Sharon Day.  Photoby Hubert Bonnet for Lavender MagazineIt’s a cold day here in the northland. My new animush/puppy is growing a thicker coat of fur, the squirrels have stashed their food, and the waboos/rabbit’s coat is turning white. The winter can be harsh and cold, still it is a part of the seasons that is necessary for our world to thrive. The cold allows plants to go dormant and for our Mama Aki to rest. Here at the Task Force, it is a time to reflect, regroup and be ready to move forward in ways that perhaps we had not thought about until now. Many times, what we (IPTF) does, is determined in part by our funding sources. Our Two Spirit program was funded by the Minnesota Department of Health for the past twenty years. This year, they decided to fund a program in Duluth and we wish this new program great success. What this means for us is this, we can now determine new activities to improve the health of the LGBT Native community. To begin, we will be looking at the data produced by the HONOR Research Project. This includes surveys and oral interviews mined from local Native LGBT folks as part of the University of Washington’s HONOR Project. We will also gather our local Native LGBT/Two Spirit folks together to brainstorm ideas.

The same is true for the Ogitchidag Gikinooamaagad Peer Education Program. The federal agency that funded Ogitchidag did not fund our latest grant submission, so we are beginning to explore ideas and methods to create an Ogitchidag youth program that meets the needs of our youth today. Language Revitalization using theater and story telling is one of the ideas we will explore. This program has created some of the young adults who are leaders in our community today. We will spend the next six months planning for a new and improved peer education program continuing to build on our strengths using theater as the story telling and continuing to develop healthy Native youth. After all, we will survive this economic downturn, and it is our youth who are the future. So we will never abandon this aspect of our work here at the Indigenous Peoples Task Force. So as winter sets upon us, we will reflect, renew and be ready to move forward, dedicating ourselves to our people and our community.

Sharon M. Day