Northland Foundation awards first 13 Maada’ookiing grants to Indigenous individuals for community projects

Members of the Maada’ookiing board recommend $32,300 in funding for diversity of creative, grassroots work

From shared geography of Northeast Minnesota and all or parts of five Tribal nations – The Northland Foundation is pleased to announce the individuals and projects being awarded the first-ever Maada’ookiing grassroots grants. The Maada’ookiing board met in late June and recommended funding 13 of 19 applications submitted for this new Indigenous-led grantmaking initiative.

“The board had many more applications to consider than we originally anticipated for a freshly launched program that takes a different approach from traditional Northland Foundation grantmaking,” stated Erik Torch, Director of Grantmaking. 

“Such a strong response tells us there was excellent word-of-mouth by Indigenous partners and community members spreading news about the opportunity, a willingness to work through an unfamiliar application process, and – ultimately – many outstanding projects by and for Native community in the region,” said LeAnn Littlewolf, Senior Program Officer. 

Funding is provided by the Northland Foundation’s grant program. Northland set aside $25,000 for grants then committed an additional $7,300 to allow more applications to be funded.

Maada'ookiing (“the distribution” in Ojibwe) is an effort by the Northland Foundation to strengthen relationships with Indigenous community, build partnerships with Native nations, and offer support for community members to expand capacity in northeastern Minnesota. A grant opportunity will be offered three times per year, awarding up to $2,500 per grant for Tribal citizens, descendants, or those have kinship ties or affiliation to Indigenous communities within the foundation’s geographic service area. Grant applications are accepted anytime on the online grant portal. The next application deadline is September 15, 2021.

The June 2021 grantees are:

Laura Winter ($2,500) - Wiigwaas Revitilization: This project focuses on a series of classes on wiigwaas (birchbark) and working with youth interested in learning the traditional arts of wiigwaas, including respectfully and safely harvesting birch bark and how to use the bark in multiple ways. 

Jeffrey Boshey ($2,500) - Duluth Area Drum & Dance Troop: This project will provide youth access to cultural teachings on traditional singing at the drum, hand drum singing, making drumsticks, creating regalia, and opportunities to learn cultural practices and traditional language with these activities. 

Jacob Dunlap ($2,400) - Digital Storytelling Library: The project intends to record Ojibwe elders and Native people’s stories in a digital format. The objective of these stories is to highlight the resilience and fortitude identified as traditional strengths. Ojibwe people are some of the most advantageous woodsman, vibrant storytellers, and refined artists of North America. Creating a library of digital stories preserves the history and allows for sharing in various formats.

John Daniel ($2,500) - Curriculum and Assessment Building for Ojibwe Language Immersion Programs: This project is for building monolingual Ojibwe language curriculum and assessments for use in Ojibwe language immersion schools. A shortage of materials exists for all Ojibwe immersion programs, and the project will enable the building of curriculum and assessments for use in each program. 

Ivy Vainio ($2,400) - Niigaanii: Leading The Way Billboard Banner: This project will create an inspiring cultural message for young Indigenous and BIPOC Youth in Duluth’s Hillside community, especially Indigenous girls, that they can become a Native medical student, and eventually a Native physician, through a billboard banner that features a portrait of an Indigenous medical student. This project increases Indigenous visibility. 

Carla DaRonco ($2,500) - Cloquet Murals: This project will create Indigenous community murals in educational spaces. Youth and families will engage in the mural process and design art that is culturally inviting and inclusive. This project will reintroduce indigenous safe spaces in school settings and increase Native visibility. 

Khayman Goodsky ($2,500) - Indigenous in the Media: This project is a podcast series focused on the importance of having authentic Indigenous voices, viewpoints, and experiences in different forms of media and will feature Indigenous artists in various fields of media: film, music, comic books, clothing designs, and other fields that accurately represent Indigenous culture. The goal is to bring more awareness and support to Indigenous artists. 

Teresa Knife Chief ($2,500) - Diversity Leadership Project: The project is designed to create leaders among our Native American youth and provide diversity training for teachers. The project begins with a weeklong camp at Camp Northern Lights. The goal is for the students to be able to talk about culture, diversity, and leadership. In the end, they will return with the necessary tools and confidence to bring lasting changes to their schools, communities, and relationships. 

Shayna Clark ($2,500) - Sisters of Substance: This project provides a culturally based support group, Sisters of Substance, that brings Indigenous women together who are struggling with addiction and mental health issues. Sisters of Substance will share resources/services and build connections through educational activities that promote culture.

Jason Goward ($2,500) - H.O.W.A.H. Talking Circle: This project offers a Talking Circle recovery support group, with traditional drum ceremony and feast. Traditional cultural activities and teachings will be offered for community members who wish to support one another.

Frank Goodwin ($2,500) - The Cultural Therapeutic Art and Wellness Project: The project will be implemented within a Native American residential halfway house. It is designed to allow participants to reconnect with their creativity through cultural art and wellness activities. This project aims to help them gain an understanding of their feelings, thoughts, and identity through cultural art projects.

Natalie Smith ($2,500) - Sober Squad Talking Circle: Duluth/Cloquet Sober Squad Talking Circle is an ongoing recovery talking circle that focuses primarily on the Indigenous community. While the talking circle is open to all people, the focus of the group is to provide a culturally relevant space to support recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. The mission of the Sober Squad is to empower and support individuals in recovery to build healthier communities.

Cheryl Edwards ($2,500) - Constitution Education Activity: This project will provide fun yet educational activities for our community members on Constitutional Awareness, information on the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution, and its current reform process. Community-based games and engagement activities will be implemented in Fond du Lac.