Hiawatha encampment: Lessons learned from last year’s homeless tent city

This is the second in a series looking back at the 2018 homeless encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues. Part 1 explored the reasons the camp formed when it did: Hiawatha encampment: Lessons in unintended consequences.

Photo of the encampment. (Hennepin County)

In August of 2018, a large homeless encampment — reaching 150 tents and more than 190 people — sprung up along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues in south Minneapolis. Most of those in the camp were Native Americans — and it was key that Native American led-organizations played a lead role in responding.

Patina Park, President and CEO of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, recalled conversations about the camp in early August, 2018 with Mike Goze, CEO of the American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC), Mary LaGarde, executive director of the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC),  Dr. Antony Stately, CEO of the Native American Community Clinic, and Robert Lilligren, President and CEO of the Native American Community Development Institute.

They had concerns about the looming health care crisis, Park said. Hepatitis A was going around, and they were concerned about MRSA, too, an antibiotic-resistant infection. People were crowded together in the encampment and disease could spread quickly. One of the first things the group did was get fresh water to the camp by getting the city to hook up a water station at a fire hydrant.

Their work grew quickly. “I really learned the power of all of us coming together and just doing it,” Park said. Continue reading

Go Fund Me Page Set Up to Help Those in Homeless Camp Along Hiawatha Ave. Stay Warm

Ben Jammin Yawakie has created a Go Fund Me Page to help those in the homeless camp along Hiawatha Avenue stay warm until the temporary housing is available. (According to his LinkedIn page, Yawakie is a research assistant at the Public Health Law Center.) According to his fundraising page, the money will help pay for “firewood, hand warmers, blankets, and any other heating supplies that are desperately needed as the snow and below freezing temperatures have arrived.” Many of those in the camp are Native American.

An Oct. 31 MPR story updated the camp situation and difficult choices faced by those staying there.

Hennepin County, which operates about 1,000 shelter beds, says it’s been able to place 18 encampment families into shelters. They’ve found supportive housing for three families. But tents continue to pop up, now surpassing 200.

The city agreed to spend $1.5 million to build an emergency shelter on property owned by the Red Lake Nation. They hope to have it ready by early December to house about 150 people through winter. It’s described as a low-barrier alternative to traditional shelter, which city and tribal leaders hope will be attractive to people at the encampment.


Hiawatha Homeless Camp Update; Mindful Direct Action Training; Community Reparations Gala, and More

In this blog:

  • MPR: Families at homeless encampment weigh staying together, seeking shelter
  • Mindful direct action training Nov. 11 at First Universalist in Minneapolis
  • Inaugural Community Reparations Gala
  • Indian Country Today: Planned Scorsese film version of “Killers of the Flower Moon” raises concerns in Osage County
  • Censored News: Standing Rock Water Protectors file Class Action Lawsuit against Morton County, North Dakota and TigerSwan

Continue reading