Results from Our 6/27 Ribbon Skirt Event

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Thank you to all the volunteers who helped make the June 27 Ribbon Skirts for Our Incarcerated Sisters gathering a success! The Religious Services Department at MCF Shakopee requested 15 ribbon skirts to be worn by our incarcerated relatives during sweat lodge, powwows, and ceremonies. With the help of more than 30 volunteers, we received a teaching from Ojibwe Great Grandmother Mary Lyons and completed 10 skirts during the event. Since then, MIWRC staff finished 5 more skirts in order to deliver the full donation to Shakopee as requested. See below for some feedback from the event attendees and a slideshow of photos!

  1. What did you learn today that you did not know before?

    -That the process of making a ribbon skirt is more than just sewing. It’s prayer and power and blessing.

    -Teachings about the ribbon skirt and its meaning to Native women.

    -How to use sticky double sided tape to make the ribbons straight!

  2. How will you use this information in your life?

    -I want to make my own ribbon skirts and teach my daughters and grandchildren.

    -I will be more thoughtful of my words going forward.

    -I am very comforted to know that we all come from the stars, and we are all connected.

  3. What did you like most about coming today?

    -It was a blessing to hear the stories from our Elders.

    -Being with positive vibes from all the other women and being taught culture.

    -That the skirts made were being donated to incarcerated women at Shakopee Prison to be used during ceremonies.

  4. What could we do to improve the gathering?

    -No onions!

    -More sessions - maybe open a sewing circle?

    -I wish we got more skirts done, that’s all!

Loring Nicollet Alternative School to Host Fundraiser for MIWRC

You are invited to attend Cabaret, a talent show hosted by the Loring Nicollet Alternative School which takes place on May 30 at 6:00 at First Covenant Church. We are so honored to announce that the students chose to donate the proceeds from ticket and food sales to the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center. Come support students and MIWRC - it's going to be a great event!

Please share widely!

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MIWRC in the media!

Three articles were recently published about MIWRC and our work. Check out the success of our first annual Indigenous Women’s March and learn more by following the links below.

First Indigenous Women’s March empowers survivors, offers support

After years of being ignored, renewed hope for Minnesota's missing and murdered indigenous women

Inaugural Indigenous Women’s March shines a light on the plight of missing and murdered native women

Running for Our Lives - MMIW Marathon Team to Donate to MIWRC

A group of 7 courageous and generous indigenous women are running the Deadwood Marathon on June 2nd in South Dakota. They are running to raise awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and to raise funds for organizations doing the front line work. MIWRC is honored to be one of the organizations chosen.

Find more information on their Facebook page here.

Donate on their event page here.

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MIWRC Free Legal Clinic - Honoring 25 Years of Service

The Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC) is proud to announce that 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of our free Legal Clinic in partnership with Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. In recognition of 25 years of dedicated service from the talented and generous team at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, we have created a tool for gathering feedback. Our goal is to show appreciation and gratitude to Faegre Baker Daniels LLP by highlighting the voices of the people they have helped throughout the last 25 years.

If you have accessed MIWRC’s free Legal Clinic which occurs every Wednesday from 1:00 – 3:00, please consider sharing about your experience. All responses are anonymous.

You can find the survey here:

Please share widely!

Contact Ashley Lustig at or (612)728-2036 with any questions.

American Indian Recruitment Day with MN Department of Human Services

From the MN Department of Human Services:

“American Indian Recruitment Day American Indian DHS Staff will be at MAIC to help community members to input resumes into the state system. We will be available to answer questions about working at the state and to provide a list of current job openings. We will also offer sessions on writing cover letters and tailoring your resume to the job description. Please bring your resume on a thumb drive or just bring your hard copy to input into the state system. Please allow time for the information to be entered into the system for the first time. Once you are set up in the system, it is much easier to apply for future job openings at any state agency. First come, first assisted. Miigwetch, Pidamiya, Pinagigi.”

