In early January, AICHO partnered with several community agencies to kick off the 12th Annual Twin Port January Trafficking Awareness Month. Following, AICHO hosted the annual Brave Art Youth Exhibition.
The event began at 5 p.m. with 19 agencies tabling as a resource fair, followed by an Opening Ceremony led by Ricky Defoe (Fond du Lac Ojibwe Tribal member) and Julian Kitto and the Little Horse Singers from the Cloquet Schools. Mel Alvar, PAVSA’s Safe Harbor Regional Navigator, gave opening remarks on this years’ theme ‘Protection through Connection’ along with the calendar of events in January on Trafficking Awareness. Following, other community leaders spoke in solidarity on the subject.
With over 15 artists, we had the opening gallery with guest speaker and local artist Jonathan Thunder (Red Lake Nation Tribal member) shared his story on becoming an artist. Jonathan gave insight on what it meant for him to become an artist and spoke to youth on finding their inner bravery. AICHO’s Food Sovereignty Director and Children’s Program Manager, Kayla Jackson (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal member) spoke on the meaning of Brave Art as well, sharing with the audience the importance of our youth. Both assisted in awarding each artist with their certificate.
Miigwech for all partners in piecing together a beautiful ceremony and reception that brought such a deep feeling of unity that not only spread awareness on human trafficking, but also held space to celebrate the wonderful creativity of the youth in the Duluth area.
AICHO’s 2024 13-month calendar features photography by and about the Giinawiind Giginitaawigi’gomin: Together We Grow program. Throughout 2023, the youth program participants learned to capture and document cultural stories tied to Anishinaabe and Indigenous traditions, elders, and intertribal foodways from AICHO’s long-time community partner Kristine Sorensen and In-Progress. The calendars are $15.00 at Indigenous First: Art & Gift Shop (in-store and online).
AICHO has started two new groups, Oshki (youth 11-17) and Abinoojiiyag (10 and under), to offer core cultural teachings. The Oshki group meets weekly and the Abinoojiiyag group meets every other week to bring youth and children together with traditional cultural teachers. Children and youth are learning traditional stories, hands-on traditional activities, how to use traditional medicines, and the meaning of our drum, pipe, feathers, eagle staff and more. Carrying cultural knowledge strengthens us and helps us go through life strong and in a good way. We do this by bringing our generations together to learn and grow together. Carrying the teachings forward! Miigwech to the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs for support for innovative solutions to end community violence and create community well-being & safety.
It's National American Indian Heritage Month. AICHO asked some questions to our Giinawiind Giginitaawigi’gomin: Together We Grow Youth Program participants to share their perspectives of what it means for them to be American Indian and what they would want to share with others about their Indigenous experience. Miigwech to these youth for their leadership, bravery and knowledge in sharing their Indigenous worldview with all of us. Let's listen to their Nibwaakaawin - their wisdom.
Our Giinawiind and Gimaajii kids participated in the Fond du Lac Band Gitigaan’s Gitigaan Wiikondiyag Garden Feast today. We played traditional lacrosse for a couple hours, went swimming at Kiwenz Campground, then toured the Gitigaan garden and ate food from the Feast. It was a full eventful day.
Miigwech to Giinawiind and Gimaajii Youth program staff Kayla Jackson for bringing these youth to this event where they got to learn about and reconnect with culture, traditions, Indigenous food and to the land. The youth also volunteered and helped at the event as well.
Photos by Ivy Vainio
AICHO youth participants learn how food is medicine by making vegan kimchi with food sovereignty activists Luke and Linda Black Elk. Both Giinawiind Giginitaawigi’gomin: Together We Grow and Gimaajii Mino Bimaadizimin youth participants came together at AICHO’s rooftop garden to learn about the traditional and popular Korean fermented food called kimchi and the nutritious values associated with fermentation. They chopped up cabbage, ginger
AICHO says miigwech to Luke and Linda Black Elk for teaching us to look at food as medicine and for the plant walk in downtown Duluth. We learned to value the medicine growing in the concrete jungle of Duluth all around us.
