NACDI Unveils American Indian Community Blueprint
April 28, 2010
By Rhiana Yazzie
If you have lived in the Twin Cities’ Native American community within the last 15 years, you may have been to a community meeting or two and voiced an idea, an opinion, or even a dream, such as more Native owned businesses, a neighborhood powwow grounds, or even a Native planetarium with Ojibwe and Dakota constellations. Don’t be surprised if you see your words in print this month. Someone was listening.
On April 30, the Native American Community Development Institute is unveiling a document called the American Indian Community Blueprint. It details a vision a community has for itself. Its content draws from community meetings beginning in 1995 through present, research papers on topics ranging from health to housing to safety, and work being done in nonprofit service organizations. Justin Huenemann, NACDI president, is proud to say that it is a unique and comprehensive compilation of the innovation, ideas, and even dreams of our Native people.
Its purpose is three-fold: to synthesize community-based research and planning around community improvement, to articulate the vision of community members for the future of the urban Native community, and to identify strategies for community advancement towards these visions.
Perhaps the most notable quality about this document is not the visions themselves, but more the fact that the visions come from individual community members. It also poses questions about the effectiveness of decision-making in organizations that often speak on behalf of individuals to funders and government officials without actually asking what the community really wants. The focus of this Blueprint is on those living at the grassroots level — and the ideas are big.
Some suggestions from community members are to “create a vibrant local business district and economy with regional prominence,” to “create a Native American healing center,” to “implement American Indian tours of the Twin Cities, i.e. sacred sites tour,” and even to “develop Indian-specific youth and adult sport activities and leagues.”
As the majority of the content comes from the people themselves, the Blueprint was also written to be read by these same people and their neighbors — not necessarily organizations versed in the jargon of community officials and funders. Huenemann emphasizes that this audience is the true place where effective community planning can come and that this document endeavors to make it easier to hear our community. This Blueprint is a living document that has room to include more Native community members’ thoughts and hopes for the future — even solutions they have found themselves.
Along with the ideas are lists of possible strategies to make the visions become a reality. As an example of what Native individuals and organizations can do to takes steps to make their visions a reality, the Blueprint details implementation suggestions to make a Native American Cultural Corridor happen. Some strategies need only one person to take on, others a more comprehensive planning and collaboration, such as creating a museum or performing arts center.
NACDI’s goal is to get a copy of the Blueprint into the hands of every single Native person in the Twin Cities. Their next step will then be to solicit comments and feedback.
Huenemann emphasizes that NACDI’s role in the Blueprint is not as the creator of these visions, but instead as the nail on the wall holding up a mirror to the community reminding us of how beautiful we really are.
For more information about NACDI and the Blueprint, visit http://www.nacdi.org/default/index.cfm