What's New in The Community

October Whats New
Tuesday, October 11 2016
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Tom Goldtooth To Receive Top Sierra Club Award

tomgoldtooth.jpgTom Goldtooth, a Native American environmental leader known nationally for his tireless efforts to defend Indigenous rights to a healthy environment and his dedicated work against fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL pipeline has received the Sierra Club’s 2016 John Muir Award.
 Goldtooth, of Bemidji, Minn., has spent more than 40 years helping Native American and indigenous communities worldwide address issues such as environmental protection, climate change, energy, biodiversity, environmental health, water, and sustainable development. Tom and his son Dallas have both been leaders on domestic and international efforts to keep fossil fuels in ground and foster indigenous-based environmental protection initiatives. Tom’s tireless work to elevate tribal opposition to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was key to the project’s ultimate rejection by the Obama Administration. Tom has served as the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network since 1996 and is now helping lead and coordinate the ongoing tribal opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline.
 The majority of the awards were presented at a ceremony in Oakland, CA on Sept. 10. For more information on the Sierra Club awards program, visit

Dr. Arne Vainio Recognized as Unsung Hero with $10,000 Award

arnevainio.jpgThe McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) have selected Dr. Arne Vainio of Cloquet as one of four recipients of the 2016 Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Awards.
Dr. Vainio is a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and a physician at the Min-No-Aya-Win Human Services Clinic on the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Reservation. Dr. Vainio spends long hours serving his patients at the clinic, as well as traveling to reservations across America to discuss native health, suicide and native traditions. His passion for health led to bringing his popular "Mad DR. Science Project” to many classrooms, with the goal of inspiring young Native Americans to take up careers in health and science.
Dr. Vainio received a cash prize of $10,000 from the McKnight Foundation and MCN during an awards luncheon at the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis on September 9. Award recipients will also be recognized at the 2016 MCN Annual Conference on October 6 in Duluth, MN.
Since 1985, The McKnight Foundation has recognized Minnesotans who have improved the quality of life for individuals and the community around them through the Virginia McKnight Binger Awards in Human Service. In 2015, MCN partnered with McKnight to coordinate and present the first-ever Unsung Hero Awards, honoring individuals doing life-changing work in communities across Minnesota with little or no recognition.

Patricia Deinhart-Bauknight is New Wicoie Nandagikendan ED

Patricia Deinhart-Bauknight is the new executive director of Wicoie Nandagikendan.  Patricia has worked in Indian Country for many years. She was a Program Officer at The Saint Paul Foundation and Northwest Area Foundation.  Patricia has also worked as executive director of Whittier Alliance and Whittier Housing Corporation.  For 10 years Patricia was president of the Volunteer Network in Chicago providing management and technical assistance to emerging community organizations throughout the City.
Most recently, she was a partner in The Urban Design Lab, a Northside business, focused on designing and implementing community engagement processes to meet specific project needs; conducting research to develop and evaluate programs; facilitating community strategy development; grant writing and management consulting.

Audra Tonihka named one of the Top Women in Finance of 2016

Finance & Commerce have announced their Top Women in Finance awards. Top Women in Finance honorees were judged for their leadership and service to their community, professional accomplishments and dedication to the profession. Among the honorees is Audra Tonihka of White Earth Investment Initiative, Midwest Minnesota CDC. Tonihka is an enrolled White Earth tribal member who grew up in the community of White Earth and received a bachelor’s degree in business management. Prior to joining the White Earth Investment Initiative staff, she served as a loan officer for the tribal credit union.
Finance & Commerce will recognize this year’s Top Women in Finance at a Nov. 17 event. This is the program’s 16th year of honoring women in finance, business and other sectors.
For more info, see:

Watermark Art Center awarded $47,951 for Native programming

Watermark Art Center is a recipient of an Art Access grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Watermark has been awarded $47,951 for program development relating to its Native American gallery and efforts to foster strategic, long-term engagement with regional Native American artists.
“We are thrilled about what this means to future programming at the art center, as well as for area Native American artists,” said Watermark Executive Director Lori Forshee-Donnay.
“Receiving an Arts Access grant provides Watermark the opportunity to further implement the ongoing efforts of our Native American Gallery committee. This opportunity is significant for the Watermark and for the region.”
The grant will expedite Watermark’s plans for the dedicated Native American Gallery by providing funding for a program director, outreach and artist development, and design and construction of gallery cases to display artwork, culminating in a guest artist juried exhibit in 2017.
Funding for the Arts Access grant was made possible through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and Cultural Heritage Fund passed by the Minnesota voters on November 4th, 2008.
September Whats New in the Community
Friday, September 09 2016
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NACDI announces new All My Relations Gallery Director

nacdi-gallery-new-director.jpgThe President and CEO, Robert Lilligren, of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) announced the appointment of Rory Erler Wakemup as new Director for All My Relations Gallery.  Wakemup brings to the organization 20 years of experience in contemporary Native arts as a student, artist, and curator.

