“The past is more than a memory.” -John Trudell
The American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) has advocated for housing for American Indian people since 1993. AICHO operates the only culturally-specific domestic violence emergency shelter in Northeast Minnesota, offering safety and advocacy. AICHO created transitional housing and permanent supportive housing in response to the need for safe, affordable housing. Over the course of nearly three decades, the need for housing has only increased and become more complicated. But the root of American Indian homelessness goes back much further.
The truth is the land we all live on is originally Indigenous land. Tribal communities have thrived here and had ample resources, including homes for all Tribal citizens. With colonization and conquest, Indigenous communities endured great losses and survived intentional, massive actions to eliminate their communities, their people, and their cultural ways. Much of this history has been erased and the harm has not yet fully been acknowledged. This includes land theft, systemic violence, and policies that robbed Tribal Nations of economic power, cultural rights, and community integrity.
The question we must ask ourselves is this: how can American Indian people be homeless in their original homelands?
Photo courtesy of LAMAR Advertising
The American Indian Community Housing Organization is calling on advocates, city – county – state – national and tribal leaders, community members, and service providers to rise up in support of the movement to prevent and end MMIW AND domestic violence, which disproportionately affects millions of American Indians and Alaska Natives each year.
AICHO would like to say miigwech to artist Weshoyot (Tongva Nation from the Los Angeles Basin) who we commissioned for sharing her illustrated artwork piece for our billboard project and for bringing attention to the issue of MMIW. She is a comic book artist and illustrator and was born in the Santa Monica Mountains on the property of Satwiwa, a cultural center started by her father Art Alvitre. She grew up close to the land and raised with traditional knowledge that inspires the work she does today. (Info taken from her artist bio).
To find more about her, go to: https://www.weshoyot.com/ and find her on social media. Billboard was designed by Moira Villiard, Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe Direct Descendant & artist, utilizing Weshoyot’s artwork with artist permission. Billboard will be on display starting this week for up to 4 weeks in Onigaaminsing (Duluth, MN).
Download the published report by the Minnesota Task Force for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Congratulations also to Ivy Vainio of First Nations Community Partner American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO), who was one of 12 Indigenous people to receive a Maada’ookiing Grassroots Grant coordinated through the Northland Foundation.
The grant was awarded for Ivy’s project to create a billboard banner and companion poster to inspire Indigenous (and diverse) girls and youth to strive for more within their education and seek their potential. The billboard and poster feature Shoshone-Bannock tribal citizen and Red Lake Nation descendant Jennie Murillo who is in her third year of medical school at the University of Minnesota. Niigaanii in the Ojibwe language means “S/he leads.” The billboard banner will be installed on Life House, Duluth’s youth transitional housing complex in downtown Duluth for up to a year.- First Nations Development Institute
Click the file below to download a Niigaanii flyer.
Keep tabs on some of the exciting things happening at AICHO! Blog posts managed by volunteers as they are available.