LEAP 2017 Recap

The Division of Indian Work (DIW)  is basking in the glow of a wonderful evening of giving and sharing at our LEAP benefit on February 27.  Over three hundred people enjoyed the food and drink, visited with old friends...and made new connections... while enjoying the beautiful ambiance at the Metropolitan. 

Thank you to all who came, particularly our table hosts who generated enthusiasm and attendance so effectively.  Thank you to our wonderful performers: Maria Jette, Dan Chouinard and Jearlyn Steele who donated their incredible talent.   We are enormously grateful to our sponsors whose funding more than covered our expenses, ensuring that every penny raised at LEAP went directly to Horizons Unlimited, the food shelf at DIW.  

We are delighted to tell you that we raised nearly $60,000!   The upshot?  Horizons Unlimited will now be open four days a week, will be able to order another $1,000 of food each month, and can provide holiday baskets for more clients. 

We're already making plans for next year's benefit!  Save the date: February 26, 2018!  If you're interested in serving on our committee or volunteering at the event, or if you have an auction item you think we could use, please contact Ardie Medina at amedina@diw-mn.org  

Thank you!  Miigwech!  Pidamiyaye! See you at LEAP 2018! 

- The LEAP Fundraiser Committee


Dan Chouinard

LEAP Performer SpotlightDan Chouinard 

For three decades Dan Chouinard has been pianist and accordionist of choice for a who’s who of Twin Cities performers, an enabler of community singalongs and a writer of hit shows for public radio, concert hall and theatrical stage.

The list of regular Twin Cities colleagues includes Maria Jette, Prudence Johnson, Peter Ostroushko, Kevin Kling, Ann Reed, the Rose Ensemble and Philip Brunelle and Vocalessence. He’s appeared all across the upper Midwest and turned up often on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.

As a writer and host he’s often asked to create special live programs for Minnesota Public Radio, the MN Historical Society, the Rose Ensemble and others. His show Civil War Homecoming played at the Fitzgerald Theater in April 2015, was broadcast statewide on MPR and continues to be shown on Twin Cities Public Television. His stage musical Steerage Song toured throughout Minnesota in 2013, a show co-authored with Peter Rothstein about the Ellis Island era of immigration to the US, as portrayed in folk songs, newspaper clippings and Tin Pan Alley tunes. In 2014 his show Cafe Europa, about bicycling with an accordion from Naples to Normandy in search of Minnesota WWII stories, was broadcast and televised statewide.

Source: www.danchouinard.com

Jearlyn Steele

LEAP Performer Spotlight Jearlyn Steele

Join us February 27th for an evening of fundraising for DIW's Horizons Unlimited FoodShelf, including live performances from local talent such as Jearlyn Steele.

A native of Indiana, Jearlyn relocated to Minnesota and after much encouragement, she ventured out singing in churches, community centers and nightclubs. This eventually led her to theater where she has performed at such venues as Penumbra Theater of St. Paul, the Old Log Theater in Excelsior, The Historical State Theater in downtown Minneapolis, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, and the world renowned Guthrie Theater. Over a decade ago, Jearlyn, along with her siblings, “The Steeles”, began a successful run of the pop/gospel musical “Gospel At Colonus” which made its way to Carnegie Hall.

After Colonus, Jearlyn could be found in the studio recording national and local commercials for companies such as Kohler, H&R Block, Slumberland, Aveda, Target and many more. Her voice can be heard on various CD’s for national artists like George Clinton, Mavis Staples and Prince, with whom she has toured and recorded a duet, entitled “Race”. She has been a frequent guest on the prestigious A Prairie Home Companion radio show and can be seen in the final Robert Altman film, “A Prairie Home Companion” starring Meryl Streep as well as the Ray Romano movie, “95 Miles To Go”.  Among her honors are; Newsmaker of the Year 1998 by the MN Women’s Press, The William (Billy) Griffin Award by the Hallie Q. Brown Center, Beautiful Strong Woman 2002, Honorary Member of the Gustavus Library Association, and the CBS Radio General Manager’s Achievement Award 2006.

As of May 2009, Jearlyn has returned to college majoring in Organizational Management and Leadership at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota.  A mother of two, she has branched out to become more involved in creating ways to affect women and children’s lives through music and public speaking.  She has served on boards for the Ordway Circle of Stars and Chrysalis, a center for women.

