In May of 2020, the murder of George Floyd had created a devastation to our communities around the nation. With MIGIZI being a south-Minneapolis based organization we were in the center of it all. On the night of May 28th tensions rose and fires broke out, resulting in the fall of our building on May 29th.
However, as we looked at our building sorrowfully, to which we had envisioned a home for our young people, we stood with our people and community. Our building was eventually cleaned out by our neighbors and those supporting our organization. It reverted to the empty shell before the construction of the building in March of 2019.
But the story continues.
Within weeks of the news of our building, people from east to west donated to our vision of empowering young Native people and had given more than $2 million in total. We knew right away that the fall of our building should be by no means an excuse to dismiss our young people during such a time where learning in schools was even more difficult due to COVID. One week after the tragedy of our building we were already planning and setting up the summer of 2020 for an impactful experience in renewable energy, media work, and academic success.
Behind the scenes our team at MIGIZI have been working swiftly and diligently to ensure a new community space for our urban young peoples. In January of 2021 we had bought 1845 East Lake St. Minneapolis, 55407, formerly Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly. We had two discussions with our young people to determine what and how this building will look like, what its purpose will be, and how it could be a second home to our future leaders. Sam Olbekson, the lead architect of our previous building and a MIGIZI alumni, has been designing this new space while implanting the thoughts and visions of our young people. We’re excited to bring about a building that our youth envisioned for themselves!
A tour of the 1845 East Lake St. space in early 2021 with youth, board members, staff, donors, and architect Sam Olbekson.
On May 28th, 2021, we memorialized the life of George Floyd and the future of our community. We started off the chill but sunny day at our old space, 3017 27th Ave S. Minneapolis 55407 with some prayers and a foreword before walking down East Lake St. There were over 100 people that gathered in a circle to hear the words of LeMoine LaPointe as he gave a short prayer and message. In this circle, jingle dress dancers blessed the time with their elegant dancing as the Red Lake singers drummed a robust song. As the song finished, Frank Paro, leader of American Indian Movement (AIM), had given instructions on the walk from 3017 27th Ave S to 1845 East Lake St. As the final words were said, the community began to walk.
The walk west to 1845 East Lake St. was a beautiful walk. The togetherness and uniformity of bringing to spotlight a piece of our own hearts to be viewed by all who passed by on East Lake St. was reminiscent of many walks that have been taken previously. Frank Paro led this march with an AIM flag that had been through many adversities as the sidewalks were packed with bodies. Frequent honking from passing supporters in their vehicles and the conversations of those walking filled the street.
Upon arriving at 1845 East Lake St., the community sat amongst one another as they awaited for Wakinyan and Thorne LaPointe to take the stage. As the LaPointe brothers gave a message of healing and prayers, an eagle feather and medicines pass the people. Another song by the Red Lake Singers gave notion to the dancers to begin.
Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, took stage and gave a speech about the perseverance and resilience of the people who make up Minneapolis and the challenges that have been overcome. Kelly Drummer, Executive Director of MIGIZI, followed afterwards by giving an impassioned tribute to those who have made an impact to MIGIZI. The young people, MIGIZI staff, and supporters were all thanked and acknowledged.
And as any good community event would have it, we ate some exceptional food. Specifically, turkey wild rice wraps from Yazzie the Chef. We were glad to have great volunteers come out to help pass out the boxed meals and even more so glad that the meals were accompanied with laughter and conversations.
When stomachs were full and the sun raised high in the sky, the time to keep moving forward pressed upon us.
At MIGIZI we always prioritize the success of our young leaders and because of all your support we can do so without hesitation. We look forward to the future and hope you will walk with us.