Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights
Monday, June 1, 2020
|Migizi Indian Youth Center in flames in Minneapolis. Funds now being donated to rebuild.|
It is painful to lose a home. The youth we proudly serve deserve our best. We refer to children as wakanyeja, sacred ones. Our youth are wakan, sacred. This home is sacred.
Our youth primarily need two things - a positive identity based on their talents, dreams and American Indian cultural ways. The also need a sense of belonging - connections to others in a circle of support.
Migizi is that circle, an extended family of relatives who are trying to help youth be successful, contributing members of the American Indian and broader community - as students, storytellers, workers earning a living wage or better, and fiercely proud Indigenous people.
We are very, very sad today. It hurts to see hard work, dreams and spirit - yes, spirit - go up in flames. But the Migizi circle is string and we will rebuild. We will rebuild! We are grateful and moved by the outpouring of concern, love and financial support that we have seen in just a few hours.
We are working through many emotions, including disbelief and anger. We moved into this new home only last year, after raising more than $1.6 million to buy it and renovate it. But despite our sadness, we also have a deep understanding of why Minneapolis has resorted to destructive protest, in the face such overwhelming oppression faced by African Americans, American Indian peoples and others.
This is a struggle that is about much more than police brutality. Sure, that’s a huge problem. To understand this pain, you must read the statement by leaders of other Minneapolis American Indian organizations about the long history of abuse by police in our community, Our own youth face this kind of racism and discrimination nearly every day. As Minneapolis NAACP Leslie Redmond said today, “We’re all tired of being tired.”
This is about more than the police, It’s about nearly every system in Minnesota - institutional racism. Minnesota has among the worst disparities in education, health, housing, and incarcerations of any other state in the Nation. These problems go deep, as far back as the Minnesota state leaders who legalized taking the best Dakota farmland and Ojibwe timber.
But the struggle we all face today is a collective struggle, no matter your skin color. Our tribal culture is about collective well-being.
We are not an individualistic culture. We define our success in the context of the circle, how we can use our talents and resources to make the circle stronger. We lift up everyone in the circle, we share, we help, we support, we love. We are all related. Your well-being impacts my well-being.
If Minnesota would just follow these indigenous principals, then there would be no need for destructive protests. There would be no inequity, no poverty, no domination - in the collective circle.
In our Indian way, this home should feel like your home. You would see the destruction of Magizi’s home as you would the destruction of your own home. That’s how we see the world. We are all related and that’s how we will rebuild.
To support Magizi’s rebuilding efforts .https://www.facebook.com/donate/3006694379366840/
|Emily (on right) with her twin sister Imogene at Christmas.|
My Sister is Not a Number
By Loren Tapahe, Dine'
Published with permission at Censored News
I also write story this to honor my sister Emily, who passed away May 24, 2020 due to the Coronavirus at the Little Sisters of the Poor Assisted Living Center in Gallup, NM. This story is to also help others to let them know they are not alone in their grieving.