Source: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/personality/jearlyn-steele/

Bradley Greenwald


Join us February 27th for an evening of fundraising for DIW's Horizons Unlimited FoodShelf, including live performances from local talent such as Bradley Greenwald. 

Bradley has performed opera, theater, music-theater, cabaret, concert and recital repertoire with several Twin Cities’ arts organizations, including Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Jungle Theater, Children's Theatre Company, Theater Latté Da, Frank Theatre, Open Eye Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Nautilus Music-Theater, Minnesota Dance Theatre, James Sewell Ballet, VocalEssence, Minnesota Orchestra, Lyra Baroque Orchestra, A Prairie Home Companion, 10,000 Things, Skylark Opera and Ballet of the Dolls. He adapted the novel A Wrinkle in Time into a libretto for Libby Larsen's opera; and wrote the book and lyrics for C., an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, Robert Elhai, music.

Bradley is the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship in music, the McKnight Fellowship for Theater Artists, and a 2006 Ivey Award.

Source: http://minnesotaplaylist.com/talent/bradley-greenwald

Maria Jette

Join us February 27 at the Metropolitan Club for LEAP Into the Fight Against Hunger featuring performances from local and nationally recognized artists, including singer Maria Jette. 

Soprano Maria Jette’s wide-ranging career has encompassed everything from early Baroque opera to world premieres, in the United States and abroad. Her orchestral resumé includes The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and more. 

A regular guest over many seasons at the San Luis Obispo Mozart and Oregon Bach Festivals, the Maverick Chamber Series and the Oregon Festival of American Music, she’s often heard nationally on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. For more information please visit www.mariajette.com

Source: http://msomn.org/maria-jette-soprano

LEAP Event Info

Join us February 27 at the Metropolitan Club (with its free parking) in Golden Valley from 5:00pm - 8:30pm for second annual LEAP benefit. Funds raised by this event will be used to purchase food for Horizons Unlimited, the only culturally-sensitve food shelf serving the west metro American Indian population. 

Enjoy the incredible talents of Maria Jette, Bradley Greenwald, Jearlyn Steele, Dan Chouinard and Tall Paul as you partake of fabulous hors d'oeuvres provided by D'Amico and a live action featuring a wide variety of items and experiences.

Letter of Separation

Dear Friends,

In the life of a nonprofit organization, there is often change—some good, some bad, most bittersweet.

It is with the latter in mind that we write to let you know that after a mutually beneficial partnership of 65 years, the boards of directors of both the Division of Indian Work (DIW) and the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches (GMCC) have decided to separate our organizations. 

GMCC is in the midst of making strategic changes to position itself for the future. This presents an opportune time for DIW to pursue its long-time desire to have its own tax-exempt status and truly be an American Indian-led organization. Both organizations are excited to take this next step! DIW anticipates new opportunities to strengthen and grow the services we have offered our American Indian community since 1952. 

2017 will be a year of transition and both boards will be working together to ensure the process goes smoothly and that services to our people will not be impaired. DIW has created a Frequently Asked Questions page on its website at www.diw-mn.org. We invite you to visit the page for more information.

If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out to us. We will be happy to answer other questions or address any concerns you may have.

Thank you for your support over these many years. We hope you will continue to partner with us to serve American Indian families. We welcome your company as we embark on an exciting future for the organization and our community.

A list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) is available here. 

With respect and warm regards,

Louise Matson
DIW Executive Director

Robert A. Blaeser
DIW Board Chair

Ending the year on a high note


Dear Supporters: 

What does it mean to be successful? Is it having a huge bank account? Owning a large house? Driving a new car? Maybe. Those certainly are not successes to be discounted! But like many of you, at the Division of Indian Work we count our successes a little differently. 

There is the child who reads better and understands math a little bit more by the time she says goodnight to her tutor. There is the teen mom who can focus on raising her baby because she has stable housing. Or the young foster boy who stops running away because he now has a home he feels safe in. And let’s not forget the elder who cooks up a hot, nutritious meal made from the bag of groceries from our food shelf.

This is the kind of success we can wrap our heads and hearts around. This is the kind of success that takes care to bring the needs of those less fortunate to the forefront. And this is the kind of success DIW hopes to continue to achieve for its program participants.

