Native American poet, musician, activist, and compelling voice for healing Lyla June is coming to Winona


Lyla June Johnston will share her creative inspiration with the Winona community at the Science Laboratory Center (SLC 120) on the Winona State University campus on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. followed by a reception in the atrium of SLC. The evening is a fundraiser for the Bdote Learning Center in Minneapolis. Local sponsors include the Winona Dakota Unity Alliance and the Winona Interfaith Council.

Known for her wisdom, poetry and musical offerings, Johnston is from the Native American Nations known as Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and raised in Taos, N.M. She offers a multi-genre performance touching on topics such as Native American community empowerment, women’s healing and cultural revitalization.

Johnston is passionate about the importance of cultural linguistics and the revitalization of indigenous education. She graduated from Stanford University with honors with a degree in environmental anthropology and just finished her graduate work with distinction at the University of New Mexico where she studied American Indian education.

Johnston knows how to put into words the power of prayer. She speaks for healing hearts and constructive actions to make change in this world. She was instrumental in organizing the Forgiveness Walk during the time of Standing Rock, where hundreds of people circled the county police station and forgave the atrocious acts committed against water protectors. She led a ceremony to respond to hatred with love, and to forgive adversaries, and free people from bitterness and anger.

The Bdote Learning Center is a year-round, elementary immersion charter school in Minneapolis where Dakota and Ojibwe languages are spoken. It is a school where children flourish in an environment supporting cultural heritage with a vision of lifelong learning, language and cultural fluency. Students participate in rigorous, active, interdisciplinary learning projects, often outside of school walls. The curriculum is tied to language, culture, geographical surroundings, local history, landscape and ecology.

Donations for the Bdote Learning Community will support creative learning opportunities by expanding activities, supplying classroom libraries and financing field trips.

Johnston’s latest book, “Lifting Hearts Off the Ground,” will also be available for sale at this event.

”Bdote” is the Dakota word for the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers — a place of origin for Minnesota’s first peoples. It represents “coming together.” Donations for the school, if you are unable to attend the Winona event, can be sent to Bdote Learning Community, 3216 East 29th Street, Minneapolis, Minn., 55406. You may also contribute online at


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