The backstory on why Minneapolis is hell bent to expand its Public Works yard in East Phillips in violation of its racial equity commitments

Residents disrupt the Minneapolis City Council Thursday for moving ahead with a plan they say will harm East Phillips residents’ health.

Minneapolis city leaders say their controversial plan to expand the Public Works yard in East Phillips has been in the works for years, an effort to upgrade aging facilities and improve efficiencies.

Much less discussed is how the Public Works project is part of an interlocking set of city plans to build a new fire station and sell city land for private development.

The city’s plan also violates its commitments to reduce racial disparities, an issue city leaders have failed to address.

The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) strongly opposes the city’s plan, saying it would increase local air pollution and harm residents’ health.

While the city has downplayed resident health concerns, federal health agencies recently released a map ranking East Phillips in the highest tier of its Environmental Justice Index, which identifies “communities most at risk for facing the health impacts of environmental hazards.”

Here is a more complete picture of why the city is breaking its racial equity commitments. It begs the question: Just when does the city plan to start living up to those commitments?

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Minneapolis city leaders need to explain how their Roof Depot redevelopment vote meets the city’s racial justice promises

Minneapolis city leaders are once again at a fork in the road in their commitment to racial justice.

At issue are competing visions to redevelop the Roof Depot site in the East Phillips neighborhood.

Site map of city Public Works yard and the Roof Depot site. Image: City of Minneapolis.

Mayor Jacob Frey wants the city to use the Roof Depot site to expand the existing Public Works yard near Hiawatha Avenue to consolidate Public Works operations.

The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) wants to develop the site into a community-owned asset, with “an indoor urban farm, affordable housing, cultural markets, and incubators for small businesses near accessible public transit.”

Since 2017, the City of Minneapolis has made several racial justice commitments. They seem to align with EPNI’s plan much better than the city’s Public Works plan.

The City Council will vote on Roof Depot site demolition this week, the first step in expanding the Public Works yard. City councilmembers supporting the project need to explain to the public how their vote meets the city’s racial justice commitments.

It’s a matter of integrity.

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Diane Wilson interview, Enbridge Line 5 self-guided tour, and more

In this post:

  • Podcast: Author Diane Wilson speaks on the power of telling Native American stories
  • Self-guided tour shows Enbridge Line 5’s risks to Wisc.’s Bad River watershed
  • New U.S. Treasury Secretary is Native American, her signature will appear on U.S. currency
  • Settlement strengthens voting rights for Native Americans in South Dakota
  • Insurance companies force police department changes
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Bad River Band gets big court win against Enbridge and its Line 5 crude oil pipeline

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa got a significant victory Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, where a judge ruled that Enbridge Energy and its Line 5 pipeline had trespassed on Reservation lands and unjustly enriched itself since 2013.

In the 56-page ruling, Judge William Conley said the Band was entitled to financial compensation. He stopped short of granting the Band’s request that Enbridge immediately cease pipeline operations across its lands.

“[A]n immediate shutdown of the Line 5 pipeline would have widespread economic consequences,” and have significant implications “on the trade relationship between the United States and Canada,” Conley wrote.

[Update: Getting valid feedback that this isn’t a win. Here’s one comment: “This ruling seems in no way a victory for the Band, except in short-term monetary gain. Basically, Enbridge got what it wanted–the opportunity to bribe the Band (now it’s a forced bribe) to keep the pipeline operating.”]

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Lower Phalen Creek Project starts constructing the Wakáŋ Tipi Center

Big news from the Lower Phalen Creek Project (LPCP): It started construction Aug. 29 on the Wakáŋ Tipi Center in St. Paul’s Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, and it secured $3.3 million from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council to daylight the first section of Phalen Creek, just south of Lake Phalen. 

This spring, LPCP also is going to announce a name change, “to better align our name with who we have become as a Native-led environmental organization,” it said.

You can learn about the organization’s ongoing work at “Keeping Up with the Creek,” its annual fundraising event, Thursday, Sept. 15, 6 – 8 p.m. at the Minnesota History Center. 345 W Kellogg Blvd, Saint Paul. Register here.

There isn’t a charge to attend. People are asked to make voluntary donations.

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News: Historic vote on blood quantum rule, Marlene Helgemo walks on, MPD Settlement Agreement expected by Fall

In this post:

  • Minnesota Chippewa Tribe has historic vote to stop using colonial ‘blood quantum rules’ to define membership
  • Marlene Helgemo walks on
  • City of Minneapolis, MN Dept. of Human Rights, announce principles, timeframe on Settlement Agreement to address police department’s pattern of racial discrimination
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News/Events: Congregations invited to address systemic racism, land back victory, and more

In this post:

  • Congregations invited to step into the work addressing systemic racism
  • Line 5 crude oil pipeline tunnel under Great Lakes put on hold
  • Onondaga Nation gets land back
  • How a kelp farm could help restore Tribal sovereignty
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Bacon’s Rebellion and its role in creating the white race

The little-known Bacon’s Rebellion is an early link between America’s original sins: The theft of Indigenous lands and the brutal system of chattel slavery.

The rebellion took place in the Virginia Colony in 1676-77. It played an important role in the creation of the white race.

At this point in our colonial history, full-blown chattel slavery had not yet begun. Bacon’s Rebellion involved an alliance of poor Europeans and poor Africans (free, indentured servants and slaves) against the ruling class. While the rebellion ultimately failed, it was violent. Rebels burned down Jamestown, the colonial capital.

Between 300 and 500 people participated in the revolt. That got the colonial elites’ attention. They became acutely aware of the risks ahead should all these poor people unite against them again.

Their solution: Create division between poor blacks and poor whites.

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Court challenge could weaken Clean Water Act; Native Nations weigh in to keep it strong

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and 16 other Native Nations have filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that could weaken the federal Clean Water Act.

The case being contested is small in the grand scheme of things, but the precedent it could set is huge. An adverse ruling would mean “thousands of miles of streams and wetlands—many critical to the Tribes—would lose longstanding Clean Water Act protections,” the Tribes said.

In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, Sackett v. EPA, in its upcoming session.

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When generosity became a crime

The United States made many efforts to forcibly assimilate Indigenous peoples into Christian and European values, with at least one exception: Generosity. Instead of instilling the value that “It is more blessed to give than receive,” the U.S. government punished Indigenous people for acts of generosity.

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