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

SMART Nations Canoe Trip

"We canoed at Hyland lake. The group received instructions (water safety, paddles, parts of the canoe, how to get in and out) before going out on the lake from the Hyland park staff and had couple of volunteers assisting them with our group."

"Once out on the lake they gathered in the middle and did couple of group exercises with the canoes. At one point people were able to change/switch positions in the canoe at the island. Kids and staff enjoyed every minute of it. Some saw turtles and fish while out on the lake. The weather was perfect!"

Story from Clarissa, Program Coordinator of SMART Nations

All photos by Division of Indian Work

DIW Roof

We have great news! This May, we successfully completed the $65,000 challenge grant awarded us by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) to replace the roof on the Division of Indian Work (DIW) building.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

And we have even better news!! In early May, SMSC informed us that they would also extend the grant to cover solar panels.

Of course we would not have been able to accomplish this without you! Our followers support and dedication to DIW spurred us on to make every effort to be successful in meeting the match.

A new roof, complete with solar panels, launches us into a “green” era that takes into account the environmental and economic impact that the DIW building has on our property and our budgets. We are pleased to report that work on the roof will begin within the next month or so.

Anishinabe Summer Program

Yesterday marked the first day of Anishinabe Summer Program, the nation's first American Indian-focused Freedom 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 every Friday.

Summer Program combines recreational activity, educational experiences, and cultural awareness in a summer vacation program, implemented in part by Division of Indian Work YLDP staff. Youth meet for field trips to various Twin Cities museums, cultural experiences such as learning about the traditional use of tobacco and visiting the Elders’ Lodge; and recreation such as Bunker Beach Water Park and Webber Pool. 

They also participate in educational activities at DIW, like science activities, crafts, and using the educational software (math, typing, language) on the computer in the YLDP classroom. In between the field trips, youth go swimming and participate in physically-active gym activities. 

All photos by Division of Indian Work

All photos by Division of Indian Work

Minneapolis American Indian Month highlights

The Minneapolis American Indian Month kicked off on May 2 with the Parade of Nations, which started at Little Earth and ended at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. It was a beautiful afternoon that concluded with a feast at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. DIW staff and clients proudly marched alongside other Twin Cities agencies in celebration of our shared culture and history.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

The DIW Two-Steppers team once again triumphed as the top agency fundraiser in this year’s Powwow for Hope, raising about $2,100 for the American Indian Cancer Foundation. DIW staff and family joined in on the dancing and celebration.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

A celebration event on May 4 at East Phillips Park honored Minneapolis American Indian students with school attendance of 95% or better. Parents, teachers and staff from various American Indian agencies joined in the festivities by sharing a meal, catching up with friends and cramming into the the photo booth.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

The 21st annual Native Youth Olympics were held on Saturday, May 21 at East Phillips Park. Youth ages 5-18 competed in various games and races while friends and family cheered them on.
The Mde Maka Ska gathering of canoe nations on May 27 brought people together for canoeing, storytelling, lacrosse, fishing art project and other activities. The event, which takes place annually on the shores of Mde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun), is a time to honor and thank the water and sky for giving us good health in mind, body and spirit.

YLDP Family Night and Art Gallery Showing

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Last night's YLDP Family Night & Art Gallery Showing was a huge success! Our youth participants have been working for the past few months on this multi-stage cultural art therapy project exploring identity and self-concept, and what better way to showcase it than with friends and family at Division of Indian Work! 

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

In recent months, our Youth Leadership Development Program (YLDP) embarked on a creative art project exploring cultural identity and self-concept, spanning from self-portraits to a large collaborative art piece as part of our Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention (ATODP) programming.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Through the creative process, youth were guided to explore their identities, memories and unexpressed emotions. For the main piece, they decided on a large-scale graffiti canvas created with a variety of stencils and spray paints. The piece is big and expressive and communicates something about everyone who participated.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

More photos of the event at: https://flic.kr/s/aHskB9CUji

2016 Report to the Community

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

A special thank you to our diverse community of board members, volunteers, supporters and staff for making today's Report to the Community great! More photos at https://flic.kr/s/aHskx4x4up

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

2016 Powwow for Hope

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

We had a great time at this year's 5th Annual Powwow For Hope: "Dancing for Life, Love & Hope", "Dancing for Life, Love & Hope", a fundraiser that honors loved ones who have battled cancer or are fighting cancer and provides an opportunity to learn more about cancer prevention and resources.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

The DIW Two-Steppers team once again triumphed as the top agency fundraiser in this year’s Powwow for Hope, raising about $2,100 for the American Indian Cancer Foundation. DIW staff and family joined in on the dancing and celebration.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

All funds raised by individuals and teams directly support the Foundation's work to cancer education and supportive services for American Indians.

Learn more at http://goo.gl/mSx6P0