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Local Briefs
Native American economic condition still nearly invisible in Minnesota
Tuesday, March 08 2016
 
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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Nonprofit organizations that deliver social services to Native Americans in Minnesota still struggle to quantify economic conditions for the Native population. They grapple for ways to measure social successes in economic terms and, at the same time, appeal for resources that haven’t fully recovered from the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

It’s not that money from foundations and government programs are just now catching up, said Joe Hobot, president and chief executive officer at American Indian OIC (AIOIC)  in Minneapolis. Information on current conditions for the Native population is lacking when compared to other racial and ethnic groups, he said.

Grant programs from government agencies and the philanthropic foundations were changed over the past eight years, often from mission-driven to program-driven goals that need measurement, he said. While measured outcomes can justify support for the programs, it can also make finding support to cover overhead expenses more difficult.

“We can’t show jobs gained from training programs in one year when you are helping unemployed people with third grade math and fourth grade reading skills,” he said. We don’t have a way to show progress from our ‘wrap-around’ services that get people into the workforce.”      

Meanwhile, U.S. Census Bureau and state monitoring agencies come up short in actually tracking data on Native American unemployment, joblessness, household incomes, and even identifying who is a Native American.

By extrapolating data that is available, however, Hobot said it appears one in two American Indians living in Minnesota are “jobless.” That combines people who are officially listed as unemployed with those who aren’t considered to be part of the workforce. 

Patina Park, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center in Minneapolis, said funding support for her social service programs are now just getting back to pre-Great Recession levels. That recovery is fueled by federal funds, she said, and not by more local sources of financial support.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis reported in April 2015 that foundational assets in general had recovered to pre-2008 levels. In its Fedgazette magazine, the Fed noted the recovery was uneven for groups and geographies. The lingering economic disparity from the recession had created more need for services even as funding support dwindled.

The Fedgazette article, All In The (nNonprofit) Family, quoted Katie Barr of the Nonprofits Assistance Fund in Minneapolis in saying service delivery models in the social services sector are labor intensive so program and productivity efficiency gains over time are small.

This is the reality facing Hobot, Park, and at least 20 other social services providers for the Native American communities in the Twin Cities and statewide.

“We’ve been helped by some federal grants,” Park said. “That brings us back to about where we were before the recession.” At the same time, she added, foundations that support social service programs are slowly recovering their own budgets. Local government support, especially from counties, still lags where government budgets reflect problems from the housing market’s collapse and its spillover on property taxes, she added.

While economists and political scientists would predict a lag time for recovery from something as severe as the Great Recession, the impact on communities in need is predictably greater than for a state’s general population. It also contributes to the income inequality that continues to divide the state and nation.
Park joined Hobot in presenting brief testimony in January at a Legislative Working Group on Disparities and Opportunities hearing in St. Paul. The Working Group and other governmental responses are largely the result of the Census Bureau and its ongoing American Community Survey tabulations that follow demographic and economic data for various American ethnic communities.

“More vocal groups brought greater awareness to their communities’ disparities,” Hobot said. For instance, cities, counties and state institutions such as the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) all became alarmed when last September’s ACS report showed household incomes for African Americans in Minnesota declined by 3 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Native American service organizations, however, are still searching for ways to read, analyze and advocate based on available data and on what statistical information is still missing.
As February came to an end, executive directors of 20 American Indian nonprofit service providers (501c3 organizations) were drafting a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton and to state DEED officials calling for more data gathering and for more collaboration on programs. That joint letter from directors of the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID) was to be sent to state officials in early March.

From available data, MUID affiliated organizations and AIOIC have concluded that Native American households in Minnesota have an annual median income of $32,000, or 48 percent less than the state’s median household income of $61,500. The unemployment rate for American Indians was 10.8 percent at year’s end, while it was 3.7 percent statewide. Government measurements also considered 40.8 percent of working age American Indians in the state as “not in the labor force.”

Hobot said this latter category is especially troubling in that there are no good definitions or data on why this is so. In some cases, he said, there are wealthy people who aren’t looking for employment. For far too many, however, it means long-time unemployed have given up looking and therefore aren’t counted as being part of the potential workforce.
Combine the data, “and we can say that one in two, or 52 percent of working age American Indians, are jobless in Minnesota,” he said.