As the Youth Activities Coordinator for the Golden Eagle Program at the Minneapolis American Indian Center,  Rory introduced local youth to art activities and a wild rice camp at the White Earth Reservation. Wakemup, who received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2015, cofounded a successful visual arts gallery in Santa Fe, NM. Wakemup brings an artistic and gallery background to the All My Relations Arts program.

“I am excited and humbled by the NACDI team’s invitation to serve as the Director of All My Relations Arts.  As both a Native artist and a committed community member, I am thrilled to begin a role that allows me to work closely with the American Indian community in Minneapolis – one that I consider to be my home and people,” says Wakemup.
Wakemup started his work as AMRA Director on August 15.

Gov. Dayton Appoints AIOIC President to Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Board

Governor Mark Dayton has appointed American Indian OIC’s president and CEO, Dr. Joe Hobot, to the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership board. The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership works with businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities, and keep high-quality jobs in the state. The board is comprised of public, private, and educational leaders who are tasked with ensuring the ongoing stability and growth of the state’s economy and labor force- principally through the management of the Dislocated Worker program and the issuance of grants and other supportive measures.
 In his role as a member of the board, Dr. Hobot will ensure that underrepresented communities, particularly the American Indian community, remain a part of the conversations, planning, and resource allocations administered by the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership.

FDLTCC selected for Dept. of Ed Program

The U.S. Department of Education announced that the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College was selected to participate in the new Second Chance Pell pilot program. Featuring a renewed partnership between Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee, the college’s application was selected as one of only three Second Chance Pell pilot program sites in Minnesota. The Second Chance Pell program allows incarcerated individuals access to Pell Grants for college courses delivered online and in person. The college will serve an estimated 45 students each year who are incarcerated at the prison in Shakopee.

Pine Technical College and South Central College were the only other Minnesota colleges to receive Second Chance Pell program funding. Across the United States, selected colleges and universities will partner with 141 federal and state penal institutions to enroll approximately 12,000 incarcerated students in educational programs. Through the pilot program, colleges may provide federal Pell Grants to qualified students who are incarcerated and are likely to be released within five years of enrolling in college coursework.

The Second Chance Pell is an experiment started last year to test whether participation in high quality education programs increases after expanding access to financial aid for incarcerated individuals. The pilot program allows eligible incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants and pursue postsecondary education with the goal of helping them get jobs when they are released.

A 2013 study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice found that incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than prisoners who did not participate in any correctional education programs. The study also estimated that for every dollar invested in correctional education programs, four to five dollars are saved on three-year re-incarceration costs.

Indian Health Board wins Giebink Award

The Minneapolis Indian Health Board has been awarded the 2016 G. Scott Giebink Award for Excellence in Immunization. The organzation was nominated by Immulink, the Hennepin County-based organization that provides MIIC support to the 7 county metropolitan area. IHB was one of four nominees that was presented to the selection committee made up of MDH staff. The committee selected the organization because of their excellence in MIIC use and data interoperability. Some of the activities considered for the award were: First organization to have bi-directional MIIC data exchange, Excellent use of immunization assessment reports, Excellent data quality and MIIC participation and High immunization coverage for clinic population.

AIOIC Recognized for Its Work

The American Indian OIC (AIOIC) was recently recognized by the First Nations Development Institute, the Kresge Foundation, and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition for its work helping Native Americans living in urban areas attain meaningful employment.
 The group partnered with AIOIC to help more individuals of Native descent break into technology careers. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, of the 34,000 “computer systems design and related services” workers in the state, only 180 or .5% identified as American Indian. AIOIC is working to change this by providing rigorous training for good-paying, in-demand technology jobs through its accredited career college, the Takoda Institute of Higher Education.

Dr. Rock among 100 Influential Minnesota Health Care Leaders

Dr. Patrick Rock, CEO of the Indian Health Board of Minneapolis, has been named one of the “100 Influential Minnesota Health Care Leaders” based on nominations from the Minnesota Physician’s readers. Every four years, Minnesota Physician recognizes the 100 most influential health care leaders in Minnesota.

