From: Veronica Ives-Virnig
Over this past decade, The Diversity Foundation of Minnesota, the city of Winona and the Winona-Dakota Unity Alliance have focused efforts on intercultural education and reconciliation with these displaced native peoples, whose ancestors once lived and called Minnesota their Homeland.
In the 1850’s the Dakota people were forcibly removed from their ancestral homes and placed on reservations. Indian agents, charged with their care, often stole the supplies provided by the army -- deemed by the army as unfit for human consumption). Today the descendants of the Dakota people continue to live in unimaginable poverty, in conditions more often associated with developing nations than the United States or Canada. Unemployment levels persist near 90% on Crow Creek and other reservations.
In an effort to improve their quality of life, donations are sought for distribution to approximately 8-10,000 children ages 0-17 on 10-12 remote reservations in the United States and Canada. Items of greatest need include food, toys (especially gifts and clothing for infants and young people ages 11-16), beds, blankets, couches, furniture, appliances and household items in excellent to new condition as well as school supplies and medical supplies for reservation clinics. With the arrival of severe winter weather, good winter coats, boots and warm clothing for all ages, as well as propane stoves are also greatly needed.
Donations may be left at the Midtown Foods lobby in the Winona Mall (1213 Gilmore Ave) or at Winona’s Quality Inn, Hwy 61 – 43. Alternatively, visit Diversity’s booth at Rochester’s Peace Plaza during its Winter Market Dec 18-21st for handcrafted native gifts or contact Bill Nicklay (507) 269-2336.
If you wish to make cash contributions for items or gas and expenses needed to deliver the items to the reservations, send a check or money order to Diversity Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 2013, Maple Grove, MN 55311.
To learn more about the Diversity Foundation and its cultural outreach and reconciliation programs with the city of Winona and the Winona-Dakota Unity Alliance visit http://www.diversityfoundation.org/Dakota%20Project.html . Mark your calendar to attend the June 2009 Winona-Dakota Homecoming, the 6th Annual Gathering held in Winona!