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Hearing Their Voices Online Course

MIWRC’s Learning Center will soon offer online coursework. Coming soon, the first module is an online course for “Hearing Their Voices: The Persistence of Violence Against Native American Women and Girls.” It should take about 5 hours to complete. Upon finishing the course, MIWRC will send a certificate recognizing that the participant completed 5 hours of continuing education. At this time, our CEUs are issued only by us, but in future offerings we plan to get certification for CEUs from professional organizations as well.

New Volunteer Opportunity!


Childcare Aide




POSITION PURPOSE:  Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC) runs a Caregivers Parenting Circle every week on Thursdays from 3:30-6:30 . To reduce barriers to attendance, MIWRC offers free on-site childcare during this weekly meeting. The ideal candidate will be available to work one evening a week for 3-4 hours. This is an unpaid position. This is a great opportunity to join a leading community organization, gain on-the-job experience and enhance job skills.

REPORTS TO: Kinship Coordinator

Primary Duties:

  • Provide supervision to children during support group meeting

  • Organize/lead activities for children

  • Maintain safety of kids

  • Communicate effectively with parents and staff

  • Help keep the space safe, clean, and attractive


  • Must be at least 18 years of age

  • Must have high school diploma or GED

  • Experience working with children

  • Experience with or knowledge of the American Indian community

  • Must have no current problems related to alcohol or drug use.

  • Must be willing to submit to DHS Rule #3, Criminal Background Study

Demonstrated ability to:

  • Maintain highly confidential information

  • Listen actively and respond appropriately with children, staff, and parents

  • Work effectively with children, staff, and parents

  • Exemplify professional conduct


HOW TO APPLY: Contact Hannah Passmore, Volunteer Coordinator at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, 2300 15th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404, phone (612) 728-2011, or email


Final Kateri Update

Our journey began in December of last year when we heard that the Kateri Residence Program was being closed by St. Stephen’s Human Services (SSHS) effective at the end of June 2018. The Women’s Foundation held a meeting with Gail Dorfman, SSHS CEO and a few other interested parties, including MIWRC. At that meeting, MIWRC put itself forward to take over the programming and property, but we were clear that we didn’t have a large reserve to use towards a purchase. At that time, a nominal purchase price or even the gifting of the property was suggested by SSHS. However, at the beginning of the year, SSHS let us know they wanted an appraisal done on the Kateri Property before deciding how to proceed on the property transfer proposed in December. That appraisal was completed in February.

MIWRC asked about the condition of the property and was allowed to do a walk through on March 6 with PCL Construction team members and a Kateri Residence Program staff member. We were also provided a January 2017 construction budget by Flannery Construction. At the time of the walk through, it was noted that several repairs and/or updates were needed in order to get the property to the standard required for the wellbeing our clients. However, despite these items, we were excited about the prospects for programming that we knew we could provide in the location.

While we waited to hear from SSHS, MIWRC hired a consultant to help manage the community outreach and fundraising plans. We held meetings with community members to start co-creating programming that we all felt would help our families move completely out of poverty. We held a pipe ceremony to bless the process and included current Kateri residents and staff. MIWRC reached out to funders and received commitments for support from foundations, different government levels, private funders, and tribal governments. Unfortunately, without knowing whether SSHS was willing to gift the property or not, it was very difficult to be strategic around fundraising. Applying for many of the housing program grants required ownership of the property, so we were stuck in a state of suspension.

It was not until the end of May that SSHS reached out to meet about the property. On May 30, representatives from the SSHS Board and the CEO met with us for the first time and informed us instead of a nominal amount or a gift, they wished us to purchase the property for $350,000.

Since up to this point no communication had been provided that SSHS was going to require a purchase of the property, beyond the initial suggestion of a “nominal” fee, MIWRC was not in an immediate position to agree or disagree to the purchase price. And, despite the fact that MIWRC Board meets monthly, they had already met four days before this meeting with SSHS, so the issue was brought to the very next MIWRC Board meeting on June 30. The Board agreed to move forward with the purchase but given the condition of the property, including the Flannery construction budget and advice from PCL Construction (who estimated that over $400,000 in work needed to be done for us to provide programming), the Board felt an environmental assessment needed to be completed before committing to purchase it.

