Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

College of St. Ben's & St. John's U. Students Visit Red Lake

Will do Film on the Ojibwe Cultural - Significance of Water


October 9, 2017

Students from St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict. Brennan Lafeber, Grace Lindquist, Danica Simonet, Alexis Solheid and Padra Xiong visit with Al Pemberton, DNR Director and Tribal Council Member at Red Lake DNR

"In the time of the Seventh Fire, new people will emerge, the Oshkaabewisag (Messengers.) They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will take them to the Elders who they will ask to guide them on their journey." ~Gichi-Ma'iingan (Big Wolf) ROAD TO PONEMAH: The Teachings of Larry Stillday

"It's not about Indians, it's about people. All the life forces must come into alignment. The Prophecies tell us that we are now in the time of a great healing. It says the four Colors of the human family are once again given an opportunity to bring each Color's gifts together and create a mighty nation." ~Gichi-Ma'iingan (Big Wolf) ROAD TO PONEMAH: The Teachings of Larry Stillday

On Wednesday afternoon, October 4, 2017, students form the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University introduced themselves to elders and others at Red Lake Nation. The filmmakers were making contacts for future interviews on the cultural and spiritual significance of water. They visited first with Red Lake DNR Director and Tribal Councilman Al Pemberton. Next they visited with both elders and young teacher/messengers of culture and language at the Ojibwemowin Immersion Program.

Lastly the group would travel the road to Ponemah for a visit with Vickey Fineday and Wesley Cloud at Obaashiing University. Later all would travel to Windy Point living up to its name but just in time to see the sun set on Lower Red Lake, then turn to leave and see the Harvest Moon rising over Upper Red Lake. Students described it as an unforgettable experience. It was a good day.

About the Students and their film

The students visiting were bright, respectful, and professional. Five of the 20 involved came to visit, they included: Grace Lindquist and Brennan Lafeber who are Co–Directors for Extending the Link. Danica Simonet, Alexis Solheid and Padra Xiong joined them.

"Because Water is one of the four elements - the first round of Creation - we are focusing very tightly on water," said co-director Grace Lindquist, "we want to show everyone why the problems surrounding pipelines and water access/ownership is much more than an issue of resource distribution, and we must respect our water as it is a source of spiritual life as well."

Extending the Link (ETL) is a non-profit structured organization at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in St. Joseph and Collegeville, MN. Their mission is to foster awareness surrounding social justice issues through the creation of annual documentaries.

"Our team is made of 20 passionate students who strive to educate the community about under-represented social justice issues through the creation of annual films," said co-director Brennan Lafeber. "We are all dedicated to telling stories important to the global community. Each year, we focus on a different topic, and cover the story both locally and abroad."

ETL's motto is "Think Globally, Act Locally," and therefore each film focuses on an issue at an international and domestic level with the goal of tying the story back into how it affects our local community in Minnesota.

"We typically research our topic during the summer and fall, and travel to film the international elements of our film in late December and early January," noted team member Danica Simonet. "We then return to campus and compile our footage to create a documentary to be shown to our campus, and broader community. You can check out examples of our past work on our YouTube page and our website, just Google "Extending the Link.'"

This year, for their 11th film, they are focusing on the cultural significance, spiritual importance, and value of water. They say their inspiration came from the recent issues of water rights and pipeline projects in the headlines, and the idea is to highlight the deeper significance of water to Native Americans in Minnesota.

"For our international aspect, we plan to parallel this story to the cultural significance of water to the Hindu population in Kolkata and Varanasi, India." said well-traveled team member Alexis Solheid. "Our overall goal is to be a voice for this issue and help them tell their story."

Students said they selected the topic for the film last May and conducted research throughout the summer. They interview for the domestic aspect of the film in October through December while simultaneously fundraising for international travel.

"We then travel to the country of interest for approximately three weeks over winter break to document the international side, said ETL member Padra Xiong. "When we return in January, we immediately begin editing footage and piecing our story together. At the same time we begin organizing our 'act local' initiative, which is a project we sponsor to create sustainable change relating to the issue in our community."

By April the group will have its final product and premiere the film on campus and be added to their website and YouTube free of charge to all. In May the process begins again with a new topic.

"Again, this year we will be telling the story of the spiritual and cultural value of water, said Lindquist. "While the issue of water pollution and access is widely covered, the idea that water is more than a resource for human exploitation and represents life and spirit to many cultures is largely overlooked.

"We will be paralleling the stories of the Hindu religion in Varanasi, India to those of Native American tribes in Minnesota, specifically The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. Our team would love to visit, hear your stories, and learn from your tribe," concluded Lindquist.

If possible, the filmmakers would also like to film interviews with some members to feature in our film, hence the introductory visit. The goal is to be an outlet and resource for the tribe and to tell the story of how water is important to the Red Lake Ojibwe culture.

Here is a list of awards ETL films have won for three of their films, and links to those films:

St. Paul On-the-Line Film Festival: Films for Life Award

• Awarded for Ger Kler: A Journey of Untold Strength (EXL's 7th project tells the story of Karen refugees living in Thailand and Minnesota)

National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

Upper Midwest Regional Student Production Award for College Non-Fiction

Danica Simonet and Alexis Solheid Solheid listens to Vickey Fineday talk of the moon

• Awarded for Ger Kler: A Journey of Untold Strength (EXL's 7th project tells the story of Karen refugees living in Thailand and Minnesota)

• Awarded for Ubumwe: Together we Grow (EXL's 9th film, titled Ubumwe meaning Unity in Kinyarwanda, highlights the stories of women in agriculture both in central Minnesota and Rwanda.)

• Nominated for Obbasa Ain Gállit – We Continue (EXL's eighth documentary highlights indigenous issues through the lens of the Sámi people. The Sámi are the last recognized indigenous group in Europe. They reside in their homeland, Sápmi, which is comprised of Northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, but they also have a diaspora in North America due to a small group of reindeer herders being paid to immigrate to Alaska during the time of the gold rush.


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