I understand the need for masks, social distancing and all the rest. What I don't understand is why Gov. Tim Walz is treating rural Minnesota the same way as the seven-county metro area. I challenge him and his advisers to visit the tiny towns, the towns being strangled by some of these measures.

I doubt there is a small town with a restaurant that is able to afford patio heaters so they can offer outdoor dining. In these small businesses, there are times you will not see more than three or four people dining. Our small rural towns are dying quickly enough! Their needs are different, and they should be treated differently.

I am a Democrat and I voted for Gov. Walz, but as a person living in a small rural town, I can say that the DFL better wake up and realize it is different in the outstate areas. If they do not, I can envision Minnesota going red by the next election cycle!

Deborah Mathiowetz, Foley, Minn.
• • •

Minnesota's battle with COVID-19 reminds me all too much of my late father's battle with bipolar disorder. His mood swings were well-contained by medication, which unfortunately had uncomfortable side effects. Every time his mood improved on medication, he'd stop taking it to avoid the side effects, and inevitably, he'd crash again.

We see this roller coaster with COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates. When we take preventive measures — shutting down and masking up — the pandemic improves, but the side effects suck. When the measures begin to work and we feel safer, we revert to normal and the disease roars back. Gov. Walz is correct to prescribe more restraint even as we think infections are waning, because the disease is still there, waiting for us to stop the treatment. So Minnesota, please follow Gov. Walz's prescription. Please take your medicine till we're cured.

Andrew Kramer, Marine on St. Croix
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I was so struck by the juxtaposition of three stories in the Dec. 17 edition of the Star Tribune. Two stories outlined the heroic lives of Lidia Menapace ("WWII resistance fighter later fought for feminism") and Janine de Greef ("Starting at age 14, she spirited downed Allied airmen to safety"). These two women, in their youth, put their lives at risk during the long years of World War II by joining the resistance. Through remarkable tenacity, following their own moral compasses, they helped save hundreds of allied soldiers and Jewish civilians, putting themselves at great risk. Those stories were a balm to my soul after seeing the front-page picture of the maskless men and women laughing while drinking beer and downing burgers at an illegally opened bar/restaurant ("Defying the law, paying the price"). Surely we can muster enough humanity in the coming months to avoid situations that literally put at risk the lives of not only all those bar patrons but all those persons whom those patrons subsequently come in contact with. We can all learn from the examples set by Menapace and de Greef.

Paul Kaminski, Golden Valley


Here's what needs to be done, and how to learn from it afterward

Concerning the article titled "Impacts of COVID-19: American Indians in Minnesota experience worse than reported" (Opinion Exchange, Dec. 16) by Nicole MartinRogers et al.:

Thanks to my colleagues for sharing this important report. American Indians across the state have long suffered well-chronicled disparities in health. COVID-19-related illnesses are exacting a toll upon the Native American population in ways that are often not well enumerated. Unfortunately, this has also been a historical issue that has provided a magnifier effect on the historical health outcomes we have become all too familiar with.

The Indian Health Board of Minneapolis Inc. is an organization that has committed its resources to provide high-quality services to the community that it has been dedicated to for nearly 50 years. Its courageous staff and partners have taken action to address the pandemic in our community. We have offered easily accessible testing and medical support for those in need. The work with the state of Minnesota and its staff at the Health Department has been a good partnership in providing contact tracing and early access to vaccines. I believe that as this pandemic enters a new phase, we must heed its teachings.

Our suggestions are: 1) More resources are needed but ultimately so is flexibility for each organization to respond per the needs of the community it serves. 2) A more integrated approach between federal, state and county partners would have been helpful at the outset. The vaccine rollout in our community needs help. 3) We need to build a trusting relationship with our federal, state and county partners to assure what vaccine we do get is used most effectively. 4) Our community needs assurance that there will be enough vaccine after the initial rollout.

The state of Minnesota will need to evaluate how we did when this is all over. Did it integrate all partners it needed? Was it aware of all the federal actions taking place to respond? Was the vaccine distribution a fair and equitable one, and was it sustained? Will we know the true impact it had on the native citizens in our state? The Indian Health Board will assuredly work diligently but will need help from its partners.

Patrick Rock, Minneapolis

The writer is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and is CEO of the Indian Health Board of Minneapolis.


More than mere acknowledgment

It is encouraging that some cities, organizations, universities, colleges and churches are now acknowledging the original occupants of the land on which they are located ("Owning up to being on Native land," Dec. 16). However, as noted in the article, the danger of the land acknowledgments is that they may only result in feel-good gestures that don't accept any responsibility for corrective action. If I steal your car, justice is not served simply by my acknowledging that I did it.

The Dakota nations, as one example, are still here and still suffer the effects of the loss of their land in the 19th century. After the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1851 the Dakota saw their historic land base reduced by some 25 million acres, and it's now a few thousand acres the four Dakota reservations currently occupy. Today there are many Dakota people who live in the Dakotas and Canada who still consider Minnesota to be their ancestral home. The problem is that there is little to no tribal land to which they can return.

Waziyatawin, Dakota scholar and author, makes the case in her book "What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland" that justice for the Dakota people requires the return of Native land. At present there are vast areas of public and tax forfeit land in Minnesota that could be returned without taking land from anyone. At this late date we need to acknowledge that we are on the land of the first owners and then move on to plan for the return of some of that land.

MICHAEL E. MILLER, Minneapolis


Reconsider trash incinerators

This month, the Tishman Center issued a new report on trash burning incinerators. Minnesota ranks third in the country with seven incinerators, and six of these are located in low-income or communities of color. These trash-burning facilities spew pollution into the air in the surrounding communities. This pollution includes mercury, lead and other chemicals that harm public health. It appears that this pollution may increase the risk of death from COVID.

As a longtime Minneapolis resident and an African American male, I think it is time our elected officials re-examined incinerators, which appear to be harming our communities of color.

Larry Wright, Minneapolis

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