The only urban American Indian-owned and –subsidized housing complex in the United States with Native preference just received a boost from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC).
The Little Earth of United Tribes housing complex in Minneapolis, Minnesota, founded in 1973, offers affordable housing to the growing American Indian community in the city. Ninety-eight percent of the nearly 1,000 residents of the 212 housing units spanning 9.4 acres are American Indian with ties to 28 tribal nations. The typical resident is a single mother in her early 30s with two children, making the majority of those who reside at the complex under age 21. Children from Little Earth attend 23 different schools.
The SMSC, which this week gave $250,000 to Little Earth, has funded a number of innovative initiatives at the housing complex. The most recent donation will fund a volunteer program to contribute to the well-being at Little Earth; an urban farm; transportation maintenance; administration services; fundraising development; and numerous programs intended to foster school success, promote college enrollment, increase employment, and improve safety.
“Working together, our organization and residents have boldly raised household incomes, education levels, community volunteerism, and safety,” wrote Little Earth President/CEO Bill Ziegler in the request. “Driving this revitalization is our philosophy of change, which maintains that all Indian people deserve to dream and deserve access to the skills they need to achieve their dreams. Shakopee has long been a partner at Little Earth, providing generous support for the community’s educational programs.”
SMSC donations to Little Earth total more than a million dollars in recent years. A 2011 grant from the SMSC for $450,000 funded a home-readiness training program, a feasibility study for a food co-op and urban farm, an online high school training program, a college success program, a new van, the Omniciye Program (a one-stop case-management program), and administrative services. In previous years the SMSC funded a Youth Development Center, operating costs, and housing renovations. The SMSC also helped pay for solar panels, which were installed through the organization Honor the Earth in 2008. The SMSC also supports non-profit organizations, which provide services to Little Earth residents, such as Youthcare and the Domestic Abuse Program.