Spotlight on John Hunter, founder of Twin Cities Native Lacrosse, who started the first lacrosse organization for Indigenous people in the Minneapolis area.
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.”
Brook LaFloe, a member of the Winter 2018 Oyate Leadership cohort and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, used her grant to help launch Niniijaanis Discovery. The community project aimed to promote access to educational equity and economic opportunity for Native American women, children, and their families. Brook says Niniijaanis discovery “helped contributors rediscover what it is that our youngest children need” through the creation of children’s learning materials developed “to help them thrive into healthy whole Indigenous beings.”
The program piloted the production of culturally relevant learning materials and curriculum for Native American children from birth to the age of 6. Ben Spears (Oyate Leadership Cohort 5) and Janice LaFloe (Winter 2018 Oyate Leadership Cohort) were lead partners in the project and their team shared traditional and non-traditional knowledge to help develop and sustain their work.
Brook shares her experience as one that brings her “good medicine”, and “heightened awareness toward culturally relevant education”. Her experience helping develop Niniijaanis Discovery motivates her, and ignites her passion towards being a dedicated educator of the future Native generations. Brook is transforming the community project into a social enterprise, Niniijaanis One of Ones. You can learn more about the release of the Children’s curriculum and the artist collective that made it happen at https://niniijaanis1of1s.com/
[vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column width=”2/3″ column_padding=”padding-3-percent” column_padding_position=”right” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″][vc_column_text]What do you get when you start with a heart full of Indigenous knowledge, pages of Anishinaabe language graphics, big heaping handfuls of generational knowledge, and armloads of food to nurture our relatives? A pinch of humor? An Anishinaabe cookbook, right?[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Derek Nicholas’s Eating with the Seasons is more than a cookbook, it’s a cultural resource. Derek is a student at the University of Minnesota Morris and was a member of the Oyate Leadership 2019 Cohort. He’s a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]“My grant was to create a project to strengthen communities,” Derek writes. Through his work Derek’s extends the movement for language revitalization to Indigenous food sovereignty with how we eat and take care of our relatives and ourselves, “I created a seasonally cookbook with the addition of Anishinaabeg language and cultural lessons. This book gives the tools to eat healthy while teaching language and traditions.”[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]And, all that delicious, hard work is also shifting the narrative of Native communities from peoples living in a bygone past to resilient communities living in the here and now. Yes, this is ancestor work created for the modern foodie and budding chef in all of us. Ever thought about how you might cook suckerfish – Namebin – for the first time ever? Ever wanted to try your hand at venison chili? Brew maple cinnamon ice – Niibish? How about curry squash soup? You’ll find that not only is Derek telling our story but he’s telling it in a way that tells a story of Native peoples in our collective present – through language and food – in abundance. Chi-mii gwech Nicholas! Wiisinidaa! Let’s Eat![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]