MIWRC worked with a lawyer to draft up a letter of intent to purchase, which was finalized and sent on August 1 to SSHS. The letter indicated MIWRC intended to purchase the property contingent on an environment and property assessment so as to determine the condition of the building and the full price of acquiring it. On August 15, SSHS sent an amended LOI that requested final dates for closing on the property and completion of due diligence (environmental/property assessment). I ran into Gail Dorfman on August 17 at the Hiawatha Franklin Tent encampment, and I verbally confirmed receipt of their amended LOI and reconfirmed MIWRC’s commitment to purchase the property. I indicated I was working to get the assessments scheduled in order to provide the dates SSHS had requested.

Given the situation with families living in tents along Hiawatha, I also proposed to Gail that MIWRC rent the property from SSHS while we worked on the due diligence assessments for the purchase because it would allow us to provide immediate housing for some of the families. It had previously been brought to my attention that the last family to live at Kateri before it closed was now living in the encampment. I felt that renting the property to MIWRC since we were in the process of purchasing it anyhow would allow for immediate housing for some of the families, especially that one. On August 21, at the end of the day, I received an email from Gail requesting more information about the interim lease agreement I was proposing. So on Friday, August 24, I emailed a letter confirming our continued interest in moving forward on the purchase and laying out the terms of a lease agreement.

On Monday, August 27 I received a call from a colleague to inform me that he had worked out a deal to purchase the property from SSHS for $50,000 less than the price given to us. He had done a walk through on August 23 and made an offer on August 24, which he indicated they had accepted. Then the next day, on the 28th, SSHS sent me a letter rejecting MIWRC’s proposal to rent the property but making no mention of the counter offer they had accepted. It was not until September 5 that I received a call from SSHS telling me that if I could pay $300,000 by next week Friday, they would let me purchase the property “as is” and on the same terms as the other buyer. I turned them down.

The property has been purchased by American Indian Community Development Corporation and all of us at MIWRC are grateful it will be an American Indian agency that will be managing the property. We are unaware on whether there is any intent to do reunification programming at the location but at least Native families will hopefully be housed there.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't deeply disappointed in the way this was handled and the final outcome. MIWRC remained interested in the property from the beginning, communicated that interest throughout the process, but was fiducially bound to make an informed decision with the purchase. When we considered a $350,000 purchase price combined with at least $400,000 in repairs and updates for the residents, it would not have been responsible to move forward and purchase the property without knowing if there were unknown expenses caused by mold, lead paint, asbestos, etc. If the total cost was going to be closer to $1 million or more, it would make more sense to raise that money to purchase a property with less repairs or to raise a little more and build a whole new facility.

MIWRC sends gratitude to all who supported us from the beginning of this journey back in December and who continue to support us in the work we do. We send thanks to all who gave of their time to help develop a program design that would help our families safely reunify with their children and lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty. We are grateful to all who sent us donations and who committed substantial pledges to our project. We are asking humbly that all who supported us for the Kateri property continue to support us as we move forward with new options. As the recent encampment along Hiawatha/Franklin has so strongly demonstrated, supportive housing for our community is absolutely a vital and critical need. MIWRC remains committed to partner and create viable and lasting solutions, as well as restarting the critical reunification housing programming for our families as soon as possible. We just need your continued support to do it.


Patina Park, Executive Director
Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center
September 18, 2018

Needles in the Flower Bed: A Week in the Opioid Crisis

Our Executive Director, Patina Park

There is a lot of attention in the broader community now about the opioid crisis since it is affecting people from all socioeconomic and racial and cultural backgrounds. From my perspective, it feels like the attention and focus on solutions was only raised when white people started dying because brown and black people have been dying for a few years now, but any attention to the issue raises access to resources so I'm choosing to be grateful for the renewed energy around finding solutions.

