IHB holds site blessing for future Menaandawiwe Healing Campus

Left to right: DHS Commissioner Jodi Harpstead, Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, U.S. Senator Tina Smith, IHB CEO Dr. Patrick Rock, MN Sen. Melissa Wiklund, and MN Sen. Mary Kunish. (Photo by S-L Productions.)

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 9, the Indian Health Board of Minneapolis (IHB) held a site blessing for the future home of the Menaandawiwe Healing Campus at 2027 E. Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.

The day kicked off with a “Make Voting a Tradition” event, a unique collaboration between IHB, American Indian OIC/Takoda (AIOIC), and Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI).

Attendees enjoyed wild rice soup, drumming, raffles, and tabling events. Special speeches were delivered by Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and MN Secretary of State Steve Simon, who highlighted the importance of civic engagement and voting within the American Indian community.

A drum procession makes its way from the AIOIC to the site of the future Menaandawiwe Healing Campus. (Photo by Frank Gomez.)

The Southside Ramblers drum group and the Little Earth Protectors led a procession to the Menaandawiwe site. Upon arrival, IHB’s CEO Dr. Patrick Rock (Leech Lake) welcomed the crowd and highlighted the integral role the new campus will play in community wellness. “Menaandawiwe isn’t just a building; it’s a commitment to the holistic well-being of our community,” he said.

Dr. Rock honored four MN state legislators for their advocacy – Rep. Heather Keeler, Sen. Mary Kunesh, Rep. Samantha Sencer-Mura, and Sen. Zaynab Mohamed.

Special guests included Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, U.S. Senator Tina Smith, and Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. Each spoke to the transformative potential of the Menaandawiwe Healing Campus and the significance of having Indigenous Peoples’ Day stand as its own holiday.

IHB Elder-in-Residence Richard Wright blesses the land for Menaandawiwe. (Photo by S-L Productions.)

Following the speeches, the land itself was honored. Richard Wright (Leech Lake Elder-in-Residence at IHB) performed a site blessing. He explained how the name came to him for Menaandawiwe, which means “a place where healing happens.” In a dream he saw an isolated site with encampments of Indian people surrounded by nature, which made him think of “an old-style Indian camp” in a sacred garden with people helping others and healing them.

The vision for Menaandawiwe is that it becomes a place of healing and wellness for urban. The land was further prepared by traditional grass dancers, who then led a Round Dance, bringing community together.

Emcee Michael Harris (IHB Communications Director) gave special thanks to key partners. DSGW’s Managing Principal, architect Mike Laverdure (Turtle Mountain), leads the design team which provided refreshments and giveaways. The Woodstone Inc. construction team, led by CEO Paul Meyer (White Earth), sponsored the IHB raffle and more refreshments.

A traveling song, offered by the Southside Ramblers, signaled the end to a day filled with purpose and promise.