News: Bill proposed to protect communities overburdened with pollution, the Repatriation Project, and more

In this blog:

  • Hearing tomorrow (Tuesday) on Frontline Communities Protection Act before Minnesota Senate Committee
  • ProPublica’s “Repatriation Project” focuses on institutions slow to response to 1990 law requiring the return of Native American remains
  • Lac du Flambeau in standoff with neighbors over road access
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Harvard museum still trying to repatriate thousands of Indigenous remains

Harvard University’s Peabody Museum has one of the largest collections of Native American remains in the United States and is moving forward with efforts to repatriate them, along with 15 remains of “enslaved or likely to have been enslaved individuals.”

“We must begin to confront the reality of a past in which academic curiosity and opportunity overwhelmed humanity,” said Harvard President Lawrence Bacow.

Harvard’s “Steering Committee on Human Remains in University Museum Collections” issued its report this fall, explaining how it plans to move forward.

Harvard alumni and students wrote Bacow criticizing the report for what they said was its glaring failure “to recognize the unique opportunity to seek reconciliation with its Indigenous community.”

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U of M is repatriating Indigenous remains, expanding Native American tuition assistance, and more

The University of Minnesota has taken a step forward in efforts to repatriate Mimbres remains and cultural objects dug up by University professors and students as part of an archeological dig from 1928-1931.

It’s one of several actions the University has taken in response to a July, 2020 resolution from the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) “to take swift and immediate actions to address institutional racism and improve the school’s relationship with Minnesota’s 11 federally recognized tribal nations.”

MIAC is a liaison to Minnesota state government for those Tribes.

Other University actions include:

  • Expanding tuition assistance to Native American students
  • Investigating claims of abusive medical research on children from the Red Lake Nation
  • Addressing land issues with the Fond du Lac Band
  • Establishing wild rice research protocols
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Line 3 updates: More arrests and protests, and the need to support front-line, Indigenous-led resistance

In this blog:

  • 14 more arrests in Line 3 resistance, total now 40
  • Peaceful protest Tuesday, Jan. 5, in Superior, Wisc.
  • More ways to support Line 3 front line resistance
  • Upcoming Line 3 trainings: Watch the Line, Engaged Buddhism, TakeAction MN
  • After nearly a century, University of Minnesota plans to return Indian artifacts
  • Standing Rock devastated by COVID-19
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A Reason to be Hopeful: Lessons from Suzan Harjo

Suzan Harjo
Suzan Harjo

Leading Native American rights activist Suzan Harjo was at Mitchell Hamline Law School earlier this week to talk about the future of Indian Law under a Trump administration.

She spent most of her time talking about the Reagan and Bush years.Her message was, even thought those were difficult times, too, advocates were still able to get major legislative wins.

The Reagan years were particularly bad for Indian people, with Reagan trying to cut the federal Indian budget by a third, and privatize the Indian Trust money, she said. Regardless, advocates were able to get passage of the National Museum for the Native American Act (1989) and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990) (both signed by President Bush.)

Connecting the dots to today’s situation and worries about the Trump administration, she offered the following advice: “In addition to a combative strategy, have some positive goals,” she said. “You never know how powerful you are until you exercise your power.” Continue reading