CivicMedia/Minnesota Archive

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Indian education continues to be a tremendous challenge for educators and school systems. Join First Person Radio as we talk with two educators who not only practice in the field, but who are visionaries of what is to come next if Indian education is to succeed with Indian children.

Hosts are: Laura Waterman Wittstock, Richard LaFortune, with Andy Driscoll
On the web: or
Wednesday, January 26, 20119 am to 10 am

 Elaine Salinas is an educator with over thirty-five years of experience in k-12 and adult education in public and alternative school settings. She is an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth Band and was born and educated in Minnesota. She holds undergraduate degrees from Moorhead State University and a Master’s Degree in Education Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota. Ms. Salinas’ was  Director of Programs at Heart of the Earth Survival School, Education Program Officer for the Urban Coalition, Director of Community Education for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, and Upper Midwest Regional Steward for the Rural School and Community Trust and she has been President and Chief Professional Officer for MIGIZI Communications, Inc. since 2004.

Joe Rice has been executive director of Center School in Minneapolis since 2001. Before that he taught high school in South Dakota for 17 years - at Little Wound High School on Pine Ridge and then Central High School in Rapid City. He serves as a member of the Minneapolis Urban Indian Directors and the Metropolitan Federation of Schools and is the chairperson of the group Phillips Indian Educators. He served on the United Way Investment Panel in 2003 and also lectures on Native American education and related issues.  He graduated from Macalester College with a B.A. in History and earned a B.S. in Education  secondary emphasis from Black Hills State University in Spearfish,South Dakota. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Special Education is, for many people, that mysterious part of our public school system where the kids are “different” from the rest of the student body.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is designed to protect and provide “free, appropriate public education” in the least-restrictive environment that meets their needs to some 6.6 million students—about 13 percent of total US student enrollment. These are young people with dyslexia, autism, intellectual disabilities, blindness, or other impairments that affect educational performance. If states and school system refuse to provide such education and supply such services, parents can sue in federal court.

Of course, schools must have the additional resources to provide for these students, and, according to most advocates, this is yet another inadequately funded mandate, thanks to the same legislators who passed it.

Furthermore, just who can be defined as a student with one or more disabilities is something about which not all officials, parents and advocates agree. And many youngsters may be treated as emotionally disturbed and pushed into special ed when other issues may be playing out in their lives.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with an active parent advocate, a provider in several schools and a state legislator who specializes in this area, among others to get at some of the increasingly complex issues facing special education and the students who need this special attention.


REP. KIM NORTON (DFL-29B), Rochester; Minnesota House Assistant Minority Leader; Member, Education Reform Committee; Education nonprofit executive director in Rochester

MAREN LINDNER – Parent and Chair of the Minneapolis Special Education Advisory Committee

DANYA TROXEL – Vocational Supervisor, Northeast Intermediate School District #916

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


First Person Radio hosts Laura Waterman Wittstock and Richard LaFortune with Andy Driscoll talk with Travis Zimmermanand Nicole Lonetree about American Indian museums. The world of museums has finally seemed to focus more on the American Indian point of view - not just from the perspective of showing more objects, but that of teaching the public what they have lacked for so long - the story of the American Indian, as told by the authentic voices of Indians themselves.

Travis Zimmerman is the Site Manager of the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post and also serves as the Indian Affairs Liaison for the Minnesota Historical Society.  Travis' work includes coordinating the Society's Indian Advisory Committee, as well as serving as liaison to Indian communities on Minnesota's reservations and in the urban areas.  Travis has a degree in history from St. John's University in Minnesota and is a descendant of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. (photo not available)

Nicole Lonetree is the American Indian Curriculum Specialist for the Minnesota Historical Society. She is responsible for developing, designing and implementing teacher professional development programs and instructional materials related to the history of American Indians in Minnesota. These curricular resources are designed to address state social studies standards for American Indian history in Minnesota, with an emphasis on the Dakota and Ojibwe.

Prior to working for the Minnesota Historical Society, Nicole was the elementary cultural teacher for the Saint Paul Indian Education Program. Nicole's tribal affiliations are the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.


Monday, January 17, 2011


How in heaven’s name can Minnesota possibly achieve a 75% rate of  high-schoolers attending college by 2020 when the very survival of the state’s pre-school through senior high school system is in dire straits – facing a questionable future given recent budgets and a disastrous combination of  higher education tuition increases and  K-12 budget cuts and shifts over the last few years?

Moreover, the drop-out rates among large percentages of our kids of color, especially, would seem to work severely against any notion of successful educational attainment by anywhere near the 75% advanced as a goal by Growth and Justice Policy Research group and its partner in this enterprise, the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (MMEP).

But 75% remains the goal – or rather a challenge – issued by the coalition to this season‘s major party candidates for governor. How did they respond? Tune in Monday morning and find out – just in time for Tuesday’s elections.

