AIOIC Celebrates its 40th Year!

This May, AIOIC hosted its annual Founder’s Day celebration. It was a chance for the community to get together, share a meal, and celebrate Minneapolis’s urban Indian community during American Indian Month. 

AIOIC dedicated time at the event to celebrate its 40th year of service, and honor those who built our organization. AIOIC’s Founder, Clyde Bellecourt, led a prayer and was honored with a traditional pendleton blanket. 

The blanket ceremony holds great significance in Native cultures as it shows respect for individuals who have greatly impacted their community. Wrapping someone in a blanket symbolizes wrapping them in the respect and admiration of their neighbors. AIOIC’s blanket for Clyde mirrored the organization’s color scheme, and was made to benefit the American Indian College Fund. 

Other activities at Founder’s Day included a drum circle, community feast, mural painting, career fair, and music.

Check out the gallery below to see photos from the day:

New Partnerships Expand Student Opportunities

We are always seeking new ways to support our students. Many require additional support like food, housing, transportation, and more. AIOIC provides this support any way we can.

This month, we are thrilled to announce our latest partnerships that will help our students complete training and find employment:

Good in the Hood:
We’ve teamed up with Good in the Hood to host a monthly “Food Shelf in a Box.” This service will provide groceries to individuals and families in need. Students will be able to select their food items in a grocery style format while being assisted by personal shoppers. Not only is this a great resource for our students and clients, but it is a wonderful opportunity for volunteers!

AIOIC will host a pilot program for the next three months, serving a pre-selected group of clients. After that, this resource will be open to all AIOIC and Takoda clients.

Hennepin County Veterans Services:
We’ll be welcoming a representative from the Hennepin County Veterans Services every third Wednesday of the month from 1 – 4 PM. This representative will help connect our Native veteran clients to benefits like housing assistance, disability and pension, medical benefits, and mental and chemical health resources.

Pilamaya and miigwech to all of our community partners!

NativeRISE event brings together native community and supporters

On Thursday, January 31st. AIOIC and 14 partner organizations brought together over 150 Native leaders, elected officials, and stakeholders for NativeRISE: A Night of Indigenous Advocacy. 

The purpose of the gathering was to ignite, energize, and unify the Native community’s voice during the beginning of the 2019 legislative session. With temperatures downright balmy (-3F), everyone was eager to get out and about after the week’s Polar Vortex.  

The evening began with a networking hour and opportunity for guests to learn about the Native organizations highlighted for their work in the community. Organizations like Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, Migizi Communications, and American Indian Community Development Corporation shared information about their work as guests mingled and networked. 

The program began with a drum ceremony by Imnizaska and prayer by AIOIC’s founder, Clyde Bellecourt. Comedian Tonia Jo Hall energized guests with hilarious reflections on Native life (with a special appearance by her alter ego, Auntie Beachress). Patrice Kunesh, the Assistant Vice President and Director of the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis spoke about the issues affecting both rural and urban Indian communities. Finally, the evening culminated in an address from Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, who spoke about the importance of including Native voices in government. 

The evening was a unique opportunity to bring together the people and organizations putting in the hard work to better our community, celebrate successes, and plan for the year ahead.  

Miigwech and pilamaya yelo to the Bush Foundation for sponsoring this event, as well as Ain Dah Yung CenterDivision of Indian WorkMinnesota Indian Women’s Resource CenterAmerican Indian Community Development CorporationNorthwest Indian Community Development CenterCenter SchoolMinneapolis American Indian CenterLittle Earth Residents AssociationMigiziAmerican Indian MovementBii Gii WiinNative American Community Development Institute, and Native American Community Clinic for their partnership. 

American Indian OIC Receives Generous Gift from Thrivent

Wopila tanka & miigwech to Thrivent for its generous $10,000 contribution to American Indian OIC’s response to the Franklin-Hiawatha encampment. 

“It is with tremendous humility and immense appreciation that our organization has received this news,” says AIOIC’s President & CEO Dr. Joe Hobot. “The challenges of working on behalf of our relatives living at the encampment have been manifold, not only with regards to the obstacles present within the current situation, but also with regards to our amazing staff and their ongoing dedication that has caused them to go well above and beyond their regular duties.” 

AIOIC has welcomed and served encampment residents through its workforce development division, Takoda . Staff have helped residents attain their GED, find employment, and access supportive resources. 

