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New Training Opportunity: SMSC & AHA Fertile Ground Leadership Institute

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and American Heart Association (AHA) are excited to announce the new 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. The partners are offering free spots to 50 Native leaders from tribal, community and nonprofit settings, including youth, who are interested in participating in this unique leadership development opportunity. The application process is competitive and final applications must be submitted by Wednesday, May 9th at 5:00 p.m. CDT.

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 the 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 for the training seminars on health advocacy organizing within Native communities in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota, on June 11-13. The training for the next cohort of 25 leaders will be in Seattle, Washington, on August 7-9. Roundtrip airfare, accommodation, meals and the costs of the training will be covered for each participant.

Fertile Ground Leadership Institute Learning and Training Topics

  • Indian Country Today and the Path of Our Ancestors - The training will begin by exploring the current context and how to discern the path towards health and wellbeing in Indian Country through helping participants reveal the history of organizing in Indian Country. Participants will create a timeline to map government policies, responses and initiatives that led to improvements in living conditions.
  • The Power of Community - We will explore concepts of power and how the power for 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 - This 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 onramps to involvement, which are a cornerstone of community organizing.
  • Organizing as Medicine - Historic 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.


Application and Deadline to Apply


Click here to complete your application by May 9 at 5 p.m. CDT. For more information, contact: [email protected]