Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

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Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two articles in the same daily newspaper about the same events helping to understand institutionalized racism

Minnesota Public Radio has refused to cover the growing movement about the lack of an affirmative action policy surrounding the planning, construction, staffing and maintenance of the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

Talk about your "worlds of differences;" two articles, same day, same mainstream daily newspaper.

Both are excellent newspaper articles. 

Alan L. Maki


Published April 21 2010

Paquin, Beaulieu host forum on American Indian issues

Gregory Paquin and Nicole Beaulieu are trying to pave the way for more American Indians to run for public office.

By: Laurie Swenson, Bemidji Pioneer

Gregory Paquin and Nicole Beaulieu are trying to pave the way for more American Indians to run for public office.

“The next young people need to know what we’re up against,” said Paquin, who is running for the District 4 Senate seat held by Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji. Beaulieu is seeking the state 4A House seat held by John Persell, DFL-Bemidji. Both live in Bemidji.

Paquin and Beaulieu hosted a dinner and forum to discuss American Indian issues Tuesday night at the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University. About 40 people attended the event, which opened with a pipe ceremony led by Frank Dickenson, a spiritual adviser from Ponemah, and a drum song, and closed with a round dance.

“What we are facing is a mountain – an absolute mountain – of institutional racism,” Paquin said. “I’m not saying the white man is bad per se, but he believes he made something of the land we couldn’t.”

“If you can’t see that, I feel sorry for you,” Beaulieu said of institutional racism.

People complain about minorities using the “race card,” but “what else do you call it?” she said. “They want to exclude us from jobs, shopping — I get my cart checked every time at Walmart.”

Persell is a great environmentalist, Beaulieu said. “But what about poverty? What about alcoholism? What about all the uneducated people?”

American Indians do a lot for their country, but do not get recognized, Beaulieu said. “Those Indians need jobs too. Why don’t we enforce affirmative action more?”

American Indians should think beyond moving up in jobs at the casinos, she said.

“We can be doctors, we can be teachers — we can have those kinds of jobs,” Beaulieu said. “We can build homes. We can built Bemidji Regional Event Centers. We can do all of that. It’s not going to be easy, though.”

“These two young people who are running, they’ve got an uphill battle,” Dickenson said.
Paquin said he decided to run for office after years of waiting for someone else.

“I’ve looked away from this too long. I’ve hid from myself,” he said. “Nicole and me, we’ve got a sociopolitical fight. We’re facing the whole entire world. Even our own people do not support us. They don’t understand why we’re running for the Legislature.”

Beaulieu initially turned down Paquin’s suggestion to run for office, but a month later, in the beginning of March, she changed her mind.

“I put as much time as I could into getting up to date with these issues,” she said, adding that she’s also learning a lot about herself.

“Everyone has a different story,” Beaulieu said. “This is more of a spiritual journey for me.”
Paquin and Beaulieu discussed the 7th Congressional District Convention held earlier this month where they attempted to nominate Curtis Buckanaga (Beaulieu’s fiancĂ© and her campaign manager) to run against U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th District, but they said the floor was closed before they could do so.

“They nominated Collin Peterson and grabbed the mike. Then they closed the floor to any further nominations,” Paquin said.

“You’re not going to beat Collin Peterson,” he said. “But you need to raise the issues.”

“We need people in government that talk about real ideas and real solutions,” Paquin said. “There’s too much suffering, too much pain – not just Indian people, it’s all of us.”

Paquin said he and Beaulieu have to make a choice, whether to run against Olson and Persell in the primary election, or to run as independents, which would require they each receive 500 signatures between May 18 and June 1 to be submitted to the secretary of state.

A possibility also exists of forming a Native American political party, he said.

“We feel this is something that is very important. If we don’t have that base to go on, every Native American candidate will face that uphill battle.”

The Minnesota DFL Convention will be held this weekend. Both candidates will attend as delegates.
“We will talk to all the governor candidates,” Paquin said. “We will not sweep our issues under the rug. I will not let that happen.”

Public comments

“We can be powerful,” Bill Brown of the White Earth Reservation said during a question-and-answer period. “We can get our people to unite.”

He told the two candidates that if they get into office, they have to be able to work with their constituents in order to bring about change.

Several people said American Indians need to speak up when they believe they are being treated differently because of their race.

“I think our businesses, schools, hospitals, they need cultural sensitivity training,” Beaulieu said.

Dusty Stensland of Cass Lake, a college student majoring in sociology and minoring in Indian studies, said people have to work together across divisions and pointing fingers doesn’t help.

He said he has been mistreated from both sides.

“I’ve been called white boy and Indian lover,” said Stensland, who has relatives who are enrolled with the Leech Lake Reservation but is mostly white himself .

Paul Peterson, a white man, moved to Bemidji in 1996 with his dark-skinned son, whose mother is Hispanic.

“It was the first time for me experiencing racism,” he said. “I think the community perceived my son as Native American. … My son and I were received better by the native community than the white community.”

Peterson said he thinks polarization can be overcome.

“We’re all people,” he said. “Everybody’s got kids. They all want the best for them.”


Published April 21 2010

Lehmann, Myers square off in GOP 4A forum

After a 90-minute Republican House 4A forum, one thing became clear — David Myers is a far-right conservative while Richard Lehmann is a moderate conservative.

