News: MN gets federal office for MMIW cold cases; ski resort changes name derogatory to Native women, and more

In this blog:

  • Feds to open seven cold case units to investigate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, including one in Minnesota
  • California ski resort says it will changes its name, which was derogatory to Native women
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe declares state of emergency in response to suicides
  • RNC passes resolution backing Columbus Day
  • From the files of “Really crazy things federal law enforcement does”

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White supremacists stoke fears, escalate conflicts, spark vigilante action

Part I in a series

Source: Google map.

In the small northern Minnesota town of Bemidji, population 15,404, concerns spread among civic leaders in late May that violent activists from outside the area were coming to burn their city.

This was just days after George Floyd’s brutal murder at the hands of Minneapolis Police. Protests and uprisings were happening in large urban areas across the country.

Beltrami County Sheriff Ernie Beitel said that his office had received information that buses “filled with protestors were headed to Bemidji,” according to the Duluth News Tribune, “… extremist organizations planned to infiltrate the peaceful protests … including starting fires.”

Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht imposed evening curfews for the weekend of May 30 and 31.

Bemidji had good reason to worry — not about phantom arsonists but white supremacists escalating fear and tension. Continue reading

If I got to ask a question at the presidential debates …

If I got to ask one question at a presidential debate, it would be this: Christian teachings have long identified greed as one of the seven deadly sins. Do you think greed is a sin, and, if so, how do you define it and how would your policies address it, particularly the racial wealth gap?

(OK, I know, that’s more than one question. But if you only get one shot, you have to wrap in several follow-up questions.)

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What happens when you mix U.S. Senate politics, Enbridge Line 3, the coronavirus, and the state mask mandate?

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis held an Enbridge Line 3 Town Hall meeting today in Bemidji; in spite of the statewide mask mandate for indoor gatherings, almost none of the 50 people in attendance wore masks, according to a report by Lakeland PBS. The event was held at the DoubleTree Hotel Conference Room.

Nancy Beaulieu, an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, attended the event and tried unsuccessfully to get either the hotel staff or Bemidji police to enforce the mask mandate. Beaulieu also is the northern Minnesota organizer for MN350 and works to stop the Line 3 pipeline. (Full disclosure: The blog’s author is a colleague of Beaulieu’s, Facebook friends, and we have worked together on Stop Line 3 efforts.)

Beaulieu’s efforts to get the mask mandate enforced shows just how empty the mandate is, at least in Bemidji.

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News: AIM has new leadership; U.S. tries to force Indian schools to reopen during coronavirus, and more

In this blog:

  • American Indian Movement (AIM) has new leadership
  • U.S. Bureau of Indian Education tries to force Indian schools to reopen, despite coronavirus concerns
  • Indian Country’s take on Kamala Harris
  • California Tribe sues Trump administration, saying border wall would desecrate traditional burial site

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Learning and action opportunities: Anti-Racism Dialogue Circles; Poor People’s Campaign

Passing along a couple of learning opportunities.

  • ASDIC Circle this fall, providing anti-racism dialogue and personal transformation. It will meet virtually once a week for ten weeks, starting the week of Sept. 14 and running to the week of Nov. 23.
  • Update on the work of the Poor People’s Campaign in Minnesota, Aug 27.

Details below. Continue reading

Thank you Governor Walz! State refiles Line 3 pipeline appeal

Groups opposed to the Line 3 tar sands pipeline filed appeals today to overturn Enbridge Line 3’s permits at the Minnesota Court of Appeals .
Gov. Tim Walz

In terrific news for those opposing the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, the Minnesota Department of Commerce late today announced it would refile its appeal to stop the project. (Thanks to MPR’s Dan Kraker for the tweet.) The case now heads to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Walz administration faced a Wednesday deadline to file its appeal. The Governor hadn’t indicated which way he was leaning. The pressure was on.

Earlier today, Indigenous Nations and environmental groups filed a joint appeal to reject Line 3’s permits. Group representatives called on Walz to renew the state’s appeal at a press conference outside the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

“Yet again, the PUC has refused to acknowledge the reality that Line 3 would pose untenable costs to Minnesota, all to deliver tar sands oil we don’t need,” Sierra Club North Star Chapter Director Margaret Levin said in a media release. “Their bad decision — ignoring state’s agencies’ recommendations, and based on a faulty process — would be devastating for Minnesota’s clean water and communities. The Court must reject the PUC’s decision once and for all.”

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PUC commits to consult and engage with Native Nations

Honor the Earth’s Winona LaDuke has been on outspoken critic of the PUC.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the first time has established an official policy on Tribal Engagement and Consultation.

In it, the Commission commits to annual consultations with each Native Nation and establishing a formal process to consult with Native Nations throughout the year when specific issues emerge. Continue reading

The moral issues behind building an oil pipeline

File: Religious leaders walked to the Capitol to deliver a letter opposing Line 3 on moral grounds to Gov. Dayton’s office in 2018.

A front group supporting the construction of Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline is tying itself in knots around the issue of whether or not building a new crude oil pipeline is a moral issue.

Answer: It is.

Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light recently posted on Facebook: “We have a moral responsibility to protect water and climate for future generations, and therefore we must #StopLine3.”

It apparently got under Minnesotans for Line 3’s skin. It responded: “Trying to attach morality to supporting Line 3 ignores … key facts.”

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Native American organizations “alarmed” by decision to end U.S. Census count early

The Trump administration has done a lot to undermine our core democratic institutions and values. Trump has politicized the U.S. Justice Department. He’s undermined citizen confidence in our voting system and the free press. He’s used his office for personal gain. He’s doled out pardons as political favors. And now he’s messing with the U.S. Census.

His administration is shutting down the Census one month early, a decision that will lead to undercounts of black, Indigenous and other people of color. It will have significant consequences, from Congressional representation to school funding. Continue reading