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Indigenous Peoples Movement March set for Friday

BEMIDJI—Bemidji-area American Indian leaders and students are set to march Friday to draw attention to the challenges facing Indigenous people worldwide.

The first-ever Indigenous Peoples Movement March will begin with a short prayer and ceremony at the Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues in downtown Bemidji. Marchers will then head to the American Indian Resource Center at BSU for discussions about those Indigenous issues and how they might be addressed.

Those issues include the disproportionate number of American Indian women whose disappearances and murders go unsolved; mounting legal challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act, which aims to place American Indian adoptees with American Indian families; caricatures of American Indians used as sports mascots and Halloween costumes; and an expanding network of oil pipelines that crisscross the country and are regularly decried as threats to tribal sovereignty and the environment.

High school students from Bemidji, Cass Lake-Bena, Bagley and a few other Bemidji-area districts are scheduled to attend and speak about why they chose to do so.

The march is part of a continent-spanning effort by the Indigenous Peoples Movement, which aims to unite Indigenous voices. Movement leaders have organized a large-scale march in Washington, D.C., and the Bemidji event is one of several "solidarity marches" planned in the U.S. and Canada.

If you go:

What: Indigenous Peoples Movement March

When: Short prayer and ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18; march begins at 10 a.m.

Where: Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues to American Indian Resource Center at BSU. Activities continue throughout the day at the AIRC.