This week on Minnesota Native News, Ojibwe Tribes take a stand for wild rice and a sculpture takes shape at the Walker Art Center.
In early June, Enbridge Energy applied for a new permit to displace 5 BILLION gallons of water as it makes way for its new pipeline. Laurie Stern reports on the reaction.
The new permit says Enbridge can remove 10 times what the original permit allowed. Tribes say it was rushed through and that it’s unacceptable.
“I’m obligated and the tribal council is obligated to stand up for wild rice by tribal law,” said Alan Roy, secretary-treasure of White Earth Nation.
The tribes say pulling water as Enbridge installs new pipe threatens their mahnomen, especially in this year of heat and drought. Delegates to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Executive Council meeting last week urged tribal leadership to fight back.
“That whole water table is dropping. And it’s affecting everything because all of our waters are connected. And we are going to see such a dramatic biodiversity loss with all the plants that trees are trees. We’re losing our boreal forests because of climate change. And this is just expediting.
We’re losing our fish. Our lakes are drying up and we’re losing our rice and the tribes were not properly consulted,” said Rennee Keezer, an environmental scientist for White Earth.
Enbridge and the DNR say the water will go right back into the ground not far from where it’s removed. A DNR spokesperson says the dewatering “will not have any measurable impact on surface waters near the Line 3 construction sites.
“And so so Enbridge and the DNR are saying that the measures they’re taking, do not threaten wild rice or the lake levels. … my response and the administration’s response to her was, well, we have scientists too. And we also have sovereignty. And so we’re going to, we’re going to work our way through this. And we’re just going to keep pressing forward,” said Keezer.
A major sculpture by a Dakota artist will celebrate language, land and connection. Laurie Stern reports it will occupy an important place at the Walker sculpture garden.
The installation is called Okcyiapi and will sit in the northwest part of the sculpture garden between the street and the iconic spoon and cherry. That’s the same spot where the infamous Scaffold sculpture stood before it was taken down.
“After scaffold was dismantled, and we had many conversations over many months with Dakota elders, one of the things that the walker committed to doing was to commission a piece for the sculpture garden,” said the Walker’s executive director, Mary Ceruti,
Sculptor Angela Two Stars says it mattered to her that the selection committee was comprised of indigenous curators.
“I kind of recognized, you know, when I was selected that there was like a need for healing that my work had kind of this responsibility of healing people that had been harmed and hurt,” said Two Stars.
Two Stars is a member of the Sissteton Wahpenon Oyate. She grew up on a reservation in northeastern South Dakota and has only lived in the Twin Cities a few years. She says she’s been welcomed by Dakota elders here, who have helped her learn the Dakota language, a cause to which her grandfather was devoted.
He’d spent 15 years of his elder years working for our language program. And when he passed away, it was a big loss not only just to our family for him as an individual, but to our language community, because all that knowledge that he had, the language was like, gone,” said Two Stars.
So Okciyapi is, among other things, a tribute to her grandfather, Orson Bernard. It will have concrete arcs of concrete that form concentric circles around a water installation. The arcs will be inscribed with Dakota words and phrases. From above, it will look like a circular maze. It is also a place for children to play.
“I wanted to have people like, be like, immersed in the language, like to see it and hear it and just be in it. And I always do things that is, I always try to do things that are accessible to children, because I have children, they’re my inspiration. And also, the future of our language lies within our youth. That’s what I want to see children being able to climb on these wheel seating areas, and they’re gonna run through it and, you know, jump on it really engaging. But also for people to navigate this area like they’re on a labyrinth journey,” said Two Stars.
“We’re super excited. October will be a nice month,” said Ceruti.
Okciyapi will open Oct. 8 to the indigenous community and October 9 for the general public.
Laurie Stern reporting for Minnesota Native News
Angela Two Stars was recently a guest on Native Lights:
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