first_issue_of_the_circle.jpgIn 1980 The Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC) received a grant from the Dayton-Hudson Foundation (Target Foundation today) to broaden communications to serve the growing Native American community. From that seed The Circle was born. Volume One, Number One emerged from a basement office at MAIC on March 1, 1980.

At the time of that first issue, the Twin Cities metropolitan area had 23,000 self-identified Native Americans. Today that number is over 37,000 in the 11 county metropolitan area, according to the 2010 census, more than half the total population of 60,931 identified Native Americans in the state.

For 35 years, The Circle has provided news and information unavailable anywhere else, Native voices speaking to and about one of the nation’s largest urban Native communities, becoming an independent 501c3 nonprofit corporation in 1995.

The Circle is the welcome mat and doorway into the activities and interests of the Native community. As author Louise Edrich remarked at a Circle event last spring, “ … when I looked around Minneapolis, hoping to move here, I saw that there was a newspaper called The Circle that represented the Native community. It was more than a coincidental sign; it was the signal of a vividly interesting, many-Nationed community of Native people. Over the years I think that I have read every single issue.”

  • “The Circle was the first door that opened to me in the urban American Indian community. It still feels like a home and a circle of relatives talking about what matters.”  – Heid Erdrich, Minneapolis, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe

Along the way The Circle garnered many awards, including Best Native American Monthly in Canada, and the US from the Native American Journalists’ Association, and Best Community Newspaper from the City Pages.

The roll call of The Circle editors is impressive: Lori Mollenhoff, Sandra King, Rob Greengrass, Juanita Espinosa, Gordon Regguinti, Mike Bassett, Ruth Denny, Mark Anthony Rollo, Joe Allen, Catherine Whipple, Alfred Walking Bull, and Catherine Whipple again.

In addition, many writers, photographers and artists were launched and supported on The Circle pages. For 25 years, until his recent retirement, Jim Northrup entertained readers with “Reservation Follies.” Columnist Kristine Shotley, AKA “Ricey Wild,” continues today with her hilarious tales from Rezberry; newcomer columnist Nick Metcalf shares his views of the “Rez-born, Urban Raised,”  Mark Trahant reports on business, Mordecai Spector on Native and environmental politics, and Winona LaDuke is a regular contributor, along with many others.

As important, The Circle has represented a strong, vibrant Native presence in the region, which needs and demands its own voice. For 35 years The Circle has been that voice, reinforced today by online resources at our website at thecirclenews.org. But the financial model that supported The Circle most of its life began declining about a decade ago.

From the beginning, advertising revenue supported The Circle. As the primary vehicle to reach the regional Native community, the paper averaged more than $10,000 a month in advertising income through the first two decades, enough to cover all expenses.

  • “THE CIRCLE is the common fire where the community shares our stories.” – David Cornouyer, St. Paul, Rosebud Sioux

The Internet revolution cratered that financial model, as the ease of Internet communication gobbled up much of the advertising revenue. The Circle advertising has fallen nearly 80 percent from the averages prior to 2000, although The Circle remains the premier means of reaching the Native community.

The Circle is in good company with this problem. Take my old employer, the StarTribune, where I served on the editorial board. The Cowles family sold the company for $1.4 billion in 1998. In 2006 the newspaper was sold for $530 million; in 2009 it filed for bankruptcy. Last year Glen Taylor purchased it for $100 million, one-fourteenth its value only 16 years before. That financial free fall is directly traceable to the decline of advertising revenue and the difficulty of raising comparable revenue from web-based information products.

Meanwhile, both the StarTribune and  The Circle maintain print papers as

well as websites, to serve our communities, for two reasons. Many

readers, especially elders, respond to paper versions of information

more regularly and deeply than online versions. Second, advertising in

paper versions produces much more value for the paper and impact the

customer more than online advertising.

  • "It’s [The Circle] essential, it’s vital. It would be terribly missed.”­  – Laura Waterman Wittstock, Minneapolis, Seneca

As a 501c3 non-profit, The Circle can solicit tax-deductible charitable

contributions from individuals and foundations. However, our small staff

and board has few resources to seek foundation grants, as well as

pursue individual contributions.

The good news is that The Circle has survived while many other

newspapers, big and small, have folded. But going forward we need to ask

the community to help support The Circle as we diversify and expand our

business model.

Right now there are many ways to support The Circle.

1) ADVERTISING: The Circle  remains the premier, proven means of

reaching the regional Native community, and showing your support for the

Native community. According to our latest readership survey, we reach

over 480,000 print readers annually, and our website gets over 60,000

web impressions monthly.

2) SPONSORSHIPS: Corporate, business, tribal and individual

sponsors demonstrate support for The Circle’s mission. We acknowledge

that support by placing your banner in our paper and on our website. We

are grateful that Adobe Designs, Bald Eagle Erectors, PCL Contractors,

Wells Fargo, and API Supply Lifts support us. 

