May is Minnesota American Indian Month and First Person Radio presents several programs featuring Native leaders and a play by Laura Waterman Wittstock - The Visitor. This week, Laura and cohost, Richard LaFortune (with Andy Driscoll) talk with Poet Heid Erdrich and Indian Community Development leader, Justin Huenemann.
A member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibway, Heid E. Erdrich grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota. She earned degrees from Dartmouth College and The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars.
Heid Erdrich is author of four poetry collections, most recently National Monuments from Michigan State University Press. Cell Traffic: New and Selected Poems is forthcoming in 2012. Her first book Fishing for Myth was recently re-issued from New Rivers Press. Heid Erdrich also authored The Mother’s Tongue, Salt Publishing’s Earthworks series, and co-edited Sister Nations: Native American Women on Community, Minnesota Historical Society Press. A recipient of Minnesota State Arts Board fellowships, awards from The Loft Literary Center, the Archibald Bush Foundation and elsewhere, Heid Erdrich has four times been nominated for the Minnesota Book Award which she won in 2009.
From: The Mother’s Tongue (as quoted in Twin Cities Daily Planet [© 2006 Mnartists.org]):
The mother’s tongue points to the truth about those first months
with an infant – nearly impossible to convey. To mother is to teach
language, a great joy and saving realization that makes the tedium
and exhaustion of early motherhood something we survive and
from which we grow.
Later in the poem, Erdrich explores further the idea of one’s mother tongue or native language:
And again, the mother’s tongue is the Ojibwe language that my
mother was discouraged from learning, that her father used in
prayer, that was banned, punished, obliterated by government plan,
and the power of the church, and by the sheer weight of trade
language as survival language.
You can buy Erdrich's books at www.birchbarkbooks.com
Justin Kii Huenemann (Navajo) is president and CEO of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), an organization that's bringing other nonprofits together to buy land for use by Indian-owned for-profit businesses. The first of its kind in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, NACDI is configured as an alliance of major Indian nonprofits and several Indian businesses in the metropolitan area committed to community-building through sector economic development and large-scale development. Foremost in our transformation plan to develop a new community infrastructure is to build community capacity and assets within high growth economic sectors.
NACDI grew out of the work of the Hennepin County American Indian Families Project (AIFP), a partnership project between Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors organization. Through this community-driven initiative, the idea of focusing on American Indian community through community economic development came about. The result was the formation of the NACDI Taskforce, a coalition of more than 60 individuals — including representatives from American Indian nonprofits, American Indian businesses, Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Minneapolis Public Schools, as well as community-based and philanthropic organizations. A strategic plan for NACDI was completed in October 2006 after a 10-month, community-engaged, strategic-planning process.
Huenemann, a member of the Navajo Nation was born in Winslow, Arizona, to a family consisting of his parents, one sister, and one brother. After leaving Arizona, Huenemann moved to New Mexico, then South Dakota where he graduated from high school and eventually was graduated from University of Minnesota graduate with a degree in Architecture and a minor in American Indian Studies.