Minnesota Native News: Moving Forward in a Good Way
Minnesota Native News: Moving Forward in a Good Way
HOST INTRO: This week on Minnesota Native News, the passing of two powerful tribal leaders leads to new election, and urban Native leaders in Minneapolis seek to find solutions for people facing homelessness in hopes of preventing another “tent city” this summer.
STORY #1 - ELECTION IN WE AND GP
Minnesota lost two formidable tribal leaders in the past month. Reporter Melissa Townsend tells us more.
Terry Tibbetts was the Chairman of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. He served 4 years in that roll and before that 8 years on the tribal council. He passed on March 17th.
Gary Frazer is Executive Director of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and he worked closely with Chairman Tibbetts.
GARY: It’s a new RBC over there, nobody’s got a lot of experience so Terry’s experience will be missed. And he was a real traditional leader - conferred with the elders to see what they thought before making decisions - and you don’t see a lot of those anymore. (:16)
The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa also lost their long time leader Norm Deschampe. He was the band’s Chairman for 35 years.
And over that time he and Gary Frazer became friends.
GARY: Yea, Norm and I were real close. We talked almost every day. Yea, he’d call me just to BS or what happened with his kids. He was a real big family man just like Terry was. (:10)
Both men will be missed by all of their friends, their families and their tribal members.
Both tribes have set an election schedule to choose a new Chairman - or woman - who will serve out the rest of the current terms.
In Grand Portage, the primary election is scheduled for April 29th. If no one receives more than 50% of the vote, the General Election is July 1.
In White Earth, the primary election is scheduled for June 4th. And again, if no one receives more than 50% of the vote, the General Election is planned for August 6th.
STORY #2 - SHELTER CLOSES IN MAY - WHAT'S NEXT
[audio of encampment fades under but stays]
Last summer 300 people — many Native — were living in a tent city near downtown Minneapolis. Reporter Melissa Townsend reminds us what was happening then and asks what might be different this summer.
[audio of encampment]
This tent city rose up along a wall next to a 6 lane stretch of road near downtown Minneapolis. And it shined a light on the crisis created by the shortage of culturally specific affordable housing and addiction services.
JOY: Shelters - I can’t even get them in shelters right now. (:05)
Joy Friedman was at the camp trying to help people who lived there. She’s from the Indian Women’s Resource Center.
JOY: They’re full. Domestic violence shelters? They’re full, around Minnesota - so this is not just here. (:06)
Urban Native non-profits, tribes, city and county agencies mobilized. They offered everything from showers and food to addiction treatment referrals and some limited housing options.
Robert Lillegren is head of a group of Native leaders called MUID — Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors. He describes their approach at the time.
LILLEGREN: This invisible population became visible and a lot of people care about them. And we need to get the ball rolling before they’re invisible again. (:08)
The ball did get rolling. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey committed to find shelter for every person at the camp.
FREY: Housing is a right. It should be a right for everyone and the city is moving forward in an aggressive fashion to make sure everyone is able to be delivered that right.
Eventually the Red Lake Nation offered a piece of land in south Minneapolis and the city and county built a temporary homeless shelter there. It opened in December. It’s called a Navigation center. ?It’s a shelter with support services. But it was always intended to be temporary. In fact, it’s scheduled to close this May.
So over the past few months Robert Lillegren’s group has been talking with people living at the Navigation center. So they can be part of a plan for what happens when it closes.
LILLIGREN: It’s work to engage the people most impacted, the unsheltered Native people who are living at he intersection of homelessness and addiction. And so that can influence what we do. (:13)
But Lillegren says until recently, there were no planning conversations between city, county and tribes that involved MUID leaders.
LILLEGREN: Out in the community we were getting concerned because we weren’t hearing what happens on June 1st and then what happens next year and the next decade. (:07)
So they Lillegren and his group wrote a letter asking to be involved. And it looks like they were heard.
LILLEGREN: The city and county have responded to MUID’s letter. They’ve started less formal convenings with the community and my guess is we’ll see something we can share…(:13)
Lillegren says there is a lot of public will to do something constructive but he cautions in his experience government moves slowly. And there is a chance that this summer may look a lot like last summer.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Melissa Townsend.
This week on Minnesota Native News, the passing of two powerful tribal leaders leads to new elections, and urban Native leaders in Minneapolis seek to find solutions for people facing homelessness in hopes of preventing another “tent city” this summer.