Join us for a conversation with Dr. Anton Treuer as he shares stories about resiliency and how it has influenced his leadership journey. Listen as he talks about his relationship with tribal elders, his take on overall wellness, and his COVID-19 response.
During this episode, Anton shares the latest strategies of Indigenous language revitalization initiatives and much more.
- Jason Schlender, former Extension leadership and civic engagement educator
- Dr. Anton Treuer, Ph.D., Bemidji State University, professor of Ojibwe; Author
Learn more about Anton’s perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccinations by viewing his video titled A Traditional Native American Perspective on Covid Vaccines” found on his YouTube channel.
Visit Anton Treuer's website to learn more about him.
Review and use resources that Dr. Treuer has produced, including his latest book, The Language Warrior’s Manifesto.
Learn more about the monolingual Ojibwe language book series from the video series — Aanjibimaadizing language preservation initiative — found on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe YouTube channel.
Dive more into leadership and civic engagement through resources on growing leaders and strengthening leadership.
Read this episode's conversation below.
Note: Our Indigenized Connections On Air episodes are audio-based interviews. Written transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before referencing content in print.
Jason Schlender: Welcome to Indigenous Connections On Air, a podcast brought to you by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality in the area of leadership and civic engagement, and also by the Minnesota Indigenous Leadership Network, which explores the issues that impact tribal communities and leadership throughout Minnesota.
I'm your host, Jason Schlender, and I'm the American Indian leadership and civic engagement educator. My guest today is from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Dr. Anton Treuer is a professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and an author of many books. His equity education and cultural work has put him on a path of service around the region, the nation, and around the world. Please welcome Dr. Anton Treuer to the podcast.
Anton Treuer: Yeah, boozhoo, everybody and miigwech for joining us today. I'm really honored to be a guest on this podcast. I think there are many different kinds of leadership in the world and in Anishinaabe country as well. And I've been pulled into a few of them, less as a goal that I was trying to set myself up to do, but more by virtue of my time serving others in that space.
So for example, when I finished college, I really wanted to, kind of to the horror of my parents, kind of walked the earth, spend time learning about my language and culture, and grounding in my Anishinaabe space, and I ended up seeking out Archie Mosey, who at that time in the early 1990s, probably one of the most esteemed Ojibwe spiritual leaders in the United States and Canada. And when I sought him out, this is kind of pre-cell phones and stuff like that, I drove over to Balsam Lake, was looking up Moseys in the phonebook, caught his son Dan, who shook me down for a while and then eventually told me where Archie’s house was, and I went to see him, and I didn't know much. I had some venison sausage and some claws and tobacco, and I wanted to talk about ceremonies.
And when I came through the door, he looked at me and he said, “Oh, I've been waiting for you.” And I thought, “How could you be waiting for me? I'm just a nobody, I just hunted you down.” And apparently had a dream about someone and I looked like the person from his dream, and he just flung the door wide open on a really important relationship for me, and I think for him too.
And so I just started spending lots of my time there. I lived at his house, I slept on his couch, I was his gofer hauling him around to ceremonies, funerals, things like that. Filling pipes, hauling food ceremony items, and all I was ever trying to do was learn. I was excited to be in Native space, so I was excited to learn about my language and culture. He could speak English, but not that well. His Ojibwe was much better, and I got a real immersion experience with our language, with our culture, and none of that ... I never felt like I was on a mission to do something with that other than learn about it. But once he passed away some years later, then everyone in his family was pushing me to step up and talk at the ceremonial drum, like his daughter, Betsy.
I remember my first time after he died at a ceremonial drum, and she had pushed, I think it's 13 pouches of tobacco in my hands. I had them stuck between each of my fingers and in my fists, and they were all for different people with things that are praying for. And she goes, “My dad never forgot an Indian name, I'm listening to you.” I got a test.
