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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely to host Native American justice project

Keith Vandervort
Posted 10/7/21

ELY – A Native American justice project, “Awareness…Then Change” will launch Tuesday, Oct. 12 with a Tuesday Group presentation at the Grand Ely Lodge featuring Minnesota …

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Ely to host Native American justice project

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ELY – A Native American justice project, “Awareness…Then Change” will launch Tuesday, Oct. 12 with a Tuesday Group presentation at the Grand Ely Lodge featuring Minnesota State Sen. Mary Kunesh, co-chair of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Task Force.
Sen. Kunesh, the daughter and granddaughter of members of the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Tribe, is the first Native American woman elected to the State Senate. Her presentation, “Building Awareness for Historical Change: The MMIW Movement in Minnesota,” will focus on issues identified by the task force and plans for action to address the disproportionate incidence of violence against Native Americans.
The justice project is sponsored by the American Association of University Women-Ely Branch in collaboration with the Ely EMPOWER organization. The goals of the justice project are to increase understanding, honor the heritage of the area, and to set the stage for supporting policy and social action to reduce the risks for and support the resilience of Native American women and children.
Linda Sutton, chair of the local AAUW public policy committee said, “As a committee we realized that we have issues of inequity in our own Northeastern Minnesota region and spent the pandemic year listening to speakers from the Native American community share with us the experiences that negatively impact their communities. Our intent has been to bring awareness into our Ely community so that we can be better allies to our Native American neighbors.”
A Community Read of the book, “In the Night of Memory,” by Linda LeGarde Grover, will also begin on Oct. 12. Area residents are encouraged to read the book, then participate in one or more of the scheduled discussion events related to the book. “In the Night of Memory” is a moving story of loss and recovery in Native American communities.
A reading and book signing is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 21, from 1-3 p.m. at Piragis Northwoods Co. The author will also introduce her new book of essays titled “Gichmigami Hearts” in which she interweaves family and Ojibwe history with stories from Misaabekong (the place of the giants) on Lake Superior. Copies of the book are available at Piragis Northwoods Co. and the Ely Public Library.
A community writing workshop with Grover will be held on Monday, Nov.22, at the Ely Folk School. The workshop runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and will include a light meal. Registration for the event is through the Ely Folk School website. Grover will also provide workshops sponsored by Story Portage Foundation in several area schools.
The Community Read will wrap up with a reading and presentation at Tuesday Group on Nov. 23.
Additional local activities will be scheduled in 2022 and specific details of those will be made available in the near future. Following the first six months of activities, EMPOWER and AAUW will evaluate the project and determine next steps to promote continued awareness and action to promote equity.
The justice project features an illustration, “Survivor II,” by Shaun Chosa, an acclaimed local Native American artist. “We are so grateful to Shaun for allowing us to use his image for our project,” said Sutton. “Survivor II powerfully illustrates the impact of generations of historical trauma on our Native American friends and neighbors.”
Story Portage and The Brunfelt-Sainio Fund provided partial funding of the first two months of activities.

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