Charles Kader: Challenges and potential in border communities

"With the holiday season upon us, the advertisements try to get us to all think big and throw a party and invite the neighbors over. In some neighborhoods, that may be easier to suggest than in some others.

Throughout my experiences within Indian country, I have had the opportunity to spend time in three communities that had reservations as neighbors. These communities were Bemidji, Minnesota (Ojibwe), Cut Bank, Montana (Niitsitapi) and now Massena, New York (Kanienkehaka). Each location was obviously in cold weather climes, but a thread of shared heritage existed within all of them. For better or worse, they all shared similar opportunities, as well as challenges.

I was introduced to the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation and Bemidji, Minnesota through my brother, Edward, who was an Undergraduate in the Native American studies program at Bemidji State University. If you did not have a car there, you could not easily get around or between the communities, especially in winter. Still, many Onkwehonweh (Iroquois People) shopped in Bemidji, which was known for its Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox theme. A number of Ojibwe also lived in Bemidji all year long."

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Charles Kader: Border Towns and Free Lands (Indian Country Today 12/4)

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