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It all started with an email nearly three years ago. A Native American elder was allegedly attacked by a Somali youth in the Phillips Neighborhood in South Minneapolis. Instead of retaliating, Wade Keezer sent an email out on the Minnesota Indian Listserv urging people to keep the peace.

Native Americans living in Phillips were frustrated. After all, they consider this neighborhood their own-until many Somali moved there, opening businesses and raising their families.

“All these things I’ve been hearing through these years through cultural teachings is that you play a good host to your guest,” says Wade Keezer, one of the organizers of the Native American/Somali Friendship Committee.

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University of Minnesota students hope documentary prompts debate over apology to Native Americans

Students earning required social justice and diversity credits are producing a 60-minute video that also explores a possible apology for what Carter Meland calls “colonist policy and practices,’’ as well as reparations to the state’s Dakota and Ojibwe people, Meland explains. The public is invited to the premier, as well as Gov. Mark Dayton and University president Eric Kaler, though both are unable to attend. Find details at story’s end.

On the national level, the United States issued a quiet “apology to Native peoples of the United States,” buried in the 2010 defense appropriations bill. Writer Lisa Balk King dissed it in Indian Country Today with a piece headlined “A Tree Fell in the Forest: The U.S. Apologized to Native Americans and No One Heard a Sound.’’ In contrast, Canada in 2008 asked its citizens to tune into a nationally broadcast apology from Parliament.

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