Division of Indian Work, 1001 E Lake St, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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Division of Indian Work
|Address:||1001 Lake Avenue E|
|Neighborhood/s:||Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Hennepin County, Minnesota|
“Culturally Competent Service”: The Division of Indian Work
“Our greatest strength is our culturally competent service: services for the community, by the community.”
Louise Matson, Division of Indian Work staff member
The Division of Indian Work started in 1952, a time when government policy encouraged Native Americans to move from reservations and into the urban areas. The Council of Churches (now the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches) set up the Division of Indian Work (DIW) to provide temporary assistance to families relocating to the Twin Cities.
Now in its 55th year, DIW has proven to be anything but temporary. While working as a partner with the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, DIW is now its own agency, with its own board and staff, determining its own path and rapidly growing to offer an ever-expanding variety of social services. Such expansion meant that more space was needed, a need which was accommodated by the 1994 construction of a new DIW building at 1001 Lake Street, putting the organization near the heart of the Native community in Minneapolis.
DIW’s staff is comprised primarily of Native people, sending the message that Native Americans can seek help from within their community. The organization’s services are thus “culturally competent”--sensitive to the particular situation of Native people in the Twin Cities and instilling a sense of pride in Native heritage.
Embracing Native Culture
DIW is committed to retaining Native American tradition, which has been intentionally incorporated into its Lake Street building. With a crescent moon above the entrance and images of turtles, dragonflies, and fish on its outer walls, the building is a symbol of Native cultural pride.
Native culture is infused into all DIW’s services. From the Healing Spirit program, which matches Native youth with mentors from the Native community, to a tobacco campaign promoting sacred uses of tobacco instead of unhealthy commercial uses like smoking, DIW uses Native culture to enhance their services.
Tradition also factors into Horizons Unlimited, DIW’s food shelf, which has tried to provide healthy, traditional options, like buffalo, venison, and wild rice. This encourages clients to end dependency on highly-processed or junk foods in a way that celebrates Native traditions and meets the needs of those with diabetes.Its strong base of support makes staff member Louise Matson confident that DIW, with its half-century of service and continuous growth, will retain its proud place in the community.