Miigwech to AICHO Staff Ivy Vainio, Kayla Jackson, Cheryl Stone and Mia Menendez for organizing this cultural experience for our program youth. Miigwech Avery Makes Room For Them for making us such a delicious meal.
This activity was funded in part by Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Division, Northland Foundation, Ordean Foundation, United Way of Northeastern Minnesota, and Sheltering Arms Early Education & Family Centers.
Artist Shaun Chosa led art class with Giinawiind Giginitaawigi’gomin: Together We Grow program youth and Gimaajii Mino Bimaadizimin youth. Shaun Chosa is a Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe tribal member. Photos by Ivy Vainio.
On a hot Wednesday evening, a team made up of AICHO staff and Gimaajii Mino Bimaadizimin families came together to collectively run and walk 20 miles. Each step they took was a prayer to heal themselves as Indigenous people and stand in solidarity against racism and hatred directed towards Ojibwe people throughout Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Their steps contributed towards the solidarity relay called The Healing Circle Run organized by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
The Healing Circle Run began in 1989 as a response to the escalated animosity towards Ojibwe people brought on by protests against tribes reasserting hunting, fishing, and gathering rights in the Ojibwe ceded territories of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The seven-day relay is a collective prayer to bring healing to participants, their families, reservations, the communities they pass through, the nation and the earth. Runners endure the long journey under the summer sun and heat, persevering through exhaustion. It is a sacrifice runners make to heal their loved ones and communities suffering from addiction, violence and untreated intergenerational, historical trauma.
The relay route connects 10 Ojibwe nations including Lac Du Flambeau, Mole Lake, Lac Vieux Desert, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Bad River, Red Cliff, Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, St. Croix, and Lac Courte Oreilles, covering 600 miles. AICHO pledged and completed 20 miles on July 13, 2022, the fifth day of the relay in South Superior.
The Native Americans into Medicine summer program took a tour at AICHO to learn more about AICHO’s missions, priorities and community initiatives to address and advocate for health justice and access in our communities on July 13, 2022
The Native Americans into Medicine summer program is a six-week summer enrichment program for undergraduate students pursing careers in health and medicine through the University of Minnesota.
The students learned about AICHO programming from Co-Executive Director LeAnn Littlewolf, the Indigenous First Gift Shop from Khayman Goodsky, and AICHO Galleries and Cultural Arts programming from Ivy Vainio. Miigwech NAM for visiting AICHO!
Youth learned to make traditional Anishinaabe wild rice poles through AICHO’s Giinawiind Giginitaawigi’gomin: Together We Grow Youth Program.
Through this hands-on workshop, guided by Michaa Aubid (East Lake Anishinaabe) and Veronica Skinaway (Sandy Lake Anishinaabe), program participants learned the importance of treaty rights, how to operate power tools and how to knock rice with rice knockers. This knowledge is important when participating in the wild rice harvest, called manoominike in Anishinaabemowin.
If we are to preserve culture, we must continue to create it.” - Johan Huizing, historian
Last year, the program youth learned how to make wild rice knockers in a workshop taught by 1854 Treaty Authority, passing harvesting knowledge to the youth. In September, the Giinawiind Giginitaawigi’gomin program will participate in the annual manoominike with Ron Willis, under the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College CYFAR Grant activity.
AICHO says miigwech to Michaa Aubid and Veronica Skinaway for teaching our program youth and staff about manoominike, the Anishinaabe words connected to harvesting rice and for allowing our youth to make ricing poles.
Miigwech to AICHO staff Ivy Vainio for coordinating this cultural activity with assistance from Giinawiind Giginitaawigi’gomin program coordinator Kayla Jackson, Gimaajii Mino Bimaadizimin Children’s Program coordinator Mia Menendez and Cheryl Stone and AICHO’s property caretaker Scott Thompson.
This event was funded in part by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Division.
Keep tabs on some of the exciting things happening at AICHO! Blog posts managed by volunteers as they are available.