With the newly opened Navigation Center adjacent to AIOIC’s campus, the organization plans to use these funds to provide career training and employment placement services for the center’s residents and make building and equipment updates as new students enroll in Takoda Institute for Winter quarter.

AIOIC President Named Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow

Congratulations to the American Indian OIC’s President & CEO, Joe Hobot, Ed.D. who has been named one of the Aspen Institute’s Ascend Fellows for the class of 2018-19.

This prestigious opportunity has been awarded to 21 visionary and entrepreneurial leaders across the United States with bold ideas that can move the needle on health and well-being and offer concrete economic and social mobility pathways for children and their families. The Fellowship provides leaders the space and support to bring their ideas to life and scale.

Regarding the nomination, Hobot says, “I am deeply humbled and greatly honored to have been nominated by my peers and selected by The Aspen Institute to participate within this fellowship! I am thrilled at being able to work with such brilliant and inspiring people as who are a part of this incredible cohort. There is no question that this experience will inform and enhance my work on behalf of both the AIOIC and the wider community that we serve. Wopila Tanka Aspen Institute for this incredible opportunity!”

The 2018 Class consists of 21 Fellows who reflect the diversity and talent of America, across gender, race and ethnicity, geography, and sector:

  • 57% people of color, 12 women, 9 men
  • From 13 states and the District of Columbia (Alabama, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington)
  • Are state leaders in human services, Medicaid, and early care and education; national leaders in higher education, philanthropy, faith, and business; and innovative researchers and practitioners.

The Ascend Fellowship is an 18-month journey of thought-provoking reflection, inspiration, and action based on the Aspen Institute’s 50-year history of leadership development. With leaders from different disciplines and sectors, Ascend Fellows expand and interrogate their ideas and ultimately strengthen them to fuel a new cycle of opportunity for children and families.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. Ascend takes a two-generation approach to our work – focusing on children and their parents together, bringing a gender and a racial equity lens to its analysis.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.

Learn more about the Ascend Fellowship here.

Takoda Prep visits Washington DC

On Tuesday, April 24th, 2018, three students and two faculty members from Takoda Prep experienced the field trip of a lifetime. Along with a chartered plane of over 200 young people and chaperones from Minnesota, the five traveled to Washington D.C. for a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). This impactful trip was a culmination of a yearlong study of genocide, with a semester-long focus on the Holocaust specifically.

Organized by Tolerance Minnesota and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), the trip is a one-day whirlwind that takes place every year. Once the Takoda Prep faculty found out about this opportunity, they did not hesitate to jump aboard.

Before the school year started, English teacher Christy Hicks and social studies teacher Tom Lonetti both attended the Belfer National Conference for Educators at USHMM, a special conference where teachers are primed to lead students in Holocaust studies and an attempt to answer the big question: “How and why did the Holocaust happen?” The two teachers felt especially connected to teach this topic, as it seemed a poignant framework for future studies about the Native American genocide.

After attending the conference, they planned the yearlong study of the Holocaust, the crisis in Syrian, as well as various other genocides. Throughout the year, the students dug deeper and deeper into these topics. It was difficult at times, though it was extremely impressive how respectful they were of the content and how quick they were to make connections between the events and their own historical trauma. Students who were particularly interested in the subject matter were invited to apply for the field trip to Washington D.C. Three students were chosen, and their journey began in the wee hours of the morning at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

After a short plane ride and a lot of waiting, they entered the museum. The field trip is set up so the students can experience the exhibits self-guided. The museum is a massive one, with an incredible amount of information on display. Students lingered in front of placards reading stories they learned earlier in the year, but also finding out new information along the way. One of the most impactful sections, of course, is the display of shoes. “Some of the thousands of shoes confiscated from arriving prisoners at the Majdanek concentration camp” ( This moving display is one of the most difficult moments of the museum, as it is so visceral and raw. They finished their tour in the Hall of Remembrance and lit a candle for the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

The group then walked down the National Mall, taking in the beautiful architecture and vast history, politics, and people that Washington D.C. represents. The next stop – the café at the National Museum of the American Indian. Mitsitam features various cuisines of tribes around the Americas. No surprises – the Ojibwe, Ho Chunk, and Lakota students all chose bison burgers and chili from the Great Plains section!