While they work with DEED and government agencies to make American Indian data more visible and understandable, service provider groups are taking steps to make their own programs more efficient, less duplicative, and better at information and service sharing.

AIOIC, Park’s women’s group, United Tribes of Little Earth and the Minneapolis American Indian Center, all of Minneapolis; and the Northwest Indian Community Development Center at Bemidji are currently forming a new referral and collaborative entity labeled the Indigenous Organizational Network, or ION.

All participating organizations have training programs that help the jobless return to the workforce. All have so-called wrap-around programs that are culturally sensitive to help American Indians prepare for meaningful jobs and careers.

On top of that, more collaboration among groups will lead to more information sharing so “the indigenous population won’t be such an invisible group,” Hobot said.    

March What's New in the Community
Tuesday, March 08 2016
 
Written by The Circle,
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ihb-buys-restuarant.jpgIHB Buys Prime Franklin Avenue Real Estate
Dr. Patrick Rock (Leech Lake), CEO of the Indian Health Board of Minneapolis (IHB), announced that the Minneapolis-based health clinic recently acquired the former Blue Nile restaurant property on East Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.
“The Indian Health Board sees this as a sound investment to continue improving our work in Native Healthcare and further indigenizing our services to meet community needs,” said Dr. Rock. Rock says the IHB will continue working in partnership with the local Native community and neighborhood partners in developing the property for a future expansion of holistic-oriented, Native-based services.
Dr. Laiel Baker-DeKrey (Nueta/Hidatsa), IHB Psychologist and Training Director, said. “With the help of our elders, we provide services that incorporate traditional Native practices promoting health and wellness that are also balanced with Western practices. The combination creates a strengths-based and affirming space for healing, and there’s definitely demand for more.”
IHB has no set timeframe for property and expansion planning, but the development will be careful and intentional, so that Native community needs are at the forefront.  IHB provides culturally-appropriate, full-service outpatient medical, dental, and counseling services. For more information, contact Dr. Patrick Rock at 612-721-9843.

joe_hobart.jpgJoe Hobot Honored as ’40 Under 40′
American Indian OIC president and CEO, Joe Hobot (Lakota) was named a Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal “40 Under 40” honoree. Each year the publication honors 40 leaders under the age of 40 who have “already accomplished much in their professional lives while also taking a leading role in the Twin Cities community.” Hobot was selected among 550 other nominations for his charismatic leadership and his contributions at AIOIC and beyond. Hobotwill receive his award on March 10.

New Board Members Appointed to Tiwahe Foundation
The Tiwahe Foundation, located in Minneapolis, has recently appointment four new board members.
Monica Flores (Three Affiliated Tribes) currently the Executive Director of Bii Gii Wiin Community Development Loan Fund, Flores has many years of experience working in Native American communities and Tribal governments. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and is pursuing a Masters of Business Administration and Certified Public Accountant certification.
Paul Meyer (White Earth Band of Ojibwe) is the President and CEO of Meyer Contracting. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, he has vast experiences in starting and growing businesses.
Amanda Norman (White Earth Band of Ojibwe) is the Executive Director of the soon-to-be Thor Foundation, the corporate foundation arm of Thor Construction, Inc. She has a degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota-Morris and is currently pursuing a Masters in Education at Augsburg College.
Joseph Regguinti (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) served on the Leech Lake Local Indian Council from 2012-2015, as a liaison between urban Leech Lake citizens and the Tribal council. He currently works as the Father Project Coordinator at the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches. He holds a degree in English and American Indian studies from Augsburg College.

IHB Opens its Doors to a New Model of Patient-Centered Care
Tuesday, March 08 2016
 
Written by Jon Lurie,
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ihb-dr-rock.jpgDr. Patrick Rock, CEO of Indian Health Board (IHB) medical and dental clinic in the heart of Minneapolis’ Philips Neighborhood, says every year it’s the same thing: the federal government woefully underfunds urban Indian medical facilities in violation of its treaty obligations.

