Native American Allies, Churches, and the United Nations Asked to Help Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

Native Americans and their allies are coming from across the country to support the Standing Rock Reservation’s efforts to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172 mile long pipeline that would carry crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken fields to Illinois for processing.

As tensions rise, they are asking for more help, from church people to the United Nations.

One of the key issues is that the pipeline will run under the Missouri River just one mile from Standing Rock Reservation’s drinking water intake. The pipeline threatens their drinking water and also will run through sacred sites, opponents say. (The reservation straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border towards the west.)

Several thousand people are estimated to have joined the growing protest at Standing Rock, called the “Camp of the Sacred Stones.” The gathering has triggered a strong reaction by the state. According to the Bismarck Tribune, in a story headlined: “State pulls relief resources from swelling Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp,”

North Dakota’s homeland security director ordered the removal of state-owned trailers and water tanks from the Dakota Access Pipeline protest campsite Monday, citing mounting reports of unlawful activity …

… the loss of their main drinking water supply came as a blow and sent local officials scrambling to find an alternative water source.

Those organizing the protests maintain they are peaceful.

The Indigenous Environmental Network has appealed for national and international human rights observers and church leaders to come and witness. Continue reading

Whitesboro Village Seal Revisited; Petition to Repeal Native Land Giveaway

We wrote a post last year about the bizarre Village Seal of the Village of Whitesboro, New York. It’s supposed to represent a friendly wrestling match between and early settler and an Oneida Indian chief, but to anyone without the history (and that’s most everybody) it looks like the Indian is getting choked to death.

It has been a contentious symbol. Among other places, the Village Seal the “choking” imagery appears on the side of police cars.The village mayor defends the Seal as an important part of the village’s history, and others, like Cliff Matias, director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council in Brooklyn, see it as nothing but racist.

A recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine brings the story up to date, reporting on a village vote on the Seal.  Continue reading

Petition Update and Community Events about Reinventing Thanksgiving, Remembering Medicine Bottle, Renaming Lake Calhoun, and more

Petition Update: We just surpassed 400 signatures. (Yay!) We also have gotten some press. The Southwest Journal just ran an opinion piece State Capitol renovation a rare opportunity to update art. (We previously reported on the article that ran in The Circle newspaper, Art glorifying the conquest of Indians needs to leave state capitol, Please keep circulating the petition among your networks: Make the Minnesota Capitol more welcoming: Remove offensive art, add inspiring art.

Interfaith dialogue: How t0 observe the Thanksgiving holiday in light of colonial and Native American history

The Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul
 is hosting this interfaith dialogue on Thursday, November 12, from 12 – 1:45 p.m., at 1671 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul (View Map)

A panel of a Native American leader, Jim Bear Jacobs (Mohican, Convener of Healing Minnesota Stories and pastoral associate at Church of All Nations); a rabbi, Amy Eilberg (author, interfaith leader, adjunct professor at United Theological Seminary); an imam Samir Saikali, (Islamic Institute of MN); and a Christian pastor (Joy Caires, St. Clements Episcopal) will explore how Thanksgiving might be observed well in our community. As we approach the national holiday of Thanksgiving once again, interest has been expressed in the possibility of a future community-wide Thanksgiving observance, a time when people of various religious/spiritual traditions and none might come together and give expression to gratitude. Click here for more information.

First Universalist of Minneapolis hosts community conversation on Bde/Mde Maka Ska (aka Lake Calhoun)

The First Universalist Church of Minneapolis will hold a community conversation Thursday, December 3, about the renaming of Lake Calhoun back to its original name: Bde/Mde Maka Ska. It will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the 3400 Dupont Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Here is the official announcement:

Please join us on December 3 as we welcome the broader community to a practical and generative community conversation about Bde/Mde Maka Ska (currently called Lake Calhoun), with the theme “Water Wisdom: Carrying Us Into a Bold Future of Deep Restoration.” It will be an evening in which to envision bold possibilities that transcend the boundaries of the past, to call a powerful future into the present and to advance a more vital, valuable, and vibrant future. Food provided. All are welcome.

An initial community conversation about Bde/Mde Maka Ska was held at First Universalist on October 7. MNNativeNews did a story about it, which you can listen to at this link.

Reminder: Medicine Bottle Memorial this Wednesday

Many people know about the 38 Dakota men hung at Mankato, Dec. 26, 1862, following the Dakota-U.S. War, the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Less well known are the two Dakota men — Medicine Bottle and Shakopee (aka Little Six) — who were hung at Fort Snelling nearly three years later for their participation in the war. They had fled to Canada but were kidnapped and handed over to U.S. authorities.