I believe it can be difficult for those who have not been addicted themselves to understand how it affects the daily lives of many. They may see it as a character flaw... a "choice" people make to get high for fun, or to be weak in the face of life challenges. This is not true and is a perspective and attitude that only leads to more community harm and more of our people dying.

I want to give you a snapshot of my week at work and how opioids have come up to hopefully put a context on the problem that raises it above the superficial.

On Monday a request was made by a MIWRC program to move a picnic table away from a window because people are sitting around it to use drugs after business hours. This program operates in the evening so those here working on maintaining their own recovery can see the drug use. A discussion was held on the impact to staff and clients emotionally if the picnic table is moved and someone overdoses and dies because no one saw in time to save the person. There is no easy answer.

This week we had someone overdose at our front door. We were able to watch his actions on our cameras. He injected himself in plain daylight on the other side of the parking lot and then walked towards our agency. You can see exactly when the narcotic hits him hard as he veers towards the medicine garden, (She was trying to help him), but he gets back on the sidewalk, walks a little further, and then collapses. Luckily people saw him. Luckily we all carry naloxone here. Luckily he was revived. This was an Indigenous man. He was young. And though I don't know him personally, I know he is someone's son. I know he is our community's relative. I know that he is deserving of compassion and love.

Then a couple days later, another young Indigenous man took a large amount of prescription oxys here at the agency. He was able to call for help so the outcome could have been so much worse. But he is also someone's son and someone's father and our community's relative. Whether it was accidental or intentional, he is deserving of compassion and love.

Yesterday as I was leaving work, I ran into a friend who was wearing gloves, carrying a metal bucket, and walking around the neighborhood looking for needles. Looking for needles is an all day, every day activity, behind the trash containers, along the fences, in the allies, in the flower beds, everywhere. MIWRC has a staff member who now who lives on the premises in order to deter the evening, overnight, and weekend activity in our stairwells and more hidden spots.

Today one of the staff told me that one of her clients who is an elder and not a drug dealer, was the target of a group of people who surrounded and picketed her house because the large number of needles in the alley by her house led them to believe she is dealing drugs. These community members are frustrated and are trying to do whatever they can to stop people from bringing that poison to our families. Unfortunately, they were wrong this time. I am told she is deeply embarrassed and worried about what people are thinking of her. She is someone's daughter. She is someone's mother. She is deserving of compassion and love and so are those who mistakenly targeted her home. They are also sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers.

For those who are using, those who are selling, all our families affected, this is a problem hundreds of years in the making. For the Indigenous people of Turtle Island, the trauma of colonization is still living in our daily lives. The ongoing attempts for hundreds of years to wipe us off this land permanently is still felt acutely, and as someone who was at Standing Rock and who is paying attention to federal actions, policies, and rules regarding our lands, I don't believe those attempts ever ended. They just aren't as obvious as the past Boarding Schools and government payments for the scalps of Indians.

We aren't going to solve this trauma overnight. We aren't going to solve the symptoms of this trauma focusing on the individual symptoms and fighting amongst ourselves about who has the best approach. We need each other. And most important for me is that we recognize and see our relatives in the eyes of those who are caught up in the demon of addiction and we choose compassion. I know it isn't easy. I know this personally through the demons in my own family. I hate the addiction. I hate the behaviors that addiction causes. But we can't just focus on making the person stop using. We have to give them a reason to stop. There has to be hope for something better when they stop.

The solution is not learning abstinence, it is in learning how to heal. It is in the safety of knowing you can live in a safe and affordable home. It is in the security of meaningful employment. It is in the support for the first 1000 days of our children's lives and for education that meets the needs of our children. It is harm reduction and loving those who are almost impossible to love. It is in the healing of spirits and souls of everyone and of the land and water and air. We must address the root cause of this crisis, because until we do, we will continue find needles in our flower beds.