And I pulled it off and then she just looked at me and just give me a little nod, you know, and I wasn't trying to be a leader who speaks at a ceremonial drum, it just kind of happened, and the same thing happened with some of our other ceremonies, funerals, lodge stuff like that. I wasn't trying to be somebody who leads in those spaces, but because I had followed Archie and other really knowledgeable people around and was trying to learn about the stories and the songs and things like that, then people started to ask me to do things, and I was kind of forced to step up. Unless I wanted to see those ceremonies themselves die …
I think it's something that's different in an indigenous context where maybe in the white man's world, it is the ethos of your position, being president, being appointed something, being elected to an office that give you leadership ability. But I think in an indigenous context, it is your time and years and commitment of service to others, that often is a more important marker for who will lead, and it is the integrity of the person that is often a bigger measure or if someone's going to feel comfortable going to you, and things like that.
So it was almost like Forest Gump. After I started going there, I was running and I never thought it would take me anywhere. I was kind of like that after I started going to ceremonies, I was speaking in Ojibwe and singing songs, and I never thought it would take me anywhere necessarily, until it did.
Jason Schlender: So when we think about resilience, obviously it's something we hold up in our communities and with our people, is there a key time in your life where you needed to draw upon that inner resilience?
Anton Treuer: I think all along the way, there are always setbacks going to school, I had some horrific experiences with overt-racial violence, the kind that would have a lot of people saying, “I'm never going in that school again, I'm never going to do this or try that again.” It's always ... If you fall down on times, get up 8, you just got to keep going. And I think I must have about a dozen rejection letters for my first book. No, not good enough. No, wrong topic. Had discouragement.
Even when I wanted to do an Ojibwe history as a graduate student, I had one of my advisors say, “I don't even think you should study Ojibwe anything because you're Ojibwe and you'll be biased.” And I think if I just accepted the rejections I never would have gotten where I am, so I told that guy, I said, “Is this really coming from a white man who wrote 20 books on white men?” Because it was ... it literally was. And so I think in an indigenous context, you hear a lot of people talk about things like historical trauma.
You know that when we have a negative experience, it can be passed down through generations. Like you take a rat and you put a pain stimulus into their brain and introduce the smell of apple blossoms, not only will that rat be afraid of the smell of apple blossoms, but the children and grandchildren of that rat will be afraid of out the blossom smells.
So these things will get passed down epigenetically. So there's two things to that, and one is, it's not just the bad stuff that gets passed forward, the good stuff gets passed forward too ... And as indigenous people, we're the ones who figured out how to get enough food when it's freezing cold out there and snowshoes are a requirement to get from one point to another. We're the ones who figured out how to cooperate, how to build things, how to recover from horrific disease patterns and genocidal violence and efforts to squish our religion, language and lifeways and take our kids and sending the residential boarding schools.
The resilience it took at every phase of the journey after falling down again, or getting pushed down again, to stand up again. It's there! And in fact, if somebody never has any kind of adversity, they never developed the musculature for resilience. Indigenous people are extremely resilient.
Another thing about historical trauma is that we are more than the sum of our tragedies, and people talk a lot about the negative things that have happened to us as well, we should. Even someone like Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, working on truth and reconciliation in South Africa said, healing looks like this. You have to name the hurt, you have to call it what it is, and we have to tell the story, and then you can forgive and then you can either renew the relationship, whether it's with a person or an institution or a country, or you can release it.
And so we do need to talk about the negative things that have happened, but we need to make space to talk about the positive things that have happened too ... and they're a big part of us. One of the experiences for indigenous people, having been through a lot of adversity, it's like we've been to the gym a lot, so there's a lot of strength here. And for those who haven't had a chance to get to the gym much, there's been a lot of atrophy in the musculature for resilience and recovery and things like that.
Jason Schlender: So you mentioned Archie, and obviously, you probably have many elders of whom propped you up to the person you are, is there any key teachings from them that you kind of rely on, and as you mentioned how you've been down, you've been rejected on certain things, is there something that kind of just pops up like somebody told me this or I've just learned this over time to kind of help you deal with some of those things. That adversity or whatever.
