Tony Drews

Anthony (Tony) Drews / Chinoodin  

American Indian Family Empowerment Program Manager

Tony believes that relationships are everything in life and he brings those relationships that he has cultivated in our community over the last 30 years to the American Indian Family Empowerment Program (AIFEP).  Tony also believes in authenticity and meeting our relatives where they are at in life. He cultivates relationships with a no judgment persona and he’s always willing to go the extra mile to help our relatives—like meeting after hours to assist folks in their proposal, or at a coffee house with an elder to help them fill out a paper application.  

Tony’s thirty years of service include his time at Ain Dah Yung as a youth care work and residential director, overseeing the homeless and transitional living shelters. He’s had leadership roles at Circle of Life Anishinaabe Home Care and in Indian Education at Anoka-Hennepin Schools. Tony brings important relational insights and practices to how we engage and support our Tiwahe grantee family, including commissioning unique Native art gifted solely to that year’s AIFEP recipients.  

Tony embodies the philosophy of Gizhewaadizi – to live an intentional life of generosity and kindness. He is a long-time donor of organizations like the Angel Foundation, and he’s also founded two different scholarship programs, one for Native youth of Anoka-Hennepin and another through Nashke Games, a business he launched to increase awareness and empower learning of the Ojibwe language through gameplay.  

It’s worth noting that an AIFEP grant helped Tony launch Nashke Games before he became the program’s manager. Tony knows that this will strengthen our Native identity, which is the foundation to bringing back the traditions of our ancestors.  

Personal motto – “Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”  


  • I’m a first generation descendent from Gaa-zagaskwaajimekaag (Leech Lake band of Ojibwe). My Indian name is Chi-Noodin (Big Wind) I am from the Sturgeon Clan and a lifelong student of our culture and Language.   
  • Happily married to my wife Kathy and have three children. My greatest joy in life are my family, which include two high school aged girls and a boy in kindergarten. I’ve also survived the passing of my first wife and twin boys. 
  • Traveling is a big part of my life’s joys. I especially enjoy Disney Cruise lines with my family. So much so, that in 2017, I got married to Kathy on a Disney ship with 30 of our closest friends and family. 


  • All questions regarding the American Indian Family Empowerment Program   
  • If you are interested in creating your own language/cultural journey 
  • If you have questions about starting a new business  


  • American Indian Family Empowerment Program Manager  
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities – Studying Sociology in American Indian Studies  


  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe  (Anishinaabe, Ojibwe)


  • he/him/inini  


PHONE:  612-722-0999