August Whats New
Friday, August 05 2016
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Danielle Grant Named CEO of AchieveMpls

daniellegrant.jpgAchieveMpls, the strategic nonprofit partner of Minneapolis Public Schools, has announced the selection of Danielle Grant as the organization’s new President and Chief Executive Officer. Grant stepped into this position in July, following the retirement of Pam Costain. 
 Grant has worked for Minneapolis Public Schools for the past nine years. She currently serves as Executive Director for MPS Educational & Cultural Services & Indian Education. She directed the development of a district-wide Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Memorandum of Agreement, secured over $3 million in competitive grants, realigned programming to integrate cultural relevance with academic rigor, established professional best practices for working with Native students, and created culturally-specific programs to engage families and communities with Native youth.

She serves on the boards of American Indian OIC and the Minnesota Education Equity Partnership, and sits on the Minnesota Historical Society Indian Advisory Committee. She holds a Master of Public Affairs in Public and Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English from Marquette University.

MNHS receives grant to update Fort Snelling Historic District Designation

The Minnesota Historical Society has received a federal grant to update the historical designation of the Fort Snelling Historic District for both the National Register and National Historic Landmark listings. The update will result in a more inclusive description of what is historically important and why.

The current designation focuses on military history, from the arrival of Col. Henry Leavenworth and his troops in 1819 to the decommissioning of the military base at the end of World War II. The updated documentation will be more inclusive, recognizing all historical aspects of this place from American Indian history that dates back 10,000 years, to the stories of Dred and Harriet Scott, enslaved people who sued for their freedom, to the Japanese Military Intelligence Language School during World War II, and many more stories.

Over the next two years, MNHS staff will work with local communities and regional Tribal Historic Preservation Offices to re-examine the historical resources. The study will help determine the appropriate boundary and period of significance for the updated district.
National Historic Landmark and National Register designations are federal recognitions of historical significance. This documentation helps land managers protect the most important parts of a property.

Local writer wins 2016 national Artist Fellowship Award

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation has awarded its National Artist Fellowship to a new group of 16 artists in five categories, selected from a national open call of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artist applicants. The awardees reside in 14 states including author Susan Power (Yanktonai Dakota) of Minnesota.

During her fellowship, Power will continue completing her novel that centers on the lives of her five Native American student characters at Harvard (class of 2013), each from a different tribal nation. The friends seek to raise ancestor spirits and bring to light what many seek to keep hidden. They are preparing to turn the tables and do some teaching of their own.

The NACF National Artist Fellowship includes a monetary award that provides additional support for Native artists to explore, develop and experiment with original and existing projects. Fellows also work with their communities and share their culture in numerous ways.  

To date, NACF has supported 180 artists and organizations in more than 26 states and Native communities. To learn more about the National Artist Fellows and NACF’s work, visit:

Treasure Island begins $86 million expansion

Treasure Island Resort & Casino began an $86 million expansion with a ground breaking on July 12. The expansion will add two towers and 300 hotel rooms, a renovated front desk, new restaurant, and an expansion to the Lagoon Water Park.  
The towers, eight-story and seven-story, will connect to the current Eagle Tower, and will feature upgraded amenities. They will add 184,000 square feet to the hotel. The first phase is scheduled to be finished in 2017.
The Prairie Island Indian Community said the project will create around 200 construction jobs and 150 news positions.

Whats New July
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by The Circle,
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Circle of Life Academy Graduates

grads2.jpgThe Circle of Life Academy held their 2016 graduation commencement on June 2 at the Circle of Life Academy in White Earth, Minn. Graduating seniors were Autumn Auginaush, Jordan Bower, Nathaniel Christianson, Precious Dominguez, Cassidy Fineday-Roy, Tristian Fox, Kathleen Heisler-Azure, Adrianna Smith, Chandler Smith, and Jarred Whitener. Front row from left are pictured: Precious Dominguez, Cassidy Fineday-Roy, Tristian Fox, Adrianna Smith, and Autumn Auginaush. Back row from left: Nathaniel Christianson, Chandler Smith, Jordan Bower, and Jarred Whitener. Not pictured: Kathleen Heisler-Azure. Photo by Gary W. Padrta.

