Supporting Cultural Vibrancy
Donor & grantee spotlight: Maggie Lorenz
Executive Director | Wakaŋ Tipi Center Director & Lower Phalen Creek Project
Maggie Lorenz knows how important the Tiwahe Foundation is as both a giver and receiver. Maggie, executive director of the Lower Phalen Creek Project, a Native-led environmental nonprofit in St. Paul, has been a multiple grant recipient and a donor the past five years.
“The Tiwahe Foundation has given to me a lot personally and this concept only works if our community makes it work and puts money back in,” says Maggie, who contributes to the organization monthly. “For me, $17 a month isn’t a lot of money when it’s put together in a pool – it helps give people in our community money when they need that support.”
Maggie, who is Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and Spirit Lake Dakota, has also experienced that support as well. She received her first Tiwahe grant as a senior trying to finish college. A few years later, she applied for a culture grant to help her and family purchase a thípi which was used for daughter’s and nieces’ coming of age ceremony, išnáthi.
“Ultimately, that was a great gift from the Tiwahe Foundation to allow my family to have that,” Maggie recalled, remembering the importance of those ceremonies in the transition to womanhood for the Dakota.
Recently, she was awarded the Oyate Network Community Project Grant to produce a play that will accompany the opening of the Wakáŋ Tipi Center, a 9,000-square-foot environmental and cultural center along the Mississippi River. The Wakáŋ Tipi, which means Dwelling Place of the Sacred in Dakota, is a cave where the Dakota believe sacred beings dwell. The petroglyphs in the cave honored these spirits but are now gone after explorers discovered the area.
Maggie is working with the New Native Theater organization on the play that will be in the Dakota language and will debut when Wakáŋ Tipi Center opens in spring 2023. Maggie was eligible for Tiwahe’s Oyate grant after participating in the Oyate Network program, which focuses on collaboration and American Indian leadership across Minnesota in urban, tribal and rural communities to move projects from isolation to transformation to action and social change.
“The grants that the Tiwahe Foundation offer to community members give us the flexible support that we need to not only get projects going that are important for the community but are just as important for individuals as these also support our own cultural vibrancy,” she said. “We would have a much less vibrancy if we didn’t have Tiwahe.”