What's New In The Community: February 2015
Friday, February 06 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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MINNEAPOLIS – Ojibwemotaadidaa Omaa Gidakiiminaang and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College are pleased to announce the fifth annual Ojibwe Immersion Academy to be held June 14-July 3, 2015 at the Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College in Cloquet, Minn.

The Ojibwe Immersion Academy is a rare opportunity for intermediate and advanced language learners to study one-on-one and in small groups with Ojibwe elders and faculty speakers for a three-week complete immersion experience.

For more information or another application packet, email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it with subject "Application Request.” All applications are due before 4 p.m. March 24.



RAPID CITY, S.D. – Rural America Initiatives is $500,000 closer to attaining a new Head Start building, thanks to a $250,000 matching grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

In December 2013 the SMSC committed a quarter of a million dollar grant dependent on RAI raising matching funds and in December 2014, after a $100,000 donation from an anonymous donor, RAI met that goal.

“We will always be grateful to the Shakopee Tribe. They recognized early on the benefit this facility would be to our people and they stepped up to help. It was their gift that raised awareness in our community, generated additional support, and allowed us to launch our campaign,” said Bruce Long Fox, Executive Director of Rural America Initiatives.

In addition to an anonymous donor, the following companies are among the individuals and businesses that helped RAI meet its matching goal: Black Hills Corp/Black Hills Power; Jim Scull of J. Scull Construction; First Interstate Bank; US Bank; SD Community Foundation; Beverly M./Lloyd W. Paulson Charitable Gift Fund; and Casey Peterson and Associates
Using these funds as momentum, RAI, a long-standing nonprofit organization serving Native American families in Rapid City, plans to raise an additional $6 million to build a new Head Start/Community Center building. Its current buildings, originally meant to be temporary, have exceeded their intended lifespan by a dozen years and are fully depreciated. The new building is expected to serve 150 children and their families each year, helping children below poverty level gain the skills they need to be ready to learn on par with their peers when they enter kindergarten.

Rural America Initiatives seeks to create community change by role modeling positive, healthy, alcohol and drug free lifestyles incorporating Lakota/Dakota values. Family and children taught by the organization will have a lasting impact on future generations. RAI seeks to strengthen individuals, families and the Native community in Rapid City.

RAI is the largest, non-profit, continuously operating Native American organization in Rapid City. Founded in 1986 to partner with Native American families to strengthen the development of healthy, sober, self-sufficient lifestyles, it has been the service provider for the most at-risk Rapid City families for close to 30 years.


MORRIS, Minn. – The National Science Foundation awarded $893,041 in funding for the University of Minnesota, Morris Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program. The goal of the project, under the direction of Professor of Geology Jim Cotter, is to increase the number of Native American graduates in the areas of environmental sciences and sustainability.

The five-year program, began in 2014. It serves 30 student participants and eight undergraduate interns each year, for a total of 190 students by its conclusion in 2019. Program components include: early-encouragement outreach to reservations; continuation of the Wind-STEP program for American Indian high-school students; IUSE Environmental Science and Sustainability summer program for tribal-college students; IUSE Summer Internship Program with local business, and; IUSE Enrichment Program to provide advice for the transition after college.

According to Cotter, complex environmental challenges require interdisciplinary solutions. “It is equally true,” he says, “that approaches to the environment require a diversity of viewpoints.” He believes increasing the number of Native American scientists in the environmental fields through programs like UMM-IUSE will lead to broader perspective on approaches to the environment.

“Education is the long-term solution to complex environmental problems, and the goal of the UMM-IUSE program is to develop model programs in undergraduate STEM education,” he says. “This program will augment Morris’s efforts to take a leadership role in environmental education and will positively impact partnering communities.”

The UMM-IUSE program is only the latest NSF-funded opportunity for Native American students at Morris. For 10 years the foundation has provided funding for Research Experience for Undergraduates and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program projects, led by Cotter, to encourage the participation of American Indian students in the sciences. NSF also recently funded the REU “Indigenous American to Indigenous Borneo,” led by Michael Ceballos, assistant professor of biology.

At Morris, Native students comprise 16 percent of the student body and have a six-year graduation rate of 61 percent, compared to the statewide average of 39. The campus also hosts the highest percentage of American Indian students in the University of Minnesota system.

The National Science Foundation IUSE program invites proposals that address immediate challenges and opportunities facing undergraduate STEM education as well as those that anticipate new structures and functions of undergraduate learning and teaching.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Congress of American Indians announced the results of joint efforts with Google to ensure better visibility for Indian reservations in the United States on Google Maps. Over the past year, Google launched several improvements for the way reservations appear on Google Maps, including labeling reservations, highlighting reservation borders in search results, and ensuring that their reservation dataset is as comprehensive as possible. The most recent update was rolled out in November to coincide with Native American Heritage Month.

In 2012, NCAI and the Google American Indian Network co-hosted a summit at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif. At the summit, tribal leaders underscored the role of tribal nations as first American governments, explained the significance of land to Native peoples, and urged Google to consider closer partnerships with Native peoples as the first American innovators.

As a result of those discussions, Google Maps now makes it easier than ever to search for federally recognized tribal reservations. The project was led by the Google American Indian Network (GAIN) and the Google Earth Outreach (GEO) team in close collaboration with NCAI and the Tribal Technology Taskforce. Including reservations on Google Maps is an important part of creating a comprehensive map of the United States and the world. Google and NCAI worked together to accurately represent reservation labels, borders, and additional details in a way that was respectful of Indigenous communities.

Welcoming the development, NCAI President Brian Cladoosby released the following statement: “NCAI congratulates Google on this important innovation to acknowledge the place of tribal nations in the American family of governments. America’s 566 federally recognized tribes are acknowledged alongside foreign nations and state governments in the US Constitution and they have jurisdiction over a land base of over 100 million acres. This land base is larger than all but three American states.

Thanks to the partnership between NCAI and the GAIN and GEO teams, the lands of America’s first governments are now clearly highlighted on Google Maps. We look forward to our ongoing partnership to improve the representation of tribal lands on Google Maps.

This is a great step forward to acknowledge the place of tribes in the past, present, and future of the United States, but it is not the last. NCAI will continue to build partnerships with tech companies like Google to ensure the first American innovators remain on the front lines of 21st century innovation."



GRANITE FALLS, Minn. – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is offering Project Turnabout Addiction Recovery Center’s capital expansion a $55,000 grant to be matched with contributions from others.

“With its potential to turn into $110,000, this gift is a great help in our Phase II and III capital expansion,” Michael Schiks, Project Turnabout Executive Director/CEO, said in a press release. “It helps us complete our new 27-bed Women’s Unit and update the Central Medical area at our Granite Falls campus. We look forward to inviting others to help us realize the matching grant opportunity.”

Responding to a need for more treatment beds, Project Turnabout focused throughout the past year on expanding its capacity to serve individuals seeking help for chemical dependency and problem gambling addictions. When complete, the Center will have 33 more beds; bringing its capacity to 122 patients. As many as 480 more people per year will receive treatment services than the Center had been able to help in the past.

A new Family and Education Center and administrative building were completed this past fall in Phase I of the expansion.

Project Turnabout Addiction Recovery Center, a nonprofit organization, is headquartered in Granite Falls. Its interdisciplinary treatment program is nationally accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and is licensed by the Minnesota Departments of Health and Human Services. Comprehensive care for individuals suffering from addictive illness is offered in a variety of settings and locations including inpatient/residential treatment, outpatient and transitional living services. Services are provided in Granite Falls, Marshall, Redwood Falls and Willmar.

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