Anton Treuer: Yeah, you know, there are many things that kind of pop into my mind. One, we have a saying in Ojibwe, “Giishpin wiikaa ani-zagaakwaag gibimaadiziwin, aabajitoon giwaagwaakwad”— If there's ever a bramble in your life, pick up your axe. And it's like a metaphor. When things get hard, pick up your ways. And I've had setbacks, deaths of really close friends, mentors, parents, people who died way before they should have, where it can take a lot of wind out of your sails, and it's pretty easy to wallow in the flood of emotions, and so I've always remembered those things that kind of saying, Okay, so it's not a magic pill type solution, but I'll pick up my ways, I'll grab my tobacco, I'll put it out, I'll release some of this hurt, I will lean into the ceremony, I will keep going forward and I will honor them.
There are so many times when Archie Mosay passed away or Tom Stillday or Anna Gibbs, or other important leaders that I spend a lot of time with, and were dear friends, and I just remember thinking like, it's enough for some people, even literally stepped away from their ceremonies, because it just hurt so bad to think about them. I was like, man, if you ever want to hear those guys again ...
Well, you just did. Every time you come through the ceremony door, every time you hear one of the songs, every time you hear somebody speak, you're hearing their words again, their teachings, their ways, and you're picking up your axe and you're going forward, and what else you're going to do? And so that's one that I think has really carried me ... I also really appreciate too, that in our ways, like I know when we do a funeral, we send everybody to the same place. There isn’t divine judgment over whether or not you get to go to the happy hunting grounds. Even when we do other kinds of ceremonies the teachings are [that] there are times when you fall off your path and you get spun out, so you just stand back up and you get back on your path, and the path of life, we're stepping in the footsteps of our ancestors who've been doing these ceremonies and walking this road for a long time. And if we stay on that path where they went in life and death and all things. And so at times when I felt shaken in my experience, or even felt like my faith has been shaken, I've always remembered that, and oftentimes that faith in the toolbox, which has served them so well, and has served me so well at other chapters in my life that I know that it'll help get me through ...
Jason Schlender: So currently, we're all dealing with ... with COVID-19. I also wanted to add a social justice component to this question as well. I know you're pretty well-versed in that area as well, so obviously experiencing challenging times, how have you coped with those challenges of COVID-19, and also with these sudden re-emergence of some of these social justice issues in the State of Minnesota?
Anton Treuer: Our environment is always changing. And by that, I don't just mean like climate change or something like that, but our human environment, the disease environment, the physical environment, it's always shifting and changing, and we have to be adaptable to survive. Ultimately with Covid ... yeah, I have had people I know die from Covid. My mother passed away actually in March, and she never had a Covid test, but her symptoms are very much aligned with potential Covid infection. And so these things have impacted us. We're doing work, for example in Mille Lacs, recording elders, developing books working on Rosetta Stone. And it's just not safe to get the whole team of 50 people, 25 elders and 25 transcribers and some other support staff together in one place, without risking somebody's life. So we've had to make adjustments.
All of my travel and consulting work stopped, it was a big financial hit for our family, but this is the environment. So in this environment, we do, we got to keep everybody safe. The biggest priority would be everybody's safety and health, and then we have to be adaptable and find other ways to do the work. So we've been working with elders and remote teams and we've been teaching them how to do Zoom and things like that, and we are doing what we can during this environment and eventually this too will shift into a new phase, like likely we will get immunizations that probably won't be as effective as we like, it only keep you safe for three months, you have to get booster shots, and it'll be an endemic that we always have to be vigilant about.
