Racism, poverty, despair, derogatory names discussed at first Turtle Island Project Native American Roundtable

Inaugural Grand Island Conference in northern Michigan addressed racism, poverty, teen suicide, derogatory location names, and other issues

[blip.tv ?posts_id=402392&dest=-1]

Rev. Hubbard opens roundtable

Centering prayer, Celtic spiritual issues discussed during Turtle Island Project regional conference in northern Michigan

George talks spirituality

(Munising, Michigan) – Racism, poverty, teen suicide on reservations, the derogatory perversion of American Indian names on Minnesota rivers and other locations across the country, and learning respect for the environment from Earth-based cultures were among the topics discussed at a Native American Roundtable this weekend in northern Michigan.

Sponsored by the Turtle Island Project, a non-profit based in the Upper Peninsula, the conference was held at the Eden on the Bay Lutheran Church in Munising.

The reasons for a shocking increase in teen suicides at American Indian reservations was discussed including the 600 attempts and 15 deaths over the past two years at the Lakota Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. The discussion included whether media coverage of the suicides would be different if the victims were white teenagers.

Participants debate during NA Roundtable 

“I think one of the main reasons for suicide is loss of identity and hope and with that comes deep despair,” said Pat Cornish-Hall, a Munising resident who is just discovering her mother’s Native American heritage. “I do believe that poverty certainly has an effect on suicide.”

Counselor Joni Peffers of Gwinn said the media should report on the trends of teen suicides in their area but not give the individual details of each attempt or death.

“Each suicide should not be publicized for many reasons,” said Peffers, owner of Celtic Cove Counseling at K.I. Sawyer.

While agreeing that Native American teen suicides are often overlooked by the media, Peffers said even trends in white teenage suicides and attempts are not reported citing several recent cases in Marquette County.

TIP co-founder Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard said wars across the globe have been started in the name of religion – but “that is not the case with Native Americans who fought over the theft of land or hunting rights, never over differences in religious belief.”

Rev. Hubbard shows books during conference 

“Native American never started a war over religious ideology,” said Rev. Hubbard, TIP director and pastor of Eden on the Bay Lutheran church. “We (whites) are the kind of people who fight wars over religious ideology.”

The perversion of the original Native American name of Minnesota’s Rum River and similar derogatory namess was placed on the agenda at the request of Thomas Dahlheimer, director of the Rum River Name Change Organization Inc. in Wahkon, Minnesota.

Minnesota name change director 

Minnesota State Rep. Mike Joros, D-Duluth, recently introduced a bill that would change 14 derogatory geographic place names that are offensive to American Indians.

The Rum River in Minnesota was named by whites referring to alcohol “spirits” instead of the original American Indian name that meant “Great Spirit.”

“Two of these derogatory names were changed from the sacred Ojibwe name for their Great Spirit (Manido) to Devil, as was the custom throughout our nation,” said Dahlheimer. “Racial hatred was why many geographic site names were change from Native peoples’ names for the Great Spirit to Devil.”

Many faulty translations of Native American names were done out of racism and as a “deliberate insult and slur,” Dahlheimer said.

“These derogatory names remind Native people of the cultural genocide that is being perpetrated against them,” Dahlheimer said. “Changing these names it will help in the healing process – but keeping the derogatory names would maintain a racist, derogatory characterization of Native peoples.”

Dahlheimer said “heightened awareness of the catastrophic consequences caused by white settlers introducing and selling alcohol to Native Americans – may cause white Euro-Americans to offer all Native Americans their long overdue restitution justice.”

Dahlheimer’s views were presented at the roundtable by a TIP volunteer, but organizers hope future events will include a internet camera so tribal officials from around the country can participate without traveling to northern Michigan.

Hubbard said one of the goals of the TIP is to “give Native Americans a venue in which their voices can be heard and listened to.”

Rev. Hubbard points at map during 1st conf. 

“Americans, whether of Native or Euro-American ancestry, are still being oppressed by political, social, and economic structures, like we were from our European ancestors,” Hubbard said. “There is so much evil in the world that we have created structures, such as corporations which are not actually moral entities, but function rather primarily as legal entities.”

