“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.
Photo courtesy of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice
Headwaters Foundation for Justice (HFJ) is deeply investing in 22 organizations or coalitions that are led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. We, at the American Indian Community Housing Organization, are proud and grateful to be included!
The group of grantees are on the front lines of organizing for systems change across Minnesota. Each $75,000 grant gives $25,000 of general operating support per year for three years—an HFJ first.
“This is our mission in action,” program director Melissa Rudnick said. “Organizations need and deserve flexible grant dollars to support their work towards justice, self-determination, and collective liberation. Philanthropy’s responsibility is to do more than just listen. We must respond, which is why I’m proud to see the community help Headwaters move this money exactly where it’s needed.”
Visit their website for a full list of grant recipients to learn more about the Transformation Fund, the grant recipients, and the community grant makers who powered this grant-making process.
Photo courtesy of the McKnight Foundation
The American Indian Community Housing Organization are proud and humbled to be recognized as a "Regional Cultural Treasure" by the McKnight Foundation. and their generosity given to us.
Minnesota is home to incredible Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American-led arts organizations! The McKnight Foundation is recognizing and investing in Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian American-Led Arts Organizations meeting this moment in time with imagination, persistence, and creativity.
“We use the term ‘Cultural Treasures’ with intention, to honor the diversity of expression and artistic excellence that these organizations contribute to the cultural vitality of our state, despite having historically experienced under-investment ,” said Tonya Allen, President of the McKnight Foundation. “As our arts institutions prepare to safely re-open after the pandemic, we’re thrilled to shine a spotlight on these remarkable organizations.”
AICHO strives to honor our ancestors, to reclaim our traditional art and support Indigenous People, and empower our community and the future generations to come. Miigwech, thank you, for the hard work that we collectively do to bring Indigenous arts - the first art of this land - into the forefront, into the light, and into the eyes, minds, and hearts of our communities. We are PROUD to stand with, and we congratulate, the 9 other organizations who received this funding. AICHO is grateful for the vision and leadership of our AICHO Board and the dedication of our AICHO staff, who not only provide services and support to our community, but also their work behind the scenes to support our art programming. Chi miigwech! Big thanks!
Chi miigwech to our contract staff/former Cultural Arts Coordinator Moira Villiard for nominating our organization for this funding, to all the brilliant and ah-mazing artists who have worked with AICHO since 2012 to transform Gimaajii Mino Bimaadizimin into the arts and cultural center it is today. And a special acknowledgement for our Arts and Cultural Arts Coordinator Ivy Vainio for her creative vision and keeping our Cultural Arts Programming alive and thriving especially during this past year.
Miigwech to the funding partners: McKnight Foundation, The Bush Foundation, Ford Foundation, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, The Minneapolis Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and Propel Nonprofits.
Daryl Olson, AICHO's Director of Programming, has organized several public health events at AICHO such as providing free saliva testing for the community. At AICHO's vaccination clinic, Olson has helped numerous elders including Portia Johnson. Photo by Ivy Vainio
Except from the Duluth News Tribune:
Groups most vulnerable to poor health outcomes are being prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations by the local public health department.
St. Louis County Public Health is directing 20% of its COVID-19 vaccination allotments to people in minority and marginalized populations. The county is reaching underserved populations by partnering with community organizations aimed at serving those people.
It’s meant vaccination clinics at board and lodges, homeless and domestic violence shelters, and places such as the American Indian Community Housing Organization, which hosted a vaccination clinic earlier this month for its housing and shelter residents, and communities of color.
AICHO was featured on FOX21 for our Giwiidookoodaadimin "We help each other" COVID-19 Emergency Food Distribution.
The program provides food food boxes to the Duluth community. In addition to food boxes, households received disposable masks and cloth masks for adults and children, hand sanitizer, hand wipes, cleaning supplies and thermometers. We also provided families with baby essentials. Over the past month, AICHO has continued to distribute PPE to tribal communities, local non-profits, individuals and families across St. Louis County and Carlton County.
Read "AICHO Gives 400 Bags of Food to Those in Need" by FOX21
AICHO staff member Ivy Vainio was interviewed by the Minnesota Department of Health, discussing AICHO’s work in “Amplifying the Message” of COVID-19 safety measures to American Indians and beyond.
Vainio, a Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe direct descendant, leads AICHO's social media and community public health messaging. She has worked with Indigenous artists in helping AICHO provide artfully crafted messages that our Indigenous communities can connect with in partnerships with tribal, state, and county public health departments.
Read more of “Amplifying the Message: Integrating Art and Public Health to Protect the American Indian Community”
For more artwork created by AICHO-affiliated artists, visit the AICHO Artists' Response page.
Artwork by NSGRTS
Deanna Reder is the legal advocate for the American Indian Community Housing Organization. She shares her journey in advocating for victims of domestic violence.
This video was produced by WDSE WRPT.
Gifts of the Northern Sun Exhibit: Call for Art
The sun is a source of enormous common wealth. It grows our food; it warms our water. And now, with solar energy technology, we have a new way to gather and share the sun’s abundant gifts. The Solar Commons Research Project and the American Indian Community Housing Organization are inviting Native artists of all ages who live in, or identify with Northern Minnesota to contribute art images that express to them, the idea of 'gathering the sun' in an online exhibit called "Gifts of the Northern Sun." Anyone who feels inspired to share an image and some written reflections can participate - you don't need to be a professional artist, but professional artists are welcome to share their vision too. Learn more at the exhibit website: https://arcg.is/0vfXKS
Keep tabs on some of the exciting things happening at AICHO! Blog posts managed by volunteers as they are available.