CICD Blog

A Note from Director Patrice Kunesh - April 2018

Director Patrice Kunesh highlights recent CICD activities, including conversations between Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari and South Dakota tribal community leaders, the Healthy Children Healthy Nations report on early childhood education for Minnesota Native children, and plans to launch the Tribal Leaders Handbook on Homeownership at July conference

Patrice Kunesh | Assistant Vice President and Director of the Center for Indian Country Development

Published April 24, 2018

Greetings from Minneapolis! The weather forecast says that we’re hanging on to winter for a little while longer here.

We’ve had a busy first quarter, and here are some of the things we’ve been working on.

Housing and homeownership are key areas of the CICD’s strategic plan to support economic development in Indian Country because access to affordable housing affects every aspect of a community’s well-being. Yet despite the strong demand for homeownership in Indian Country, too many Native American communities still face severe housing shortages and must grapple with a complex land development and home buying process.

We established the National Native Homeownership Coalition in 2016to harness a collective focus on and action around these thorny issues, with a key objective of opening up the opportunity for homeownership on Native American trust lands. Almost immediately, the Tribal Leaders Working Group identified the need for a comprehensive guide to the homeownership process and the mortgage lending programs available in Indian Country. So we decided to create a Tribal Leadership Handbook on Homeownership to help navigate this thicket.

Thankfully, a good model already existed with the Designing and Operating Homeownership Programs on Tribal Lands manual, prepared by the New Mexico Tribal Homeownership Coalition and published in 2016 by Enterprise Community Partners’ Native American Initiative.
The Tribal Leaders Handbook on Homeownership expands on the Enterprise blueprint. It will:

  • provide a comprehensive overview of the mortgage lending process
  • address challenges to homeownership on trust lands
  • include “best practice” case studies that show how tribes overcame those obstacles through innovation and perseverance to create homeownership opportunities in their communities.

The Tribal Leaders Handbook on Homeownership will be launched this summer at a conference co-hosted by the CICD and Enterprise. Save the Date for the Homeownership in Indian Country: Creating the Opportunity for Choice on July 10th at the Minneapolis Fed!

In other areas, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari met with several tribal community leaders in Pierre, South Dakota to discuss how Indian Country businesses, workers and communities are faring in the current economy. Attendees brought home the message that tribal economies are important contributors to the state and regional economies. At the end of the meeting, tribal attendees presented Neel with a ceremonial pair of shoes, symbolic of his efforts to better understand issues from a tribal viewpoint—to walk in their shoes. Read about this meeting in the FedGazette article, Small town, but not small talk.

CICD sat down with Ojibwe Olymic medalist Henry Boucha to discuss his experience winning a silver medal for the U.S. Hockey Team, a timely conversation as we’ve been captivated by the 2018 Winter Olympics. CICD Senior Advisor Dick Todd’s interview with Henry is captured in this uplifting blog and video, where Henry commemorated his fellow Native American Olympians and share his life’s work as an educator and entrepreneur.

New report outlines framework to improve early childhood development and nutrition for Minnesota’s Native children. We also have been working closely with our Healthy Children Healthy Nations partners, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Better Way Foundation, on a multi-faceted framework to improve early childhood development and childhood nutrition among Minnesota’s Native American children. The partnership formed after the CICD’s Early Child Development in Indian Country convening to better support health and well-being of Minnesota’s Native children and ensure better educational and social outcomes for them.

We also are working closely with our Healthy Children Healthy Nations partners – the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Better Way Foundation – on a multi-faceted framework to improve early childhood development and childhood nutrition among Minnesota’s Native American children. We formed the partnership after the CICD’s Early Child Development in Indian Country convening as a way to focus our efforts on supporting the health and well-being of Minnesota’s Native children and to ensure better educational and social outcomes for them. Last month we announced the Healthy Children, Healthy Nations report, Charting Pathways on Early Childhood Development and Nutrition for Minnesota’s Native Children that sets a course to meaningful investments in Native children.

We’re off to a great start this year and there’s much more to come. Stay tuned!

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