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New language learning method training held at Red Lake
Thursday, September 03 2015
 
Written by Michael Meuers,
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More than 30 people from the Red Lake School District, the Immersion School, and Red Lake Community attended training on a unique way to learn language on Aug. 14 at Seven Clans Casino and Event Center.

The group came together to learn more about the Accelerated Second Language Acquisition (ASLA) training with the program's creator, Dr. Neyooxet Greymorning. ASLA is a language teaching method Greymorning developed and has been sharing around the world.

With Ojibwe language revitalization high on the agenda for both the Red Lake Band and Red Lake School District, professional development of language teachers was identified by both the school district and the Ojibwe Language Revitalization Committee as a priority.

The training was for both first speakers and for those learning or second language speakers. The goal of the training was to strengthen first speakers as teachers and increase second speakers' language ability.
"Through the use of pictures and forced problem solving, the teacher guides students through a landscape of pictures placed on a wall," Middle School teacher Tami Liberty said. "Also it goes well with our art grant by using pictures as its mode of instruction."

"I am so glad to have the training," she continued. "When I used my idea of his method last year the students learned at an extremely fast pace with long lasting retention. Now that I have the training I am excited to teach using it this year."

"Greymorning likes to call people working with saving the language — language healers — he used to use language warriors," Liberty said, "I really like that concept of healing vs. warriors, I just thought that was pretty cool."

The ASLA training was sponsored by Red Lake Nation, Red Lake School District along with a grant from the Blandin Foundation's Leadership Program.

Dayton: Mille Lacs walleye woes require special session
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Tim Pugmire, MPR News,
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DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a special legislative session in August to consider an emergency financial aid package for resorts and other businesses in the Lake Mille Lacs area. But House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, says he thinks it may be too early to talk about bringing back the Legislature.

Dayton is concerned about the economic hit that the popular fishing destination will suffer if state officials close the walleye season early due to a dwindling fish population. He discussed the idea with Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, on July 28, and they agreed to the following week to begin planning.

No decisions have been made, but Dayton told reporters on July 29 that the state assistance could include zero interest loans, property tax abatements and additional tourism promotion. He said “time is of the essence” to address a potentially “catastrophic” situation.

“We need to get the loan program under way,” Dayton said. “The resorts up there need working capital so they can pay their employees and just keep open, especially if the walleye fishing has to be closed beginning next week.”

Before a special session area legislators, lawmakers who oversee natural resource issues and state commissioners should meet to talk about the problem and ways to respond, Daudt told MPR News.

“We’re very concerned about the situation. We want to make sure we do what’s right by these resorts. We don’t want to see them suffering because of this closing of the season early,” Daudt said. “But we also want to make sure we’re doing the right thing. And we want to look at all options.”

Dayton met on July 29 in St. Paul with Mille Lacs area officials and business owners. He plans to visit the area later in the week.


Appeals court upholds DNR decision to deny permit to bear researcher
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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A three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld a state agency's decision to keep researcher Lynn Rogers from putting radio collars on black bears.

But Rogers is claiming partial victory, saying the ruling allows him to once again place cameras in bear dens to broadcast the hibernating animals over the Internet.

Two years ago, the state Department of Natural Resources declined to renew Rogers' research permit to feed bears in Eagles Nest Township to gain their trust so he could observe their behavior. DNR officials argued that his work threatened public safety by making the bears comfortable around humans and teaching them that people can be a source of food.

At issue before the appeals court was whether Rogers needed a DNR permit to place tracking collars on bears. Rogers first applied for a research permit in 1999, and the DNR granted him one.

In the court's ruling, Judge John Rodenberg concluded that "feeding a bear and habituating it in order to keep it in one place while a radio collar is affixed to it" amounts to legal "possession" of the bear, which under Minnesota law requires a permit.

DNR Communications Director Chris Niskanen said the agency is "very satisfied" with the court's decision. It "confirms the agency's belief that it's the responsible agency for permitting wildlife research, and managing wildlife populations," he said.

But Rogers also praised the ruling, which stated that he does not need a DNR permit to place cameras in bear dens while they are hibernating.

"I am just thrilled that the judges saw the value of the den cams, and gave me the right to broadcast them to the world again this winter," he said.

Rogers conceded that it would be more difficult to find active bear dens without the use of radio tracking collars. But he said he already knew the locations of many dens, which bears often reuse.


Federal officials reject threatened status for wolves
Tuesday, August 04 2015
 
Written by Dan Kraker, MPR News,
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on June 30 rejected a petition to classify the gray wolf as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

In most states, wolves are listed as endangered and can only be killed for threatening a human life. But in Minnesota, where there are about 2,400 wolves, they are listed as threatened, and federal trappers can kill wolves within a half mile of a verified attack on pets or livestock.

In 2012, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections for the wolf in the Great Lakes region. But in December a judge reversed that decision.

When proposals emerged in Congress to remove wolves from endangered species protection altogether, the Humane Society of the United States asked the federal government to classify wolves everywhere as threatened.

The group called that a compromise between the more restrictive endangered listing for wolves and removing wolves from that list.

"This is something that we think you could extend throughout the country," said Ralph Henry, a Humane Society attorney. "It would alleviate a lot of the pressure that we're seeing, especially in the most populated areas like Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin."

The Fish and Wildlife Service said the petitioners didn't demonstrate that reclassifying the wolf was warranted.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR’s statewide radio network or online at www.mprnews.org.

Mille Lacs diversifies with ties that bind
Monday, July 20 2015
 
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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mille lacs band diversifies with ties that bind.jpgWhen his peers in the Native American Finance Officers Association honored Joe Nayquonabe, Jr. this spring as their Executive of the Year, attention was given to the progress the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is making in diversifying its investments and business enterprises.

Nayquonabe is Commissioner of Corporate Affairs for the Band and is chief executive officer of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures (MLCV), the Band’s business investment arm that operates like a holding company with management responsibilities.

MLCV now has more than 35 different business entities. Together with the Band’s government and earlier investments in enterprises, the Mille Lacs Band is responsible for creating more than 3,500 jobs on and off the reservation.

The two anchors of the Band’s enterprises at the reservation, Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley, have 2,648 employees while non-gaming businesses located there have 225 employees. Other businesses are scattered around neighboring communities in East-Central Minnesota, in the Twin Cities metro area and now include a hotel in Oklahoma City.

The Mille Lacs Band entered the gaming business 24 years ago. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) then listed reservation unemployment at a staggering 80 percent. The Band now assesses its unemployment rate at 14 percent, a rate derived from knowing who is still in need of a job. That is a more simple, accurate but unofficial formula than methods used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to measure unemployment for states, counties and cities.

“We are continually evaluating opportunities and looking for the next potential deal,” Nayquonabe said. No new deals are imminent, he added, “but I can share that we have our eye on a few properties throughout the country that would possibly make nice additions to our portfolio.”

Diversification was a stated goal at Mille Lacs when Band chief executive Melanie Benjamin named Nayquonabe to the commissioner’s post three years ago. With acquisitions and business expansions along the way, Mille Lacs leaders have insisted that gaming revenue is flattening out. Future economic growth must come from non-gaming enterprises.


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