Blood Quantum, Part I: An existential threat in Indian Country

Prior to European contact, Indigenous people were born into a Tribe and their sense of belonging was never in doubt.

Colonial assimilation policies changed that. A little discussed government tactic used to undermine Tribal identity, divide Indian peoples, and steal Native lands is the legal fiction of “blood quantum.”

Instead of traditional kinship ties of belonging to a Tribe, the government imposed a formula to determine who had enough Indian blood to qualify as a Tribal member and who did not.

Blood quantum falls in that category of things colonists made up to get what they wanted.

It’s a form of genocide.

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Federal legislation moves on Boarding School accountability, Tribal Civics Guide released, and more

In this post:

  • Federal bill pushes for Indian Boarding School accountability; testimony from survivors sought
  • Tribal Civics Guide released
  • Finding language that affirms kinship with the natural world
  • State court in India makes ‘Rights of Nature’ ruling
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News and Events: A guide to recognizing cultural appropriation, reparations updates, and more

In this blog:

  • Native Governance Center: Guide to cultural appropriation and wellness
  • Webinar: “Boarding School Healing: Mind, Body, Heart, and Spirit,” March 31
  • Watch the Line monitor training Saturday
  • One more in a long list of reasons to worry about Enbridge
  • Jesuits pledge $100 Million to atone for slave labor and sales
  • Webinar: Modern Racial Categories, American slave societies, and the integration of African religious practices into Christianity
  • Lessons From Lynchings: There’s a through-line from a noose on the neck to a knee on the neck
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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.


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Dear White People: You have treaty rights, too

Wayne Ducheneaux

Wayne L. Ducheneaux II, executive director of Native Governance Center, recalled being in a room with a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and the moderator asked: “Would everyone with treaty rights raise your hands.”

“Every Indian’s hand shot up and every non-Indian’s hand stays down,” he recalled.

It’s an icebreaker Ducheneaux now uses to open a discussion about how everyone has treaty rights, non just Indians. “It’s just that those rights are vested differently,” he said.

“For Tribal nations, treaty rights are about securing a homeland and asserting the right to self-determination.” he said. “Non Indian people have treaty rights as well. Their vesting is their ability to occupy space that Tribal nations vacated.”

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