Journey to Wellness in Indian Country

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(This episode of Journey to Wellness originally aired June 17, 2019.  Look for an updated list of links at the end of  this story.)

Canada has finished its three-year inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous woman and girls. And they're calling it genocide. Is that the right word?

 And why does Canada seem to be so much further along the road to acknowledging historical wrongs and trying to make reparation than the US?

National Archives

On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise. Forced to leave their ancestral lands in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation received assurances that their new lands in the West would be secure forever. In exchange for ceding“all their land, East of the Mississippi river,” the U. S. government agreed by treaty that “[t]he Creek country west of the Mississippi shall be solemnly guarantied to the Creek Indians.

Dr. Antony Stately

Last time, Dr Antony Stately joined us from Minneapolis to talk about the challenges of a COVID-19 pandemic in the midst of an underserved, vulnerable population.

As the CEO of the Native American Community Clinic, that's his job, made even more challenging by the riots that sprang up in the neighborhood after George Floyd's death May 25.

This week, he talks to us as a father, a member of the community, and a man who grew up in that neighborhood.

Native American Community Clinic

Around the middle of May, an article came out in Indian Country Today warning that, even though Native Americans in Minnesota have largely escaped the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, a quote - dire forecast for June  has housing, health care and homelessness advocates bracing for the worst - unquote.

Lisa Johnson

Dr. Mary Owen sees many of the people around her just going about business as usual.

She admits she doesn't know if underneath, they're as upset and angry as she is or not.

The death of George Floyd last week has brought black and brown people together to protest a shared history of systemic racism, violence and death, and it's no surprise that Indigenous leaders and community members joined the protest and march Saturday afternoon in Duluth.

©Lisa Johnson

Looking around, it's hard to know where to start.

Worries and fears about physical safety, economic safety - your kids, your parents, your job ...

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College/Facebook

Most students, parents, and teachers aren't huge fans of distance learning, but for Indigenous students and tribal colleges, it's alot more than just a nuisance.

At 4pm on Friday, March 27th, just at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and national shut-downs, the chairman of the of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe got a phone call from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

But instead of the offer of help he was expecting, he was told the Department of the Interior was taking their land out of trust.

Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

Despite the pandemic, despite the stay-at-home orders, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency wants to go ahead with a series of  "telephone town hall meetings" about the approval/disapproval of some permits for the Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Lummi Communications/Facebook

Native people in America are facing the same situation the rest of the country finds itself in - but with a few significant differences.

Testing supplies and personal protection equipment are in short supply, as they are everywhere else, but among Native people, there is a disproportionate level of infectious disease, with 1 to 3 times the mortality of the overall population.

There is a higher level of lung disease and diabetes, many Native communities lack safe water  and a quarter of the people are uninsured.

antefixus21/Flickr

Things were always pretty busy at AICHO.

The American Indian Community Housing Organization's Dabinoo'Igan Emergency Domestic Violence Shelter provides ten beds and is open 24/7, and Executive Director Michelle LeBeau says every day, they have to turn people away for lack of space.

The Permanent Supportive Housing program has 32 adults and 42 kids.

But all those adults and kids are staying put now, which means AICHO has more people consuming meals and other resources.

Steve Premo/MNHS Press

Baabiitaw Boyd believes the elders who told her that a lot of the problems Native people experience are the result of not having access to their language and cultural practices.

Tadd Johnson laughs and says he's at an age where he doesn't mind speaking truth to power.

So when he talked to University of Minnesota president Joan Gabel about the consultation the federal government was required to have with tribes, he didn't pull any punches.  Particularly, he pointed out, with the lack of a "consultation pipeline" between Minnesota's 12 federally-recognized tribes (and people) and the University system.

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