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Walking Together
July 1, 2019

On June 20 in downtown Minneapolis, our collaborative, community and tribal leaders gathered at the Central Public Library for the launch of Bimosedaa. It was an inspiring night of cultural sharing and commitment to creating about 50 new homes in response to the crisis of homelessness among the Native community in Minneapolis.

The reality of homelessness touched us as soon as we arrived at the library, just across from the Rockler Fur Building, the future site of Bimosedaa, built by Beacon in partnership with the Red Lake Nation of Ojibwe. The heavy rain had just cleared. From all directions, we gathered, seeing neighbors just passing by, who perhaps themselves had no home to go to that night.

The launch event opened with spiritual practices of sage burning, prayer, drumming and flute in the Dakota tradition led by Bob Klanderud, and then processed indoors to hear messages of support and commitment from Beacon staff, Rev. Paula Northwood of Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis , representatives from service provider Avivo and  Red Lake Nation, as well as Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Council Member Steve Fletcher.

Alisha Gehlert, Director of Economic Development and Planning of the Red Lake Nation, shared that while housing development is new to the tribe, this partnership allows for new growth and learning for her as well as they seek to serve tribal members both on the reservation and in the cities. “These projects required each of us to trust as we stepped in together. This is new ground for all of us here, but it’s through these partnerships that we’re able to say ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to Native homelessness.”

The theme of walking together was woven throughout the evening as these relationships of trust and interdependence were strengthened, a powerful learning experience for those of us from non-Native cultures. Even the chance to practice pronouncing the name of these homes, Bimosedaa, offers an opportunity for us to learn to walk alongside our Native American partners. Indeed, that is the meaning of Bimosedaa – let’s walk together.

Members of the Campaign Action Team reflected that the event brought people together in a genuine feeling of community. Steve Pundt, a member of Plymouth Congregational Church, reflected on the unique opportunities this team has offered to learn about Ojibwe culture and governance – lessons that can shape the way he looks at our vision that all people have a home. As the launch event came to a close we left ready to walk together to create these homes for our neighbors and relatives experiencing homelessness. Let us walk together!

Emily Goldthwaite Fries
Emily Goldthwaite Fries is the Senior Congregational Organizer for Beacon.