Native American Awareness Working Group

Update from Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein

The Native American Awareness Working Group hosted Minnesota Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein at Carondelet Village for an engaging conversation about the current work of the Minnesota State Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, exploring other ways we can better advocate with and for the Native American Community during the 2020 Minnesota State legislative session.



Calling Summer Volunteers to Dream of Wild Health Farm

Native American Awareness Working Group members volunteer throughout the summer at the Dream of Wild Health Farm.  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 had a longstanding relationship with the founders and leaders of DOWH, as friends, advocates, volunteers and donors.   Join us this summer as we help out on the farm on Volunteer Fridays, doing basic weeding, cultivating and harvesting tasks during the summer months. For more information, contact the Justice Office.

Not Forgotten!

Members of the Native American Awareness Working Group together with St. Kate’s masters and doctoral students and faculty visited with Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein at the MN Capitol to support legislation creating a state Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  This engaging visit with a St. Kate’s Alum was one of a variety of ways the group supported systemic change through advocacy action this past legislative session.  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 legislation was a very simple and minimal budget bill to create a MN State Task Force to collect data and better understand this issue by compiling reliable statistics and addressing the violence impacting Native Women in Minnesota.  It is a practical way to support and stand in solidarity with our Indigenous Sisters in Minnesota.


Mission and Goals

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:

  • Raise awareness of and increase knowledge of Native American culture within the non-native population of Minnesota, especially in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
  • Study the true history of Native Americans as told through Native American oral history.
  • Explore the special challenges experienced by Native Americans in Minnesota.
  • Share with the wider community what we have learned from the Native Americans.
  • Invite others to participate.
  • Continue to collaborate with the Justice Commission’s Task and Working Groups (e.g. the Dismantling Racism group) and with appropriate community groups to heighten awareness and our ability to “walk with the Native Americans,” honoring the beauty of their language, recovering and retelling the history, remembering, and celebrating who they are.


  • Support the outreach of the Archdiocesan Indian Ministry Ministry (particularly with the Church of Gichitwaa Kateri) to the Native American tribes in Minnesota and the larger Native American Community.
  • Co-sponsor events to raise awareness of Native American issues.
  • Continue our support the mission and our involvement with Dream of Wild Health.
  • Gain an awareness of the complexity of historical and current issues impacting justice for Native American populations.
  • Stand in solidarity and support advocacy and action on Native American issues.
  • Submit articles to CSJ publications regularly and maintain NAAWG webpage as appropriate.

For more information contact Marty Roers at

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. 

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