Healthy Children, Healthy Nations

Charting Pathways on Early Childhood Development and Nutrition for Minnesota’s Native Children

The Healthy Children, Healthy Nations (HCHN) initiative has been a collaboration of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s Seeds of Native Health campaign, Better Way Foundation, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota’s Center for Indian Country Development (CICD) that developed a strategic plan to improve early childhood development (ECD) and childhood nutrition in Minnesota’s Native communities.


In April 2018, Healthy Children, Healthy Nations issued the report Charting Pathways on Early Childhood Development and Nutrition for Minnesota’s Native Childrenreport cover with black border. This report outlines a multifaceted framework to improve early childhood development and nutrition for Minnesota’s Native American children.

The report identifies three main focus areas to combat these problems and help Native American children:

  • Expand Native early childhood development programs that are rooted in traditional knowledge, provide Native perspectives on childhood development, and celebrate Native language, identities and cultures.
  • Provide healthful early Native nutrition by encouraging investment in breastfeeding education, supporting partnerships among food producers and childcare providers, and expanding access to healthy, traditional food outside of childcare settings.
  • Build whole, healthy children, families and communities by supporting efforts to address historical trauma, adverse childhood experiences, social determinants of health, and substance abuse that create cycles of abuse, neglect and disparity.

Collaborative Fund

To move this work forward, the SMSC and Better Way Foundation established the Healthy Children Healthy Nations Fund. This collaborative fund is the first donor-advised fund dedicated to supporting the innovation and expansion of early childhood development and childhood nutrition programs in Minnesota’s Native communities.


In 2017, Healthy Children, Healthy Nations (HCHN) hosted three convenings with stakeholders to identify best practices and promising models in Native ECD and nutrition; determine critical needs around these issues in Native communities; and build consensus around strategies and funding recommendations to improve the well-being of Minnesota’s Native children and future generations.

  • Native early childhood development and nutrition stakeholder convening | May 10-11, 2017
  • Funders convening | July 11, 2017
  • Tribal leaders convening | August 15, 2017

In 2018, HCHN hosted a statewide conference on September 18-19, 2018, at Mystic Lake Center to convene stakeholders to prioritize issues and create defined action plans.