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Indigenous rights, climate justice rally to be hosted at Capitol Tuesday

Elder Mary Lyons speaks at the 2023 Rise and Repair rally at the Minnesota state Capitol.
Rise and Repair
Elder Mary Lyons speaks at the 2023 Rise and Repair rally at the Minnesota state Capitol.

Rise and Repair is a coalition of people and organizations lobbying for Indigenous people and the climate at the Minnesota Legislature.

ST. PAUL — A grassroots organization is lobbying at the state capitol this week to advance climate justice and uphold Indigenous rights.

Rise and Repair’s platform focuses on five categories for this state legislative session. According to their website, “respecting Indigenous and tribal sovereignty, honoring treaties, engaging in Free Prior & Informed Consent, enacting reparations, and supporting Land Back initiatives are central policymaking needs from our elected officials in Minnesota.”

"This is what the Rise and Repair rally is about: bringing together as many people as possible to push for climate justice."
Leanna Goose

Some of the bills the organization is lobbying in support of include the White Earth State Forest land transfer, another land transfer from the University of Minnesota to Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a bill that would enact a prohibition on the sale of human remains.

Another item is a resolution for the rights of manoomin, or wild rice, allowing the culturally significant food to flourish in its stands, a particular concern for Rise and Repair organizer Leanna Goose.

Goose is a 34-year-old Leech Lake Band member pursuing a degree in forest ecology. She was drawn to the field by exploring biodiversity in her own yard on the banks of Leech Lake.

Leanna Goose
Honor the Earth
Leanna Goose

"In my yard, it's like covered in different trees," she said. “I try to make the little bit of area that I have full of biodiversity, and I feel like that could happen across the United States eventually.”

Rise and Repair consists of a coalition of multiple organizations and people working together to advance Indigenous rights and climate justice, Goose said. On Tuesday, March 12, the group will lobby at the state capitol.

In addition to hosting trainings on how to lobby a legislator and a rally with speakers, the group also plans to meet with individual legislators to advance this agenda, which includes bills on climate justice education, a bill to reduce plastic waste with e-recycling and a Prove it First bill aimed to protect the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness from mining pollution.

“There are so many good things happening right now, and it's going to take all of us in order to create the future that we want to see. This is what the Rise and Repair rally is about: bringing together as many people as possible to push for climate justice,” Goose said.

Goose points to this abnormally warm winter that underscores the importance of influencing policy now for the sake of the planet.

“Here in Minnesota, we're witnessing climate change firsthand. This winter has been one that I haven't seen in my lifetime. It was 70 degrees here in Minnesota in March. The maple trees were running in February,” she said. "We're witnessing climate change, and we need to act on it before things become so out of hand that there's no going back.”

Protecting life on the planet includes protecting the rights of wild rice for Goose and the Rise and Repair movement. Manoomin holds great cultural significance to the Ojibwe people.

"It’s told in our history that our people were there on the East Coast by the Atlantic Ocean, until our prophecies told us to move west to the place where food grows on water,” Goose said. “On faith, my ancestors walked to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We're meant to be here.”

In her own backyard, Goose said she has seen the stands of rice on Leech Lake diminish over the years.

“It is really worrisome to me to see the manoomin disappearing at that rate. I want to take an active approach so my children can enjoy this beautiful tradition of going out and harvesting manoomin because it is a central part of our culture.”

All are welcome to join the rally at the state capitol Tuesday, March 12, beginning at 10 a.m.

Larissa Donovan has been in the Bemidji area's local news scene since 2016, joining the KAXE newsroom in 2023 after several years as the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.