NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Thursday September 29th 2022

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Historic Move for Tough Times

There’s no denying that our society today is highly polarized, but even during these grim times, you can find examples of cooperation, as groups pull together to serve and strengthen our community.

Case in point: the Urban Indigenous Legacy Initiative. We are a collective of 16 American Indian nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities that have provided the community with powerful and effective support for more than four decades. Each year, our organizations – focused on issues ranging from healthcare to housing, workforce development to childcare – reach more than 10,000 of our neighbors with critical support.

But there’s a problem.

The COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest of the past two years have made life even tougher for many. Indigenous people have the highest level of death per 100,000 residents than any other group in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. And from an economic perspective, American Indian employment is down 13 percent from 2019 in Minnesota, with many hesitant to return to industries such as hospitality and foodservice that were hit hard during initial slowdowns.

These current challenges only exacerbate the generational disparities faced by our community, creating high levels of need. For years, as we correctly devoted our resources to serving clients directly, we have relied on band-aid repairs for our aging facilities and struggled to keep pace with technology in the modern world. Today, as we strive to support our neighbors, we are grappling with outdated facilities that limit our capacity to serve those who need our help.

So what’s the solution?

As members of the Legacy Initiative, we’ve come together – in this era of state budget surpluses and federal pandemic relief – to seek $83.9 million in state funding to construct 12 new, culturally affirming buildings that will allow us to address disparities by expanding services and creating safe, empowering experiences for community members. It is believed to be the largest “ask” from American Indian groups in state history.

Here are a few examples of the proposed facilities:

  • MIGIZI, which serves more than 200 youth each year, is looking to build a new home on Lake Street to replace its newly renovated building near the Third Precinct that was destroyed in the May 2020 civil uprising.
  • The Native American Community Clinic, which provides healthcare to more than 4,500 of our neighbors, hopes to build a new clinic and expand its services to include affordable housing.
  • The American Indian Community Development Center plans to acquire and rehabilitate a 30-bed, culturally appropriate, inpatient residential treatment center to address the opioid crisis.

The proposal, known as the Clyde Bellecourt Urban Indigenous Legacy Initiative, is making its way through the Capitol in St. Paul. Please consider contacting your legislators in support of the legislation (Senate File #3648 and House File #3918) today.

It’s no accident that the term “legacy” is part of this collaboration. We are recommitting to planting roots in the land of our ancestors, moving forward to transform our community for generations to come.

Signed:

  • Ain Dah Yung Center
  • American Indian Community Development Center
  • American Indian Family Center
  • American Indian OIC
  • Division of Indian Work
  • Indigenous Peoples Task Force
  • Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul, Department of Indian Work 
  • Little Earth
  • Lower Phalen Creek Project
  • MIGIZI
  • Minneapolis American Indian Center
  • Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center
  • Montessori American Indian Center
  • Native American Community Development Institute
  • Native American Community Clinic
  • New Native Theatre

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