Rock, an 18-year IHB employee and member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, says clinics like IHB must seek alternative funding sources as they strive to provide quality care to a population facing steep health challenges.

Rock and his staff saw opportunity with the passage in 2010 of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. The law provided funding for just the kind of patient-centered innovation IHB had on its wish list for over a decade. With nearly $1 million in capital provided under the ACA, the clinic has been revamped to reflect a care model known as Accountable Care Organiza-tion (ACO).

Dr. Rock says the model is designed to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction, while reducing costs by using preventative medicine to keep patients out of emergency rooms.

Last month IHB celebrated these changes with an open house. Community members were welcomed to tour the renovated facilities, which feature bright, comfortable waiting rooms displaying Native artworks, and a state-of-the-art patient care area.

The Circle’s Jon Lurie spoke with Dr. Rock about the changes, and the challenges of caring for Minneapolis’ urban Indian population.

JL: What were some of the considerations you pondered when redesigning the clinic?
Dr. Rock: With this ACO model we’re seeing the patient as the center of our practice. The largest footprint of the clinic is the patient care area. That’s the center and everything is built around it. So, for example, when we provide dietician services, or social work consultations, it used to be that the providers would be away from the patient care area working in some corner of the building. The patient would be expected to seek out the provider’s office. But now, with the hub model, all of the providers are located in the center of the patient care area, and they go to where the patients are.

JL: Does this model work particularly well with a Native American patient population?
Dr. Rock: One of the things we take a lot of pride in is we try to adapt a lot of cultural practices into our daily work here. Right now we’re on a journey where we’re looking organization wide at indigenization and decolonization as objectives for our daily work. We think the care we provide is very Native-centric, meaning that we’re seeing people as a whole versus as a disease or a set of symptoms.

Reclaiming Bde Maka Ska for the Future Generations
Tuesday, March 08 2016
 
Written by Jon Lurie,
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calhoun-lake-beane-sisters.jpgWhen I first interviewed Kate and Carly Beane (Bad Heart Bull) for Rake Magazine in 2006, they had recently moved to Minnesota, the homeland from which their family was exiled 143 years earlier following the Dakota-US War of 1862. Both of the twin sisters, citizens of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, had been experiencing hard times and hoped their return to a state in which neither had lived but where they had deep historical roots, would help restore balance to their lives.

The first thing they wanted to do upon arriving in Minneapolis, they told me at the time, was see their ancestral village, Heyata Otunwe (the Village to the Side, their grandfather Cloudman’s Village), at Lake Calhoun. “We thought, that’s our lake; let’s go see it. So we drove around it and were saddened. I guess in a way I was picturing it to look like a Seth Eastman painting,” Kate said. “He depicted scenes of traditional Dakota life with tipis, lodges, women cooking, trees, kids playing and lots of dogs.”

“It was the middle of summer,” said Carly, “and the lake was packed – people rollerblading, tons of traffic, mansions everywhere. All we knew was that this lake was where our people called home.”

As direct descendants of both Mahpiya Wicasta (Cloud Man) and Seth Eastman the sisters knew that the lake would have changed. “It’s not as if we were expecting Cloudman’s Village to still be here,” Kate added. “We knew things would be different. But we saw the lake with our hearts; we saw how it used to be, because that was the last time our family was all together, living in our homeland, and in peace.”

The sisters soon understood that living in Minnesota alone would not rectify the wounds of exile. At a recent meeting on the 24th floor of the US Bank Building in downtown St. Paul, where Carly works for a regional philanthropic foundation, and which offers stunning views of Kaposia (Little Crow’s Village) – they explained to me the process they’ve engaged over the past decade in their quest for healing.
 

“We grew up wondering why we weren’t living in our homeland, and why we weren’t raised with our language,” Kate said. The sisters both dropped out of high school at fifteen-years old.

“We didn’t feel like we mattered. We were part of an educational system that wasn’t created for us. Our story wasn’t being told, and like many Native students, we felt invisible.” Carly said. 

