Statewide: September 7, 2012 Archive
Posted at 8:25 AM on September 7, 2012
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Around MN
Officials monitoring nearly a dozen fires in Boundary Waters
"It hasn't rained much for the past two months across parts of Northeastern Minnesota, with parched trees and brush in the forest spurring small fires to grow when they usually would flicker out," Duluth News Tribune.
ArcelorMittal negotiations continue
WDIO: "The ArcelorMittal unions have presented a comprehensive proposal to the company which they feel they could recommend to its members.Thousands of those members did a practice picket at all of the ArcelorMittal facilities in the country Wednesday, including Minorca Mine in Virginia."
Demonstrations in front of directors' homes to continue indefinitely
"As the American Crystal Sugar lockout drags into its 13th month, union members are taking the fight to the doorstep of the company's directors," Fargo Forum.
Obama's speech reax: "Modest"
Andrew Sullivan takes the temperature of just under a dozen bloggers/pundits to Pres. Obama's keynote speech including: "Modest," "stay-the-course," "never quite managed to soar" and "failed to defend his record half as well as Mr. Clinton."
Islamic group buys former Medtronic HQ in St. Anthony
"The status of plans for a cultural and religious center in St. Anthony is unclear," Star Tribune.
16-year-old Hastings girl catches 375-pound halibut in Alaska
"During her 16 years on earth, Kate Curtis hasn't caught a lot of fish. The ones she has caught, though, have certainly been memorable. In August, while in Alaska on a family vacation, Curtis caught what may be her last fish - an 88-inch, 375-pound halibut," Hastings Star Gazette.
Posted at 11:14 AM on September 7, 2012
by Julie Siple
Filed under: Hunger
In a small warehouse outside Clear Lake, Paul Gray peered deep into a bin of red potatoes.
"Some are missing a little bit of skin, some are a little misshapen," Gray pointed out. "Some look like Mickey Mouse."
A fourth-generation potato farmer, Paul Gray is part of the future of hunger relief. As we reported this week, hunger relief groups are stepping up efforts to capture the millions of pounds of produce from Minnesota fields that would otherwise go to waste.
Much of the potential lies in potatoes. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group based on data from the US Department of Agriculture estimates 92 million pounds of potatoes went unharvested in Minnesota in 2009. Another 120 million pounds came out of the fields, but were never sold to retailers or consumers.
"No one wants to see their hard work go to waste, whether you're making widgets or growing potatoes," said Gray, who farms 120 acres of potatoes with his brother.
The Grays are among many potato farmers in the Clear Lake area who donate to hunger relief groups. This year, the Gray Potato Farm gave 120,000 pounds; last year, 80,000. Donating makes sense, said Gray, because he doesn't have room in his small warehouse to store a surplus at harvest time.
"We have to continue to move, because we grow red potatoes," he said. "Our red potatoes are grown on irritated, sandy soil. If the sandy soil dries out, it tends to want to suck the color away from the potatoes. So we need to continue harvesting once we start. It's a timing factor."
Donating surplus frees up space to bring in another semi load for cleaning. Gray primarily donates number two potatoes, those missing a little skin or sporting a strange shape.
"From a nutritional standpoint, they're just as good as a number one," he said. "But in our society, they want things that look like the magazine pictures or the TV commercial."
For Gray, giving to hunger relief groups makes more than just business sense. It's about helping your neighbor. "Even if your neighbor is 500 miles away," said Gray.
A new history of the US - Dakota War of 1862 makes its debut in October at a time and location still to be announced.
They are three documentaries put together by Sheldon Wolfchild, a Dakota who lives at the Lower Sioux Agency in southern Minnesota.
Part one is already on view at the Lower Sioux Interpretive Center near Morton. It explains what Wolfchild regards as the real causes of the US - Dakota war of 1862. Part two, he says, will go even further back into history explaining the roots of, "manifest destiny." Part three is a collection of voices of elders talking about Dakota culture.
That's Wolfchild in the photo above taken last month by Minnesota Public Radio's Jeff Thompson at the Minnesota History Center exhibit.
My profile of him can be heard this afternoon at 4:50 p. m. during All Things Considered on Minnesota Public Radio news stations around our region.
His connection with the war is through his great great grandfather, chief Medicine Bottle, one of the combatants in the conflict.
Wolfchild's message is -- the Dakota people didn't cause the war.
Yes, starving Dakota attacked white settlers and the result was hundreds of Dakota and white settlers killed in the war.
Then hundreds more Dakota perished as they were banished from Minnesota to barren reservations in Dakota territory.
What caused the war, Wolfchild says, was the Indian system.
William Lass, emeritus professor of history at Minnesota State University in Mankato, says early in this country's history government officials created an Indian system which successive generations of officials knew was corrupt, but nearly everyone kept using because of the obscene profits it returned.
The system included deceitful treaties with Indians, agents and traders swindling them out of money promised them, and court decisions denying Indians ownership of their land which created a pretext for their removal.
The Indian system was based on the view that the conquering European newcomers had sovereignty over the native people.
I first met Wolfchild at a screening recently at the Parkway theater in south Minneapolis where he was showing part one of the three documentaries..
The 65-year-old Wolfchild moved back to his birthplace at the Lower Sioux Agency in 1997 after retiring from 30 years of work in California as an artist and actor.
You can see him in Disney's Squanto: The Warrior, and in Dances With Wolves.
Wolfchild is a friendly, courtly, soft spoken guy.
Until he turns, "rambunctious," as he puts it.
A "rambunctious," Wolfchild fixes the listener with a penetrating gaze. His voice turns to a growl as he lists the injustices perpetrated by the Indian system and his disappointment with the media for not telling the full story.
Wolfchild isn't acting in this role. His anger is real. And he admits that recurring trauma from his military stint in the Viet Nam war is likely linked to trauma of being a member of a minority group that has for generations endured discrimination.
Then he apologizes, his voice softens, and his gentle demeanor returns. However, Wolfchild is on a mission, and it's clear he won't rest until he's satisfied the truth telling is completed.