So in that environment, we will proceed and we will continue in the social justice environment, realistically, I kind of feel like we're on a certain level, I've been surrounded by people who hate our guts for 500 years. What's new? There's always somebody trying to stop us, hold us down, keep us down, the oppression dynamics have always been there. In some ways, I view our current political situation like a choice between those who would have the racism be explicit and those who would have the racism be implicit, rather than a choice that eliminates racism. That's the reality. I'll take the implicit over the explicit and the greater ease of opportunity in that environment, but it's not like the good guys are going to win and the problems will disappear. Simply put, it's not as safe being a Native person in this world as it is being a white person in this world, in this law enforcement climate, in this health climate ... in this social environment. Here we are ... that's the circumstance. That's the environment. So we have to go forward. We take what reasonable measures we can to keep us and those we care about safe, we fight to change the system so that it is more equitable for everybody, and there is constantly change. It's never as fast or as effective as we'd like when slavery came to an end, that wasn't the end of racism or racial caste, it got remade as like Jim Crow.
And Jim Crow, we think about the black experience. But that was something that impacted Native people too, especially states like South Dakota and Arizona had specific laws prohibiting Native people from voting and things like that, even after the Voting Rights Act, that were directed at Native people in those days, but we keep pushing it going forward. It's remade now as a school-to prison pipeline, and the world's horribly inequitable, so we fight to change this environment and make it better and create more access to opportunity, even in this environment that does not treat everybody as fairly, there still is opportunity to rise and to do great things, and there are many Native people who are doing that. And so I'm glad to be alive, I'm glad for my being born who I am at this point in time. I feel like there is opportunity and happiness and joy, and excitement and challenge, and it's all in the same place. And I feel as Native people that the challenges may be profound, but the people facing them are profound, and what we are capable of doing together is also quite profound.
Jason Schlender: Do you see a change as far as how you maybe deliver some of those ... how we talk about it? How we talk about those issues. Because I've run into ... Well, the thing I run into is a lot of times, there's obviously there's this term of ‘white guilt’ or I'm thinking of it that way, where a lot of white people apologize, but sometimes it's really just inviting a different perspective on the conversation. Do you find any changes as far as how you deliver or how you go about your training or discussions about especially social justice or even race?
Anton Treuer: Yeah. So first of all, it depends on who I'm talking to, right, it depends on the circumstances of the conversation or presentation or whatever, and what's going on. It has to be contextual. For example, a lot of times, Native people need to be reminded that the rest of the world, is not where we are at. Even in terms of readiness for change, and when we are in mixed company, navigate white fragility. White resistance and things like that, and to be effective, sometimes need to be reminded to stay patient, stay grounded in our ways, keep leaning in and don't give up and meet people where they're at.
Sometimes white folk need a different pep talk. They need to be brave, lean in, we need you as part of this conversation. It just depends on who you're talking to. What parts of the work need the most attention, but things like social justice, whether we're looking at environmental issues or pipelines, or you're looking at mines or you're looking at on the racial spectrum, policing, what's going on in our educational environment, which is horrific and fundamentally broken. There are different dimensions to this work, it's nebulous, and we need to be attentive to a 1000 different points of contact. So it kind of depends on which one we're pushing on. I do think we need to keep all of the battles in front of us, although none of us is going to fight them all in equal measure, certainly not all at the same time, but having that understanding and the vocabulary, tools and teachings to address that with different audiences is really valuable.
Jason Schlender: I want to shift our focus a little bit to think about or think about our Ojibwe language, the work that you've done in that area. You've just recently been a part of editing a three books, three books that we have recently published. If you would like to just elaborate on those books and maybe talk about what was the spark for them, and maybe kind of glaze over in the process of putting them together and what's the objective, what's the ultimate impact that you would like to see with them?
Anton Treuer: Yeah, you know, in my most recent book, The Language Warriors Manifesto, How to Keep Our Languages Alive, No Matter the Odds, I kind of laid out on the one had a personal account of what's happening in language revitalization. And on the other, a 20,000-foot view of what it takes to stabilize and revitalize an indigenous language. And the books we're doing in relax recently are part of that effort. Ultimately, the way that most people learn any language is that as their first language in the home. Nothing beats it, but a little kid is going to hear an entire language non-stop for a year, and then say his or her first word?
