As Indigenous peoples, our strength comes from our community. Our flagship program, AIFEP, starts by investing in Native individuals. When one member of our tiwahe (family in Dakota) thrives, it ripples out to their families, and eventually their communities.
Last Saturday, our tiwahe was able to meet and celebrate our relatives. Staff, board of directors and members of our Wisdom Council joined together to honor AIFEP recipients from 2022.
Receiving an investment through AIFEP is just the start of our relationship with recipients. We are the proud family members cheering on our relatives for all of their successes.
Thank you to Spirit Boy Drum Group for sharing prayers with your drum and songs.
Our meal at the honoring was by Old Southern BBQ, a local, Native-owned restaurant. Thank you to the Minnesota Humanities Center for hosting the event and continuing to support our work.
James Vukelich shared his journey with us and gave the keynote at the honoring. James received an AIFEP investment in 2018 to purchase a laptop and equipment to create “Ojibwe Word of the Day” videos. A descendant of Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, James is a renowned international speaker, digital creator and author.
“Your spirit is strong and that will take our people forward. Thank you for trusting us with your dream, together those dreams become reality.”
Carrie Day AspinwallWisdom Council Member
Although there isn’t a precise translation of philanthropy, there is one word we use in anishinaabemowin that I think is perfect. If you looked in Lakota, Dakota, Nakota and Haudensoanse (Iroquois), you would probably find an equal word.
For us the word would be zhawenim. It does not just have a binary translation- zhawenim can mean to love unconditionally, to have compassion, empathy or pity for someone, as well as to bless them.
The very first time I applied for Tiwahe grant, I feel like I was shown zhawenim, that unconditional love.
James Vukelvich2018 AIFEP Recipient, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe descendant, Author, Speaker, and Digital Creator
To our AIFEP recipients, it has been a great pleasure to work with many of you throughout your journey, through your application process and as you saw your goals come to fruition. I am honored to be a part of your journey today as we recognize your goal and the impact it will have on our community.