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Indigenous Environmental Network to host Mother Earth Conference

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Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Flames from the sacred fire will brighten the camp at the Veterans Memorial Powwow Grounds in Cass Lake beginning early Thursday morning.

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But many of those attending the Indigenous Environmental Network Mother Earth Conference Thursday through Sunday will arrive to set up their camps today and Wednesday.

The four-day gathering will feature hands-on activities, such as wild edible plant gathering, straw bale building construction, a talent show and youth mural painting, as well as plenary sessions and workshops focusing on environmental issues that especially impact indigenous people.

Beginning at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Shawna Larson, environmental justice coordinator for IEN and Alaska Community Action on Toxics, will serve as moderator for the session on Toxics and Environmental Health.

Tom Goldtooth, director of IEN headquartered in Bemidji, said indigenous people are especially susceptible to pollution because of their traditional hunting and gathering. "Many of our people use water, plants, birds, fish and animals in our traditional and spiritual practices and ceremonies," he said in a press release.

At 1:30 p.m. Friday, the session will focus on Energy Genocide. The concerns are that resources are used by governments and corporations to meet the needs of industry. Indigenous people believe they have suffered impacts from mining, oils and gas extraction and hydroelectric power development without gaining any benefits. The session will profile the indigenous activists involved in the environmental justice conflicts.

At 4:20 p.m. Saturday an energy issues workshop will focus on community based wind and solar projects presented by John Shimek of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Jason Eden of Backus with the Rural Renewal Energy Alliance.

Other workshops will include presentations on the waste stream, sacred site protection strategies, toxic threat of incinerators and exploitation of water.

There will be reports on the World Water Forum, Indigenous Aquaculture Network, United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development 2005, North American Indigenous Mining Summit, the EPA Office of Environmental Justice, the World Social Forum and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Goldtooth said all the sessions and some workshops will be Web-Cast throughout the world. There will also be a live radio broadcast.

Showers will be available, meals will be provided and security will be on site. The cost is $5 per car, with further donations accepted.

For more information, go to ienearth.org.

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