In the mid-1800s — during the Great Hunger for my ancestors, the Irish — American Indian Nations who had recently endured the Trail of Tears pooled $170 (a huge sum at the time) to send to those displaced in Ireland. So taken with this gesture when they thought no one in the world cared for them, the Irish to this day still teach this story of Native Americans’ generosity. In 2015, a 20-foot statue was erected in County Cork, Ireland. It is titled “Kindred Spirits,” with steel eagle feathers forming a bowl shape to represent the gift of food.
Recently, while visiting the “Wall of Forgotten Natives,” a Minneapolis homeless encampment where a portion of the hundreds without shelter in the metro are sleeping each night, I watched as Muslims, a community that also knows hunger and displacement, arrived. They had pooled money at the Somali Cultural Institute and had brought the gift of food and a message to this group of primarily Native Americans that some in the world do care for them and about their displacement.
As imam Abdirizak Sanaani of Masjid Rawdah walked the camp in his thobe and women in their hijabs, I thought of the example they set, like the Natives before them, stepping out of their own community and extending oneself in person to those perhaps perceived as not being part of it.
What if we treated each other, as those in the Native community say, as if we are all relatives?
Monica Nilsson, Minneapolis
MINING AND METHODOLOGY
Follow the money on studies, or just have a good look around
Reading the Sept. 8 editorial counterpoint “Check the methodology in joining mining debate,” my eyes glaze over. Just tell me who is funding the research, and I’ll tell you whether its results will support or oppose mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
If one really wants to know the full range of mining impacts, one should compare a mining region with a similar region without mines. I can think of no better example than West Virginia vs. Vermont. These hilly Eastern states have similar physical characteristics, the big difference being that while West Virginia has been “blessed” with coal, Vermont has, well, rocks. So for generations West Virginia coal companies have been, to use the terminology of the editorial, “unearthing prosperity,” while Vermonters have had to make do with small-scale farming and manufacturing, and with tourism. The result today: West Virginia has the highest unemployment rate of the contiguous 48 states, while Vermont is tied with Colorado for fourth-lowest.
But what about those high-paying mining jobs vs. seasonal tourism jobs? Answer: West Virginia had a median household income in 2016 of $44,354 (those mining jobs get replaced by machines pretty fast) vs. $60,387 in Vermont. If you don’t believe government statistics, you can visit both states, as I have done, or just use Google Earth to eyeball the main street of a West Virginia mining town and pretty much any town in Vermont. Then it should be clear whether mining will be a benefit or a curse to the Boundary Waters.
Allan Campbell, Minneapolis
• • •
I always love it when two very disparate articles get juxtaposed in the Star Tribune and one ends up beautifully providing a necessary reminder of some concern about the subject of the other.
Monday’s front-page proximity of “Back to the business of mining” and “BP testing worked — until it didn’t” was a great example. The former’s notice that we are back on a course that will inevitably lead to one or more very messy mines in a very pristine area but should not worry because the prospective miners have great plans to have “minimal environmental risks” was matched wonderfully against the latter’s blood pressure reduction plan that went so well for a while until, years later, the effort proved more complicated than expected.
We can only hope that betting on the “business of mining” will have provided great enough rewards to justify the risks of great loss involved should the “until it didn’t” time arrive.
Harold W. Onstad, Plymouth
ACTIVISM, PART ONE
One’s patriotism is not limited to just one context
Can’t both Tom Burnett (of United Airlines Flight 93) and Colin Kaepernick (former NFL player) be patriots? (“Flight 93 chimes are rung to remember ‘our heroes,’ ” Sept. 10, and various coverage about the NFL protests.) They both did something to defend America — to fight tyranny, to give up what they had that others in America might have the best life possible?
We do not have to choose between our heroes — let all of us do something in the life we have been given to defend the best beliefs of America. (After all, Colin wasn’t on Flight 93; maybe he would have joined Tom.) “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are” — Theodore Roosevelt.
Marlene McEwan, Hopkins
ACTIVISM, PART TWO
Speak, but not for others, and why not with intent to inspire?
In response to the Sept. 11 counterpoint by Patricia Rasmussen (“Farmington High band, accused of playing politics, was squelched”): The band theme was decided last February when marching band is not meeting. Even if a few students approved this, it should be a consensus, not a policy. What of students who disagree with the idea of resistance ? Did they know the origin of the red fist? Do we as adults/parents want resistance to be a positive value — as if teenagers don’t resist enough already? Wouldn’t the word/theme “ASSIST” be an inspiration?
Margaret Norine, Bloomington
ACTIVISM, PART THREE
Same as it ever was, and thank goodness for that
To follow up on Dana Milbank’s Sept. 9 column about the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (“Protesters at hearing vexing but American”), a history lesson:
Just in case anybody forgot, this country was founded on protest against what we considered injustice. Citizens of Great Britain (at the time) pulled down statues of King George III, dumped hundreds of tons of tea into Boston harbor and withstood the musket fire of the British army at Lexington and Concord, all in protest of what, from the colonial point of view, was injustice. For all of the aforementioned acts, the participants would have been subject to the death penalty, and yet people complain about “millionaire athletes” taking a knee during a song.
Most of the people involved in the “original” protests were the elite of society and were very well off, so they had a lot to lose. Certainly more than a job or an endorsement. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.” Now U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina asks, “What kind of country have we become?” I would answer: The same kind of country that we started with. If the right to freely protest injustice disappears, then so does America.
Douglas Pierce, Shakopee