Franklin Avenue, a Past and Future Native Home: An Interview with NACDI’s Andy Hestness

[Image at right: Rendering of the coming Anpetu Was’te cultural market on Franklin Avenue.] Franklin Avenue was once the border of Minneapolis, marking the edge of the city. Before that it was home to the Dakota people, and since the 1950’s post-“relocation era”, it is the site of the Little Earth community, the country’s only Indian-preference affordable housing site. But Franklin Avenue, which is controlled by Hennepin County, is also one of the most danerously designed streets in the city, home to a disproportionate amount of bicycle and pedestrian accidents. In particular, the corner of Franklin, Riverside, and Hiawatha, around the light rail station, has long been a dark, unpleasant place for people to walk and divded communities around. Transforming Franklin from a dangerous eyesore into a welcoming home for the surrounding Native community is one of the top priorities for Andy Hestness, vice president of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), which runs the All My Relations gallery on Franklin Avenue and works as an intermediary for the Twin Cities Native Amerian people. We caught up with him last week to talk about how Native American’s are starting to challenge and transform how sideawlks, buses, and bikes work in and around Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis’ most neglected busy street. Continue Reading

Anpetu Was’te Cultural Arts Market: Opening next summer on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis

Next summer, a new marketplace will open on Franklin Avenue and will bring art, food, and music to a very unlikely location – the median between Cedar Avenue and S. 17th Avenue.The project is the result of a $435,000 ArtPlace grant and the work of the Native American Community Development Institute. NACDI Vice President Andy Hestness explained at a recent project unveiling that the Anpetu Was’te Cultural Arts Market is designed to bring the Ventura Village and Seward neighborhoods together and create a pedestrian-friendly roadway, something that the presence of a light rail station has not been able to do on its own. He commented, “People originally thought that plopping the light rail here would create a new paradigm. We’ve been waiting for years for this to happen, and it never did. We finally decided that we were going to do it ourselves, since no one was going to do it for us.”Jay Bad Heart Bull, NACDI president, explained that for the light rail to be strong and successful, there needs to be a strong pedestrian presence. Continue Reading

2010 Minnesota Indian Month starts with a parade

Over 200 parade participants came to Little Earth United Tribes Community Center, 25th and Cedar in Minneapolis, on Friday, April 30 to kick off American Indian month.  
Herb Sam, an American Indian elder and spiritual advisor to Mille Lac Band of Ojibwe, led the invocation at Cedar Field Park (also known as Little Earth United Tribes Community Center).  He thanked  both cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis, for designating this month as American Indian month. 
“I started with one headdress but have been given three more,” said Sam.  “Each feather represents a person we have helped.  The feathers on my staff are for our relatives that have died and we want to remember them today during our celebration.”  Sam said the ending prayer in Anishinaabe. Mr. Sam led the parade from 25th/Cedar down 18th Avenue, to 24th Street, along 11th Avenue and turning on Franklin Avenue to the Minneapolis American Indian Center. Neighbors along the route came out of their houses to watch as Veterans, Circle of Life School, Mille Lacs Band, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Minnesota Indian Women Resources, Wicole Nandagikendan Preschool, and representatives from American Indian Movement walked the route  As the parade turned onto Franklin Avenue, people from local businesses came out into the street to applaud the participants. Continue Reading