As we bring 2016 to a close, we are keenly aware of dedicated friends like you who have helped us achieve so much for our community. And as we treasure the successes your support made possible for our clients over the year, we once again turn to you to ask for a year-end gift that will help us close on a high note–raising the hopes and seeing to the needs of our less fortunate neighbors.

Please take a moment to send your tax-deductible gift today. We have enclosed an envelope for your convenience. If you wish to make your donation online, go to diw-mn.org/donate today.

I thank you in advance for your kind generosity and wish you and yours the absolute best of the Holiday Season and New Year.

With warmest regards,

Louise Matson
Executive Director

Healthy Transitions Program

The Division of Indian Work's Healthy Transitions Program is currently working with 12 foster care youth to prepare them for independent living when they age out of the foster care system at 18. By supporting DIW today, you allow us to further this program's mission of empowering the urban American Indian youth who need it most.

20th Annual Elders Picnic

Today's Elders Picnic at Minnehaha Park was a huge success! A big thanks to Thrivent Financial's Action Team for providing us with gift bags for elders in support of our Health Services. Highlights included a Wisdom Steps Walk, music, free lunch, door prizes, raffle, activities, memorial honoring and more! Thank you everyone! 

Our Senior Services provides American Indian elders with the services they need to maintain their well-being, including outreach to help elders with limited mobility, energy assistance, EBT payments, and paperwork to help them obtain social security benefit. 

Our Senior Services also helps elders with applying for social security, access to proper food and commodities as well as assistance with transportation, connections to social events and supporting them through difficult times and situations in their lives. 

All photos by Division of Indian Work

Woju Wakan Garden Party

We threw a garden party to celebrate the 675 lbs of produce we've harvested from the Woju Wakan garden this summer in partnership with Minnesota FoodShare and volunteers! 

This summer the Woju Wakan garden has grown a record amount of produce, with 1,085 pounds and counting. The garden produce is given out each week at a free farmers market outside the Division of Indian Work food shelf, where clients can ask questions about the weekly selection, discuss ways to prepare the food, and share some of the reasons why they’re stopping by. “My doctor told me I need to eat healthier, but it’s so expensive,” a man shared as he picked up a bundle of kale. “What do you do with this?” These conversations teach us that when given a choice and an opportunity to learn new ways of eating, people are curious to try new food and eager to make healthful choices. 

The free farmers market has featured everything from watermelons and raspberries to sage, squash, tomatoes, and fresh mint. Lemon cucumbers have especially been a hit, as people are surprised and delighted to learn these round, yellow, vegetables are just a different variety of the more familiar green cucumbers they know.

In addition to producing a plethora of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, the garden has been a learning space for SMART Nations summer school students, who visited the garden twice a week this summer to learn about food cultivation, soil quality, and Native American medicines. Through student visits, volunteer support, and community gatherings, over 100 people have visited Woju Wakan this summer to be a part of this community that is caring for the earth and our neighbors by growing culturally-relevant, sustainable food. This garden is made possible through the generous contributions of Powderhorn Empty Bowls and Saint Luke Presbyterian.

All photos by Division of Indian Work

DIW's New Roof

On behalf of DIW and it's board members, we extend a VERY big thank you to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) for their challenge grant of $65,000 which includes the installation of solar panels. Through partnerships and collaborations such as this, environmental stewardship activities, and charitable giving, SMSC seeks to embody Dakota values each day. Being a good neighbor, good employer, and good steward of the earth is a core part of who they are and what they do. Learn more here. 

Division of Indian Work's Executive Director, Louise Matson (second to the left), poses with our Board of Directors on our brand new roof! 

Division of Indian Work's Executive Director, Louise Matson (second to the left), poses with our Board of Directors on our brand new roof! 

American Indian Freedom School

American Indian Freedom Schools is wrapping up our 2nd Freedom School summer today.  In partnership with Children's Defense Fund-MN, DIW hosts the nation's first American Indian-focused school during the months of June and July.

The program empowers students and curbs summer learning loss by offering developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant curriculum. Reading is the academic focus, with educational field trips.

All photos by Division of Indian Work

All photos by Division of Indian Work

What a great summer!!!

US Department of Education at DIW

Secretary of U.S. Department of Education, John King, Jr., stopped by Division of Indian Work Friday afternoon to speak with our youth. He was joined by Mayor Betsy Hodges and the Special Assistant to the President, My Brother's Keeper at The White House. 