After resting their feet and enjoying the delicious food, the group met Martin Earring, a docent for the museum, for a private tour. The vast collection at the museum was a lot to take in, though Martin did an incredible job of pointing out some of his favorite exhibits. The students particularly loved seeing their own tribes represented in such an important place. One particularly poignant exhibit was on treaties. This rotating exhibit brings in the actual original documents of treaties between tribes and the U.S. government. Decisions, signatures (or sometimes, just x’s), and declarations were on view for the students to begin to understand more about their histories. The opportunity to view these artifacts is so monumental for students who often only learn about the “founding fathers” in U.S. History class textbooks.

After a final stop at the National Air and Space museum, the group moseyed back to USHMM to be picked up by their bus. The long day culminated with a quiet plane ride back to MSP. This one-day field trip was just what the students needed – accessibility to the histories, the chance to sightsee our nation’s capitol, and a reflective day of learning. The Takoda Prep faculty is particularly grateful to Tolerance Minnesota and the JCRC for providing them with the opportunity to attend this. The hope is that next year, the school can return for another memorable one-day field trip.

2018 Events Recap

As we settle into Winter, AIOIC is reflecting on the abundance of community gatherings it has had the honor of hosting. As a student at AIOIC’s Takoda Institute, there is never a shortage of opportunities to engage and meet employers, community leaders, and fellow students. Take a look at just a few of the events we’ve hosted in 2018: 

Dream Big 

On November 29, AIOIC hosted Dream Big, Change Reality, an event designed to bring together the Native community and local leaders for an afternoon of career exploration and cultural engagement.  

Presentations included a Q & A session for jobseekers hosted by MN State Employees, open conversations with state commissioners, AIOIC President Dr. Joe Hobot, and Tribal Relations. Activities took place throughout the day including beading, Resume Cliché BINGO, a drum circle, and lunch provided by Gatherings Café, a local Native restaurant. 

This event was sponsored by the Bush Foundation and the State of Minnesota, and would not have been possible without their support. 

Career Connect
In early November, AIOIC and Takoda Institute hosted its quarterly Career Connect, which introduces prospective students to the many career training programs at Takoda Institute. Activities included a tour of a computer’s hard drive, Anatomy BINGO, campus tours, prizes, and more! 

Career Fair 

To wrap up the winter events, AIOIC hosted a career fair in December. Over 23 local employers were in attendance, eager to meet jobseekers looking for a sustainable career. Employers included McGough Construction, the State of Minnesota, Wells Fargo, USPS, and more.  

This event was made possible with the generous support from McGough Construction. 

Thank you to the staff, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors for making AIOIC’s events possible. 

Takoda Prep at JAG Film Festival

“Film Festival showcases Takoda Prep community and gives students opportunity to network with local professionals from the community 

Networking is an important formula – a little bit of charisma, an open mind, some practice, and just a bit of luck. This tool is a crucial one in the professional world, and it is one that can usher in a new career, endless connections, and a solid support network. High school students get very few opportunities to learn networking in school, not to mention practice it. The students at Takoda Prep are getting a jump start on this vital life skill that, if given the right place and time, can catapult them to where they want to be. 

At this November’s JAG Film Festival and Networking Event, nine Takoda Prep students represented their school and community in what would be an incredible experience for years to come. The event took place at the Capri Theater on Broadway Avenue and included dozens of other high school students as well as valuable individuals with whom they could network. This group included realtors, film editors, human resources specialists, community planners, program managers, and many more. There were employees from many companies including Wells Fargo, US Bank, Fruit of the Loom, Hennepin Healthcare Systems, as well as countless others. 

 The ability to network was something these students truly had to work towards. JAG instructor Kyna Bate-Boyle spent weeks teaching students techniques, phrases, body language, and even proper attire to have successful interactions with employers. Ms. Kyna also had the students create their very own business cards. These business cards were a reflection of professionalism and the networking preparations truly helped the students feel like confident young adults who could promote themselves and make connections. 

Once at the event, the students flourished. As they mingled in a relaxed, open setting, introductions between one another and the professionals occurred organically. Students were not forced to talk with anyone, and from this format came natural connections between people. Clayton, a senior, said that the event was a chance to get to know what it’s like to talk to people you don’t know and practice public speaking skills. Even though some students were shy at first, having trusted adults nearby, such as Ms. Kyna and Jess Rousseau (PLUS Case Coordinator from Takoda Prep), allowed the students to be comfortable enough to step out of their shells. Another senior, Chariah, said that the set up of the room allowed her to see others networking, and that made her feel at ease in doing the same thing. Even though there was pressure from being in a new environment, having many other high school students and easy to talk to professionals made the event a success. 