February Whats New In The Community
Friday, February 05 2016
 
Written by The Circle,
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whatsnewartdonationweb.jpgArtist Kruse donates birchbark artwork to Children’s Hospitals
Pat Kruse and his son, Gage, members of the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe, along with the Minnesota Historical Society, donated a birch bark mural called “Nature’s Beauty” to the Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. The artwork was placed in the Family Resource Center at Children’s Minnesota’s St. Paul campus in December.


Bobby Wilson Takes Up Residence at Red Lake Middle School
(By Michael Meuers) – In January, Red Lake Middle School welcomed Resident Artist, Bobby Wilson, from the comedy troupe, 1491s. Wilson worked with students and staff from January 4 to 15.  A large mural was painted in the middle school’s main hallway and was inspired from floral beadwork designs on Native American shoulder bags from the 1800’s. Art teacher, Janel Lackner, said that about 80 students took part in helping to complete the mural.  
Wilson and  Industrial Technology teacher, Tony Bellino, also helped students, in the after-school program Targeted Services, complete a painting on a refurbished bus stop which also displays beautiful floral designs.

Wilson also worked with students in Tara Olson’s Language Arts classes focusing on Spoken Word, which encourages students to write and perform.  
The activities were made possible by the Minnesota State Legislature through its arts and cultural heritage fund, as well as the Minnesota State Arts Board.

MN Organizations Receive Funding from the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
In 2016, Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) is awarding grants to 17 organizations across Minnesota to host community events on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) prevention. All aim to reach and educate under-served and at-risk communities including young, rural, low-income, under or uninsured, homeless and chemically dependent women and reach into the Hispanic, African American, Native American, Somali, and Hmong communities.

The following organizations were awarded funding: Bemidji State University (Bemidji), Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (Minneapolis), Division of Indian Works – GMCC (Minneapolis), High School for Recording Arts (St. Paul), Intermediate School District 287 (Plymouth), Minnewaska Area Schools (Glenwood), Model Cities of St. Paul (St. Paul), New Ulm Early Childhood & Family Ed. (New Ulm), Ridgewater College (Hutchinson), Southside Community Health Services – Q Health Connections (Minneapolis), St. Cloud State University (St. Cloud), Stevens County Early Childhood Initiative (Morris), The Center Clinic (Dodge Center), Tri-County Community Action (Little Falls), Upper Midwest American Indian Center (Minneapolis), Upper Sioux Community (Granite Falls), and West Side Community Health Services (St. Paul).

Organizations will host events throughout Minnesota until June 30, 2016. For more info, contact MOFAS at 651-917-2370 or toll-free at 1-866-906-6327.

FDLTCC awarded $350,000 Minnesota Job Skills Grant
The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership has awarded a $350,000 grant to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to develop an in-house training system for employees of Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet. The three-year project will support entry-level, retraining, and advanced training for 560 employees at the paper mill, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced during a partnership signing agreement ceremony held at Sappi’s Cloquet Mill on January 28.

The proposed Knowledge Management and Training System will be used to identify, document, and transfer employees’ knowledge so that critical information can be passed on from retiring generations of workers to new ones.

Once fully developed, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College will have full rights to duplicate and customize the framework to fit the needs of other manufacturers and businesses in the community.
For more information, contact Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Customized Training Director Jeannie Kermeen at 218-879-0741.

SMSC elects new Business Council
 Members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) elected incumbent Charlie Vig as Chairman, incumbent Keith B. Anderson as Vice-Chairman, and Freedom Brewer as Secretary/Treasurer of the Business Council on Tuesday. The SMSC’s three-person Business Council is responsible for the operations of the tribal government.
 Vig became Chairman in August 2012 after the passing of then-Chairman Stanley Crooks. He also served for 14 years on the SMSC Gaming Enterprise Board of Directors, which oversees Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino.

Anderson has served as Vice-Chairman since August 2012; he previously served as Secretary/Treasurer for eight years. 

Incoming Secretary/Treasurer Freedom Brewer will serve her first term on the Business Council. She presently serves as Chairwoman of the SMSC Gaming Enterprise Board of Directors, which she has been a member of since 2002.

Current Secretary/Treasurer Lori Watso, who has served since 2012 and held her first term from 2000-2004, did not seek re-election.

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