Unhoused Indigenous women’s camp faces eviction, asks for show of public support Monday

Rally Saturday: ‘Justice for Rittenhouse Victims’

Camp Nenoocaasi (Hummingbird) at 25th and Bloomington. Organizers asked no photos be taken inside the camp for security reasons.

Nenoocaasi, a camp for unhoused Indigenous women, is asking for a public show of support during the day Monday as it faces eviction.

Community members helped organize the camp, located at the vacant Speedway gas station at 25th and Bloomington Ave. S. in Minneapolis. The camp is behind the chain-link fence surrounding the property.

Erica Whitaker, one of the camp’s volunteers, said representatives of the city and the property owner will come to camp Monday to get them to leave. There will probably be police presence, she said.

This issue echoes of the Minneapolis Charter Amendment #2 debate: What is the key to providing public safety in the city? Are more police the answer or would more housing and supportive services be a more effective strategy for safety?

In this case, it’s not theoretical. This is about women’s lives and safety. Evicting them from an unused property is “legal.” It probably addresses the property owner’s liability concerns. But it doesn’t solve the very real safety problems these women face on a daily basis.

Nenoocaasi, Ojibwe for hummingbird, is a women-led, women-only camp with 24/7 security, Whitaker said. Since it opened Sept. 19, there have been zero deaths, zero overdoses, and zero violence.

At its peak, the camp had 55 women, she said. It’s currently serving 30 to 35 women.

Some women have moved to more secure housing.

Unhoused Native women in particular need a safe space, as they are much more likely than other demographic groups to be victims of violence, Whitaker said.

Women at the camp get at least one hot meal a day, Whitaker said.

They have received direct services from a number of public and non-profit providers, such as Healthcare for the Homeless, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, St. Stephens Human Services and Avivo.

The camp also has a medical tent with harm reduction and hygiene supplies.

Undoubtedly, public health officials are deeply concerned about the potential for the spread of COVID and other diseases at the camp, especially as the weather turns cold and people huddle more. That was a big worry during the 2018 encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues.

It’s an issue of justice. These Indigenous women are “unhoused,” not “homeless,” Whitaker said: “They are home. It [the land] has been stolen.”

The women are asking for people to come and stand with them Monday.

Camp Nenoocaasi at 25th and Bloomington

Rally Saturday: Justice for Rittenhouse Victims/Abolish White Supremacy

A “Justice for Rittenhouse Victims /Abolish White Supremacy” rally will be held tomorrow, Saturday, at the Hennepin County Government Center, 3-5 p.m.

Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted today of homicide charges stemming from an incident where he shot three men with an AR-15 style rifle, killing two and injuring one. The shooting occurred during a protest against police brutality last year in Kenosha, Wisc. Rittenhouse, who was not old enough to have the gun legally, claimed self defense.

Judge Bruce Schroeder seemed incredibly biased in the case. For instance, he wouldn’t allow the prosecutor to use the term “victim” when referring to those who were killed, but allowed the defense to refer to them as “arsonists” and “looters.”

The Twin Cities rally is being organized by Communities Organized Against Police Brutality, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro and several other groups. Facebook Event Page here.

An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the gas station. It was a Speedway.

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