Practical ‘Land Back’ opportunity, understanding the Two Spirit story, and more

In this post:

  • Practical ‘Land Back’ opportunity through the Indian Land Tenure Foundation
  • Understanding the Two Spirit story
  • MPCA, DNR use law firm with ties to mining interests
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Scrutinizing whether enslavers should be honored in U.S. Capitol art, and other news

In this post:

  • U.S. Capitol artwork reviewed for connections to slavery, Confederacy
  • Hennepin County Board approves ‘Dakota Land and Water Acknowledgment Statement’
  • Social Services disproportionately terminate parental rights for Black, Native American families
  • Higher levels of heavy metals found in BIPOC communities’ drinking water
  • Winter storm hits Pine Ridge hard
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Two lakes, two streams, and a marsh take land developer to court, and other news

In this post:

  • Two lakes, two streams, and a marsh take land developer to court
  • Northern Cheyenne sues U.S. government for failing to provide adequate law enforcement service
  • Land Acknowledgement Statements are meant to be disruptive
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Ȟaȟa Wakpadaŋ and the missing stories of Native Americans living in the suburbs

I was surprised to learn that there are more Indigenous people living in suburbs in Minnesota than in urban cores.

The suburbs grew in part because of white flight from the cities. Indigenous people faced barriers to living there, such as racial covenants and redlining. There also was the practical reality of social isolation from other Native families.

But just like many non-Native people, home ownership and better educational opportunities for their children are drawing Indigenous people to the suburbs, said Dr. Kasey Keeler, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a scholar of suburban American Indian history.

Dr. Kasey Keeler.

“We live in an Indigenous landscape,” said Keeler, who grew up in Coon Rapids. “Suburbs are historically Indian places. … It is a place that we have always been and a place where we belong.”

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Moving beyond land acknowledgement statements, Sioux Chef launches first restaurant, and more

In this blog:

  • Beyond land acknowledgement statements
  • Sioux Chef to launch Owamni restaurant (virtually)
  • Short video explains the Dakota language origins of Minnesota place names
  • CNN covers the Line 3 controversy

Beyond land acknowledgement statements

File: 2019 panel organized by the Native Governance Center to discuss land acknowledgement statements. The Center is working to move the conversation forward into action.

In 2019, the Native Governance Center released an on-line guide that talked about the importance of making land acknowledgement statements, and tips for making them.

The good news is the response was overwhelming. The Center received hundreds of inquiries, more than it expected, the Center said in a recent blog post.

The bad news is not all of the message sunk in. The guide said: “If you plan to reach out to an Indigenous person or community for help, compensate them fairly.” Yet most of the groups who reached out to the Center seeking help didn’t offer to compensate it for its time.

Further, outreach to the Center focused mostly on the land acknowledgement statement and didn’t go further, into the “all-important action steps for supporting Indigenous communities.”

To help organizations think about those next steps, the Center has launched a Beyond Land Acknowledgment series, and part of that is offering regular blog posts to get people thinking.

It’s created a self assessment tool, challenging people and organizations to think about such things as cultural appropriation and how their institutions have harmed — and continue to harm — Indigenous communities.

The Center’s latest blog “Voluntary Land Taxes.” “Voluntary land taxes function similarly to paying rent or a home mortgage. … Each month (or on a set time interval), land tax participants pay an amount that goes directly to Native nations and/or organizations in their area.”

Sioux Chef to launch Owamni restaurant (virtually)

This just in from the Minneapolis Parks Foundation:

With the imminent completion of the Water Works Pavilion and surrounding park at the Central Riverfront in Minneapolis, Owamni by The Sioux Chef will take center stage. It’s the first restaurant from Sean Sherman and Dana Thompson, co-owners of The Sioux Chef, who are at the forefront of an Indigenous food movement that’s restoring authentically local, healthy, and sustainable food practices which are rooted in Indigenous cultural traditions.

Sherman and Thompson will host a one-hour virtual event on Thursday, April 29, at 7 p.m. Register here.

They will:

  • Preview Owamni and its inter-relationship with planned educational and cultural experiences at the Water Works park and pavilion;
  • Talk about the restaurant’s role in The Sioux Chef’s broader Indigenous economic development efforts through a network of Indigenous partners and their nonprofit NATIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems);
  • Share the deeply significant relationship Dakota people have with Owamni (St. Anthony Falls in English) and the surrounding area, including Thompson’s grandfather’s role in preserving Dakota place names.

Short video explains the Dakota origins of Minnesota place names

I always look forward to reading the monthly newsletter for the Lower Phalen Creek Project. It always has interesting nuggets to share and interesting upcoming events.

This month, the newsletter explains that March “is Išta Wičháyazaŋ wí, Sore Eyes moon for it is the last moon of the Dakota year when the sun shines so brightly against the snow it can blind a person.”

It also provided a link to a new four-minute video where community members can learn more about the Dakota homelands we all reside on. It explains the Dakota place names, and how the English names chosen are very similar to the Dakota words.

Partners in the project included Marlena Myles, Mona Smith, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Saint Paul Parks & Rec, the Minnesota Humanities Center, all of the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices.

There’s more great stuff in the e-newsletter. Sign up to learn more.

CNN covers the Line 3 controversy

CNN has offered the latest national coverage on efforts to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. I particularly appreciated its powerful description of the Canadian tar sands mines.

A trip to the tar sands boggles the mind with its scale. Massive, man-made pits crawl with massive dump trucks, filled with what feels like sticky cookie dough and smells like asphalt.

Tens of thousands of tons are moved into massive processing plants each day where the goop is boiled and blasted with Athabasca River water heated with natural gas. To separate the flammable bitumen from the dirt and clay, it takes six gallons of fresh water to produce one gallon of tar sands gasoline and the lakes needed to hold the resulting toxic waste are among the biggest man-made creations in history.

The sheer amount of energy required to turn sticky earth into liquid fuel not only makes Alberta tar sand more expensive, it produces 15% more planet-cooking carbon pollution, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.


Check out the whole article.

What to consider when acknowledging you are on stolen indigenous lands

Indigenous panel on Land Acknowledgement Statements held at Metro State on Indigenous Peoples Day. From left to right: Mary Lyons, Rhiana Yazzie, Kate Beane, Rose Whipple, Cantemaza.

Kate Beane, Director of Native American Initiatives for the Minnesota Historical Society, recalled sitting in her apartment a year ago, wishing she owned her own home with her husband and two little girls.

“I was so frustrated,” said Beane (Flandreau Santee Dakota and Creek). “I wanted a big garden and a dog. … I worked so hard for a doctorate. I wanted a home. We couldn’t have that.”

She recalled getting an email one day that summer from a man who owned a new condo development in Bloomington. He wanted Beane to come and give a land acknowledgement to welcome all the new condo owners.

It was a deeply hurtful email.

Land acknowledgement statements honor the land’s original indigenous inhabitants. Such statements are common practice in Australia and Canada, and have made their way to the United States. If done well, they can serve an important educational purpose. They also can do harm. In Beane’s case, she was being asked to welcome new homeowners on her family’s ancestral lands, lands where she couldn’t afford to own a home herself.

This past Indigenous Peoples Day, Beane and other Native American leaders participated in a panel discussion on the value of Land Acknowledgement Statements and what makes a good one. Continue reading