Healthy Children, Healthy Nations

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

The Healthy Children, Healthy Nations (HCHN) initiative is 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) to develop a strategic plan to improve early childhood development (ECD) and childhood nutrition in Minnesota’s Native communities.


This project resulted in the report Charting Pathways on report cover with black borderEarly Childhood Development and Nutrition for Minnesota’s Native Children. This report outlines a multifaceted framework to improve early childhood development and nutrition for Minnesota’s Native American children. View the report or download a printable version.

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.

Next steps

To move this work forward, HCHN partners are taking the following steps:

  • Establishing a Collaborative Fund to support investments in promising models, capacity building, knowledge building, and effective programming. The SMSC and Better Way Foundation have pledged $200,000 – $100,000 each – to seed the collaborative fund.
  • Creating a Funders Collaborative to help philanthropic organizations participate in the initiative.
  • Hosting a statewide conference on September 18-19, 2018 at Mystic Lake Center, to convene stakeholders in order to prioritize issues and create defined action plans.
  • Beginning advocacy work to lay the groundwork for policy changes and funding increases supporting Native early childhood development efforts.


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

Upcoming Events

Statewide conference
September 18-19, 2018
Mystic Lake Center, Prior Lake, MN


Healthy Children, Healthy Nations report webinar
April 24, 2018
Watch the webinar