Filmmaker Sheldon Wolfchild, Medicine Bottle’s grandson, plans to hold a memorial for Medicine Bottle on the 150th anniversary of the hanging on Wednesday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held at Fort Snelling, near the car turnaround (where the hanging took place). (Note: Go to the Fort itself, not the visitor’s center area where the concentration camp remembrances are held.)

In addition, Wolfchild will hold film screenings and lecture at the Fort Snelling Theater Tuesday, Nov. 10), noon – 4 p.m. He will show both his recently released documentary: Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code and a shorter documentary on the Mdewakanton Dakota creation story. Wolfchild will lecture on “Where did the bodies go?” reflections on his efforts to find Medicine Bottles remains. Research shows that the bodies of both Medicine Bottle and Shakopee were quickly unearthed and removed for medical research.

Minneapolis American Indian Center Breakfast Fundraiser

We get a lot of emails about fundraisers and because of time and space don’t print most of them. But I am a complete sucker for breakfast. Just got this “Give to the Max” pitch from the Minneapolis American Indian Center: Pancake, sausage, and coffee breakfast for $6, Thursday, Nov. 12, from 9-11 a.m., 1530 East Franklin Avenue.

Rise in Injured Eagles a Mystery

The “Dakota Experience” event held last month at Grace Lutheran in Apple Valley was a huge success, and one of the big draws was an eagle brought out by the raptor center. It was a great opportunity for several Native speakers present to talk about the importance of eagles in Native spirituality. With that in mind, here is a recent article from Minnesota Public Radio: Influx of injured eagles puzzles, stresses Raptor Center.

The Raptor Center in St. Paul is overloaded with convalescing bald eagles, and more are likely on the way. Officials at the University of Minnesota center say the rising toll on eagles is a troubling and expensive mystery.

Click on the link above for more.

Capitol Art Petition Update and News Wrap

Healing Minnesota Stories’ petition “Make the Minnesota State Capitol more welcoming: Remove offensive art, add inspiring art” continues to gain support. We are approaching 300 signatures and have our first institutional co-sponsor, World Without Genocide. Thanks to everyone who signed. If you haven’t signed, please click on the link above and consider sharing with your networks. Thank you!

News Wrap: New Book Recounts Red Lake History, Seattle passes Boarding School Resolution; and More



On-Line Petition Launched to Make MN Capitol Art More Welcoming; News Wrap

Healing Minnesota Stories has launched an on-line petition to state leaders with the self-explanatory title: Make the Minnesota State Capitol More Welcoming: Remove Offensive Art, Add Inspiring Art.

Please read the petition and, as you are moved, sign it and circulate it to your friends and networks.

The issue is coming to a head. As many of you know, the Minnesota State Capitol is undergoing a major renovation and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for change. The Minnesota State Capitol Preservation Commission, a major decision-maker in this process, appointed an Art Subcommittee, charging it with making recommendations about current and future art. The issue has pretty much flown under the radar, but the Art Subcommittee’s Monday hearing drew a few reporters, including Channel 11, which filed this account: Panel Ponders Depictions of Dakota People at Capitol.

The Art Subcommittee will soon announce a series of statewide public hearings. These hearings will be the best opportunity for Native voices and other members of the public to be heard. Hearings are expected in Duluth, Bemidji, Mankato, Rochester and several in the metro areas. At the request of Rep. Dean Urdahl, another hearing could be added to west central Minnesota. These hearings could start as early as late October. We will publicize the details when they are made available.

The Art Subcommittee is expected to make preliminary recommendations in January. It’s final report will go to the full Capitol Preservation Commission.

For more information:

Fort Snelling Revamp: How Will the Impact on Native American History Be Told?

In a parallel story, Minnesota Public Radio reported this week that Fort Snelling will get a makeover in anticipation of its 200-year anniversary. (The project depends on state bonding support that will be sought during the upcoming legislative session.) Similar to the capitol renovation, the Fort Snelling project creates an opportunity to expand the traditional narrative.

MPR notes that Fort Snelling’s 1820 opening “marks the acceleration of Native American displacement and is known among the Dakota as the place where many Native Americans were imprisoned and later removed from their homes following the US-Dakota War of 1862.” It also the place where Dred Scott lived his case for freedom from slavery went to the Supreme Court in 1857.

The Fort Snelling renovation is another project to watch to see how some of the most troubling chapters of Minnesota history will be told.