Events: An Evening with Anne McKeig, First MN Supreme Court Justice Who Is Native American; Red Lake Youth to Perform Super Bowl Week

Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Anne McKeig will be speaking at an event titled “A Journey for Justice,” Thursday, Feb. 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Carondelet Center Dining Room, 1890 Randolph Ave., St. Paul.

According to the announcement:

[McKeig] rose from poverty and other challenges in the tiny town of Federal Dam, near Leech Lake, to become the 94th associate justice—and the first Native American—on the state Supreme Court. A descendant of White Earth Nation, McKeig has specialized in child protection and Indian welfare issues.

The event is being hosted by: Justice Commission Native American Working Group and the Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Corondelet & Consociates.

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

Red Lake Youth Get Gigs on Super Bowl Week

The Little Bear drum group from Red Lake will be performing on Nicollet Mall, tomorrow, Jan. 28, as part of Super Bowl festivities, according to a story in the Bemidji Pioneer. A dance troupe from Red Lake Elementary will perform. “Each of the youth traveling to Minneapolis will create a lanyard that will be given to Super Bowl staff and athletes,” the story said

 

 

 

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Red Lake: Back to Square One with Enbridge Pipeline Trespass

(From Wikimedia Commons)

For many years, large corporations have run crude oil pipelines across a small piece of land owned by the Red Lake Nation, in effect trespassing on reservation property.

Red Lake and the pipelines’ current owner, Enbridge, had been in negotiations over a cash-and-land deal and reached a tentative deal in 2015. That just fell through. The Red Lake Tribal Council voted 5-3 last week to rescind the deal, according to news reports. (The 2015 deal had included an $18.5 million payment to Red Lake, but that payment was not made.)

The Tribal Council vote was the result of the tireless efforts of Red Lake member Marty Cobenais, who has opposed crude oil pipelines through the state and opposed efforts to sell tribal lands.

It’s not clear yet how Red Lake’s decision will affect Enbridge and the pipelines that cross that tract of land. (On a separate front, Enbridge is trying to push through a deal to expand and reroute one of its pipelines, Line 3, which is a whole separate controversy, and written about elsewhere on this blog.)

On Martin Luther King Day, I would like to explore a different question: How did this trespass on Red Lake land happen in the first place? It’s symbolic of how easy it has been historically (and today) to ignore and take advantage of Native rights.

Continue reading

Ojibwe Push PUC to Delay Key Line 3 Vote Until Historic Properties Review is Done

In a show of unity, five bands of  the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) nation filed a joint motion to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) seeking delay on a key vote on the Line 3 pipeline until the proper historic properties review is done.

The Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake bands filed their joint motion Jan. 2 seeking the delay until a proper historic properties review is complete.

In December, the PUC found the environmental impact statement (EIS) on Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline “inadequate” and ordered changes to the document. However, the changes it ordered were very modest. Indigenous and environmental groups see much deeper flaws in the EIS.

The Aninishinaabe legal brief says the law requires the EIS to include a thorough historical properties review, currently missing from the document. It describe the work on historical properties so far as “so inadequate that it could be used as a ‘what not to do’ example in future guidance.” It continues:

The lead state agency, the Department of Commerce … has all but ignored its obligations under state historic preservation law. The DOC has disregarded the explicit advice and direction of the State Historic Preservation Office (“SHPO”) and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (“MIAC”) The DOC has ignored the guidance of its own tribal liaison — who was hired for the express purpose of coordinating with the tribes on the Project.

The brief offers an example of why this kind of review is important.

As the Commission [PUC] knows, in 2017, the state Department of Transportation failed to conduct full historic-properties review and consult with tribal governments in the area of the Highway 23 road and bridge project in Duluth. The result was destruction of a tribal burial site. There is no substitute for full and timely historic evaluation. (page 4)

Click here for the full Legal Brief.

Red Lake Nation Asks Governor Dayton to Delay Release of EIS on Enbridge Line 3

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians (Anishinaabe) has written Governor Dayton to ask him to delay releasing the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) on Enbridge Line 3. It is scheduled to be released today.

Line 3 is a proposed tar sands crude oil pipeline from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, via Minnesotas. It would travel 337 miles across northern part of our state, crossing the Mississippi River twice and threatening wild rice areas. It would violate treaty rights that allow the Anishinaabe to hunt, fish and gather wild rice on off-reservation lands.

In an Aug. 15 letter to Dayton, the Red Lake Tribal Council said the state’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) of Line 3’s impacts to tribal resources “is clearly inadequate.” It also raises concerns about the departure of Danielle Molliver, the state’s tribal liaison for the project, who recently quit over concerns that the state was not showing a good faith effort to work with tribes.

The letter continues:

In fact, the discussion of tribal impacts in the DEIS and the mitigation that is proposed appears to have been written by Enbridge itself. …

We are also very concerned about the tight time schedule that the Public Utilities Commission and Enbridge are focused on for getting the FEIS released to the Public. The Red Lake Tribal Council believes that it is more important that the drafters of the environmental impact statement meaningfully consider the myriad of issues raised through the public comment, rather than being singularly focused on a tight self-imposed time schedule.

