Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Article: Michigan Sells Treaty-Protected, Pristine Public Land for Limestone Mine

A group of American Indians in Michigan have lost their bid to block a land transfer of nearly 9,000 acres to a company proposing a limestone mine—the “largest single public land deal in Michigan history,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

The attempted injunction was the last legal line of defense against the mine, which would cover as many as 13,000 acres, according to the Detroit Free Press. In the deal, which was approved in March, the state will sell 8,810 acres of “surface land or underground mineral rights” to Graymont, a Canadian mining company, for $4.53 million so it can build the limestone mine in the Upper Peninsula, the Detroit Free Press said.

The group—comprised of members of several tribes—had filed suit in Grand Rapids trying to stop the Michigan Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh from transferring land to Graymont Mining Co., based on treaty rights. The mine would be built on about 10,360 acres in the northern peninsula, the  Associated Press reported.

"The land subject to transfer is wholly within the 1836 Treaty of Washington Ceded Territory and subject to the conditions laid out in the 2007 Inland Consent Decree,” said lead plaintiff Phil Bellfy in a statement. “It would be unconstitutional for the MDNR Director to transfer those lands as we—American Indians—have Treaty rights to "the usual privileges of occupancy" on those 11,000 acres. We are asking the Court to step in and preserve our Treaty rights and enjoin Mr. Craegh from transferring that land."

Bellfy said that the land transfer is unconstitutional under treaty provisions. The Michigan Department of Resources announced on Tuesday March 10 that it would recommend Creagh approve the deal at the agency’s March 19 meeting.

Besides Bellfy, members of several area tribes are plaintiffs in the lawsuit—the Bay Mills Indian Community, 
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, 
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, 
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. They are also backed by the Sierra Club and numerous residents who oppose the project, but the prospect of jobs in the economically beleaguered town won out.

Though the tribes were unsuccessful in their bid to get an injunction against the company, the judge did refer the matter to the Court’s Magistrate to see whether or not it should be assigned to the judge who is overseeing the consent decree, Bellfy said in the group’s statement.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Article: Native-r Than You by Dana Her Many Horses

Growing up on the Rez versus out here, in this un-Indian landscape; it’s more than a paradigm shift, it’s not even close. There’s an undercurrent of competition like some kind of school yard push and shove that goes on in our social media circles that we all talk about but not as openly as we should.

If we are going to go forward in positive ways for our Nations we can’t do it fighting with each other in the backseat of the bus. It’s almost something you can’t pin down or address directly because the ground shifts so easily when you’re talking about rumors and salacious gossip. Slippery and without accountability, we see keyboard warriors accusing each other instead of lifting each other. If my Kunsi was still here I could sit and talk with her about all these things that go on and she would laugh about a lot of it. She loved to laugh and gossip too, but she would also talk about where the line is drawn or where it should be. She used to tell me the big stories were who got in trouble at the Indian School, who got pregnant on the side, who was leaving the Rez forever because they got their heart broken. She left Coeur d’Alene Rez forever with a heartbreak like that, her man was dead and she had a baby on the way to raise alone. Some hearts don’t recover, some people don’t just bounce back after that type of loss. The talk then wasn’t what it is now. Then it was Pow Wow gossip, harmless talk over coffee at the kitchen table at night because she and my Aunts always seemed to have a fresh pot going. She called it camp talk since so much of their time to catch up was at deer or fish camp. Especially among the women within our families that’s a hard-wired part of our culture; laughing sideways and Oh is it? until the Sun comes up. But what a leap we have made from that tiny kitchen packed with my Grandmother’s sisters, to the cyber bullying we see now on Twitter, Face Book, Instagram and others. It’s not about hurt feelings at this level; it’s about the black eye it gives what we are trying to do here. There is finally a momentum that I have been excited to watch building up over the last five years among our Nations; for pride in who we are and what it means to be Native at a time when the World needs a strong voice for the environment, for what is right, and for voicing what is wrong and what has to change. We have a chance to do good and to help ourselves and yet for each accomplishment there is a sustained and stinging loss of leadership in our communities because in real talk, people get tired of the constant negativity, the back-biting. When you’re dealing with social media you’re in a whole other country. We tend to take on the organizations we see as defamatory to Indian Country, and from the other side of our faces we smirk and spread gossip about those of us who are doing positive things for our People as a whole.

