Minnesota House of Representatives


State Representative Karen Clark

273 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

For more information contact: Joan Nichols 651-29X-XXXX

Posted: 2009-04-09 00:00:00
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Indigenous Earthkeepers Program

I am authoring legislation (House File 2071) that would provide summer programming for the Indigenous Earthkeepers Program for American Indian youth in the form of culturally based environmental education and training for 2010 and 2011.

The seven county Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area contains half of Minnesota’s population. Likewise, nearly half of the American Indian population of the state lives in the metropolitan area. The American Indian communities living in the Twin Cities are a uniquely large, poor and young population of urban Indian people growing rapidly with many missing the opportunity to connect with their outdoor environmental cultural heritage. Although there are dozens of tribal affiliations and cultural backgrounds, the majority are Ojibway, Lakota and Dakota people.

The Indigenous Earthkeepers Program would provide urban American Indian youth with an opportunity to incorporate their culture and language into their environmental education and training while receiving school credits. Funds appropriated from the arts and cultural heritage fund would be matched from the Workforce Investment Act in the federal stimulus bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). The funds would provide summer programming for up to 80 American Indian youth ages 14 to 19 for up to eight weeks.

The Indigenous Earthkeepers program would use the natural environment, with Native language as its primary core, to develop student academic skills and knowledge at the Nawayee Center School and the Healthy Nations Program of the Minneapolis American Indian Center. The overall intent of the program is to foster a sense of civic and environmental responsibility by providing youth the opportunity to serve on small, natural and urban resource work crews both within and outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The program strives to build our youth’s capacity to improve their lives in an Indigenous inspired and culturally relevant manner. The curriculum would include water studies, identification of waterway cleanup sites, cleanup of waterways significant to Indigenous culture and education, plan identification, gardening, and Indigenous language components.

The Indigenous Earthkeepers Program is a real opportunity for urban American Indian youth to connect with their cultural ties to the environment.

Please feel free to call or write with any ideas or issues. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-0294, by mail at 471 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155 or by e-mail at rep.karen.clark@house.mn.

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