Ojibwe Tribes Join Forces to Demand Full Cultural Resources Survey

madeline sunset

January 4, 2018 – On Tuesday, the 5 Ojibwe bands intervening in Minnesota’s Line 3 case joined forces on an assertive legal action for the first time in this 4+ year battle.  They filed an appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) recent decision to exclude the cultural resources survey from the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Their legal brief meticulously documents the State’s consistent disregard for tribal rights and tribal concerns throughout this process, and profound failure to assess impacts to historic and cultural properties and treaty-protected resources.  The tribes asked the PUC to halt the process until a full survey of cultural resources is completed for the entire corridor and all alternative routes, with that data included in the EIS so that it can inform the PUC’s permit decisions.

“The state’s historic properties work on the Line 3 Replacement project to date has been so inadequate that it could be used as a ‘what not to do’ example in future guidance.”

– Joint Tribal Petition (Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, Red Lake, and White Earth Bands of Chippewa), 1/2/18

In early December, the PUC declared the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Line 3 “inadequate” and asked the Department of Commerce to put some bandaids on it.  One of those bandaids is a single sentence stating that if permits are granted, construction cannot begin until an ongoing survey of tribal cultural resources along a portion of the proposed route is complete.  The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (FDL), with support from all the other tribal, environmental, and landowner intervenors, argued assertively that the EIS should not be finalized until the survey is complete and the data analyzed and included in the EIS.  They also cautioned the State of Minnesota, with great passion, against repeating the profound cultural disrespect shown in the MN Department of Transportation’s archaeological debacle on the Fond du Lac Reservation last summer.

But the PUC decided that the survey data does not need to be included in the EIS, or even included in the public record before the PUC makes its decision about Line 3 permits!  They simply want it complete before construction begins.  This means they think the existence and locations of cultural resources are irrelevant to their decisions about whether or not to permit the pipeline, or which route to choose.  The tribes are asking the PUC to show some respect, acknowledge the importance of our sacred places, and follow the law.

Read the full article from Stop Line 3/Honor the Earth.

Sacred Ojibwa Bark Scrolls Returning After 70 Years

torn-birch-bark-terrace-view

In the 1930s, an American anthropologist named Irving Hallowell journeyed north to Canada to live among the Ojibwa and study their culture. He left with a wealth of knowledge – and something else. He took a bundle of sacred scrolls, made out of birch bark, and central to the performance of ancient religious ceremonies of the tribe.

The scrolls were never forgotten by those whose ancestors used them. Some elders in the tribe remember the old ways of doing things. Elder Donald Bird still uses the sweat lodge behind his house. There were other rituals, like the drum and the shaking tent, used to conjure the souls of the living and the dead.

Read this archived article from CBCNews.

*****

Traditional knowledge and its tangible representations has been scattered, banned, appropriated, diluted, sold, and destroyed, ever since coercive colonial forces have arrived in indigenous homelands. The principles and understandings of spirit signified by these materials persist, however, in the landscapes which generated them and in the heartss of the survivors who hold them. They are the same. They are still here. They can still be known by those who seek to restore the connection and the relationship. All is not lost… all is still here to be found.

From John Trudell’s “Crazy Horse”:

The Wild Age, the Glory Days live
Crazy Horse, We hear what you say
One Earth, One Mother
One does not sell the Earth the People walk upon
We are the Land…

Of Fish and Families

great bend vernon vt winter 2015

The phrase “…a recognition that power, history and culture matter” is at the core of the schism of awareness between traditional and modern cultures. Over and over again, separation wields its cold, soul-less blade; only with a warm, healing touch – one person at a time – can life be encouraged and health restored. Kchi wliwni, great thanks, to Carol for sharing this story. Full post here.

“The problem with policies and programs developed to serve general populations is that they are too often decontextualized and ahistorical. They fail to incorporate a recognition that power, history and culture matter. The external forces tribes deal with make innovation challenging: unequal power relationships between tribes and federal policy makers and funders; the imposition of Euro-American values and ideologies; Federal laws that limit tribal sovereignty (e.g., Public Law 280 and the Adoption and Safe Families Act); Euro-American institutions, organizational structures, and practice approaches; and legacies of colonial oppression. The reality we all face is more than responding to urgent contemporary issues. Many of the challenges tribal people experience now have roots in historical legacies of unresolved trauma.”

Carol A. Hand, mother, educator, writer, advocate, and passionate worker for healing and transformation, is an enrolled member of the Sokaogon Ojibwe Community, one of the 6 bands of Ojibwe people located in what is now the state of Wisconsin. Carol shares her thoughts and experiences in her blog Voices From the Margins; her intention for creating this blog is to encourage dialogue about possibilities and support for alternate ways of communicating that celebrate the inclusiveness of diversity.