“Morality has to do with the ability to feel empathy and remorse, to say that you are sorry and to admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard said it’s rare for corporations and politicians to admit error and only do so “when they absolutely have to and even then, it is often inauthentic and not sincere.”

“If you can not say ‘I’m sorry’ if you can not admit to a mistake you are not a moral entity,” Hubbard said.

Rev. Hubbard holds Deloria book 

“We let these structures do our dirty wok for us and then think we can walk free by simply claiming that we had nothing personally to do with the irresponsible immoral actions of our social and corporate institution,” Hubbard said. “That is the height of absolute moral hypocrisy.”

Hubbard said the reason “this evil is so great because it is structured into our political, religious and cultural institutions.”

As an example, Hubbard said some members of the news media have become “extensions of the current political and corporate powers regimes running this country.”

Hubbard said the news media are “supposed to defend us from falsehood and adhere to the truth but some have themselves become merchants of fear and chaos.”

lively dicussion during TIP Conf. 

Audience gets into discussion

“This is bringing about the death of any real public debate in this country, and with the loss of genuine public debate, we lose our democracy, and our voices are silenced.” Hubbard said. “We can’t even tell anymore where entertainment ends and news begins.”

During the conference on ecology and Celtic spirituality, there was a debate over ways Christians can protect nature and fight corporate giants that do much of the polluting.

Featured speaker Rev. Dr. George Cairns of Chesterton, Indiana explained he fights environmental problems and other important social issues with a wide-range of methods including “contemplative prayer” and “engaging structural evil.”

The Scotland-based Iona community is a good example of a group of people “who are unified by a covenant, worship together and who engage in very effective political action to change structural evil.”

Rev. Cairns said “centering prayer” and “participative consciousness” that are techniques of deep meditation he learned from Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk and teacher. (Trappist refers to a branch of the Cistercian order of monks known for an austere rule including a vow of silence.)

Dr. George Cairns disucces spirituality, meditation 

“Silent meditation is a powerful tool to open ourselves to one another and to all creation which is what this participative consciousness is all about,” said Cairns, TIP co-founder and board president.

Cairns said the intense form of meditation helps eliminate the “internal dialogue” or “chatter that’s going on all the time” in people’s minds.

“I found out how much of my life was consumed by internal dialogue,” said Cairns, research professor of theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Rev. Cairns on centering prayer 

Dr. Cairns lighter moment 

Centering prayer allows “us to open our hearts to a deeper relationship with God and an increased openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives,” said Rev. Cairns, admitting it’s an easier technique to teach than for people to learn and practice.

“The technique to doing it – is simply to rest with God. It’s not easy to do, it’s easy to teach, but very difficult to do,” Cairns said.

Dr. Cairns discusses action and meditation to fight evil 

 In fighting the world’s evil, Cairns said “we can’t get their with just our hearts – we need our heads and something more.”

“That something more is a deep relationship with one another and with all creation,” Cairns said.

Rev. Cairns gives presentation

Founders of TIP 

Summary of Turtle Island Project & TV sites:

Turtle Island Project main website:


Turtle Island TV (blipTV)


Turtle Island TV (youtube)


Turtle Island (myspace)


Turtle Island Project websites/Blogs:






During the Turtle Island Project regional conference in northern Michigan, Pastor William “Bill” Shepard of Menominee played two videos he produced.

Shepard is seeking stories from around the world on crosses – and why they are important or sacred to different people.

Rev. Shepard is videotaping interviews for his “Every Cross Has A Story To tell” project.

Menominee Pastor and crosses 

crosses vid tv 

Rev. Shepard also show his “Them/Us” video that shows how easily prejudice can separate people into groups: Them vs. Us.

For more information:

Rev. William Shepard

2320 17th Avenue

Menominee, MI



wtshepard @yahoo. com

(close gaps in address)

Call: 906-863-2066


Contact info for people quoted in news release:

Turtle Island Project founder/Director:

Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard

Eden on the Bay Evangelical Lutheran Church

1150 M-28 West

Munising, MI.


wk: 906-387-2520

cell: 906.202.0590


Rev. Dr. George Cairns, TIP founder/board chairman


Research Professor of Practical Theology and Spirituality at Chicago Theological Seminary

lives in Chesterton, Indiana

ordained minister in the United Church of Christ

The Iona Community – Worldwide:


Rum River Name Change Organization Inc.