You need so much air time to develop a language in someone, and if we have to wait for Ojibwe language learning to start in the home, as most of our elders learned it, it'll never start, because most of our speakers are past the age of having and raising children. And also our language has been an oral language, listening and speaking, not written. But ultimately, we're not going to go Amish, so to speak, wall ourselves offering the rest of the world and try to freeze our language and culture in time.
Certainly not successfully. Even the Amish can't even do that successfully, a lot of times. So we have to go forward. We can be ancient and modern all at the same time, and to do that, we need literary traditions for this formerly oral language. If we're not going to throw out all the phones and TVs and Xbox Es, we need those things speaking Ojibwe. And that's kind of the thinking behind the work that we're doing in Mille Lacs right now. We had a big meeting, Mille Lacs had some significant overages from grants and wanted to do something on language, and I said, look, instead of just spending the money on master apprentice or some of these other models that are really great and they shouldn't be dropped, I said, Why don't we build some resources?
You've only got 25 fluent speakers left on this reservation, Let's set them up so they can teach people for hundreds of years to come. Let's develop Rosetta Stone for Ojibwe. Let's develop books, and even 100 years from now, people can read these books and people can work with Rosetta Stone, and it can learn our language. Not everybody can come to the 25 fluent speakers at Mille Lacs to learn the language. Let's push it to everybody's phone, and they can learn it wherever they happen to be on Planet Earth with whatever lifestyle they have, whatever their job is, or family situation, and there's a lot of power in leveraging their voice, knowledge and teachings that way.
So that was the goal. There's a lot to the process that we have engaged in. I actually started doing this work a long time ago, I started editing the Oshkaabewis Native Journal, I think in 1995. So I'm 51 now, but I've been at it for a while, and with all of these publications, I think when I started, there might have been 10 Ojibwe language books on the planet. There are hundreds now, there's so many, I can't even count them. Working with different dialects and in different ways.
The work is way bigger than any one person. And what we need is to eventually have 5000 Ojibwe books loaded into an Accelerated Reader program with assessments and everything else. We should be able to have Harry Potter type books, fun books, fantasy, adult books, literature, non-fiction biography, every different kind of book written for every different kind of level of reader, so that we have full literary traditions, and this is a living language, that's the goal. A few books is like, I'm excited, we're really proud of the work, but until it's like 3000 or 5000, I just feel like back to work. Let's keep going.
Jason Schlender: Yeah, absolutely. So obviously, you have your own book, The Language orders manifesto, that was published, these three books that were in conjunction with the Mille Lacs community, when do you see a published date for the Rosetta Stone stuff, is that coming out as like a computer software?
Anton Treuer: Rosetta Stone — Covid actually gave us a bit of a challenge, so we had some delay in the filming just because we didn't want to get everyone together and get them sick. So Rosetta Stone is going to have a phased release. So the first year of Rosetta Stone, it's probably going to be about a year from now, when it comes out, and it'll come out with an electronic launch, just push to the phone through an app, and that's how people will access ... They'll be video, audio.
Some of the cool stuff--they have an artificial intelligence engine, so that all the work we're doing with the elders will enable the software to help coach pronunciation and correct grammar as people interact with the app in real-time. So that would be a new dimension kind of different from Pimsler or some of the other early Ojibwe audio and video efforts, so it won't be passive, you're going to be interacting with the app. I think that's one of the real strengths of it. That said, it's just another tool in the toolbox. It's not a panacea, it's not a silver bullet, it's not..[that] this is the only thing we need.
And then we should be able to release a New Year Rosetta Stone every year for six years in a row. That'll be a lot of material. There'll be about 40 units per year, times six years, so there'll be quite a bit of material, some expansion units and vocabulary lists and talking flashcard kind of things that go, get built in with the two, so it'll be pretty significant when it comes out. But it takes time to build it, and we'll be releasing one year at a time, and we're trying to stay a year ahead of in the production process for the releases once it gets rolling.