One of the most common attacks in social media of Natives on other Skins is the one I call “Native-r Than You”. We all know what this is, we see it played out continually on Twitter. The one-up on everything from if you grew up Rez or not, if not why not, if you speak your language or languages fluently, and how many first cousins you have, to the ultimate throw down; how much blood you have. I’ve been through this more times than I can count at this point. I have joked about printing up a genealogy flier to keep in my war pony glovebox. Makes it easier; just hand over the list of relatives, adjust the aviator shades and keep driving. No other group has a more defensive posture as a whole than we do when it comes to our past. It’s a cultural stimulus response reaction stemming from several hundred years of racial profiling, assimilation to survive, and de-assimilation to reconnect us to our roots.

Of course blood is important. There’s no doubt that who we come from gives us strength for where we find ourselves today. Our past is carried forward in our blood. But Crazy Horse isn’t on Twitter. White Buffalo Calf Woman isn’t on Face Book. Our blood and our prophets, our blood and our ceremonies, our blood and our land, our blood and our children; our blood and our unborn. Yes it matters where we came from but it should never be the thing that stakes us to the ground. It should be what gives us the fire inside to move forward as Red Nation People; not in competition with each other, but hand in hand walking forward into a future that our ancestors would be proud to see.

Original article posted to Last Real Indians.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Poem: Indian Trail in 48073

The divided up blood quantum,
Between divided up treaty territories,
Between divided up hearts,
Separated souls,
Dispersed between colonial county and state lines,

Christianity on the land,
In our governments,
Blessed the ink to sign the document,
Sign the treaty,
Sign away a culture,
A people,

As a kid I followed the remnants of this,
In a suburban town where there was an “Indian Trail,”
My Mom took me there after going to Meijer's one day,
We turned off Crooks Road in 48073,
Near the old “historic” farm houses,
Park on the side street,
And got out of the car,
We walked up the very small hill,
Between a few suburban trees,
Planted in 1964,
While the suburbs were booming and building,
Gas station and church,
Prayer and work,
Fuel and sinning,
This small spot was left for our people,
My Mom told me about this spot,
It was a small corner of a suburban lot,
There was a rock with a sign,
This was a trail of my ancestors,
On a summer day,
My Mom shares a little bit of Anishinaabe lore and legend,
We walk down that lil’ hill and back into the car,

The memory sticks with me to this day,
I thought of major roads leading out of the mega metropolis heading north to my home,
I never considered the big city of Detroit my home,
The land seemed hurt and sad,
Eager I always followed every trail I could in Southeast Michigan,
Was it an “Indian Trail,”
My peoples trail,

Then I followed that trail to the train tracks like so many of my ancestors did before,
The train tracks as a refuge,
13 year old boy-girl-tomboy-she-he-her-queer,
I knew all the viaducts,
My hands scathed the surface,
I crumble particles of paint attempting to cover graffiti from my hands,
Then hyperactively picking up and chucking a rock,
To an unknown location,
The fuse of anger,
Almost got me in trouble,
So I leap into the bushes,
Kneel down and hide,   

Like many Indian kids,
Like many Indian adults,
We ended up on a modern "Indian trail" we often called the railroad tracks,
A place to vent,
A place to connect with industrial disconnection,
A place to smoke-drink-drug,
A place to cast dreams as pennies,

When I grew up I wanted to be a train engineer,
Just like the "guy in the green hat,"
A wayfaring stranger,
An unknown,
Or was this feeling in my blood?
Because Great-Grandpa was a train engineer on the Soo Lines in the UP, 

The sunsets were beautiful,
Especially when it was time to head home,
The night birds swooping,
Bats flying about,
The train light off in the distance,
A light,
A metaphor,
To resist temptation,
To resist what so many Indian's couldn't,
To walk away and rise above,
To resist beautifully.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Article - Saami vs. Metsähallitus: The Case for Corporate Recognition of Indigenous Rights