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.