Native American federal grant programs keep culture alive in North Dakota

Good Day Dakota

Keeping the Native American culture alive is the goal of one Bismarck nonprofit. KX News caught up with staff from Native, INC. to learn how they’re doing just that.

The Native American Development Center and Native, INC are the bridge between the five tribes in our state.

As their federal grant money is dispersed with new programs, the Native American culture is regaining life in the capital city and surrounding areas.

Lorraine Davis, CEO of Native American Development Center says, “We understand that the Native American populations sometimes bounce back and forth because of the different challenges that present itself in the urban areas versus the reservation.”

Challenges like homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, and maintaining their native culture. In October 2020, Native, INC. received a federal grant of $297,000. They’ll receive this every year for the next three years to maintain cultural programs and integrate natives into mainstream areas, focusing on affordable housing.

Davis adds, “That’s a very significant area for us to be in. We’ve been in housing, I mean, that’s been my forte’ since 2008, and I’ve always made that the cornerstone of the work that we do.”

Other programs offered include: youth life skills, financial counseling, transportation assistance, peer support, and career development. And things like clothing, coffee, and books are offered for free. The grant has helped give recovery resources, too.

Leigh Tasso, the Native, INC. Recovery Care Coordinator says, “It’s been amazing being able to be a part of their story. When I talk with them I always say ‘One mistake doesn’t define the rest of your life, it’s just one mistake. You still got your whole life ahead of you.’ “

The Native American Development Center and Native, INC. also offer internship programs. Davis says she’s has interns seeking a degree in criminal justice, human services, business, and occupational therapy come through their doors.

Davis says, “No one has to be Native American to be an intern here. I think there’s great learning opportunities for non natives to come and learn as well.”

Joshua Vee is an Intern from the University of Mary. He is doing his doctorate program for Occupational Therapy.

Vee says, “It’s pretty much been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where I’ve taken part in things like being welcome to come in and drum My own cultural awareness and sensitivity accelerated more than I think any time in my life.”

Davis tells me none of this, the programs, bridging the gap between the five tribes, internships, would be possible without walking what they call The Red Road.

Davis shares, “We can’t do that without our identities, without our tribal custom, our languages. having that is what strengthens us. Having that is what builds out confidence, having each other in a mainstream area is what strengthens us.”

For more information on all the programs they offer, go here.

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