Fond du Lac elects new leadership

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has elected Kevin Dupuis Sr. to take over after a victory in the June general election, with 622 votes or 58.5 percent of the vote. Kevin Dupuis Sr. will replace Karen Diver on the Reservation Business Committee, the governing body of the band. Diver, the longtime chairwoman, left in the fall to become special assistant to the president for Native American affairs D.C., in President Barack Obama’s administration . Kevin Dupuis was previously the District III (Brookston) representative on the RBC. Vanessa L. Northrup and Roger M. Smith Sr. also were elected to the RBC. The band had narrowed the field of 10 chairperson candidates to two during its April primary election.

White Earth Nation elects Tibbetts chair

The White Earth Nation has voted in Terry Tibbetts Sr. as their new chair. Tibbetts and Mindy Iverson led a field of 12 candidates in a primary earlier this spring. In that race, they each received roughly 20 percent of the vote, with Tibbetts squeezing out a lead of just eight primary votes. Official results of the election put Tibbetts ahead of Iverson with nearly two-thirds of total votes. Tibbetts will be sworn in in July. He'll be the first elected chair since a power struggle over constitutional reform cost former chair Erma Vizenor her job late last year. Eugene Tibbetts beat out Barbara Fabre for White Earth district three representative.

American Indian Family Empowerment Program June grantees

The American Indian Family Empowerment Program Fund has awarded ten grantees in the June round of funding Native individuals to help them pursue their vision and dreams. The grants were made in partnership with the Two Feathers Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation.   The American Indian Family Empowerment Program Fund invests in human capital, skills and cultural strengths through three priority areas: cultural connections, educational achievement and economic self-sufficiency.  During the June 2016 grant round, the following individuals received awards: • The Preserve and Renew Native Cultural Connections category: Brian Heart, to support Native cultural education in the Little Earth community • The Educational Achievement category: Cassandra Buffalohead, to support her education at Augsburg College; Frances Butler, to support her education at Anoka Technical College; Andrea Cornelius, to support her education at Augsburg College; Heather House, to support her education at Minneapolis Community and Technical College; and Lisa Lachner, to support her education at Minneapolis Community and Technical College • The Economic Self-Sufficiency category: Korina Barry, to support completing a yoga teacher certification program; Patricia Columbus-Powers, for small business to purchase materials to create first product line of Native made fashion items; Brook LaFloe, to support living costs relating to education at the Montessori Institute of San Diego; Jacqueline Pearl, to support creating a family owned and operated window cleaning business. The next deadline is September 6th. For information on how to apply, see:

Whats New July
Friday, August 05 2016
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10-year-old runs marathons for suicide prevention

tristangofundme.jpg10-year-old Tristan Smith ran in the May 19, Fargo 5K and the half-marathon on May 20, in Fargo, North Dakota. He plans to run all summer and has set up a GoFundMe page to raise $1,000.

On his GoFundMe page, Tristan said, “I am currently the White Earth Jr Brave and trying to represent the White Earth Nation as best as I can. I am asking for your help to raise money for suicide prevention. I have seen what drugs and alcohol have done to families and it makes me sad. I want to raise money to help kids get into sports because I think if they are active in sports like I am, they will stay away from drugs and not want to kill themselves.” The money raised will help White Earth Nation kids afford to play football.

Tristan is a 4th grader at Roosevelt School in Detroit Lakes, but used to live on the White Earth Reservation.
People can donate to “Run For Life” at any Midwest Bank, or donate on his GoFundMe page at:

Robert Lilligren new President and CEO of NACDI

robertlilligren.jpgThe Board of Directors of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) announced the appointment of Robert Lilligren as their new President and CEO. Lilligren, a former Minneapolis City Council Member and enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, just finished an 18 month commitment as interim CEO of Little Earth of United Tribes in Minneapolis. Earlier this year Lilligren stepped down as the chair of the board of NACDI.  Lilligren took the reigns of NACDI on May 9, 2016.

“We are thrilled to have Robert take on the leadership of NACDI,” says the board’s Vice Chair Reverend Marlene Helgemo (Ho-Chunk), “As the founding board chair Robert has lived NACDI’s asset-based approach toward community development in his personal, professional, political and activist life. We expect great things from him in this new role as NACDI’s CEO.”

Founded in 2007, NACDI is committed to transforming the American Indian community to effectively respond to 21st century opportunities. NACDI works to promote innovative community development strategies that strengthen the overall sustainability and well-being of American Indian people and communities.