What is it about Minnesota that results in such a disgraceful set of statistics? What have we done to our public education system that our state’s best and brightest are too often sent to schools that segregate them from kids of color, leaving the public schools deprived of the needed resources to graduate everyone who walks into a public classroom and receives a solid education? Money, yes. But irresponsible public policies and decisions have slowly but surely undermined what was once regarded as the country’s finest.

What to do about generating both the public will and the public pressure to act in the enlightened self-interest to adequately fund and invoke policies that favor the state’s economic future through education? TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with a few of the leaders in this effort.

REP. CARLOS MARIANI-ROSA – State Representative and Executive Director, Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (MMEP)

JENNIFER GODINEZ – Associate Director, Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (MMEP)

DANE SMITH - President, Growth and Justice Policy Research

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First Person Radio hosts Laura Waterman Wittstock and Richard LaFortune with Andy Driscoll talk with Ricardo Levins Morales about his years with Northland Poster Collective as an activist and artist in the labor and social justice movements.

Ricardo's work has intersected with American Indian community issues over three decades. He continues to produce posters and cards. Many are made in relationship with organizers and their communities. See for examples of Ricardo's work.
Monday, January 10, 2011

Women veterans discuss their troubles with returning from war, scarred everywhere, inside and out, riddled with fear if not bullets, and reluctant to use our female unfriendly VA.

From an interview with Trista Matascastillo:

Historically, women veterans haven't always acknowledged themselves as veterans. It started way back in World War II and earlier, when women were brought into service during time of war, but as soon as the war was over they were discharged. It was like, we don't need you anymore, go home, go back to being a wife and a mother. So even though technically they are veterans, they didn't consider themselves to be veterans because they just backfilled. And there is a stigma while we're in service, because we have the combat exclusion law, so technically all our women veterans aren't in combat. But we know in reality they are. Then they are expected to go home to be wives and mothers, and to be okay.

The other thing that we get a lot is, "well, you don't look like a veteran," which we joke about often. I don't know if you know anything about veterans, but typically — especially the older generations — they wear these jackets with patches all over, or hats with pins all over, to say "look, I'm a veteran." So we've been joking that we need a women veteran's hat, so we can tell what we look like. It's one of those things that sounds really silly, but it's very true.

Or, if we go to the VA for services, instantly somebody says, "oh, you must be here with your husband." Because let's face it, 26 percent of veterans are women, which means we are greatly outnumbered. So there's a kind of stigma, and it's uncomfortable.



Chante's book2


CHANTE WOLF - Author, Objects for Deployment; Gulf War I veteran, support services organizer.

TRISTA MATASCASTILLO - Marine/Army/National Guard veteran; co-organizer, Women Veterans Initiative Group

SUZANNE ASHER - Director, Veterans in the Arts

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
First Person Radio hosts Laura Waterman Wittstock and Richard LaFortune talk with John Poupart about strengthening American Indian communities through oral tradition and the sacred texts of the Dakota-Ojibwe. And how bringing together youth, public school staff, linguists, and American Indian Elders to conserve the stories and traditions of the culture can make differences to those who live in Indian communities.

John Poupart is President and founder of the American Indian Policy Center, a unique non-profit American Indian organization that does research (Reality-Based Research**) and advocacy for American Indians policy issues. The mission of the organization is to provide accurate historic and cultural information about American Indians.

Poupart is responsible directly and indirectly for helping start many American Indian social service programs in Minnesota. He is founder of Anishinabe Longhouse, a culturally specific Corrections halfway house for American Indian ex-offenders. He was appointed by Governor Rudy Perpich as Ombudsman for Corrections; served on the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission; Minneapolis City Planning Commission, and; Minneapolis Charter Commission.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bullies have plagued our homes, streets, parks and playgrounds for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Today, the schools and streets remain infested with them. Why is this?

Guests this week:

• JULIE HERTZOG, DirectorPACER's National Center for Bullying Prevention

• KARINA BERZINS, Internet Crimes Against Children Task ForceMinnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)

• NANCY SABIN - Technical Trainer for Sector Synergies; FBI Citizens' Academy Alumni Association

The psychology of bullying is probably pretty easy: an unhappy kid who has seen how his father teats his mothers or watches the powerful abuse the powerless in almost any of life’s many arenas, and everything in between.

It’s a sad commentary that, unlike the days when a kid like me found himself ducking down alleys after school to avoid a team of bullies who saw weakness in my unwillingness to do street battle, to fight over anything unless it was against another vulnerable classmate, an entire area of law enforcement as well as an industry of advocacy has grown up to confront bullying.

Too many victims have taken that final step in reaction to bullying even as the bullying itself has taken on edges once unheard of between what are usually young people: they taken their own lives.