Thomas Dahlheimer, director

P.O. Box 24

Wahkon, Minnesota


Call: 320-495-3874


Minnesota H.F. No. 2503 introduced 85th Legislative Session (2007-2008) on May 18, 2007

A bill to change 14 derogatory geographic place names offensive to American Indians introduced by Rep. Mike Jaros, D-District O7B (Duluth).


Related information:

TeePee & fliers at July 2007 Anoka County sesquicentennial:


Combating White Racism Against Indigenous Peoples:


Solving The Alcohol Abuse Epidemic:



Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer’s articles and letters to the editor:


History of the Anoka Dakota Unity Alliance:



Minnesota Apology for the Explotation of Native Amercans:


Minnesota Indian Affairs Draft Resolution:




About yoopernewsman

I am a news reporter, writer and investigative journalist and began my career about 40 years ago as a young teenager in Augusta, GA after moving south during the middle of high school. I'm a news reporter, writer & investigative journalist specializing in street news, plus Indigenous, civil rights & environment reporting. Currently volunteer media advisor for numerous American Indian & environment related nonprofits that include the Navajo Lutheran Mission in Rock Point, AZ & its executive director Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard, the nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute (CTI) in Marquette, MI & its many projects founded by Rev. Jon Magnuson, Author Joy Ibsen of Trout Creek, MI, Celtic Christianity Today (CCT) founded by Rev. Dr. George Cairns, the Turtle Island Project founded by pastors Hubbard & Cairns. In its third summer, the CTI Zaagkii Wings & Seeds Project & its volunteers built a16-foot geodesic dome solar-powered greenhouse that was built in this summer at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) in an effort to restore native species plants to northern Michigan. It's located at the tribe's Natural Resources Department north of L'Anse along Lake Superior. During the summer of 2010, Zaagkii Project teens built & painted 25 beautiful reliquaries that are boxes made from pine & cedar that are used to store seeds for planting & included samples of Native American medicine including sweetgrass, cedar, sage & tobacco. From April-June 2009, I promoted the EarthKeeper Tree Project that planted 12,000 trees across northern Michigan. Co-edited "Unafraid," the second book by Author Joy Ibsen of Trout Creek, MI that was printed in May 2009 based on her father's handwritten sermons she found in shoebox. I edited numerous videos for nonprofit CCT. Began career 35 years ago as teenager in Augusta, GA after moving south during middle of high school. I was co-coordinator of the 1986 original James Brown Appreciation Day in Augusta, GA, where the Godfather of Soul was always trashed by local media who didn't report anything positive about the music icon. Mr. Terence Dicks was the other co-coordinator & most recently served as chair of the Augusta Human Relations Commission and serves on the Georgia Clients Council. Mr. Brown taught us to "fight the good fight" by battling all forms of racism & evil while not uttering a bad word about those who try to block justice, respect, fairness & kindness to all. As a child, I lived in the Harbert, Michigan home built by late poet Carl Sandburg, where the legendary author penned some of his greatest works including his Chicago works & Lincoln papers. The four-story home had a sundeck on the top & a cool walk-in safe in the basement. The neighborhood (Birchwood) has numerous cottages used for other purposes by Sandburg like the milk house where they milked goats. My parents remodeled fourth floor of the home that stands atop the Lake Michigan sand dunes/bluffs. They found items that belonged to Mr. Sandburg concealed in the walls including prescription bottles with his name, reading glasses, & a small, thin metal stamp with his name. I've worked for dozens of newspapers & radio & TV stations in GA & MI. I'm volunteer media advisor for several interfaith environmental projects involving Native Americans across Upper Peninsula of MI including the Turtle Island Project, The Zaagkii Project, the Interfaith Earth Healing Initiative, EarthKeeper Initiative & the Manoomin (Wild Rice) Project. The Zaagkii Wings & Seeds Project restores bee & butterfly habitat to help pollination of plants following death of billions of bees. Keweenaw Bay Indian Community youth & Marquette teens built butterfly houses, planted/distributed 26,000 native plants to help pollinators. The Earth Healing Initiative assisted EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge. EHI