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Minnesota Native News

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Minnesota Native News is a weekly radio segment covering ideas and events relevant to Minnesota’s Native American communities. Made possible by the Minnesota Art's and Cultural Heritage fund


New Initiative Empowers Parent Voices

This is Minnesota Native News, I'm Marie Rock. Coming up, the new Indigenous Parent Leadership Initiative helps empower parent voices at Red Lake and White Earth Nations. 

And it's been a year since the Clearbrook Aquifer was punctured. Calls for accountability and action were held at the site and in the Twin Cities. Here's reporter Leah Lemm with more.

Indigenous Visioning is bringing Country. Indigenous Visioning has partnered with the National Parent Leadership Institute, White Earth Nation, Red Lake Nation, and Dr. Anton Treuer to create a curriculum grounded in Indigenous and Ojibwe values. Beth Ann Dodds is the project coordinator at Indigenous Visioning, and the project manager for the Indigenous Parent Leadership Initiative.

Beth Ann Dodds:
The Initiative is a free 21 week program that integrates child development, leadership, democracy skills, and the Ojibwe culture in to a parent curriculum to help empower the parent voice. We are currently implementing in the Red Lake Nation and the White Earth Nation, and aim to start classes at the end of March.

Indigenous Visioning asked Dr. Anton Treuer to help build the curriculum?

Beth Ann Dodds:
And he said yes. And with the help of tribal elders between Red Lake and White Earth, the curriculum was born. This is really about empowering the parent voice in the tribal nations.

And the structure of the program is based on the one at the National Parent Leadership Institute, and it all starts with self reflection.

Beth Ann Dodds:
They dig deep within themselves to understand their own thoughts about the trauma that they've experienced. Those are the first 10 weeks. Second 10 weeks are about all right, now that we've discovered ourselves and we are empowering our voices, how do we navigate through the system?

And those helping the parents along in the process are a part of the communities that they're working in.

Beth Ann Dodds:
The facilitators that are guiding the participants through this initiative are from each of the tribal communities, they are not from the outside. They represent the community where the initiative is taking place.

Beth Ann Dodds has been interviewing parents for the program and she describes an example of how one particular parent could benefit.

Beth Ann Dodds:
She was quite unsure of what this could do for her, but shared the story of lack of communication skills when she approached the Tribal Council, and how her voice shook, and she cried, and she swore, and her emotions got the best of her. This Initiative can help someone like her look at her own emotions, and it can help her effectively use her voice to approach the Tribal Council and ask for help.

Information and applications can be found at

Next, it's been a year since Enbridge Energy deviated from its plans while trenching line three tar sands oil pipeline. The DNR's low risk construction permit allowed for a depth of trenching at eight to 10 feet, but Enbridge dug to a depth of 18 feet and punctured the Artesian Aquifer in Clearbrook, Minnesota. There was no notification to the DNR according to a statement from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In a statement the DNR said Enbridge's actions are clear violations of state law and also of public trust. This should never have happened and we're holding the company fully accountable.

The DNR ordered Enbridge Energy to pay $3.32 million for, "failure to follow environmental laws." On January 21st the R.I.S.E. Coalition and Indigenous Environmental Network led a ceremony at the site of last year's Clearbrook Aquifer breach. Honor The Earth and a number of organizations demonstrated outside the DNR office in St. Paul. The Indigenous and Environmental Organizations and concerned citizens called on officials to fix regulatory processes and to hold Enbridge accountable. In a statement on the website Enbridge says the company, "Takes protecting the environment seriously and is working with the DNR to resolve the situation quickly." For Minnesota Native News, I'm Leah Lemm.

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