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

By Erin Golden, Star Tribune: "Sitting around a table with the country’s top education official, a White House adviser, and the mayor of Minneapolis, young people of color from around the Twin Cities spoke frankly on Friday about their worries and hopes. They told stories about dealing with crime and drug addiction, shared concerns about interacting with police and wondered why it sometimes seems that their schools don’t offer the same classes and opportunities offered to their peers in other parts of their cities. The officials — on a brief tour of “listening sessions” that included a stop at the St. Paul school where police shooting victim Philando Castile had worked — promised that they were listening and ready to take action." - See Full Article

Photo courtesy of Mayor Betsy Hodges 

Photo courtesy of Mayor Betsy Hodges 

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges posted "Today I had the opportunity to meet with Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and the Director of President Obama's My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, Michael Smith. We met at the Division of Indian Work for a roundtable discussion with Minneapolis youth to discuss the challenges they face and to commit to addressing a broad range of the most significant issues. They spoke unapologetically about their lives - they did not hold back in advocating for themselves, their peers, and their communities. I am continually in awe of the youth in our city. I want to thank Secretary King, Michael Smith, and the White House for their continued partnership in addressing some of our strongest challenges." - Mayor Betsy Hodges

Woju Wakan with Bob Klandarude

Images from yesterday’s garden gathering at the Division of Indian Works' Woju Wakan urban garden with DIW's SMART Nations youth program and teacher Bob Klandarude. 

Many things have been placed on the earth for our use. One of the major tools given to us are the plant medicines. Certain plants give up their lives so that we can use their smoke for prayers and cleansing, and the aroma produced by these plants help us place ourselves in a different state of mind thus bringing us into a deeper part of ourselves. Then, as we concentrate on what is happening, the scent may inspire memories, awaken the soul and give a sense of direction. (source)

There are Four major medicine plants;  tobacco, sweet grass, sage and cedar that we natives use frequently in ceremonies. In Native American ceremonies, certain herbs are traditionally used to purify or bless people and places. A smudge stick is a bundle of dried herbs, usually bound with string into a small bundle. The herbs are later burned as part of a ritual or ceremony. Plants that are often used include sage and cedar. (source)

The format of the smudging in today's rituals varies from culture to culture and so does the plants and herbs used for such sacred ceremony. In the Dancing To Eagle Spirit Society's rituals we utilize mostly sage (all kinds), cedar, juniper, sweet grass, lavender, wild tobacco, Native American Tobacco. (source)

Visit dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org for the original sourced content.

All photos by Division of Indian Work. 

A Change in Leadership at GMCC

Dear Friends of GMCC:

This June, we said goodbye to our friend and colleague, Noya Woodrich, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches (GMCC) President and CEO. Noya has decided to leave GMCC. Effective June 21st, the GMCC board has appointed Curt Peterson as Interim President and CEO.

Noya has contributed her talents to the broader organization for over 25 years. After serving in numerous positions, in 2012 Noya became President and CEO of GMCC, taking over responsibility for our family of programs. We thank Noya for all her contributions to Division of Indian Work (DIW) and GMCC and wish her the best success for the future.

Horizons Unlimited Free Farmers Market

Division of Indian Work's Horizons Unlimited food shelf and Minnesota FoodShare are joining forces this summer to offer FREE farmers markets every Wednesday from 12:30pm - 2:30pm as an extension of the DIW food shelf Horizons Unlimited.

Horizons Unlimited (HU) addresses hunger by providing the only culturally-sensitive food shelf in the west metro serving the urban American Indian population. HU has been offering services since 1952 and over 900 people benefited from a recent holiday toy drive program. The food shelf provides families and seniors with access to fresh food including meats, fruits, vegetables and non-perishables, open three days a week for three hours. This means healthier food options for those with diet-sensitive issues such as diabetes, a growing health issue for American Indians.

Horizons Unlimited also helps with food delivery for elders with limited transportation and/or mobility as well free gift baskets of food, clothing and toys during the holiday season. HU also partners with Second Harvest in support of nearly 700 tribal members of the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation.

All the fresh produce is sourced straight from our Wuju Wakan (Sacred Plants) garden in south Minneapolis and we're excited to share it with the community! 

All photos by Division of Indian Work