By: Brad Swenson, Bemidji Pioneer Press

After a 90-minute Republican House 4A forum, one thing became clear — David Myers is a far-right conservative while Richard Lehmann is a moderate conservative.

House 4A Republicans need a conservative choice in the race to defeat freshman Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, said Myers, pastor of Ridgewood Baptist Church in Bemidji. “I’m running because the politicians of both parties … have sold us down the river and we need to stand up, and we need to take action.”

It’s time, he said, “because we are at war. Our way of life is being hijacked and you need a representative who will fight. You don’t need another so-called conservative who’s going to work across the aisles just maintain the same-old, same-old business as usual politics.”

But compromise is the way of politics, said Lehmann, Bemidji’s mayor for the last 10 years. It’s how he’s got things done on the City Council and in lobbying at St. Paul.

“I think it’s very important that you work across the aisles,” said Lehmann, who described himself as appealing most to conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. “What is happening is we’re not getting things done. We’re not getting things done because there’s a party that’s not listening. When I go down there, I’m going to listen and I’m also going to work.

“You have to work to bring consensus to get things done,” Lehmann added. “Whether you like consensus-building or not, that’s what I had to do as mayor.”

The forum was held at Beltrami Electric’s meeting room, with about 30 partisans, many of them delegates who will endorse one or the other candidate.

The two candidates disagreed little on major conservative issues. They both agreed that they were anti-abortion, anti-gun control and defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Lehmann, however, said his priority if elected would be to find jobs for Minnesotans, especially in helping small businesses grow, while Myers key priority is to repeal “Obamacare,” the recently passed federal health care reform package. He said 37 states have joined in opposing the package, saying the federal government, under the 10th Amendment, can’t foist health care onto the states.

Lehmann said he would abide by the endorsement of delegates, tentatively set for May 8, while Myers, who ran in 2005 against then-Rep. Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, said he would not abide by the endorsement and would either challenge Lehmann in the Aug. 10 primary or file as an independent.

“It’s just too darn important right now” to send a true conservative to St. Paul, Myers said. Persell is “too far to the left” to represent the community.

The two differed on how to approach a traditionally Democratic arena, the local American Indian reservations to woo votes.

“I don’t know if it’s possible,” said Myers. “We’re talking such an entitlement mentality on those reservations that I don’t think they’re going to support someone that says I believe we need to cut those entitlements. I’d do my best, I’d go to their powwows when they have them … but are they going to support me in the end? I don’t think they’re going to support any Republican in the end. You do your best, but you have to be realistic.”

Later, Myers said he wouldn’t necessarily “write off” the Leech Lake Reservation vote, but not many resources would be targeted there. “We need strategy to allow us to win without those reservations.”

Lehmann said he’d work with the American Indian population to site jobs on the reservation.

“There’s a certain amount of pride that comes with employment,” he said. “That’s were you focus your energies, to help those people get jobs.”

There isn’t much pride on the reservation, which suffers from chronic unemployment, Lehmann said. “They want jobs just like anyone else wants jobs. We need to encourage job growth there. We get them to work, and away from entitlement programs.”

Helping to instill pride and ownership comes with having a job, he said. “The important thing is work with them, understand their needs, but not make any promises that propagate what we stereotypically see as a problem with them — we need to work with them to work out of what we view as being issues there.”

Non one, Indian or non-Indian, should become reliant on government, he alluded.

The two also split on a city issue, which they both said would become a campaign issue. An audience member asked how the mayor could support a “boondoggle” in the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

“The event center in Bemidji is going to spur the next era of economic growth in our community,” said Lehmann, a strong event center supporter. “There are people who disagree with that, and that’s fine. That’s basic democracy … But I look at the work we did in St. Paul and that garnered support from the governor, the speaker of the House at the time, Steve Sviggum, from Democrats Frank Moe and (Republican) Carrie Ruud …”

The event center will be a campaign issue, he said, “but if it doesn’t spur economic growth, and I very personally believe it will, I will be very surprised as there’s nothing within 100 miles that has the same thing.”

Myers said the event center “absolutely” will be a campaign issue, calling the facility “a white albatross that’s going to be hanging around our necks.”

He referred to a 2006 vote which passed by less than 50 votes to allow the city’s half-cent sales tax to go to paying off event center construction bonds as being pushed by Bemidji State University hockey fan students, as the BSU WCHA hockey team is the anchor tenant.

“I won’t be surprised if it fails to generate — in fact, I will be surprised if it actually generates any real revenue other than maybe for the food and beverage people,” Myers said, adding that BSU should pay for the hockey arena.

“We are going to see increased taxes,” he said. “It’s going to increase the sales tax, and it’s going to do that forever. ..,. The way it was rammed down our throats, we need to remember that. It was pushed down our throats with 48 votes that came out of the college, primarily.”

Lehmann refuted that, saying the real referendum on the event center was in 2008 when he won re-election over Councilor Nancy Erickson, a staunch event center opponent. Lehmann won re-election by more than 900 votes.

“When you look at 2008, that was the referendum on the event center,” Lehmann said. “Had I not worked hard and got re-elected, that event center would be gone. It wouldn’t be here. It wasn’t the sales tax that forced that down our throats, we still had to go and get legislative approval, and we did.”

Lehmann and Erickson had “absolute polar opposite views on that, yet 900 people more voted for me than voted for my opponent,” he said, “because they saw that the future of this community and the future of that event center was that important.”