Local Briefs
Native women’s “Sinew” art exhibit defies stereotypes
Tuesday, March 08 2016
Written by Andrea Carlson,
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sinew-exhibit-erdrich.jpg1992 marked the quincentennial of Columbus’s ruinous landfall. As state-sponsored anniversaries go, National pride and patriotic excitement was on a high that year. But, so was the critical voice. Natives did what they’ve done since 1492 and resisted triumphant expressions of colonization. Curators and some artists looked to frame many exhibitions with meaning derived from a critical, Post-Colonial context.

But not performance artist, James Luna. He viewed the swell of interest in Native Art as a fleeting “gold rush” as he fielded many call from curators suddenly looking for Natives to include in their exhibitions. He said “no” to 1992, refusing most exhibitions he was invited to participate in, with the simple phrase “Call Me in ‘93.” He was effectively asking if anyone would still care the following year.

“Call Me in ‘93” has been on my mind lately. Currently, the Guerrilla Girls are in town, a radical artist group that exposes sexism and racism in the arts industry. As part of the Guerrilla Girls Twin Cities Takeover, a year-long residency where the Guerrilla Girls have spotlighted sexism in Twin Cities art institutions, many art institutions and galleries are presenting sympathetic exhibitions that focus on art made by women. The exhibition ‘Sinew: Female Native Artists of the Twin Cities’, on view at Artistry in Bloomington, is part of the takeover programming. I agreed to be one of the artists in this exhibition, but I’ve been wondering, as James Luna did, will anyone care next year?

The answer is assuredly, “no.”

In the wake of the Guerrilla Girls residency, The Walker Art Center released its plans to expand the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, adding new works of art and redesigning its grounds. Under the subtitle “A Diverse Collection,” The Star Tribune reported that, “With the new work, women and artists of color will have made about a third of the garden’s art, roughly double their previous tally.” In other words, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden went from having sculptures by 17% women/POC to a whopping 33%.

Furthermore, women and persons of color as a single category is another way of not having to say “white male” artists, who make up the lion’s share of the collection. By not uttering the category “white men” we are affording them the power to make work beyond their experience, they have the authority to not have their ideas bound to the “white male perspective.” It is hard to imagine a show subtitled, “White Male Artists of the Twin Cities.” Exhibitions that specify race and gender is something afforded to women and minority artists.

How is all of this related to Sinew? This exhibition might be the first exhibition to exclusively feature female Native artists of the Twin Cities. It might be the very first of its kind. It also may, at first, seem narrow in focus. Specifying a location, race and gender of the included artists brings many assumptions to the table, and one might expect to find a succinct, codified voice. On the contrary, Sinew is rich in materials and defies stereotype. This is a point of pride in the exhibition. Everything is allowed.

No truer example can be found than in the work of Heid Erdrich and Louise Erdrich. Here is their materials list for Advice to Myselves (an art instillation): “manufactured typewriter, table and chair; BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) school coatrack; commercial clothing, mask, and mittens; mukluks by Nancy Jones; vintage ephemera; hand-lettering by Heid E. Erdrich; photos by Louise Erdrich; commercial watercolor set with photos by Anne Marsden and hand-lettering by Louise Erdrich; reproduction telephone with Louise Erdrich audio re-fabricated by Pallas Erdrich.”

At MAIC, new Gatherings Café lives up to its name
Tuesday, March 08 2016
Written by Lee Egerstrom,
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Howasta-Means-gatherings-cafe.jpgFor many South Minneapolis area residents, the urban setting has done little to numb their taste buds or their cravings for foods they remember from back home on the prairies or from the north woods of Minnesota.

Since mid-February, a steady stream of customers has come to Gatherings Café in the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC), 1530 East Franklin Ave., to grab specialties such as the Bison Melt and the Red Lake Walleye Melt.

“Those are the two favorites so far,” said Howasta Means, the café manager. “Our menu will change from time to time, and with the seasons. But those two items are here to stay.”
MAIC owns Gatherings Café but it is also a culinary arts training program. Among partners in the training program are the American Indian OIC, the Waite House programs in the surrounding Phillips Community, and the Little Earth of United Tribes.

At its opening on Feb.16, the café started serving breakfasts and lunches with two employees and two culinary students, said Mary LaGarde, executive director of the center. Word spread by social media and word of mouth.

“We’ve been surprised at the turnout,” she said. Only one week into operation, the Gatherings Café staff started seeing regular customers stopping in for breakfast on their way to work on Franklin Avenue.

The center hasn’t had a restaurant on the premises for the past two years. But with the new regulars starting to make nearly daily visits, and the senior citizens now starting to gather regularly for breakfast and lunch, the café is taking on a gatherings role commonly found at restaurants in small towns all over America.

For Means that is as it should be. “I’ve been coming here (the center) all my life,” he said.

The center was founded in 1975 and has served the Native American community of Minneapolis with educational, cultural and social services in the years since. Means was among neighborhood young people who would gather at the center.

Means has worked for seven years in the restaurant industry and is a 2011 graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. While that casts images of upscale cuisine, the early offerings on the Gatherings Café menu suggest a fusion of tastes and recipes that will have special appeal to Native Americans.

The Bison Melt, for instance, includes pulled bison meat, blueberry-horseradish sauce, and provolone cheese. The Red Lake Walleye Melt contains roasted walleye from the Red Lake Nation, cream cheese, lemon, capers, tartar sauce and provolone. Both sandwiches come on whole wheat, wild rice bread and are moderately priced at $8 each – the high end of the menu.

Wild rice is a staple with other luncheon offerings, and locally raised greens and vegetables will be used in season, Means said.

Breakfasts (7:00 to 11:00 a.m.) vary from standard offerings found at most restaurants and coffee shops, to another fusion of upscale with Up North. The Ave Omelet, for instance, contains wild rice, bacon, carrots and craisins with béchamel sauce; there’s a Blue Corn Wild Rice Waffle, and there is a Roasted Sweet Potato Hash, with bacon, bell peppers, onion, cheese and two eggs.  
There are no plans to extend the café hours beyond the 3 p.m. lunch closing, Means said. But Gatherings Café will do special events at the center, or off premises, and offers a catering service.

One early customer who is especially pleased the café opened is Charlie Stately, proprietor of Woodland Crafts, a retail gift and crafts store also in the Minneapolis American Indian Center. The café brings people to the center, and that is good for both commercial enterprises.

“It makes us a destination point,” Stately said. “It’s been busy here since the café opened.”

The restaurant’s “good reviews” from early visitors is strengthening traffic in and out of the center, he said.  

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.

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