We are also concerned about the abrupt departure of Ms. Danielle Molliver, the Tribal Liaison with the Minnesota Department of Commerce for Tribal Nations throughout the environmental impact statement process. Ms. Molliver opened doors for the Department of Commerce, and convinced tribal people to share their true feeling about the impacts of Enbridge’s proposed project.  Her abrupt departure casts a further cloud over the environmental impact statement process.

For more background on why Molliver quit, see our earlier blog.

The letter is reproduced below. Continue reading

Water Protector Updates from Minnesota to Maine; Burial Site on Fond du Lac Disturbed; Another Public Art Controversy … And More

Update on Enbridge Line 3:

Thanks to the people who are paying attention to Enbridge Line 3, the proposed tar sands crude oil pipeline that would cross 337 miles of northern Minnesota. The line would run from Alberta, through Minnesota, into Superior Wisconsin. While Minnesota is more than seven months away from a vote, Enbridge already has started work in Canada and Wisconsin. Here are photos of the work being done in Wisconsin from Neo Gabo Benais’ Facebook page.

Enbridge Line 3 would cross the Mississippi River, twice, and threaten wild rice areas. For more, see our Enbridge Line 3 page.

Penobscot Nation Thwarted in its Attempts to Protect the Waters of the Penobscot River

Here is another example of a Native nation trying to protect its sacred waters. In this case, the Penobscot are losing. Indian Country Today lays it out in a story:  Termination or Extermination for Penobscot Indian Nation? The State of Maine Declares Jurisdiction Over Penobscot River; Federal Courts Agree. The story says:

On June 30, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that severs the Penobscot Indian Nation from the waters of the Penobscot River, a ruling that Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk Francis says is reminiscent of federal termination policy—or worse.

“The river and our relationship to it and the 200 islands [that form the reservation] are the core of our cultural identity. If our ability to protect the river is taken away, we lose a big part of who we are,” Francis told ICMN [Indian Country Media Network].

The Penobscot River has significant pollution problems already, the story said. A 2014 federal study recommended that members of the Penobscot nation limit themselves to eating one to two fish per month. That’s barely a meal. Young children and pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat river fish at all. That is a tremendous burden for nation that traditionally depends on fish for its diet, and a nation that cares deeply about the water.

More news follows. Continue reading

Broken Promises on Native Language Revitalization; Art Exhibit: Singing Our History

We do a pretty good job in this country of writing reports and making recommendations, where we fall down is implementation.

For example, on this day in history, Jan. 23, 1992, the White House was in the middle of the three-day conference on Indian Education. It issued a 57-page Executive Summary with many recommendations. Here are a few of those recommendations specific to Native languages.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that American Indian /Alaska Native students will have access to curriculum and material which provides accurate and relevant information on the language, history, and culture of the American Indian/Alaska Native. (p. 21)

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that successful Early Childhood Programs shall be affirmed by the President and Congress to include the following components ….7. Respect the use of Native American culture and language in the educational process of Indian children at an early age to enhance the level of pride and self-esteem in learning … (page 29)

Ensure the strengthening, preservation, and revival of native languages and cultures to permit students to learn their tribal language as a first or second language. (page 32)

You get the idea. Continue reading

New Student Capitol Art Project; Red Lake, Enbridge Settle Dispute; This Day in History: Landmark Policy Shift Towards Indian Self Determination

Congratulations to Anderson School art teacher Heather Alfred who just received funding from Minneapolis Public Schools to replicate Healing Minnesota Stories (HMS) student art project. The project’s goal is to teach students about the subtle and not-so-subtle cultural and historical messages in public art, particularly art in the Minnesota State Capitol. Students then are challenged to create their own Capitol art, and create artist statements about what the art means to them.

The grant will allow the school to buy good art and framing supplies and hold a public art exhibit at the end of the project. The funding also will support guest speakers. The money comes from the district’s “Achievement and Integration Award,” which aims to close the achievement gap, enhance the educational experience for students at racially identifiable schools; and create opportunities for increased interracial interaction.

Anderson will be the fourth school to participate. The other three schools — North View Junior High (Brooklyn Park), Northwoods Community School (Cook) and Oshki Ogimaag (Grand Portage) — have all also participated in HMS’s traveling art exhibit. We hope to add new art from Anderson soon.

Way to go, Heather!

Red Lake, Enbridge Settle Long-Standing Land Dispute

From the “Better Late Than Never” Department, MPR reported last week that Enbridge will pay Red Lake for 65 years of unauthorized use of tribal land.

After a nearly decade-long dispute, Enbridge will pay Red Lake Nation $18.5 million for less than half an acre of land.

Starting in 1950, Lakehead Pipeline, which is now owned by Enbridge, laid four oil pipelines through a small isolated section of Red Lake land. The tribe never gave the company permission, and was never paid for their use of the land.

Click on the link above for the full story.

This Day in History: Turning the Tide on Tribal Termination

Forty years ago, January 4, 1975, the Indian Self Determination and Education Act of 1975 was signed into law. This represented a major shift in federal policy, according to Wikipedia. It put a priority on Indian self determination and ended decades-long federal efforts to terminate tribes and erase treaty relationships and obligations.