YLDP at Freedom School

Youth Leadership Development Program staff and youth had a great summer at Freedom School! Some highlights include:

  • They attended a National Day of Action with other Freedom Schools in the twin cities area, as well as all other Freedom Schools in the country at the same time, and marched against gun violence to the state capital. 

  • They participated in youth science day at the science museum with the other Freedom Schools. 

  • The young women’s group attended the Hearts of Our People exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  It was a guided tour and the girls were quite impressed and proud. 

  • The tipi set and take down went really well with the older scholars helping to set up and then a ton of kids with the take down, but they learned some lessons and were able to see how heavy and careful a person needs to be with those tipi poles. 

LEAP! 2019: Feeding Native Families, Empowering Native Youth


A Recap

LEAP! 2019 was a success! We're excited to say that this year we raised over $72,000 for our Horizon's Unlimited Food Shelf and Youth Leadership Development Program!

Our keynote speaker for the event was Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. WCCO reporter Reg Chapman was the Master of Ceremonies for the event, which featured a silent auction, live auction, Fund-A-Need Pledge opportunity and included a Native drum group and hoop dancers for entertainment.

Over 300 people attended this year's event, located at the International Market Square in Minneapolis.

Thank You to the many table hosts, guests, and volunteers, including our LEAP committee and LEAP chairs Marisa Carr and Janis Hardy, who helped make this year's event a major success.

Children's Defense Fund - Minnesota 2018 American Indian Freedom School

Freedom School has begun! Beginning June 18th, 50 students began the 6 week program at Seward Montessori School. This free k-8 summer enrichment program provides academically supportive, culturally relevant, and experiential learning opportunities. Students will have an American Indian focused reading curriculum, weekly field trips, culturally specific afternoon activities, and much more!

Tell it to the Judge


On May 30th DIW hosted it’s 3rd “Tell it to the Judge,” an event dedicated to bringing together the community and local judges in an informal conversation on how the current judicial system affects the local, urban Native community focusing on concerns they have with certain proceedings, actions, and other aspects of the local judicial branch.

This night brought together many community members along with a large number of judges and judicial officers and focused on the topic of domestic violence and related issues, with community members sharing ideas of how to improve the quality of service and response to domestic violence in the court.

One of the things we did at this event was report back and share the changes that occurred in the courthouses because of the conversations from previous “Tell it to the Judge” events. We were happy to share that the courtrooms now include signage in Dakota and Ojibwe, and we also hope to get tribal flags in the courtrooms soon. Thank you to all who joined us for this event and we hope more changes can continue to happen!

LEAP 2018

LEAP Flyer FINAL 11-1 (2).png

On February 26th, we held our third annual fundraising event LEAP: Feeding Families, Empowering Youth. Hosted by the fantastic Rhina Yazzie, the evening featured auctions, music, hoop dancers, good food, and wonderful people. We are excited to announce that we raised over $50,000 for our Horizon's Unlimited Food Shelf and Youth Leadership Development Program.

Thank you to all who donated! Because of you, we will be able to continue to help ensure that our families have food for their tables and to continue to help our young people realize their potential. We are grateful for the wonderful support and for making a difference in the lives of the people we serve. 

Bdote Learning Center Celebration


On April 21st, 2018 we celebrated with the Bdote Learning Center in a showcase of academic achievements and language acquisition. We would like to thank Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey for visiting the Bdote Learning Center and recognizing the efforts this school is doing to encourage language revitalization. Congratulations to all of the kids and families that were represented this night!

DIW featured in Minnesota Monthly



Division of Indian Work Hosts Second Annual LEAP Benefit

The group dedicated to empowering urban American Indians raises funds for a culturally sensitive food shelf.

By Brigitta Greene, Minnesota Monthly
Published May 1, 2017

Original Article Here

On February 27, the Division of Indian Work hosted the second annual LEAP benefit at the Metropolitan Club in Golden Valley. The Division empowers urban American Indians through education, counseling, advocacy, and leadership development. Funds raised will be used to purchase food for Horizons Unlimited, a culturally sensitive food shelf. 

Louis Flammond: I’m a youth worker in south Minneapolis. Young people are in survival mode if their families are hungry. But if they’re fed—with nutritional foods, rather than commodities as they were in the past—our youth have the opportunity to take advantage of the programs we offer. 

Maren Hardy: I run the food shelf that this event is sponsoring. Right now our budget is so limited. Last year, we raised enough to feed people for the whole year—three days a week, three hours a day. This year, we’re hoping to stay open for four days a week, five hours a day. To tell people we don’t have food is horrible. We shouldn’t have to do that. 

Joseph Regguinti: I work for the Division of Indian Work with the domestic violence prevention program. We hold groups for men, teaching them a culturally based curriculum and skills to prevent the cycle of violence. The food shelf feeds a lot of the families that we interact with. 

Noya Woodrich: I worked at the Division of Indian Work for 22 years. We were always looking for an opportunity to have an event that would support the programs we offer. The food shelf has always had the most need—and it’s always growing.

Abel Martinez: I help make moccasins for native babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Minnesota. It’s my first time at a big fundraiser—it’s a whole new experience for me.

As told to Brigitta Greene

Original Article Here

DIW Solar Panels

Thank you Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for their donation towards the new roof and solar panels. Through a recent collaboration with Forteva Solar, the Division of Indian work is able to continue it’s mission of empowering urban American Indian’s with cleaner energy for the community and environment by generating 6% of it’s own power from these newly installed solar panels on our roof. These panels are able to produce the same amount of energy it takes every year to; remove 13,272 pounds of carbon; plant 198 trees; produce food for 136 people. Thank you everyone who contributed to our “Raise the Roof” campaign. Help others join the solar movement at fortevasolar.com 

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