The Potluck

Minneapolis transfers land back to Red Lake Nation, which will build treatment center, community garden

By: - September 21, 2023 6:26 pm

Red Lake Nation band members plan on calling the center “Ombimindwaa Gidinawemaaganinaadog,” or “Uplifting our Relatives.” Construction should be done by the middle of November. Photo by Nafi Soumare/Minnesota Reformer.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced plans to transfer city-owned land in south Minneapolis to the Red Lake Nation Thursday. The land, consisting of a single-story building and a small outdoor space, is set to become a treatment center and community garden for Natives suffering the effects of the opioid epidemic. 

Cheri Goodwin, executive director of Family and Children Services for the Red Lake Nation, is overseeing the renovation of the interior of the building, and expects construction to conclude by the middle of  November. The treatment center will offer food, showers, and laundry facilities for the unhoused and those in the Red Lake community suffering from opioid addiction. Goodwin’s dream is to one day turn the land into a Native American co-op and build upper floors for affordable housing. 

“Whatever we can dream we can do, and I’m sure the city feels that way also. It’s going to happen soon, Miigwech,” Goodwin said. 

Native American mortality rates by opioid addiction are much higher than their white counterparts: In 2021, Native American Minnesotans were ten times more likely to die from a drug overdose than white Minnesotans, according to Minneapolis Health Commissioner Damon Chaplin, who said the treatment center will provide culturally-specific approaches to treatment and prevent relapse. 

The facility will come online at a crucial moment for Native people dealing with homelessness and addiction: The Minnesota Department of Transportation evicted at least 100 people living at an encampment called the Wall of Forgotten Natives just off State Highway 55. 

The Red Lake Nation recently granted Frey the Zoongide’iwin (Courage) Award in honor of his support for tribal policy and education.  

Frey said the partnership “is not just to get land back, but also to find a way forward to deal with addiction.” 

For City Council President Andrea Jenkins, the creation of this space evokes tragic memories, she said.

“I wish something like this existed for my father, for my aunt, for my uncle. But to be a part of creating something like this now, is an honor, and it feels like something that will help to prevent these kinds of traumatic family events,” Jenkins said. 

Red Lake Nation members plan on calling the center “Ombimindwaa Gidinawemaaganinaadog,” or in English, “Uplifting Our Relatives.”

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Nafi Soumare
Nafi Soumare

Nafi is an intern reporting for the Minnesota Reformer. Her interests in reporting include social justice, reform, and issues in the Minnesota education system.