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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Indigenous Peoples Push for Permanent UN Seat and Other News and Events

Indigenous peoples are pushing to gain a permanent seat at the U..N. General Assembly, according to an article in the website Devex. It is a main focus driving this year’s U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The annual meeting started April 24 and ends May 5. According to the story:

Indigenous peoples make up just 5 percent of the world’s population — about 400 million people — yet also account for nearly 15 percent of the world’s extreme poor, and occupy some 22 percent of the Earth’s land surface. Their participation in the global development agenda is key, senior United Nations officials said this week, but indigenous communities and institutions still collectively lack the right to easily enter and participate in United Nations meetings…

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Native Rights Attorney Leventhal Dies; Water Quality Rules for Wild Rice in Flux

Larry Leventhal, a local attorney who devoted his life to defending Native American activists, including those in the American Indian Movement (AIM), has died, according to a story in the Star Tribune.

Leventhal represented AIM in some of its most famous struggles. [AIM co-founder Clyde] Bellecourt said that Leventhal was the first lawyer he called after AIM activists occupied Wounded Knee, S.D., site of an 1890 massacre, in 1973.

Meanwhile, MPR is reporting that the the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is hosting a series of public meetings “on proposed changes to a longstanding rule limiting the amount of sulfate that can be discharged into wild rice waters.”

The state has had a rule on the books since 1973 limiting the amount of sulfate that can be discharged to a specific level. But it’s rarely been enforced.

For the past several years the MPCA has worked on a new rule that proposes to replace a one-size-fits-all approach with a flexible standard that will set a separate sulfate limit for each water body where wild rice grows.

Click on the link above for the full story.



Historic District Along East Franklin Floated to Remember Important Native American Landmarks and Activism

Proposed Historic District Map included in the city’s study of historically significant properties to Native American communities. (Taken from July 7 Power Point presentation.)

Researchers hired by the City of Minneapolis have identified a potential “Historic District” on and around East Franklin Avenue that encompasses buildings significant to the city’s Native American communities.

There is only one problem. A lot of the buildings aren’t old enough yet to be considered historic. This is one of those “down the road” projects.

The window for property to be consider “historic” is typically a minimum of 50 years. The city could consider a shorter frame, 35 years. Still, that limits the properties that can be considered.

There has been a significant amount of demolition and redevelopment along the Avenue. Some of the newer developments along Franklin are Pow Wow Grounds Coffee Shop, Many Rivers East and West and the Bii Di Gain Dash Elder Housing.

The “potential historic district” emerged as part of a city-commissioned report looking at the history of Native American communities and their activism in Minneapolis. City officials and researchers presented the full draft at their final community meeting, held July 7 at All My Relation Gallery. The potential historic district map was in a Power Point presentation.

The city got a small federal grant for the research; the consulting contract came in under $25,000. The research paints a fast, broad sweep of state, national, and local Native American history. At its core, the report is going to identify key properties and places the city should consider preserving because they represent significant historic events for the city’s Native American communities, and the contributions they have made.

Here is a link to the current draft. The final version will be released in August. The final report is expected to name more than two dozen properties as potentially historically significant.

There is a last window of opportunity to send comments on the current draft. Send them soon to: Christine McDonald, Native American Community Specialist,  612-849-2386, or John Smoley  Senior Planner at the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) 612-673-2830.

Here are a few of the programs/properties that could get suggested for historic designation because of their role in Native American empowerment and history:

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Minneapolis Seeks Sites Significant to City’s Native American Communities

I-35W near Franklin Avenue: Built around 1960, the highway construction cut through a neighborhood popular among the Native American community near 4th Avenue South and East Franklin Avenue
I-35W near Franklin Avenue: Built in 1960, I-35W cut through a neighborhood popular among the Native American community near 4th Avenue South and East Franklin Avenue.

Researchers hired by the city of Minneapolis are posing this question to members of Native American communities: If there is one spot within the city limits that you could preserve from development because of its historic, spiritual or community significance, what place would that be?

Would it be connected with schools created to preserve Native languages and cultures or a Native-owned business that you loved? Would it be connected to the start of the American Indian Movement (AIM) or the Upper Midwest American Indian Center?

Here’s the background: The City of Minneapolis is wrapping up research on sacred places, important spaces, and the untold stories of the American Indian peoples who lived here prior to white settlement and who continue to live here today. One possible upshot of the research is to identify sites for possible protection against future development. Continue reading