University of Minnesota Extension’s American Indian Resource and Resiliency Team (AIRRT) co-creates culturally responsive holistic health education and resources for Native communities. In a partnership with South Dakota Extension, through a USDA Rural Health and Safety grant, wellness kits were sent to the Bois Forte and Mille Lacs communities in Minnesota, and to the Lower Brule and Crow Creek communities in South Dakota The kits include medicines, wild rice, small birch bark baskets and Indigenous resources for community health and wellness including how traditional food production fosters culture and the nutrition components of wild rice. The wellness kits is not only support community health and well-being but to also show that during this time of isolation and lack of community connectedness, someone cares.
When detailing the impact and significance of these kits, Jennifer Garbow, Extension educator, highlighted the way in which the kits are intended to first and foremost show Extension is wanting to remain a part of the Indigenous communities.
“Oftentimes tribal communities experience, especially with grants, organizations come in and through their work extract information and then leave. Well, we don’t want to leave. We want to continue to deepen our relationships with the communities and expand them in a way that feels good for them and works for them and makes sense for them so really it's about showing that.”
Extension’s opioid project, which collectively builds on existing partnerships with local, regional, state and national agencies to address the opioid crisis in rural communities, has recently expanded its webpage to includes a new section on wellness and healing. You can find more about wellness and healing across Extension partnerships, including stories of hope and recovery, nutrition in recovery and both broad and county specific/place-based resources.