Native American Nonprofit Economy Report

A joint project of Native Americans in Philanthropy and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

The Native American Nonprofit Economy Report is designed to provide an overview of an important part of Minnesota’s nonprofit sector and to identify trends and challenges facing these organizations and the people they serve. Through interviews and community outreach, 89 nonprofit organizations and programs were identified serving the Native American community in Minnesota, including:

  • 65 Native-led nonprofit organizations (such as the American Indian Center in Minneapolis or the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Callaway);
  • 12 programs that serve Native Americans based in other nonprofit organizations (including the Division of Indian Work as part of the Minneapolis Council of Churches); and
  • 12 programs or institutions that serve Native Americans sponsored by one or more of Minnesota’s 11 Federally recognized tribal governments (including Fond du Lac Community College in Cloquet).

Whether nonprofit organizations themselves or programs of these organizations, Native American- led nonprofit contributions to the state Minnesota are immense. These organizations:

  • Employ 1201 individuals;
  • Have annual expenditures of $69 million;
  • Range from the 76 year old Upper Midwest American Indian Center on the North side of  Minneapolis (which began operations in 1937) to the Sacred Being Project, Inc. (started 2012) with an average age of all of the organizations of 20 years; and
  • Have a range of two board leadership members (Gichitwaa Kateri Church) to 28 (Department of Indian Work), with an average of eight leadership team/board members.

Minnesota’s 2010 American Indian population of 60,916 is made up of people from the 11 reservation communities based in the state — as well as from tribal nations from around the United States.

[Note about language: this report uses the terms American Indian and Native American interchangeably. Both terms refer to the population of persons who claim heritage relating to one of the 566 federally recognized Tribes in the United States, or to those entities trying to achieve federal recognition status through governmental channels.]

Many tribal nations are represented in the leadership of the metro area nonprofit organizations and also within the communities these nonprofits serve. This report presents a broad overview of nonprofit organizations in the state of Minnesota that are led by or administer programs for the benefit of American Indians. The research intends to develop a picture of the scope and strengths of Native American-led nonprofit organizations and to enhance the understanding of the community needs and organizational challenges in the 21st century. Moreover, the information should be useful for foundation and community leaders, nonprofit managers, and board members in understanding the important role of both rural and urban Native American organizations.

Release of the Native American Nonprofit Economy Report

On March 1, 2013, The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Native Americans in Philanthropy and Northwest Area Foundation sponsored a public forum held at All Nations Church in Minneapolis for the release of the Native American Nonprofit Economy Report.

The report was presented by Jane Harstad, project researcher with MCN and Daniel Lemm, director of programs and finance, Native Americans in Philanthropy. A Community Response Panel was moderated by Laura Waterman Wittstock, president and CEO, Wittstock and Associates, and Panel Members included:

  • Chairwoman Karen Diver, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa;
  • Suzanne Koepplinger, executive director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center;
  • Rhiana Yazzie, founder, New Native Theatre; and
  • Bill Ziegler, president/CEO, Little Earth of United Tribes.

Introductions and background to the report were provided by Martin Jennings, program officer, and Kevin Walker, president, both of the Northwest Area Foundation.

Presentation of the Report [VIDEO]»

Report Panel [VIDEO]»

The publishers of this report acknowledge community resources that converged to make it possible. For those folks that have been working to make our communities stronger and healthier through these organizations, thank you. In order to locate and interview the numerous different organizations, many people and their organizations aided in answering questions, compiling information, and writing this report.

A special thank you to Jon Pratt, Laura Waterman Wittstock, Elaine Salinas, Daniel Lemm, Bao Vang, Martin Jennings, Birchbark Books, and the many people of Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Native Americans in Philanthropy, and the Northwest Area Foundation who helped make this project a reality through insights, knowledge, and editing.

This project was made possible through support from the Northwest Area Foundation, committed to advance the well-being of the people in its eight state region to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity.