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In the middle of winter, the Bears sleep, and dream of food and adventures to come ahead. That’s the time when we reflect and make plans for the spring. A Bear is also what they call a falling stock market—and that’s what happened this December. As of Christmas, all of the major indexes had lost l6 to 26 percent from their highs this summer and fall. Barring huge gains during the holiday period, this will be the worst December for stocks since 1931. We have officially entered what investors call Bear Market.

So, what does the Bear Clan do during a Bear Market? That’s the question I ask myself, as I dig into my stored foods—maple sugar, honey, berries, manoomin, hominy, potatoes and meat. We plan for the future; our own Indigenous economies. Nationally some of this is reflected in what’s called the Green New Deal and the Farm Bill. As we emerge to spring, it seems that Washington is beginning to move towards what we would call the 8th fire.

Green New Deal

This year, Minnesota had the highest voter turnout of any state in the midterm elections.. Nationally, despite heavy voter suppression, and a bunch of other monkey business, we elected some young visionary leaders, including those talking about a Green New Deal which will capitalize the next economy. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has called on the committee to draft a "Green New Deal" to get the country off fossil fuels by 2030, her leadership is joined with allies like the Native women just elected to Congress; Deb Haaland (NM) , Sharice Davids (KS) and Ilhan Omar, from Minnesota, all looking to the future. The Sunrise Movement is a new generation of leaders, and the shakeup in Washington is just beginning. The plan looks to address failing infrastructure of this country, whether the water crisis of Flint Michigan, or the aging power line which caused the latest fire in California. The plan seeks to employ people in jobs which matter for the environment and basic human needs.

Indeed, support for the Green New Deal is showing signs of becoming a litmus test among lawmakers who may run for president

Indeed, support for the Green New Deal is showing signs of becoming a litmus test among lawmakers who may run for president. Some elements include : Government-led investment in energy and resource efficiency, a directed tax on the profits of oil and gas companies with proceeds being invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency, curbing corporate tax evasion and a Global Marshall Plan initiative to finance the transformation. Sounds sort of dreamy right?

Well, it’s happening; here on White Earth, in the 1855, on Red Lake, and throughout the north as Indigenous people lead.

Here at White Earth, Akiing, a subsidiary of Honor the Earth, will bring a solar thermal manufacturing factory online, offering solar thermal panels nationally, straight outta Ponsford. Red Lake continues to move to more solar, Shakopee continues to expand its renewable and food system work, tribes are looking at climate change, and every tribe is looking at renewable energy. As investors flee from fossil fuel stocks (over $6 trillion divested thus far) there will be opportunities to invest in tribal renewable projects, particularly as the world looks upon Minnesota as a battle ground over the choice between fossil fuels (Line 3) and the next economy.

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Farm Bill Brings Home the Hemp and the Food

The Notorious FB, the Farm Bill was signed into law by President Trump in late December The FB includes about 63 provisions for tribal governments, focused on food production, food security and infrastructure. Kudos for hard work on this goes to a coalition and the leadership of Shakopee which organized the Native Farm Bill Coalition as part of the tribe's Seeds of Native Health campaign in the fall of 2017. Since that time, 170 tribes across the United States have joined the effort. "This farm bill acknowledges the fundamental sovereignty and competence of tribal governments far more than previous farm bills," said Keith Anderson, vice chair of the Shakopee and co-chair of the Native Farm Bill Coalition." It gives tribes greater control over our food systems and accords our tribal producers new parity in access to USDA programs."

In addition to food, hemp is explicitly removed from the list of federally banned drugs under the Controlled Substances Act and legalized in the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill paves the way for the first federally-sanctioned commercial hemp grows since World War II

Today, as hemp grows in the US market—the largest hemp market in the world, tribes can be at the table. Hemp Business Journal estimates the total retail value of all hemp products sold in the United States to be at least $688 million for 2016, sales are projected to be nearly $2 billion by 2020. The surge is expected to be led by hemp food, body care and CBD-based products. On White Earth, we expect to do all of these, plus fiber.

According to "CBD Nerds", the CBD industry could surpass $20 billion by 2024.

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That Moment in Time

Some people will make a future based on the stock market, some will take that future in hemp, solar panels , corn and manoomin. In Washington, the power which elected new leadership moves towards the Green New Deal; we have the opportunity to make that future together. For now, as the Bear looks to the world outside, we will make the plan the leaders can follow.

Winona LaDuke