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Showing posts from 2011

Freedom of speech: Louise Erdrich’s Minneapolis shop, Birchbark Books, sells great books, saves languages

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Published in Indian Country Today in 2011.  For more on topics like this, see my book,  American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle.... I confess, I love Ojibwe novelist Louise Erdrich’s Minneapolis shop, Birchbark Books, and you can, too. In fact, you can admit to anything you want there, in an honest-to-God confessional Erdrich rescued from a bar and set up in the corner of the multi-leveled bookstore. Find Birchbark Books
 in a tiny strip of stores in a leafy neighborhood, along with Kenwood Café, locally popular for its home-style soups and sandwiches, and Bockley Gallery, where exhibits often feature Native artists. Recently, the gallery showed colorful, slyly humorous paintings and prints by Jim Denomie, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe . The cozy store offers lots of spots where shoppers can enjoy a rich array of images and experiences. Kids can climb into a treehouse-like toy-filled loft, while adults curl up and read in sunny corners. If you want absolution f

Cultivating happy, healthy kids: A visit to the Cheyenne River Youth Project

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Published in the Huffington Post in 2011.  For more on topics like this, see my book,  American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle.... A s the sun blazed crimson and gold on the western horizon and shadows lengthened, the orange tractor chugged back and forth along rows of pale cornstalks. Days were getting shorter on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's South Dakota reservation, but master farmer Romey Garreau was still at work. That evening, he was putting the Cheyenne River Youth Project's garden to sleep for the winter, plowing under most of the two-acre tract after yet another productive season. Only a row of fall raspberries was still bearing -- thorny branches festooned with fat scarlet fruit.      The garden, in the tribe's capital, Eagle Butte, may have been quiet and serene, but the adjacent youth center was bustling. Teens were doing homework in the internet café, while little ones were in the gymnasium, noisily negotiating an obstacle course made of big ca

Buffalo gardeners: Standing Rock Sioux restore health, fight diabetes

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Published by Indian Country Today  and the  Huffington Post  in 2011.  For more on topics like this, see my book,  American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle.... “T hey like to be on high ground, so they can keep an eye on us,” said Mike Faith, vice-chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. We’d driven close to a small herd of buffalo cantering around the top of a rise north of the tribe’s capitol in Fort Yates, North Dakota. The rolling hills were the gold and amber of fall prairie grasses, and the early-morning sky was a brilliant blue.  Eventually, the 80 or so animals halted—the bulky bulls facing us squarely, broad foreheads slightly lowered, with the more diminutive cows milling behind them. A cool breeze ruffled their dark brown fur, which had begun to thicken for the winter.             With  Faith was Ken McLaughlin, one of the tribe’s long-time designated buffalo shooters, and at the bottom of the hill were about 40 tribal members, includ

The Adoption Era, defined: Native Americans expose a forgotten period in their history

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This article was published in Indian Country Today in 2011. It was reported with support from the George Polk Center for Investigative Reporting and appears in the anthology,  Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects.  For more on topics like this, see my book,  American Apartheid: The Native American Struggle.... “I ’m an angry Indian,” Roger St. John, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, told the First Nations Repatriation Institute’s second annual adult adoptees’ summit. The elite panel included child-welfare specialists, judges, lawyers, community activists and scholars. The most important experts, according to the organization’s founder/director, Sandra White Hawk, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, were adult adoptees—such as St. John, shown here—who related their experiences at the three-day meeting at the University of Minnesota, in St. Paul.           “I’m more than glad to tell you I’m pissed off,” continued St. John, a 49-year-old truck driver with dark hair pulled back