Native American Awareness Working Group

A Journey and the Responsibilities of a Land Acknowledgement 

A special subcommittee of the Native American Awareness Working Group has been journeying with community partners on both a verbal text of a possible joint CSJ and St. Kates community Land Acknowledgement.   Through much research, conversation, and multiple drafts of a possible statement, we have come to deeply know that these words are inadequate, imperfect and must extend beyond any verbal acknowledgement.  Awe continue our work, we also know that this is only our beginning of a much larger journey of listening, learning, building relationship and advocating for and with Native nations for a more just world for all.   We are grateful for the CSJ Justice Commission’s support of this process and for their willingness to join us in this journey of our drafting a Land Acknowledgement which is accompanied and lived through both words and actions.  As the NAA Working Group engages the broader CSJ community in our journey of drafting a joint community Land Acknowledgement, we look forward to sharing more of our journey, our acknowledgement and our accompanying actions.  

Taking Action in Solidarity with Native Peoples

The Native American Awareness Working Group recently partnered together with St. Catherine University students and staff to host an online screen of the film “Gather” along with a second event to discuss the film with a panel.  We are grateful for the leadership of Carmelita Sharpback, St. Kate’s Master of Arts in Holistic Health, in helping to inspire these events.  We are grateful to Sharon M. Day, Alexandera Houchin, and friends from Dream of Wild Health, Alanna Norris and Jessika Greendeer, for their enthusiastic participation and shared insights as a part of the panel.  For more information about these events, review this article from St. Catherine University.

Not Forgotten!

Members of the Native American Awareness Working Group continue to seek ways to stay informed and support the critical work of the Minnesota State Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  We have partnered with Representative (and incoming 2021 MN Senator) Mary Kunesh-Podein along with St. Kate’s masters and doctoral students and faculty to support legislation creating this task force two years ago.

Minnesota ranks 9th in the country for the highest number of murdered indigenous women. Native Women are more than 10 times more likely than the general U.S. population to be murdered according to a U.S. Department of Justice study.  This MN State Task Force collected data and just released their 2020 report to better understand the impacts of violence on Native Women in Minnesota.  Check out the Task Force report.

Supporting Dream of Wild Health

Native American Awareness Working Group is very excited that Hope Flanagan was highlighted in local media for the great work of Dream of Wild Health.  Dream of Wild Health (DOWH) is a local, intertribal non-profit that owns a 10-acre farm in Hugo, MN, providing educational programs that reconnect the urban Native American community with traditional Native plants and their culinary, medicinal and spiritual use.  The CSJ St. Paul Province has a longstanding relationship with the founders and leaders of DOWH, as friends, advocates, volunteers and donors.


Mission and Goals for 2020-21

The Native American Awareness (NAA) Working Group aims at raising consciousness and increasing knowledge about Native American culture, especially in Minnesota.  We study the history and special challenges experienced by Indians who remain marginalized in contemporary society. We share what we learn with each other, with other Sisters, Consociates, and interested others and take action when appropriate.

To carry out this mission, the Native American Awareness (NAA) Working Group hopes to:

  • Create a community of a Talking Circle amongst members of this group.
  • Education:
    • Continue the process of looking more intentionally at our history in relationship to Native American Communities esp. in relation to a “land acknowledgement.”
    • Gain an awareness of the complexity of historical and current issues impacting justice for Native American populations.
    • Raise awareness of Native American issues.
  • Support:
    • Stand in solidarity and support advocacy and action on Native American issues
    • Support the outreach of the Archdiocesan Indian Ministry (particularly with the Church of Gichitwaa Kateri) to the Native American tribes in Minnesota and the larger Native American Community.
    • Continue our support the mission and our involvement with Dream of Wild Health
    • Continuing process of building/growing our relationships with the Native American communities & tribes in Minnesota and the larger Native American Community
  • Communication:
    • Finding new ways to communicate and educate during the pandemic
    • Maintain NAAWG webpage as appropriate.
    • Submit items to CSJ publications regularly like TOGETHER.

For more information contact Marty Roers at mroers@csjstpaul.org.


Working Group Highlights

A Call to Action from a Woman of Justice and Joy

Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Anne McKeig joined nearly 200 community members for a rich evening of conversation, ritual, music, justice, and indigenous food on February 8th hosted by the Native American Awareness working group of the CSJ Justice Commission, the church of Gichitwaa Kateri, and Wisdom Ways.  The room was filled with Larry and Claire Martin’s gifted flute music and singing along with the smell of sage carried by Native youth for smudging to purify and cleanse the space.  As Shawn Phillips from Gichitwaa Kateri said, “Let the sage wash over us and cleanse us.”  Larry and Claire Martin, La Courte Oreilles Nation gifted us with flute music and singing of “The Pipe-filling Song” and “The Song of Four Directions” in the Ojibwe language.  Maureen Headbird, a member of Leech Lake Nation, pipe carrier and Kateri trustee, blessed the group and opened our evening with a Pipe Ceremony.