April 13, 2013

Most citizens of our metro have no idea what or where that is…and those of us that do are either Native Americans or whites that have learned from Native Americans….

What Rochelle Olson of the STRIB calls the “convergence” of rivers, and many of us know as the confluence, is a sacred space for Minnesota’s native peoples and should be respected as thus. 

So I was pleased to see that the American Indian Community Development Corporation is one of five entities submitting a development plan for the historic Upper Post of Fort Snelling. Their dream of a Native American cultural and language school named after Bdote seems a long overdue RE-beginning.

I was also interested to then read further into the article that Archie Givens, CEO of Legacy Management & Development Corporation said he would “welcome” this school into his proposal to redevelop the entire parcel of land.  His plan currently includes an embassy for all the state’s Indian tribes, a museum, monuments, transitional housing and a historic commemoration of Scott.  As he researched the area in preparation of his plan, did he not stumble onto anything about the Native Americans that might have led him to a more inclusive proposal?

I ‘ve yet to look at details of either plan, costs, obstacles and so forth, but I admit, I did have an immediate small adverse reaction to Givens indicating he would “make room” for the Bdote School in his plan.

Hmmm, I thought…is this the tone of Olson who wrote the article; is it really an assumption that Givens could do it better and give the natives a small footprint as a consolation prize; or am I misunderstanding?  Or, is there room to collaborate that keeps the primary focus on Bdote and the Native Americans?

The other three proposals from Airspace Minnesota, Upper Mississippi Dev. LLC and Global Athletic Village together only warranted a single paragraph mention so I assume at least the STRIB found them less stellar than the other two entries.  I’m a little concerned, though, that as the article continued on a later page, the highlighted sub-heading was strictly focused on the white man’s history in Minnesota…a mere 250 years in the much longer 10,000 years of Bdote history. I think that signals at least Olson’s and the STRIB’s determination of “importance” and that is concerning.

Obviously, I have to do some digging and look at the details before I presume one way or another as I am really not well informed at this point and certainly the Dred Scott inclusion is an important part of MN history…although maybe it belongs as an addition to the already developed lower Fort Snelling.

So as I learn more, I will trust that the joint-powers recommendation (DNR, Henn Cty, MPRB, MNRRA, and MHS) for the most viable plan due at month’s end will ensure that the native people remain in the forefront.

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