Native American Awareness Working Group

Supporting a Federal Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools 

 In recent months, there has been a lot in the media about the unmarked graves holding the bodies of hundreds of indigenous children on the grounds of various boarding schools in Canada.  These grim findings are a stark wake-up call that we too in the United States of America have much work to do regarding our own history with boarding schools for American Indian children.   

Recently a bi-partisan group in Congress proposed Federal legislation to establishes a Truth and Healing Commission to formally investigate and document the history of these schools, document the impacts and ongoing effects, hold culturally respectful and meaningful public hearings, and develop recommendations.   

The CSJ Native American Awareness Working Group worked with the CSJ Justice Commission to affirm our public support of this legislation.  See the CSJ Justice Commission’s statement of Public Support for the “Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy in the U.S. Act.” 

A Journey and the Responsibilities of a Land Acknowledgement 

A special subcommittee of the Native American Awareness Working Group has been on a journey of truth and healing with community partners.  The journey has included learning more about our CSJ history with this land along with creating spaces for community dialogue.  You can see a recording of one of these CSJ educational sessions called “A CSJ Journey for Truth and Healing:  learning our history with the land.”   In addition, the subcommittee has been working on a text of a possible joint CSJ and St. Kates community Land Acknowledgement along with accompany actions.  This has been a journey of listening, learning, building relationships, advocating for and with our American Indian sisters and brothers, and working through the CSJ processes for formal community approval. 

Not Forgotten!

St. Catherine’s University St. Catherine University welcomes The REDress Project, an outdoor exhibition created by Métis artist Jaime Black. Sponsored and presented by the Integrated Learning Series, this exhibition will take place on the campus quad.  Learn more

Members of the Native American Awareness Working Group continue to seek ways to support the critical work of the Minnesota State Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, especially with supporting the work of MN Senator Mary Kunesh.  The 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.