Jason Schlender: Have you been in any discussions like with Microsoft or Apple about being able to utilize their platform for Ojibwe language.
Anton Treuer: They we’ve talked to both. So both Microsoft, Apple and Google, they're all willing to put their operating system in any language on Planet Earth. It's a bigger job than you might realize, it's about a quarter of a million translations for an operating system. Yeah, so it's not like, give them a list of click here, email, whatever, it's a quarter of a million translations, and then the other things that complicate that, like some of the terminology. It's one thing to say, firewall, motherboard email, we've got all of that terminology, but some of it is more sophisticated terminology, just even running Ojibwe classes with mute and things like that.
We have words for these things now, but you have to do some lexical expansion, and because Ojibwe’s not one language or one dialect, there's a whole bunch of interlinked, closely related and sometimes distantly related dialects within the same kind of mother tongue. Really, you benefit if you have several different dialect options for an operating system, so we got to pick one and start, and then let the others do the adaptations. And so assembling a team, doing the lexical expansion and then completing the translations and proofreading them is a job now. It's been done with Cherokee, it's been done with Hawaiian and some of these other languages.
And the cool thing is every time a new cell phone, a new version of the iPhone comes out, the operating system just pushes right over and there it is, the whole thing supports your language. So there's a real value to doing the operating system translations and stuff like that. As far as Google Translate, that's a different kind of operation. And they use artificial intelligence there too, and even what Google Translate does for a major language like Spanish or German, sometimes they get it wrong, but it's pretty cool, and there's a value to doing that too.
I just feel like our efforts with Ojibway, we've been at it for some decades, but they're still probably best classified as emerging. Like we have the first few immersion schools and the first … whatever, a couple hundred books that's still emerging, rather than seasoned. So there is a need for absolutely everything. I've been excited for what we have seen developed, the schools that have been developed, the resources that have been developed, but it's really just a start.
Jason Schlender: So as you reflect on…you shared a lot about your leadership journey, and what advice do you have for aspiring young leaders?
Anton Treuer: You know, I would simply say this, first of all, it's important to think about what you're really excited and passionate about, and lean into that. If you end up going to work or getting a job where your whole point of going to work is just to get a check, it only feeds one of your needs, and it can wear you out and burn you out a lot easier for me, and I have many passions and I lead in many areas. So we've been talking about Ojibwe language leadership in some of my community and ceremonial leadership, I also do a lot of work in the racial equity front, writing books and giving presentations and trainings, and I feel very excited and passionate about all of those things. so if I'm giving a presentation on racial equity or attending the National Summit for a courageous conversation about race, that doesn't feel like work. I'm getting my battery charged up.
When I'm going to lodge and I'm praying for people and sitting in the sand and the mud and working really hard from 6 a.m. to midnight every day. It really doesn't feel like work. I'm getting charged up and spending time with the people I love the most. And it's the same thing when I'm teaching Ojibway in a classroom full of people who really want to learn our language, like I also get charged up. So those activities don't deplete me as an individual, and because I actually give a rip about those things, people can tell. You can tell when somebody's going through the motions and somebody really believes in all that they're doing, and so it's contagious, and it affects positive change. And frankly, we need leadership in every possible arena. We need political leadership at the tribal level, at the county level, at state level at the national level, at the international level.
And we need indigenous representation, all of those things. So we need you there. We need economic leadership, we need cultural leadership and we need language leadership, we need musical leadership. There's just so many different areas and artistic leadership, there's so many different arenas, finding out what you care about will be a big … that's half the journey. And then something else that I really appreciate in our indigenous context, it feels like in the western world, one of the biggest dimensions of western culture is simply individualism, people are measured by their individual accomplishments, their money, their awards, their degrees on an individual level, and oftentimes, it's an enabling mechanism for all of the oppressions that someone else can have so much less.
