayton’s Desk: Veto Needed

Quoting from the Organic Consumers Federation email I just received:

Wild rice is just about as Minnesotan as hotdish. The state grain is also a critical food resource for Native American tribes and an important indicator of water quality.

Now, this important Minnesota food resource is under attack at the state capitol.

Gov. Dayton has just three days to stop a dangerous bill that would eliminate the existing sulfate standard that protects wild rice waters.

URGENT! Call (651-201-3400 ) and email Gov. Dayton today! Tell him to veto HF 3280 and protect Minnesota’s clean water and wild rice!

Quoting from the Grand Forks Herald March 22 article: Leech Lake band objects to sulfate standard elimination. The article quotes the Leech Lake Band’s Executive Director Robert Budreau Jr.:

To repeal legislation that ensures and maintains a level of sulfate entering our waters is illegal as well as negligent,” Budreau wrote. “Before the State considers throwing out water quality regulations in order to satisfy industry or commerce, we urge the State to honor the human rights of the Ojibwe Nations and people and treat us with respect.” …

“To repeal legislation that ensures and maintains a level of sulfate entering our waters is illegal as well as negligent,” Budreau wrote. “Before the State considers throwing out water quality regulations in order to satisfy industry or commerce, we urge the State to honor the human rights of the Ojibwe Nations and people and treat us with respect.”

As Water is Life, So Food is Medicine: Second Harvest Partners with Health Care Providers

Kristen Williamson oversees Food Rx for Second Harvest Heartland

Food is the first medicine — that’s a basic part of how indigenous peoples understand the world. The idea is being embraced by Second Harvest Heartland as it looks at the profound connections between good nutrition and healing for those with acute or chronic health conditions.

Second Harvest Heartland began its Food Rx program in 2016. It was inspired after a client review in southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin found a high prevalence of people with hypertension and diabetes. Kristen Williamson, Second Harvest’s Project Coordinator for Food Rx, said it began discussions about creating partnerships between health care providers and community organizations such as food banks to address access to nutritious food.

These issues are hitting the national spotlight. For instance, an Oct. 2 Time Magazine piece headlined: Why Paying for Nutrition Saves Money on Health Care said:

The foods we eat play a central role in our health. The epidemics of our time—obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes—are intimately tied to unhealthy patterns of eating. But eating healthy is also expensive, making it particularly challenging for the 12% of US households who have to worry whether they can afford enough food each month.

For the 41 million Americans living in these households, a common coping strategy is to purchase cheaper, less healthy foods in an effort to make their food budgets last longer. Over time, however, these unhealthy dietary patterns can have a significant impact on a person’s health. Children living in food-insecure homes suffer two to four times as many health problems and are less likely to reach their academic potential.

Example of a food box.

Second Harvest got grants to do a couple of nutrition-related pilot projects. It did one with CentraCare Family Health Center in St. Cloud. That one has wrapped up; Second Harvest is still analyzing the data. A second pilot will run through the end of the year with Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC).

Here’s how Second Harvest’s website explains the Food Rx pilot at CentraCare:

… patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease pick up chronic disease food boxes once a month at the clinic. Patients also receive a Coborn’s gift certificate for fresh produce every month. The food in the boxes varies by quarter, disease, and by cultural diet preferences. In addition, patients meet with clinic staff for chronic disease education every few months as part of the program, and receive healthy recipes every month that coincide with the ingredients in the box.

“It’s not only food access but a teaching tool,” Williamson said.

The food box for diabetes includes vegetables canned in no-salt solution, canned fruit packed in juice, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and protein such as tuna, chicken, and dried beans.

Second Harvest staff attended a Dream of Wild Health diabetes training, and it informed their thinking, Williamson said. (Dream of Wild Health’s mission is: “to restore health and well-being in the Native community by recovering knowledge of and access to healthy Indigenous foods, medicines and lifeways.” Williamson had a Dream of Wild Health cookbook in her office.)

Second Harvest has developed specialty food boxes for the Hispanic and Somali communities. For instance, because many Somalis, particularly older Somalis, only eat halal meat, the Somali boxs include protein alternatives, such as more beans and lentils.

Williamson said the initiative would like to develop a specialty Native American food box, too.

Continue reading

Four Native Leaders Receive Bush Fellowships, Including Sioux Chef Sean Sherman and New Native Theater Founder Rhiana Yazzie

The Bush Foundation just announced its 2018 Bush Fellows, and among them are: Sean Sherman, the Sioux Chef’; Rhiana Yazzie (Navajo), film maker, playwright and founder of the New Native Theater; and Nick Tilsen and Erik Bringswhite of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Tilsen is working on increasing the financial well being of his community. Bringswhite wants to improve supports for Native children. The official announcements follow.

Continue reading

From San Fransisco to New Hampshire, Communities Wrestle with Problematic Public Art

Here are  two more cases where negative images of Native Americans in historic public art have stirred citizen complaints, echoing the debates about confederate statues in the south.

The “Early Days” statue in San Fransisco will be removed. It is one five pieces of a larger monument.

Communities are facing critical questions about what values and stories they want displayed in their public spaces — and whether to hold onto some artwork simply because it’s old.

In San Fransisco, the city’s Arts Commission voted unanimously March 5 to remove a public statue titled “Early Days”. The statue “depicts a vaquero and a missionary standing over a sitting Native American,” according to an NPR story. It sends a clear message of who is on top and who is on the bottom, who has power and who does not.

“Early Days” was erected in 1894 as part of the five-piece Pioneer Monument, according to a San Fransisco city report. Pioneer Monument consists of one central monument standing 47-feet tall, surrounded by four smaller pedestal monuments.

Pioneer Monument is a testament to Manifest Destiny. One bas relief on the main monument shows “California’s Progress Under American Rule,” and one of five portrait medallions honors Father Junipero Serra who created the California mission system.

The five-piece monument was moved from its original site in the 1990s to make way for the new San Fransisco City Library. At the time, Native American community members pushed, unsuccessfully, to have the whole monument retired. They especially wanted “Early Days” removed, as it was “seen as a symbolization of the degradation and genocide of Native Americans,” the city report said.

“Early Days” now will be  “retained and preserved at an off-site storage facility,” according to the NPR story. A plaque will be installed at the site to explain its removal.

Meanwhile, in Durham, New Hampshire, home to the University of New Hampshire, an offensive Post Office painting remains. Community efforts to remove it are butting up against inflexible Post Office regulations. Continue reading