Lyz Jaakola, Fond du Lac Ojibwe tribal member, has been spending time with the Gimaajii Youth and families to teach them cultural hand drum songs. One in particular had to do with thanking the water, which will be sung at the Akawe Nibi Community Pop-Up session on January 31 with our youth! Chi miigwech, Lyz for teaching us, and we are looking forward to having you come back for the second lesson. There was even exercises in between the songs led by Lyz, and the kids!
What a way to bring in the new year! By installing our newest Indigenous themed mural on our business building at 2301 W. Superior Street. This mural was painted and designed by Red Lake Nation artist Jonathan Thunder in collaboration with Sarah Brokke Erickson, Paul LaJeunesse, AICHO, College of St. Scholastica students and Gimaajii families who helped paint the mural this past summer.
The artist statement:
"When burned for healing or ritual purposes, the smoke from braided sweetgrass is thought to attract good spirits and positive energies. It is used as a smudging tool to purify people’s auras, cleanse objects, and clear ceremonial areas or healing spaces of negative energy. When I was asked to create the design for this mural I was given the idea for the sweetgrass braid by the staff at AICHO. They mentioned it was a good metaphor for AICHO’s 3 main focuses in the pursuit of cultural resilience: housing, culture and indigenous food systems.
In the image you see a figure known in Ojibwe stories as “Deer Woman”. This figure has taken on the role of symbolizing strength to Indigenous Women in books and artworks produced by contemporary artists in our community. Deer woman sings to a little yellow bird, a Goldfinch - the spirit of the Anishinaabe language.Through this element of identity, strength and knowledge of one’s self can be obtained. Meanwhile, corn and squash are two of the many natural foods used in Indigenous cooking. Food is medicine and another means through which, through gardening and youth empowerment, AICHO has been revitalizing Indigenous culture."
This building is one of AICHO's buildings under development which currently hosts gallery/gift shop community pop-ups on Saturdays and a wash & fold laundry.
Chi miigwech to Jonathan Thunder and everyone in making this mural and Indigenous representation possible.
Installation: Lakehead Signs
Photos by Scott Thompson
The American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) has received support in the amount of $200,000 from the Northwest Area Foundation to launch the Wazhashk Azhegiiwe (Muskrat Returns) Indigenous Economic Development Initiative. This project will provide development, entrepreneur infrastructure, marketing/communications, and technical assistance activities to launch new social enterprise activities led by AICHO. This project is designed to create social impact and return revenues to the Indigenous community. In addition, AICHO will build critical entrepreneurial infrastructure and strengthen access to networks.
This project builds the foundations of Indigenous-led businesses, an Indigenous entrepreneur infrastructure, and successful utilization of Indigenous community owned assets. This project will increase jobs and entrepreneur income, community resources and knowledge base for business creation, and community support.
We are excited to partner with the Northwest Area Foundation as we begin to strengthen our Indigenous economy with a community-led approach!
The American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) has received support from St. Louis County and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) to provide community education on Indigenous traditional foods and healthy eating in the Niiwin Indigenous Food Market space. The monthly pop-up events are planned for the last Thursday evening of each month, culminating with an Indigenous Food Expo event in September 2019. All activities will showcase the Indigenous food system and invite community members to learn more about traditional gathering, growing, processing, and preparation of healthy foods. AICHO is excited for this new partnership as we deepen our commitment to healthy food access.
AICHO received state-wide recognition and the 2018 Nonprofit Mission Award for Innovation from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits at their annual conference. AICHO was recognized as a state leader among Minnesota’s nonprofit organizations, bringing creative solutions to community challenges;
AICHO/Gimaajii Lobby got decorated for the holidays with the Children’s Program! AICHO staff Katie, Deb, and Rose helped out too.
Photos by Kayla DeWitt and Ivy Vainio
On Nov. 30, AICHO hosted the "Through Our Eyes: Growing Our Way" Indigenous Youth Exhibition Artists' Reception which featured the photography of Gimaajii Housing Youth and Duluth Indigenous Youth. They all represented so well at the reception! We recognized each of them on stage and they got a chance to say a few words about their experience in the photography class and exhibition. Their families and community members were beaming!
One of the Gimaajii Youth, Patience, was interviewed by Minnesota Native News and she also spoke with the Isd 709 Duluth Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Jeff Horton about her photos and he invited her to speak at the next Duluth Public Schools School Board Meeting! She is 9 years old.
Our Indigenous youth are important and they need to be recognized. Thanks to all who came out to the reception for them. The exhibit will be up until the end of December so stop by. The calendar featuring their photos is for sale at Indigenous First: Art & Gift Shop. Thanks to Kristine Sorensen from In Progress for speaking at the event and for facilitating the week long summer photography class with the students. Thanks also to the amazing 7 student volunteers from The College of St. Scholastica's Native American Club!
The Gimaajii Healthy Families Initiative received support from the following foundations in 2018: Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation, United Way, Ordean Foundation, The Sheltering Arms Foundation, Center for Prevention Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and Essentia Health.
Photos by Ivy Vainio and Patience Thompson
AICHO is hosting the Creative Startups Duluth Lab Module sessions in the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center. AICHO's Economic Development Director LeAnn Littlewolf, who is a part of this year's Creative Startups Cohort, helped facilitate last night's session. Creative Startups LABS Duluth mentors are educators, non-profit leaders and entrepreneurs. More about Creative Startups Duluth (via their website):
"Creative Startups was brought to Duluth through a dynamic cooperationbetween the University of Minnesota’s Duluth (UMD) and Minneapolis (UMTC) campuses and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. Dedicated to the vision of becoming a hub of creative and cultural entrepreneurship that drives economic development across Minnesota and the Midwest, the mission of the leadership team is to launch creative businesses that strengthen the economic diversity of Minnesota's community.
Community partners include the American Indian Community Housing Organization, the Family Freedom Center, Fathers Rise Together, Integrative Re-Sources, and the Northland Foundation and the McKnight Foundation."
Click here to learn more...
Photos by Olaf Kuhlke
Our Annual Biboon Bimaadizimin - Winter Good Life Market brought in hundreds of shoppers looking to get unique holidays items. We brought in thousands of dollars in sales to support local and Indigenous vendors who sold everything from handmade soaps, candles, ornaments, and jewelry to fine art, glass work, pottery, sculptures, feather pine cones, candles, and more. Traffic stayed steady through the whole event, and the Gimajii Youth Market sold fry bread and wild rice soup.
Photos by Michelle LeBeau
Gimaajii Garden Clean Up! The Youth had a day off of school and some of them were a great help in the garden! Thanks to residents Victor and Sherry for helping too! AICHO staff Katie and Ivy helped lead, and participated, in the clean up as well. We only got to the back lot garden. So there will be another day for the rooftop garden clean up. The sun was out, it was warm, and we had lots of water on hand to refresh us. A great day!
Photos by: Ivy Vainio and Katie Schmitz
Keep tabs on some of the exciting things happening at AICHO! Blog posts managed by our current intern, Roshan Emad-Syring.