Unbeknownst to those guys who plagued me back in grade school, two of whom I admired greatly for their clear artistic talent as far back as kindergarten and first grade, the damage they did to my self-image was devastating, and, despite the advice of others to stand and fight as a way of ending it all, I refused to sink to that level without any real reason to do so except to prevent myself from suffering a bloody nose. I was as much afraid of hurting one of them as getting hurt myself. But my psyche suffered the real damage. I never quite entertained suicide because of it – at least I don’t recall that I did.

How many of us have been victimized by these wretchedly twisted young people? How many of us have stood by while it was happening to someone we knew and did nothing to intercede. Worst of all, how many of you have engaged in this senseless preying on someone we didn’t like or disrespected – for whatever reason – and either hurt them physically or driven them into self-destruction?

How have we come to that place in society that bullying has become an epidemic worth focusing billions of hours and resources, and marshalling the forces of respected celebrities in some attempt to understand and put a stop not only to tragic individual incidents.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN probe the reasons and the remedies for bullying – either on playgrounds and in gymnasiums or online in emails and Facebook. All of it is dangerous – not just to the body but to the minds of mostly young people, even very young children.

Important sites for young and old: 

PACER Center National Center for Bullying Prevention

Teens Against Bullying

Take 25

Minnesota's Take 25 site

St. Paul Police ICAC Page


Jacob Wetterling Foundation


NetSmartz Workshop

NetSmartz 411

Qwest's Incredible Internet

Stop Bullying NOW! (US Department of Health & Human Services) 

Phoebe Prince and the Demons of Bullying (How bullying drove a 14-year-old to suicide)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29th was the 120th anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee, SD. Our guest on First Person Radio that very day: Heather Cox Richardson, author of the book Wounded Knee.

Professor Richardson's hour with us was an amazing blend of recounting the horror of December 29, 1890 and examining both the local and national politics that fed first the boredom, then the ramped-up paranoia among soldiers and settlers stationed there that spawned the killings of 300 Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee in what became South Dakota.

Richardson is an expert in late nineteenth-century America. She is the author of several books on the Civil War and Reconstruction, including, most recently, West From Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America After the Civil War (Yale, 2007), and Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre (Basic, 2010).

A professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst since 2004, Richardson’s last three books were selected by the History Book Club; West from Appomattox was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice selection.


Monday, December 27, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us at CivicMedia, TruthToTell and First Person Radio!



• LUCIE FERRELL - Healthcare worker at Ground Zero now suffering from chronic and debilitating diseases.

RICHARD GAGE, AIA – San Francisco Bay Area architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects. He is the founding member of Architects and Engineers for 9-11 Truth

• RUSSELL FELT – Lawyer, Chemical Engineer – Twin Cities member of

• MICHAEL ANDREGG, PhD - Adjunct Professor, University of St. Thomas; geneticist and peace researcher, founder of Ground Zero Minnesota

Like the Kennedy assassination, questions surrounding the events of 9-11 continue to haunt our consciousness. The word, conspiracy, has been batted around like a lead tennis ball. It pushes people to the edges of the conversation - one side firmly believing that, essentially conspiracies don't exist, let alone apply to these tragic events in which we all have sought simplistic answers based on what we've seen - in some cases, time and again–  ad nauseam for many.

Now comes a series of examinations – and questions and accusations - by a fair number of scientists, architects, engineers, lawyers and pilots probing the 9-11 World Trade Center tower collapses as something beyond the power of two aircraft collisions with the two tall buildings, but especially the felling of a third, much shorter structure, Building Number 7. Other questions ask why what would have been expected damage and impressions of an aircraft collision with the wall of the Pentagon failed to materialize following the reported 4th aircraft's dive.

Many assert that we've been lied to from beginning to end, including several Twin Cities professionals and 9-11 family members. If that's the case, the next question would have to be: why in the world would the United States government, even that particular President (George W. Bush) - and/or Vice President (Dick Cheney) in power, dare to set up an event that would claim well over 3,000 lives in the collisions alone, and another 1,000 from the subsequent fallout - the toxic air left for responders - some 10,000 of them - to inhale?

At least one of those 10,000, probably many more, live here in the Twin Cities area, and her condition is critical, as is the condition of the thousands of survivors - thus far - who found their leaders deaf and blind to all complains and claims that this was the place and the event that sickened them. Republicans in the Senate (and, perhaps earlier on in the House) refused to budge on a bill – the Zadroga 9-11 Victims Compensation Act – until the very last minute of this last Congress a few days ago which would have put their callous behavior permanently on the record. (Said to have revived his failing Presidency, the Zadroga vote allowed Mr. Obama and his Democratic colleagues to"bask in the glow" of their 11-hour victories.)

But the skeptics have been countered by various so-called “de-bunkers,” willing to spend a good deal of time questioning the questioners with their own claims of what “really happened” on that fateful Tuesday. 

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL talks with – and challenges – the week's guests as we explore the “truth” around 9-11 – and its fallout – a new enemy for Americans to attack: Islam – and our lurch into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.