In the News: April 2019

Task Force Work Begins

Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein gave the thumbs-up after a Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women was established by House vote in May. The team has begun to meet to create a report designed to reduce the high numbers of Indigenous women who are victims of gender-based violence. [COPYRIGHT MINNESOTA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. PHOTO ANDREW VONBANK]

Minnesota History Needs Your Vote

Construction to create a revitalized Historic Fort Snelling begins soon, and the Minnesota  Historical  Society has  a public survey, open until November 15, 2019, to help decide what to call the 23-acre historic site. Take the survey at

New Book on Trauma and Healing

Through 16 personal accounts, Denise Lajimodiere’s book, “Stringing Rosaries,” shares Native experiences during the last half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, when the U.S. government placed Native children into boarding schools. All of the children, now elders, featured in the book recount instances of physical and emotional abuse in the schools.

Lajimodiere’s project was personal, she told MPR News, as her parents were traumatized in the schools, which affected her own childhood. “I want the world to know that part of why we are the way we are,” she says, “with alcoholism, diabetes, and a lot of other health issues.”

Lajimodiere says she wants the book  to  elicit  action  and understanding in readers, rather than pity. She asked  her subjects what reparations should be made, and how healing can take place. One way Lajimodiere reclaims what was stolen from her parents is by relearning the language  of traditional ceremony. “So, now, at my age, I’m trying to relearn Ojibwe. Ojibwe is the language of our ceremonies — and our ceremonies have come back very strong.”

Source: MPR News

Sovereign Sisters Gathering

At Standing Rock, activists medicated, fed, and trained one another. “Everything we needed, it came to Standing Rock,” said Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel in a Yes! Magazine article.

After the protests, Angel and other leaders felt inspired by the sovereign economy that had evolved there. In June 2019, nearly 100 Indigenous water protectors and non- Indigenous allies met for one week in the Black Hills of South Dakota to meditate on how best to divert  power away from the industrialized economy and establish a new model free of drugs, violence, alcohol, and patriarchy. The women concluded that Indigenous peoples need to reclaim knowledge of food systems, health care, and environmental resources. “We can gift our economies between each other,” Angel said. “We’re doing it right here.”

Source: Yes! Magazine

Podcast features holistic storytelling

The “Native Lights Podcast,” created by the radio network Ampers and Minnesota Native News, uses longform storytelling to offer positive media coverage of Native communities.

Melissa Townsend, producer at Native News, told MinnPost, “If you’re only telling stories  about the cancer rates in Native communities [being] the worst, the out-of-home placements are the worst, it’s like, why? Why is that? What’s the context? Who’s working to change that? We try to keep people’s attention to understand history, context, problems, and the work that’s happening to show that people aren’t ignoring that in their communities.”

The podcast, which premiered a five-episode season in July, is hosted by siblings Cole Premo and Leah Lemm, members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Each episode is focused around themes, such as parenthood, music, and addiction.

Source: MinnPost

Angela Two Stars selected at Walker Art Center

St. Paul-based artist Angela Two Stars was selected as the finalist for the Indigenous Public Art  Commission  at  the Walker Art Center. The initiative sprung from a series of commitments the Walker made with Dakota elders following the 2017 dismantling of the controversial “Scaffold” in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Two Stars was selected from 50 proposals by a committee comprised of seven Native artists, curators, writers, and knowledge keepers. Her work will function as a sculpture, gathering space, and interactive element, and will educate visitors on the Dakota people through engagement with land, water, and language.

“Language revitalization is a healing medicine for Dakota people,” says Two Stars, who has been working as a visual artist, educator, and curator for 10 years. “My story of healing has come from my language journey.”

Her work will be installed in the sculpture garden in Fall 2020 and acquired into the Walker’s permanent collection.

Source: Walker Art Center news release

Restitution in Seattle

The Duwamish tribe has resided in the region surrounding Seattle for thousands of years. The city itself was named after a Duwamish ancestor, Chief Si’ahl. Despite this, the federal government consistently rejected the tribe’s petition for recognition, denying its members benefits like social services, education programs, health assistance, and sovereignty over their own ancestral lands.

In response to the government’s refusal to support the Duwamish, members of the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites founded a grassroots program, Real Rent Duwamish, which encourages Seattleites to offer a monthly contribution to the tribe as a form of restitution. After forming in 2017, the program has gained over 2,500 renters. Funds go directly   to the Duwamish Tribal Services, a nonprofit that works to educate the public on the tribe’s history and culture.

Source: Yes! Magazine female wrestling