A common love for place

Indian Country Today

Allicia Waukau-Butler and Carly Bad Heart Bull join the newscast to discuss Indigenous cultural concerns and problematic place names in the land of 10,000 lakes. Plus deputy managing editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye shares new information about the new Congress.

Joining us to talk about Minnesota's growing awareness of Native American cultural concerns are Menominee and Diné citizen Allicia Waukau-Butler, American Indian cultural liaison at Independent school district 197 and Muskogee Creek descendant Carly Bad Heart Bull, the Executive Director of Native Ways Federation.

And deputy managing editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye is on the newscast today! Jourdan will be telling us more about the new 117th United States Congress and what she learned.

Some quotes from todays show

Allicia Waukau-Butler:

"Well, it's been a long time coming. I've been working in the school district for about three years and it's been something that the American Indian parent advisory committee has always wanted. We got more of the community backing, that is the non-Native community backing in the school district area, and a recent person who's an alumni of the school, took it on and really moved forward with it." 

"I'm just really glad that it's here and it's come because I think our administration has been always in full support, but really wanted the community support as well to change the name. There's actually been a lot of parents who will, that I've worked with that live in the school district but would commute farther to take their child somewhere else because they didn't want to have their child go with that high school name, even on their diploma, or just thinking about the hurt that it's caused their family."

"Since we've been talking about it in our APAC committee, and then I think just discussions in the community and awareness that we are here in this community. We're not a zero number. And when I first started working in this school district, they said that we had 74 American Indian students, and now we're up to 148. And that's not just because they're being recognized. We've always been here, but their ethnic coding was wrong. And now with my advocacy, our American Indian families are actually getting the recognition and support through the educational system that they deserve."

Carly Bad Heart Bull: 

"That's right. It was almost five, well over five years ago, but it was an effort that took almost five years to completion where our family brought together the community. We reached out to Native and non-Native folks, and we're able to, to make this change we're able to not just change the name of Lake Calhoun, but restore the Dakota name of Bde Maka Ska."

"It's interesting because we're seeing a lot more conversations around racial justice and equity and the Bde Maka Ska name restoration. This is something a few years ago, this was before George Floyd was killed. This was an equity recommendation that was made from the public to government entities saying that this is something we want."

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye:

"Yeah, I do remember that. At first I was like thinking, wow, it's already been two years. It did feel like just yesterday. And I remember the excitement, I mean, before it was a time before masks and social distancing. So there were a lot of tribal leaders walking around and just even Native people walking around on the Hill wanting to meet Deb and Sharice.

"The halls where their offices were just full of people and people dressed in their traditional wear. And I thought that was the coolest thing to see which is people wanting to don their best dress and just talking to people and saying hi, and just visiting. It kind of felt like I felt like I was back at home. But it was also annual in the congressional halls." 

"And so I think it made it a little more comfortable and easy for people to meet Deb and just to see the chaos that was going on in the media just trying to say hi, take pictures and interview her and Sharice. It was just a time to remember. I can't believe it's been two years and now they're already sworn in again. And it's a different time. It was done on a Sunday. We weren't able to be there. So I think we're very fortunate to be there two years ago."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is the deputy managing editor for Indian Country Today based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb or email her at jbennett-begaye@indiancountrytoday.com. Bennett-Begaye’s Grey’s Anatomy obsession started while attending the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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