3) FOUNDATION GRANTS: For 35 years The Circle served the

community with little foundation support. The rare grants The Circle has

received have come from places like the Two Feathers Fund and the

Grotto Foundation, and just recently the St. Paul Foundation. In the

next 35 years, we will need more foundation support until newspapers

like ours find other revenue streams.

4) INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Over the years, hundreds of Native

and non-Native community members have donated their hard earned dollars

to The Circle. We thank them.

5) THE ANNUAL CIRCLE BREAKFAST: The annual breakfast fundraiser

(usually held in the winter)  have usually been full houses. With

nationally known Native authors donating their name and time to help

make these events memorable, the Breakfast Fundraisers have become a

festive event that is looked forward to by the community.

5) SUBSCRIPTIONS: Subscriptions have never been a money making

venue for newspapers. Usually the subscription price just covers for

postage and mailing expenses. The Circle offers Sustaining

Subscriptions, $100/year or more is an easy way to help support our


As The Circle navigates its way through the 21st century, we are testing

out different revenue models and publication mediums. But we need to

hear from you, the reader. What do you want to see from The Circle as we

move forward? We need impute from the community on where we go next.

We also need more financial support from the community – not just

individuals, but Native and non-Native businesses as well. To that end,

we will be covering a lot more Native business news, and Native business

leaders, so look forward to possibly seeing your business covered in

one of The Circle issues.

Please take a look at the various types of support that are available

for organizations, businesses, government agencies, and individuals on

these two pages. Pick one that fits your budget, cut it out, fill it in,

and mail it in with your check. Donations are tax deductible. Or visit

our online donation page at Razoo and send in your contribution via the

internet. You can find our donation page at: www.razoo.com/story/Thecirclenews

Got something to say about which directions we should go in, or what we

should cover that we currently aren’t? Fill out the form on the back

cover and send it in, we are waiting to hear from you. And send in your

donation or sponsorship check while you’re at it.

Thank for supporting The Circle. We look forward to a long future serving the Native community in Minnesota.

Show Your Support for The Circle!

Please consider becoming a supporting donor of The Circle. Your contribution will help The Circle continue to cover news, arts, and events in Minnesota’s Native American community, the only non-tribally owned newspaper in Minnesota. This is a great way to let your friends, colleagues, and co-workers know that you support an important service in the Indian community.  And you’ll have the joy of knowing your money is going to a worthy service.

Supporting Donor Levels:

•  Editor Supporter: $500+

•  Print Supporter: $400 – $499

•  Office Supporter: $300 – $399

•  Cover Stories Supporter: $200 – $299

•  Arts & Cultural Stories Supporter: $100 – $199

•  Columnist Supporter: $50- $99

•  Community News Supporter: $1- $49

Your name will be listed in our donors section on our website, and in our print edition at the end of the calendar year. (Or donate in the name of a loved one.) All individual donations are 100% tax deductible. Donation online at Razoo at:  www.razoo.com/story/Thecirclenews . Or send Checks to: The Circle, P.O. Box 6026, Minneapolis, MN 55406

For more information, call Cat Whipple at 612-722-3686. Email:  thecirclenews@gmail.com, Website:  www.thecirclenews.org

The Circle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Business Sponsorships

The Circle offers sponsorship opportunities to corporations and businesses. This is good news for those smart businesses who understand the importance of creating relationships in the Native American communities in Minnesota. Every reservation (11) in Minnesota gets The Circle delivered to their tribal headquarters. When your logo appears in our newspaper as a sponsor, the message is sent that you support the Native American community. Please take a look at our new sponsorship levels and see how we can help you connect to Minnesota’s large American Indian community.

•  Pipestone Level    $10,000

– One full page sponsored story (in one issue of your choice, 1st come basis)

– Your logo at top of sponsorship section in every print issue of The Circle

– Your logo on top banner on The Circle website (rotates with other ads)

– Verbal thank you at fundraiser and 4 complementary seats

– Your logo on table signage at yearly fundraiser

•  Eagle Level        $5,000

– Your logo in the Birchbark sponsorship section in every print issue 

– Your logo at top right side of The Circle website

– Verbal thank you at fundraiser and 2 complementary seats

– Your logo on table signage at yearly fundraiser

•  Buffalo Level    $3,000

– Your logo in Buffalo sponsorship section in every print issue

– Your logo in Buffalo sponsorship section on The Circle website

– Verbal thank you at fundraiser and 1 complementary seat

– Your logo on table signage at yearly fundraiser

•  Manoomin Level    $1000

– Your logo in the Manoomin sponsorship section in every print issue 

– Your logo in Manoomin sponsorship section on website

For more information, call Cat Whipple at 612-722-3686.

Sponsorship packages last for one year (12 issues) starting with the next issue after check is received.

Sponsorships are NOT tax deductible.