FDLTCC publishes Thunderbird Review Anthology

The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has published the fourth edition of its literary anthology, The Thunderbird Review. The 97-page book features writing and art submitted by students from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and residents of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin communities.
The journal received over 100 submissions this year to consider for inclusion, and is an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience in writing, editing, and publishing at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.
“Working on the journal is a great experience for students,” said English instructor Darci Schummer. “It is also so important for students to have a place to submit their work. The feeling of seeing your work in print for the first time, which it is for many of these students, is indescribable.”

For more information or to purchase a copy of The Thunderbird Review, contact Darci Schummer at 218-879-0845. People interested in purchasing copies of the anthology can find them at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Bookstore for $5 each. Funds from book sales go toward producing the current publication as well as the next edition.

Dream of Wild Health Receives National Kresge Foundation Grant

Out of more than 500 applications, Dream of Wild Health is one of 26 organizations selected for a national grant from the Kresge Foundation. The Kresge Foundation announced funding to develop food-oriented initiatives in cities across the nation through it’s “Fresh, Local & Equitable: Food as a Creative Platform for Neighborhood Revitalization” initiative, also known as FreshLo.

Dream of Wild Health (DWH) submitted a plan to establish, plan, and create an Indigenous Food Network in the Philips neighborhood of Minneapolis. As part of the FreshLo community, DWH will create and enhance pathways to opportunity for Native American people in low-income, urban neighborhoods.
DWH will receive $75,000 planning awards through FreshLo to design neighborhood-scale projects demonstrating creative, cross- sector visions of food-oriented development.

The Indigenous Food Network, Gimino-Wiisenimin (We Eat Well Together) is a cooperative Native American cultural food system that will address the community’s food needs by: expanding production of organic and traditional foods, improving healthy food access through innovative community distribution systems, developing job training and employment opportunities, and providing hands-on gardening and cooking programs for Native youth and families.

DWH is partnering initially with the Minneapolis American Indian Center, Nawayee Center School, Little Earth of United Tribes, and Division of Indian Work.

Native American Students with SMSC Scholarships Celebrate Graduation from UofMN

studenatgradstory.jpgThe Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) joined the University of Minnesota on April 30 to celebrate the graduation of this year’s Native American students who received scholarships from the SMSC.
 The scholarship program is part of the SMSC’s focus on bolstering other tribal nations and supporting talented Native American students with financial needs.

This year’s graduates are: Chad Auginash, Red Lake Nation; Hannah Brengman, Adopted Native American; Veronica Briggs, White Earth Mississippi Band of Ojibwe; Chilah Brown, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Robert Budreau, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Hana Bushyhead, Eastern Band of Cherokee; Travis Crego, St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin; Rachel Forrest, Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas; Vanessa Goodthunder, Lower Sioux Indian Community; Phillip Gullikson, Three Affiliated Tribes; Diana Hawkins, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate; Chelsea Holmes, Rosebud Sioux Tribe; Alayna Johnson, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; John Kelsey, Huron Band of the Potawatomi; Olivia Mora, Manchester Band of Pomo Indians; Brandon One Feather, Oglala Sioux Tribe;  Jasmine Paron, Red Lake Nation; Cage Pierre, Avoyel-Taensa Tribe of Louisiana; Jesslynn Poitra, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; Kate Shelerud, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe; Zachary Wilkie, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; Jaimin Williams, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Tia Yazzie, Navajo Nation; Darian Ziegler, Lower Brule Sioux; and Mathew Zumoff, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

About 200 Native American students have received the SMSC Endowed Scholarship in the past eight years. The program was established in 2009 with a $2.5 million gift from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The University of Minnesota matches the scholarship payouts from the endowment fund.

Name Change for Midwest Area Tribal Health Board and Bemidji Area Indian Health Service 
The Great Lakes Area Tribal Health Board (GLATHB) is working to change the Area Indian Health Service Office name from “Bemidji Area” to “Great Lakes  Area”. The GLATHB represents 34 tribes across Minnesota, Wisconsin and  Michigan. In an effort to promote uniformity, the board voted in April to change its own name from Midwest Area Tribal Health Board to Great Lakes Area Tribal Health Board.

One of 12 Indian Health Service (IHS) regions in the country, the “Bemidji Area” serves 34 tribes and nations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan; plus four Urban Indian Health Centers in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Detroit and Chicago.

The press release sent out by the GLATHB said, “This name will  promote unity, comprehensive representation and inclusion of the Great Lakes  area. Additionally, it will eliminate confusion regarding the composition of the  service area.”

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