Haaland, Dept. of Interior, launch review of ‘troubled legacy’ of U.S. Indian boarding schools

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced this week she has ordered a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal Indian boarding schools, which operated for much of the 19th and 20th centuries with the primary goal of assimilating Indian children into European culture.

Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and the first Native American person to hold a cabinet level position. She has directed her staff to research historical boarding school records, with an emphasis on cemeteries or potential burial sites, and publish a report, according to a Department media release.

The Twin Cities-based Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) applauded the news.

“NABS believes this investigation will provide critical resources to address the ongoing historical trauma of Indian boarding schools,” the organization said in a media release. “Our organization has been pursuing truth, justice, and healing for boarding school survivors, descendants, and tribal communities.”

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Fond du Lac Band court victory helps all Minnesotans concerned with clean water

The PolyMet ruling forces EPA, MPCA to do their jobs

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa won a big court victory in February in its ongoing effort to stop multinational corporate giant Glencore from building the PolyMet copper mine upstream from its reservation.

The Band has significant and legitimate concerns that the PolyMet mine would worsen an already bad problem of mercury-contaminated fish and water for its community. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knew of the problem and was supposed to notify Fond du Lac so it could participate in the permitting process.

The court ruled the EPA failed to follow the law. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended PolyMet’s permit to fill or dredge a large area of wetlands for its mine. “It also means that five major permits for the $1 billion PolyMet project are now stayed or under review,” the Star Tribune wrote.

“The move spotlights the Band’s groundbreaking effort to assert Indigenous water quality standards as a ‘downstream state’ under the Clean Water Act,” it said.

The court ruling also spotlights lax environmental oversight by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the EPA.

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News and Events: Biden to nix Keystone XL, remembering the 1898 overthrow of Wilmington, N.C. by white supremacists, and more

In this blog:

  • President-elect Biden to cancel Keystone XL pipeline permit his first day in office, news reports say
  • Tribes slam Minnesota U.S. Representative for trying to derail confirmation of first Native American to lead the U.S. Dept. of the Interior
  • Remembering the 1898 white supremacist overthrow of Wilmington, N.C. city government
  • Free online screening of Dawnland, a film on Maine’s truth and reconciliation effort with Native peoples, Jan. 28
  • Direct action against Line 3 in Fond du Lac on MLK Day
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Laura Waterman Wittstock walks on at 83

Laura Waterman Wittstock, a leader in the local Indian community, a pathfinder and pathbreaker for Native American journalism, a co-founder of MIGIZI Communications, and former president of the Minneapolis Library Board, walked on at 83, according to an announcement from MIGIZI.

Laura Waterman Wittstock. Photo: KFAI

Waterman Wittstock was a mother, grandmother and wife, and a citizen of the Haudensaunee Seneca Nation, Heron Clan. She led MIGIZI for nearly three decades.

MIGIZI started in 1974 as a Native American news collective. It evolved over time. It now focuses on Native youth development. It “acts as a circle of support that nurtures the development of Native American youth in order to unleash their creativity and dreams – to benefit themselves, their families and community,” its website says. The organization “puts youth first, supporting youth-driven activities that fully engage youth in a self-directed path to holistic wellness and to success in education and employment.”

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U.S. Treaty Signers Project launched, and other news

In this blog:

  • New online resource “U.S. Treaty Signers Project” pushes back on the American myth
  • Documentary “Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code” now available through online streaming
  • Enbridge files shallow “Environmental Justice” update
  • U.N. raises human rights concerns over last summer’s arrest at anti-Trump rally at Mt. Rushmore
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Line 3 protesters jailed in Aitkin County call COVID protection inadequate, a form of ‘intimidation’

Line 3 protest near the Mississippi River in Aitken County.

Simone Senogles, Mary Breen, Priya Dalal-Whelan, and Josh Phenow were four of the 22 people arrested Monday in Aitkin County for civil disobedience against the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

The action happened where Enbridge plans to bore a tunnel under the Mississippi River for the pipeline. A lot of people think boring a tunnel under the Mississippi River is a really bad idea. The protest was on public land where Enbridge holds an easement. The site had “No Trespassing” signs posted.

Most water protectors received misdemeanor charges for trespass and unlawful assembly, seemingly minor offenses. Nonetheless, they spent the night in jail worrying about COVID exposure for themselves and their friends.

Senogles and Breen were among nine arrestees transported in a crowded van. The driver didn’t wear a mask, Breen said. The women were held in an overcrowded cell, with four sleeping on the floor. Not all jailers wore masks or wore them properly.

Senogles, a member of the Red Lake Nation and staff for the Indigenous Environmental Network, attended the action to live stream it and provide media support. She hadn’t planned on participating in the action. In the moment, she found herself wanting “to hold the line.”

“I live on the Mississippi River,” she said. “I couldn’t sit in my home, and look out on the beautiful river, if I wasn’t willing to engage in civil resistance to protect it.”

“We don’t need the oil,” she said. “It’s not serving the common good.”

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Indigenous leaders make urgent call for Water Protectors to attend Line 3 protest near Palisade, Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Site is near where Enbridge plans to drill a tunnel under the Mississippi River

This from MN350: Native leaders on the frontlines of the fight against Line 3 have issued an urgent call: come on Monday, Dec 14 at 9:30am to stand with them and stop construction that imminently threatens the Mississippi River.

Watch the powerful call-to-action video here, and read more information on what you should bring and know before you arrive, including necessary COVID-19 precautions.

Go to Palisade, MN and then head north on Great River Road — you’ll see the meetup point. Since construction began nearly two weeks ago, many people have protested legally along the route, and some have been cited for protecting the water or engaging in peaceful civil disobedience on land where Enbridge is trying to build this harmful pipeline. At the meeting spot, you’ll learn more about the options for how to participate.

Google Earth screen grab of map showing Palisade, MN
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News and events: Updates on DAPL, Keystone XL, winter gear drive for Fond du Lac children and more

In this blog:

  • Standing Rock, other Native nations, try again to shut down DAPL
  • Judge denies Native nation’s bid to halt Keystone oil pipeline work
  • Tanka Fund raising money to return buffalo to Native lands
  • Winter gear drive for Fond du Lac children
  • Students at the U. of M. Forest Resources Dept. sign-on letter to address systemic racism 
  • A look back at Native vote suppression
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MN Council of Churches to launch community process for truth telling, repair around the historic harms done to Native American, African American communities

The goal: To build a structure for racial equity in the church and the state and make repairs

The Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC’s) Board of Directors this week approved a Racial Justice Vision Statement and Rationale to begin a decade-long process to engage faith communities — and the community at large — in truth telling, education, and repair around the United State’s twin sins of slavery and Native American genocide. Continue reading