BY DAVID TILSEN
Sixteen urban Indian organizations recently announced they are seeking private and public support to construct buildings to increase the capacity of organizations dealing with education, health care, affordable housing and Native culture.
The junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers was originally an important intersection of commerce and culture before Europeans arrived with their military and settlers. Native culture helped shape our city. Our neighbors have enriched our art, our architecture, our public institutions, our discourse, and our festivals, and have challenged our thinking.
With a triple COVID death rate, triple unemployment rate, and only a 50% high school graduation rate compared to the general population, the services of these nonprofit organizations are more vital than ever. They have joined together, realizing that competing with each other is not in the interest of any of them. Their buildings were acquired and built in the 1980s and ‘90s and are in severe need of maintenance and in many cases rebuilding. One of them, Migizi, saw its building burn down last year.
These nonprofits are the underpinnings of the Native American community. While only 2% of our population, Indian people represent 50% of our homeless population.
It is in all of our interests for these organizations to flourish.
This year, the Minnesota Legislature has the opportunity to address these issues. The federal infrastructure bill contains money aimed at infrastructure for communities in need; in fact, it seems written for this initiative. Rep. Aisha Gomez and Sen. Omar Fatah are both supportive.
The organizations are:
Ain Dah Yung Center
American Indian Community Development
American Indian Family Center
American Indian OIC
Department of Indian Work: Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul
Division of Indian Work
Indigenous Peoples Task Force
Little Earth of United Tribes
Lower Phalen Creek Project – Wakan Tipi Center
Minneapolis American Indian Center
Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center
Montessori American Indian Childcare Center of
Native American Community Clinic
Native American Community Development Institute
New Native Theatre