American Indian organizations show support for efforts to stop Roof Depot demolition

Mainstream media missing the story: Minneapolis’ hypocrisy

Marissa Cummings speaks at today’s press conference.

More than two dozen Native American organizations showed their support today for an Indigenous-led, non-violent direct action, occupying the Roof Depot site in the East Phillips neighborhood. The action was a peaceful and prayerful gathering to highlight neighborhood demands to stop city plans to expand its Public Works yard onto the site. It would bring more traffic and diesel exhaust to an already polluted neighborhood, including the Little Earth of United Tribes housing complex.

A massive police response cleared the occupation last night. The city already has erected concrete barriers to block entrance, MPR reported.

For years, the neighborhood has wanted to redevelop the Roof Depot site into a community-owned asset, with an indoor urban farm, affordable housing, large solar array, and more.

At a press conference today, Marissa Cummings, President and CEO of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, read letters from the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID) and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) regarding the Roof Depot controversy.

The MUID letter supported the Urban Farm, a “better, community-led, green initiative” in place of the city’s plans. It would “better mitigate the negative social determinants of health caused by environmental racism,” the letter said. It also denounced “the militaristic actions taken by the Minneapolis Police Department … to dismantle a peaceful and ceremonial occupation at the Roof Depot site.”

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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

Hiawatha encampment: Last year’s tent city is a lesson in unintended consequences

This is the first in a series looking back at the 2018 homeless encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues.

In August of 2018, a homeless encampment exploded near the intersection of Hiawatha and East Franklin avenues in Minneapolis, reaching nearly 200 people at its maximum, mostly Native Americans.

Indigenous-led non-profits and the public sector sprang into crisis response. Minneapolis has long had a homeless people, some living in emergency shelters, others riding metro transit all night, and still others living outdoors. But Minneapolis had never had this kind of tent city before.

Perhaps the surprise is that it hadn’t happened before.

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The Persistence of Violence Against Native American Women and Girls: Upcoming Series

The Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC) is hosting a four-part educational series titled: “Hearing their Voices: The Persistence of Violence Against Native American Women and Girls.” These educational events are free of charge.

The events will be held at the MIWRC offices, 2300 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis  from 4-6 p.m. MIWRC Executive Director Patina Park will be the presenter. Ms. Park is Lakota and her family comes from the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock tribes. Because of her own experience as an adoptee, Ms. Park is passionate about issued related to Native American Children and families.

Here are the dates and topics:

  • Thursday, Feb. 1: Colonization and Reservation
  • Friday, March 2: Allotment to the Indian Reorganization Act
  • Monday, April 2: Termination to Self Determination
  • Thursday, May 3: The 21st Century: Where do we go from here?

To register, contact: Jo Lightfeather at or 612-728-2031, or Randy Vickers at or 612-728-2029. You can register for one event or all events.

The series objectives are to:

  • Gain an understanding of the historical experience of colonization and its impact on violence against indigenous women and girls.
  • Learn the jurisdictional challenges that exist in Indian Country based on court decisions and federal law grounded in genocide or erasure of Indigenous peoples.
  • Identify solutions to the legal jurisdictional problems.

Here is the flyer: Hearing Their Voices.

MN Indian Women’s Resource Center May Save Kateri Residence

Kateri Residence

Good news to report, following up on a Dec. 4 blog where we reported that St. Stephens Human Services was planning to close Kateri Residence, a transitional housing program in south Minneapolis for Native American women in recovery.

The Southwest Journal is now reporting that the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC) is interested in taking over the program. The article quotes Patina Park, executive director of MIWRC, as follows:

The work they are doing fits within our mission, so it’s definitely viable. It really is going to be a matter of whether the funds can be raised, and I think they can. … I think there is enough people who don’t want to see that program go away and understand how vital it is. Because what it comes down to is that’s providing housing for people who may be homeless without it.

Click on the link for the full story.