The event concluded with a short film festival exhibiting each alternative program in Minneapolis Public Schools. “The students worked very diligently on creating a film that truly showcased what Takoda Prep encompasses,” said Ms. Kyna. It was extremely powerful for students to view their school on the big screen and show off the amazing work they do at Takoda Prep. They were also able to see other alternative programs which gave them perspective and showed that they aren’t alone in the alternative education world.  

All in all, the event was a great success. The students walked away from it feeling more confident than ever before with a wonderful new experience that will propel them forward in their lives. 

AIOIC President Publishes National Paper


Minneapolis, Minn., Nov. 16., 2017– President & CEO of the American Indian OIC, Joe Hobot, Ed.D., will publish his nation-wide report on closing the achievement gap, featuring AIOIC’s alternative high school, Takoda Prep, as well as six other highly successful community-governed alternative schools in the United States.

The report, entitled, Resurgence: Restructuring Urban American Indian Education is in partnership with the National Urban Indian Family Coalition and sponsored by the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Dr. Hobot reports on the perpetual disparities present within academic achievement data and the necessary steps needed to rectify them. Commonly referred to as “the achievement gap”, educators and administrators have worked with policy officials and the philanthropic community to rectify this generations-old problem. Yet to date, the achievement gap still persists. For urban American Indian students, the data is the most bleak.

Among the six urban American Indian population hubs examined, the alternative high schools had significantly higher graduation rates than their public school counterparts. Here in Minneapolis, the district-wide graduation rate for American Indians hovers at 45%; however, Takoda Prep students graduate at a rate of 90% every year.

Resurgence: Restructuring Urban American Indian Education is published in both an executive summary and book format. Resurgence highlights seven incredible alternative, “indigenized” schools within six different urban locations, the findings of which point to a new path forward not only for urban American Indian Education, but for culturally-contextualized education everywhere.

Resurgence offers a holistic understanding toward why the American Indian achievement gap persists, examining historical educational trauma and educational reform that ignores the cultural context of marginalized communities such as American Indians. The report examines seven successful community-governed alternative schools and offers five key recommendations for scaling the success of these schools to the larger indigenous education system.

While the release of a report of this scope is a step in the right direction, Dr. Hobot insists it must be met with further discussion, stating “the strategies and insights provided through this work represent a legitimate pathway forward for what public education could be throughout Indian Country. In that respect, it is certainly worth evaluation and further discussion by those involved in this arena.”

Click here to access the Executive Summary of Resurgence. Dr. Joe Hobot will be a guest speaker to discuss the report in a webinar entitled, Expanding Opportunities to Learn for Native Youth on Thursday, November 16 at 2 PM, EDT. Dr. Hobot will also present the report findings during an AIOIC community event on Wednesday, November 29 at 1 PM at 1845 East Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Ivy Estenson at 612-341-3358 ext. 125 or email at


Dream Big Event

November 29th, 2017
11:30 AM -3:30 PM
1845 East Franklin Ave, 55404

Join the American Indian OIC and the State of Minnesota for an afternoon of career exploration and cultural engagement. This event will function as a multifaceted community gathering with business owners and state employees facilitating a Q & A panel, and AIOIC Pres. Joe Hobot leading a discussion on culturally contextualized education.

Come enjoy arts and crafts. Participate in our discussion rooms. Get career related guidance in our workforce development rooms.

-MN State Employee “Ask Me Anything” Q & A
-Discussion led by AIOIC Pres. Dr. Joe Hobot
-Lunch provided by Gatherings Café
-Door prizes
-Ojibwe Bingo
-Workshop: Optimizing Your Social Media for Employment
-Learn about career training programs
-Tour of building

[bscolumns class=”one_half”]Community Members

 Everyone has their own definition of success: finish school; find a career; support a family. To attain success, you need to envision a pathway to reach your goals and take steps to achieve them.

Get started by visiting AIOIC to learn about the simple and effective ways you can begin to achieve your goals.

Learn about our no-cost and low-cost programs, talk with state employees and get career guidance. [/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_half_last_clear”]Community Leaders and Organizations

Engage with the Native community and learn about how to best support transformative educational initiatives.

Join AIOIC President Joe Hobot, Ed.D. in discussing the importance of culturally contextualized education and honoring Native educational traditions while administering workforce development best practices.[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

Interested in attending?  RSVP via Facebook!