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WiiDooKoDaaDiiWag Blog:

Claiming Shared History

The WiiDooKoDaaDiiWag/They Help Each Other initiative held another gathering on March 2nd. The focus of this gathering was to convene a conversation among Native-led agencies to develop and document the Indigenous community’s shared history. The next step would be to begin to develop a collective statement of commitment to address homelessness in the Twin Cities Native community.

The conversation was held at the American Indian OIC. Attendees represented Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors member groups.

The conversation was fascinating and wide-ranging as facilitator Lesley Kabotie of Indigenous Collaborations led the assembled in a compelling walk down memory lane – beginning 50 years ago in the 1970’s. The discussions were framed by decade and moved slowly towards contemporary times.

One comment led to another, and the room was filled with memories and recollections. It became an incredible history lesson, including hard won successes and progress, but also painful moments, set-backs and disappointments. It was a fascinating exercise. Key moments were written on sticky notes and soon a wall was covered with the groups combined recollections divided by decade and subtitled by Lesley:

1970’s: Red Power activism and seeding our own urban Indian services

1980’s: Borrowed from existing models and structures to tap into resources without realizing toxicity of “fight stance” in community service systems

1990’s: “Deck Reshuffled” Business funding collapse and chaos, protection of resources, silos strengthened

2000’s: As a community we explored ways to express our own agency and flex our muscles publicly. Internally we were fighting, siloed, it was a high water mark of conflict.

2010’s: Generational shifts. Intentional about going from inside out. Resurgence in recognizing our collective authority and power to create change. Indigeneity rising. We are the 7th Generation. Go Big or Go Home.

2019: Stress test revealed where we are strong and weak. Strengthened our will, voice, and formal access to act and demand accountability from partners and collaborators.

As talk neared the here and now the effect of the Franklin Hiawatha encampment on the Native community was palpable. It was compared to a “crucible” and a “thunderstorm”, and all agreed that the crisis management required to address the urgent needs of the relatives at the camp challenged the cohesion of the community.


To move forward we must fully understand the interwoven histories of Native people – from many tribes and from both the urban and reservation communities. This gathering took a huge first step down a very promising path.

Below are photos of the milestones and remembrances collected at the gathering. I encourage you to take a few moments to take in the results of this day of shared recollection. It's compelling to consider local Native American history as we take steps towards the future.

Blog by Camille

Photos by Carrie

Setting the stage.

The 1970's: Red Power Activism



1990's: the "deck is reshuffled"


2010's: Generational shifts.

2019: Stress Tests and victories: Franklin Hiawatha encampment, 'The Scaffold', the election of Lt Governor Peggy Flanagan (White Earth Band of Ojibwe). Similar gains are seen on the national stage as Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk) and Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) are elected to Congress.

Shared history

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