What's New In The Community: April 2015
Thursday, April 02 2015
Written by The Circle Staff,
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LEECH LAKE, Minn. – The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe was awarded the $25,000 Greater Minnesota Housing Fund Grant for the its Homeless Shelter.

The Leech Lake Reservation Business Committee Tribal Council renovated a building to address the homeless crisis. The homeless shelter will have 30 beds available and one handicapped unit for those clients that qualify for the services of the shelter. It will also have a commercial kitchen, laundry facilities, around-the-clock administrative services, transportation and case management for clients.

The RBC Tribal Council has also secured funding from the Open Your Heart Foundation in the amount of $10,000 for a van and the Mardag Foundation is in the final process of determining if they will fund the shelter with a $18,000 grant. In addition, the tribal council will apply for funding through the Minnesota Office of Economic Opportunity Homeless Assistance Grants that will provide operational sustainability for the shelter.

The Greater Minnesota Housing Fund was launched in April 1996 in a joint effort of the McKnight Foundation and Blandin Foundation to address the urgent need for decent, affordable housing in greater Minnesota.



LEECH LAKE, Minn. – The Leech Lake Tribal College received the 2015 Outstanding Nonprofit Initiative Award by the Initiative Foundation of Little Falls, Minn.

The award resulted from the work that the Leech Lake Tribal College did through a grant awarded for the Financial Resiliency through Social Enterprise (FRSE) program. The program is designed to assist central Minnesota Non-Profit organizations to gain awareness and skills in earned-income, social enterprise and social entrepreneurism to benefit the long term achievement of financial resiliency.

The result of the grant is a new and improved Bakitebii'iganiiwigamig (The Print Shop) capable of designing and producing a variety of products such as business stationery, books and binding, as well as a wide array of marketing and advertising essentials.

The Leech Lake Tribal College received only one of only four regional awards for excellence in leadership and community service. Leech Lake Tribal College President Dr. Donald Day spoke about its importance. “The award validates the work being done in building a business plan for our Print Shop,” Day said. “The Print Shop will benefit not only the college, but the community as well.”


MINNEAPOLIS – The Global Worship 8 Concert will present its 2015 BridgeBuilder Award to Sheila and Gordon Thayer on April 19.

The award is given each year to outstanding Twin Cities leaders, chosen for their efforts in bringing together people of various cultures through ministry work. The Thayers founded Overcomers Ministry, a non-denominational Native-led ministry in 1991 in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis; both are ordained ministers, focusing on serving people with chemical addictions.
From the start of their ministry the Thayers reached out to the numerous homeless chronic alcoholic Native people living on the streets; The location of their initial work was in the South Minneapolis site where homeless camps were once located and now is the site of Anishinabe Wakiagun, (“The Peoples Home”) a supportive housing facility for forty late-stage chronic alcoholic men and women. Wakiagun was opened in September 1996 under Gordon’s leadership at the American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC) where he served as the Executive Director and co-founder for 15 years, helping to rebuild the Franklin Avenue community. He resigned in August 2007 to help launch the First Nations Recovery Center.

Since 1992 they have either administered or served as chaplains for the Hennepin County Detox Center. Throughout the year Overcomers Ministry sponsors support weekly groups, provides affordable housing at the “On Eagles Wings” apartments for Native people in recovery and the First Nations Recovery Center, an outpatient treatment program contracted by Hennepin County. Overcomers also provides a youth hockey program to Native kids, a week-long summer Native family camp in northern Minnesota, outreach ministry to the Mishkeegogamang Ojibwe Reserve in northern Ontario and the monthly Sobriety Friday events in Minneapolis and on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe reservation in Wisconsin.

Both Sheila and Gordon Thayer struggled with addictions in the past; they now devote their lives to helping others through their ministry. Sheila Thayer was instrumental in building the capacity of Overcomers Ministry and was the lead person in applying for the State Minnesota license to operate the First Nations Recovery Center where she serves as the Executive Director and holds her credentials as a licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and a graduate of Northwestern University.

Gordon Thayer was elected in June 2011 to a four-year term on the Governing Board for the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Tribe in Wisconsin and continues as a board member of Overcomers Outreach Ministries, Inc. and an elder advisor to the First Nations Recovery Center. Both have worked to build bridges between the Native community and other cultures in South Minneapolis and the Upper Midwest.
Global Worship 8 will begin at 6 p.m., April 19 at St. Paul’s Church in downtown Minneapolis. Musicians from many cultures will share an evening of unique and exciting worship. Music will include Latino, Oromo-Ethiopian, Amharic-Ethiopian, Karen-Burmese, Hmong, Native American, African-American, the Choir from Hope Academy and a couple of multi-cultural groups.

The church is located at 1901 Portland Avenue in Minneapolis. For more information visit or call 612-874-0133. A free-will offering will be received.


PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, along with three national partners, announced on March 24 a $5 million campaign to improve nutrition for Native American communities across the country with its Seeds of Native Health.

According to a press release, SMSC will work with First Nations Development Institute, the Notah Begay III Foundation and the University of Minnesota to improve awareness of nutrition problems, promote the wider application of proven best practices and encourage additional work related to food access, education and research.

“Nutrition is very poor among many of our fellow Native Americans,” SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig said in the release. “The SMSC is committed to making a major contribution, and bringing others together to help develop permanent solutions to this serious problem.”

“Many tribes, nonprofits, public health experts, researchers, and advocates have already been working on solutions,” said SMSC Vice-Chairman Keith Anderson. “We hope this campaign will bring more attention to their work.”

First Nations Development Institute has longstanding expertise in efforts to eliminate food insecurity, build the health of communities, and support entrepreneurship and economic development. It is receiving $1.4 million from the SMSC for re-granting to projects relating to food access, food sovereignty, and capacity building.

The Notah Begay III Foundation is dedicated to promoting wellness among Indian children. It is receiving $1.1 million from the SMSC for re-granting to projects relating to childhood nutrition.

Chairman Vig said that selecting the University of Minnesota as a strategic partner in this initiative was natural. “The University is a world-class research and teaching institution in the fields of agriculture, food science, nutrition, and public health. We are fortunate to have a strategic partner in our own backyard.”

The University’s campaign role will include serving as the convening partner for a new series of annual conferences on Native American nutrition, developing appropriate cultural interfaces between academic research and its application by Native communities, and creating a repository of best practices and national expertise.

“The University of Minnesota and the SMSC have a remarkable partnership, which includes, among others the tribe’s support of scholarships of our Native American students and support for our athletics programs. We are thrilled to lend our expertise and leadership to this crucial campaign,” said University of Minnesota President Eric W. Kaler.

For more information about Seeds of Native Health, visit

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