Fertile Ground Leadership Institute

June 11-13, 2018 | August 7-9, 2018

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and American Heart Association have launched the Fertile Ground Leadership Institute. It is designed to provide advanced training for Native Americans who are working toward health and dietary well-being in their communities and searching for new ways to strengthen their effectiveness through traditional knowledge.

A central goal of the Leadership Institute is to deepen the awareness of the path of our ancestors and how we build upon traditional knowledge to inform our work today. It will seek to deepen the understanding of the root causes of the challenges to health and wellness and position participants to be able to plan campaigns for policy shifts that improve living conditions for all. To that end, the Leadership Institute will provide an intensive, Native-led curriculum over two-and-a-half days that centers on skills development for community engagement rooted in traditional Indigenous knowledge. It will provide tools for effective, strategic campaign planning and navigating the historic trauma which hinders efforts to fully engage Native communities. The Native Organizers Alliance and the American Indian Cancer Foundation will serve as lead trainers.

The Fertile Ground Institute will host the first cohort of 25 Native leaders in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota, June 11-13. The training for the second cohort of 25 leaders will be in Seattle, Washington, August 7-9.

Fertile Ground Leadership Institute learning and training topics

  • Indian Country Today and the Path of Our Ancestors – This training will begin by exploring the current context, and how to discern a path towards health and well-being in Indian Country by revealing the history of organizing. Participants will create a timeline to map government policies, responses and initiatives that led to improvements to living conditions.
  • The Power of Community – We will explore concepts of power and how the power of policy shifts rests in the ability of grassroots Native community leaders and activists to build a circle of relationships and activism in the 21st century. Through small group discussions and role playing, we will define power and realize the power which exists in our communities.
  • Strategic Campaign Planning – The session will build on previous discussions by learning about the skills needed to map community assets that can be organized to shift policies and deepen the awareness of decision makers on community needs.
  • Broadening the Circle – Organizing community engagement is a series of conversations around kitchen tables, in supermarket aisles, and at tribal gatherings. Through role playing and guided discussion, participants will explore the impact of active listening and on-ramps to involvement, which are cornerstones of community organizing.
  • Organizing as Medicine – Historical trauma is one of the most tangible roadblocks to building unified action by Native communities. Participants will learn how to handle the reflections of historical trauma while working in our communities. Community engagement is the medicine that can help the entire community towards healing practices.
  • The Path Ahead – Participants will reflect on their own commitment to build capacity for organizing for health and wellness in their own communities, and what kind of support they may need to share the new skills and knowledge learned in the Leadership Institute.