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University of Minnesota Extension
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Extension is expanding its online education and resources to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions.

Minnesota Indigenous Leadership Network

Strengthening tribal leadership

Extension's Minnesota Indigenous Leadership Network is working to engage tribal leaders and strengthen partnerships with rural and urban Native American communities in Minnesota. We are Dawn Newman, Fawn Sampson and Jason Schlender. As a team of American Indian leadership and civic engagement educators we are passionate about upholding and protecting our traditional values, communities, families and each other for future generations.

We recognize that historical trauma is more than about what has happened to us in the past — it's also about what is happening to us now. Leadership development is the cornerstone of our future and we are excited to share resources, tools and programs to strengthen our communities. 

Building connections

In Extension • Across University of Minnesota • Around our communities

As the Minnesota Indigenous Leadership Network we work with others in Extension, with people and groups across the University of Minnesota, and within our communities. We engage with and look to strengthen collaborations with tribal leaders, elders, current tribal partners, community conveners and others. Learn how our work starts with listening and read about Extension's current tribal work.

Stay connected

Follow our Facebook page, Minnesota Indigenous Leadership Network, for news and updates.

Learn and engage with us

Extension hosts events and offers cohort learning programs designed for tribal communities. Below are events and learning opportunities that may interest you.

Upcoming events

Moving from talk to action

Register for our free webinar series. Discover ways to enhance your leadership skills and spark insight. Wednesdays from September 16 to October 7.

Use our expertise

Interested in helping your tribal community better govern, grow leadership and increase participation? Extension has trained indigenous educators who can help you with your leadership education needs. Learn more about our facilitative services.

Leadership education scholarship

Are you interested in Extension's leadership programs? Do you need help paying for program costs? Extension offers need-based scholarships for tribal members to participate in and get leadership program materials. Apply for a scholarship.

Stories from our community

"Whenever I'm asked about my leadership journey, I quickly reflect back ... I just always have to reflect back on the sacrifices that were made that allowed me to be where I am today." — Dennis Olson

In our podcast series Indigenized Connections On Air we focus on issues that impact tribal communities and leadership throughout Minnesota. Listen to our most recent episodes below.

Leadership in crisis: navigating change (part 3)

Beth Drost, Grand Portage Band of Chippewa, chairwoman

How is COVID-19 impacting tribal communities? Listen as we speak with tribal leader Beth Drost as she talks about the pandemic and her leadership journey.

Leadership in crisis: navigating change (part 2)

Lower Sioux Indian Community President Robert Larsen

How is COVID-19 impacting tribal communities? Listen to our conversation with tribal leader Robert Larsen as he talks about the pandemic and his leadership journey.

Leadership in a crisis: navigating change

Dennis Olson, Jr.

How has COVID-19 impacted daily lives and tribal communities? In this podcast episode, we talk with Dennis Olson, Jr. about his leadership journey and navigating change.

Leadership in a crisis: resiliency

Nazhikeawaasang/Bradley Harrington, Jr.

Listen to our inaugural podcast episode focusing on the leadership journey and resiliency of tribal leaders. In this episode we talk with Bradley Harrington, Jr.

About our tribal initiative

Extension received funding from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) to develop and strengthen partnerships with Minnesota’s Indian communities. The EDA provided matching funds for Extension to hire two full-time American Indian staff. This staff helps develop and organize resources for programming in civic engagement, economic development, and leadership education, and provides other technical resources.

This is a multi-year EDA project that we hope will set the stage for continued resources for this important work. The project started in January 2019 and is funded through December 2021.

EDA background

The EDA, which is under the US Department of Commerce, has worked across the nation and in Minnesota with various tribes. In at least three states, Inter-Tribal Agency consortium helped tribes cooperate on projects relating to economic development, environment, health, housing, and more. These expanded initiatives show that working together across the state can benefit the whole of sovereignty.

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Give a gift of education

You can help provide leadership and civic engagement education to tribal communities in Minnesota with a financial gift. Your donation funds scholarships for Native Americans who want to participate in an Extension leadership program. Support leadership development by making a donation today.

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