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Minot City Council declares Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Minot sets day to recognize Native population

Jill Schramm/MDN Tawny Trottier Cale points out the children who accompanied her to the Minot City Council to advocate for a proclamation declaring Indigenous People’s Day Monday.

Next Monday has been declared Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Minot.

The Minot City Council approved the proclamation after hearing from Native American residents at its regular meeting Monday.

Tawny Trottier Cale, a resident at Minot Air Force Base and enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and descendent of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, said indigenous people are an important segment of Minot’s population.

Just over 3% of its population was Native in the 2010 census, which is known to have undercounted native people, she said. At the end of the 2019 school year, Minot Public Schools had enrolled more than 400 Native American or Alaskan students, making them roughly 6% of the school’s population, which is on par with the statewide percentage.

“So we do not merely exist within the boundaries of the reservation. We are an integral part of this community, our community, our Minot. We are asking the City of Minot to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, giving the well deserved appreciation and acknowledgment to the often overlooked contributions to our state by indigenous people,” Trottier Cale said.

“I know so many amazing indigenous leaders right here in our state. These are the people that I want to celebrate. These are the people who are helping and working for us to reclaim the narrative and tell our story. Will recognizing indigenous peoples they magically fix all of the historical wrongs done against our people? Of course not. But it is a step towards continuing the much needed conversation of how and why indigenous voices need to be heard, especially when it comes to creating or reframing policies that directly affect our people and our children,” she added.

Annette Mennem, Native American Center director at Minot State University and member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, noted the land that became Minot is the ancestral land of the Crow and Hidatsa. She spoke about the history of suppression experienced by native peoples but recalled how scattered people found the way back to their tribes.

“None of these government acts to kill the Indian to save the man worked because we are still here. Some of us are speaking our languages, but we’re holding our ceremonies. We’re practicing our religion. We are still indigenous, and 45% of us live in urban areas. Minot State University’s indigenous student population is 4.5%,” Mennem said. “We have the only Native American Center left in the University System. We are within 100 miles of two tribal nations. Minot still is a destination place for our Native American, North Dakota natives.”

Jorden Laducer of Minot, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain tribe, also spoke about the history of indigenous people whose lands were taken and people slaughtered.

“Despite all of that, we stand stronger than we ever have for several generations before us, able to exercise our communal and individual decision making on behalf of our people,” he said.

Columbus Day represents the old America, while Indigenous Peoples’ Day represents how the country has changed, he said.

“To have an Indigenous Day in Minot would be beautiful,” said Duane McGillis of Minot, a member of the Turtle Mountain tribe. An Indigenous Peoples’ Day would honor ancestors and elders and support efforts to pass on Native traditions, he said.

The council unanimously approved the proclamation.

“This is not the end all; this is a beginning,” council member Carrie Evans said. “There is so much work on truth and reconciliation with our indigenous communities. I think this is a wonderful and great step for our city government to take, but I also don’t want us to think we’ve checked the box and the work is done.”

The proclamation establishes the day to “celebrate the thriving cultures and positive values of the indigenous peoples of our region.” The day also is set aside to promote understanding, recognition and respect for all cultures and to support empathy, integrity, humility and good stewardship of resources. The proclamation encourages governments, companies and universities to review their policies and practices as they represent and impact indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was proposed in 1977 at a United Nations conference. About 20 years ago, South Dakota became the first state to designate the day. Last year, 14 states, the District of Columbia and a number of cities recognized some form of Indigenous Peoples’ or Native American Day.

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