helped organize interfaith participation across eight states for the 100 plus recycling projects (April 2008) involving recycling millions of pounds of electronic waste & proper disposal of millions of pills/pharmaceuticals. EPA goals were exceeded by 500%. Under an EPA grant, EHI provided free media services for the cities/groups/tribes including videos & press releases. The EarthKeeper environment projects include an annual Earth Day Clean Sweep (2005-2007) at 24 free drop-off sites across a 400 mile area of northern Michigan that collected over 370 tons of household hazardous waste. The 2007 EarthKeeper Pharmaceutical Clean Sweep collected over one ton of drugs plus $500,000 in narcotics in only three hours. Some 2,000 residents participated & many brought in pharmaceuticals for their family, friends & neighbors. In 2006, 10,000 people dropped off over 320 tons of old/broken computers, cell phones & other electronic waste, all of which was recycled. In 2005, residents turned in 45 tons of household poisons & vehicle batteries. The Manoomin (Wild Rice) Project teaches teens to respect nature & themselves by having American Indian guides escort them to remote lakes & streams in northern Michigan to plant/care for wild rice. The teens test water quality to determine the best conditions for the once native grain to survive. The Turtle Island Project was co-founded in July 2007 by Rev. Lynn Hubbard of Rock Point, AR (Ex. Dir. of the Navajo Lutheran Mission) & Rev. Dr. George Cairns of Chesterton, IN, United Church of Christ minister & research professor for the Chicago Theological Seminary. TIP promotes respect for culture & heritage of indigenous peoples like American Indians. TIP is a platform for American Indians to be heard unedited by whites. Rev. Hubbard says whites don't have the knowledge or right to speak on behalf of Native Americans. I specialize in civil rights, outdoor, environmental, cops & courts reporting thanks to my late mentor Jay Mann (Jan Tillman Hutchens), an investigative reporter in Augusta, who lived by the books "Illusions" & "Jonathon Livingston Seagull." Love to fish, hunt, camp & skydive. Belong to Delta Chi national fraternity. I was active in Junior Achievement, band played cornet. With my dear friend, the Rev. Terence A. Dicks, we were the co-coordinators of the 1986 original James Brown Appreciation Day in Augusta, GA, where the Godfather of Soul was always trashed by the local media who found no reasons to print or report anything positive about the music icon. I am honored to help the human rights activist Terence Dicks - with some of his projects including the nonprofit Georgia Center for Children and Education - and the economic initiative he founded titled "Claiming A Street Named King." I am the volunteer media advisor for several environmental projects across Michigan's Upper Peninsula including EarthKeeper II - an Initiative of the nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute in Marquette, MI. EarthKeepers II is an Interfaith Energy Conservation and Community Garden Initiative across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Goals: Restore Native Plants and Protect the Great Lakes from Toxins like Airborne Mercury in cooperation with the EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. Forest Service, 10 faith traditions and Native American tribes like the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Previously known as the Earth Keeper Initiative - that project included many environmental projects including an annual Earth Day Clean sweep at two dozen free drop off sites across a 400 mile area of northern Michigan. The target of the 2007 Earth Keeper Pharmaceutical Clean Sweep are all kinds of medicines. In 2006, some 10,000 people dropped off over 320 tons of old/broken computers, cell phones and other electronic waste, all of which was recycled. In 2005, residents turned in 45 tons of household poisons and vehicle batteries. The Manoomin (Wild Rice) Project taught at-risk teens (just sentenced in juvenile court) to respect nature and themselves by having American Indian guides escort them to very remote lakes and streams in northern Michigan to plant and care for wild rice. The teens conducted water quality and other tests to determine the best conditions for the once native grain to survive. I have always specialized in civil rights, outdoor, environmental, cops and courts reporting thanks to my late mentor Jay Mann (Jan Tillman Hutchens), an investigative reporter in Augusta, who lived by the book "Illusions."
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