And we sleep well at night because I earned in me, me, me, mine. In an indigenous context, it is different, where we do a first kill feast and we don't let people eat the first bite and they have to say, I'm thinking of people, little kids who don't have enough to eat and elders who can't get enough for themselves or in my family, in my community, and people who support me, and that sense of responsibility to others, I think is healthy.
And then when we struggle, it's the same way in the western world where people are told to struggle alone, sort it out, check your problems at the door and don't tell them to anybody else. But in an indigenous context, you bring your problems right in. You share them with us and we’ll help carry the load. And I've always appreciated that, like when we do a washing of the tier ceremony at a big drum or something like that, and we pull somebody back up and we dance them into the circle. It's like … we all share in the grief, and we all participate in the healing, and there have been many times, many times when I've had to lean on someone else. And being grounded in our indigenous environment, I think is really healthy because we give ourselves permission to do that.
When we need somebody else, and when in our leadership circles around ceremonies, when somebody's just feeling washed out and like they don't have it, it's not just a pep talk, but we carry each other. And it makes it a lot healthier and more possible to get through that, and then at times it's gone the other way too, where people have had to lean on me, and I think that has enabled me to be more effective at helping others too.
Jason Schlender: Absolutely. So I'm going to shift to shift focus one more time here. So I work with our EDA grant and we work with tribes to assist in building economic development capacity. During this time of a pandemic, how do you see tribes working together in order to develop or enhance economic development capacity?
Anton Treuer: Covid has been a special challenge, but it's not just a challenge on the health front, it's a challenge politically and economically. For a long time, the federal government had embargoed the impact aid to tribes around Covid, and really left them struggling with the health response, because it was underfunded and under-supported, and tribes just had to find workarounds, and many tribes in areas, states that were led by non-Native politicians who resisted medical advice about how to handle things. Had to set different rules and parameters for tribes from those that the surrounding states were doing. It's been frustrating that we can't get everyone on the same page, and it's impacted tribes differently on an economic level too.
A huge percentage of the tribal population are working in vulnerable service jobs, and the failure of the federal government to come through with a new round of unemployment assistance and things like that, I think threatens the ability of people to just make ends meet. So tribes have had to work not just independently, but cooperatively to find ways to address that, and that means pushing the political agenda in Washington DC and at the state level, and then finding ways to work out cooperative arrangements around everything from cultural parameters around funerals to economic development and intervention. And there are some states like Wisconsin, for example, that does a little bit of revenue share.
Other places, like in Minnesota, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community has been pretty generous with their philanthropic support and trying to find interventions around these things. Tribal people have been very involved with the Minnesota State Arts Board and with the Minnesota Historical Society and trying to redirect funding in ways that will support critical Native programs and initiatives.
And so there are a lot of different levels and ways in which maybe people are trying to look out for the greater good in spite of all the stress, and I think it is that sustained communication and cooperative spirit that's really going to make a big difference in Indian Country.
Jason Schlender: I want to thank you for your time today, Waagosh.
Anton Treuer: Hey, appreciate you. Manidoo Noodin. Miigwech for everything you’re doing.
Jason Schlender: Appreciate you as well. To learn more about Anton’s perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccinations, please visit and subscribe to his YouTube channel and view his video titled “A traditional Native American perspective on Covid vaccines.” To view and utilize resources that Anton has produced, including his latest book, The Language Warrios Manifesto, go to dot com to view the antontreuer.com. To view the Aanjibimaadizing Video Series, and also to learn more about the monolingual Ojibwe language book project, go to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe YouTube channel.
To learn more about leadership and civic engagement, go to extension.umn.edu/community development/leadership-and-civic-engagement, where you will find more resources on growing leaders and strengthening leadership. Make sure to follow the Minnesota Indigenous Leadership Network on Facebook, www.Facebook.com/umn.indigenous.leadership.network. To stay up-to-date on research and resources for tribal communities and tribal leadership, we hope that you will join us again for another episode and of Indigenous Connections On Air.
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