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Nicole Sutton is a health justice advocate living in Tampa, Florida. She has worked extensively in commercial tobacco control and health equity with focus on youth advocacy, maternal and child health, LGBTQ+ health, violence prevention, arts and medicine, and addressing racism as a public health crisis. Nicole is passionate about the wellbeing of her family, community, and the future we are all building together.
My name is Janet Sanchez, I am a member of the Leech Lake Tribe. I am 22 years old. I have participated in The Ikidowin Acting Ensemble since 2013. During my time as an ensemble member I was able to travel and had opportunities I never thought I would. I saw the ocean for the first time. I attended my first sweat lodge. I learned how to advocate for myself and my community. And learned about my culture, how to bead, how to sew, and the history of my people. In April 2022 I took part of Indigenous Peoples Task Force’s Healing Circle Internship Program for young adults. For 8 weeks I was an intern at Indigenous Lotus and in Winter 2022, I spent 8 weeks at MN Adult and Teen Challenge. I helped with vending at Pow Wows and took a few yoga classes. I also wrote about my experience with Drugs and Alcohol. And shared my story with High Schools all across the metro. I currently work in the Youth Program. I love being able to provide a safe and supporting space for Native youth. I am a big sister to my 5 younger siblings. One of my favorite cultural experiences personally with the youth was attending The Cedar River Nibi Walk. Participating in Ceremony every day, going back and forth to bring more and more youth to walk. Bonding at the campsite while playing uno. And creating connections and memories I will never forget.
Suzanne Nash (Bois Forte Ojibwe) is the Return to First Medicines Project Coordinator. Suzanne has over 19 years’ experience, Planning and organizing The Return to First medicines conference. In addition to the annual gathering, she directs other First Medicines Programs including a traditional food project (Indigi-Baby Food), and a commercial tobacco cessation and prevention project for youth (Waybinigay). She conceived of the National Indigenous Youth Fashion Show. Suzanne has worked at the Indigenous People’s Task Force for over 21 years and in addition to her work in the First Medicines programs works as a Housing Director and led the Remember Our Loved Ones Memorial. Suzanne has facilitated and coordinated tobacco cessation, education and policy work with 11 tribes in Minnesota and the urban area.
National Indigenous Youth Fashion Show
Co-Created by Ikidowin and Friends Council
Click here to read youth bios
Victoria, Wáčhiŋhiŋ Máza Wíŋyaŋ (Iron Plume Woman), is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Santee affiliated, and was born and raised on her ancestral homelands in Mni Sota (Minneapolis, MN). She is the owner of Indigenous Lotus, launched in 2017, with the intention to support indigenous relatives in healing through movement practices and knowledge sharing. As a mother and community member, Victoria is also a yoga practitioner and student, Yoga of 12-Step Recovery Leader, and holds a degree in business.
Recently, Victoria became a certified doula, Indigenous Lactation Counselor, and enrolled in an Ayurvedic Health Counseling program.
Prior to Indigenous Lotus, Victoria’s background includes direct youth work within the community for Native American/ Indigenous non-profit organizations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul since 2010. Her work has led her to teach and speak around the nation about movement and the importance of holistic healing approaches
Hello my name is Michael I’m 12 from Leech Lake and Guatemala I have 5 siblings I’m 4’11. It’s important to learn about my culture, because I want to keep it alive and it’s fun and intriguing. What I like about Ikidowin is that we get to travel places and I learn more acting skills, a goal for my future is that I want to be a doctor, and rich and I want to have a lot of stamina.
Hello I’m Kailani Lawrence, I’m 15 and I’ve been with Ikidowin for three years my first ever project was the play called in my shoes I was first the mom and an extra in a few scenes and then later I was Blake. My favorite memories with the group was when we went to Wisconsin dells it was a really fun vacation and it was fun bonding with everyone that went. I’m not quite sure what I want to do in my future, but I know I want to go to college at the university of Minnesota.
Nalia Segura, is an Ojibwe-Latinx Actor. she has performed on many stages as an ensemble member of Ikidowin Youth Theater, including The Guthrie Theater for (Stories Of The Drum), Illusion Theater for (Everything is a circle) and The Pangea World Theater for (The Missouri River water walk). She is a dancer with Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli a Mexica dance group located in Saint Paul. She is also singer, she has sang/acted in a film directed by Jane Ramseyer Miller and was a part of the choir with Tanya Tagaq at The Ordway Concert Hall.
My name is Jennifer Cortes. I am 19, enrolled in Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and I’m part Mexican. I have been in indigenous people task force since I was 12 years old. I’m a beader and sewer and make my very own creations from earrings to clothing and am starting a business for it! I love doing other forms of art such as writing, singing, spoken word, dance, theater, drawing, and so many other things!
Michael Neumann has over 20 years of experience coordinating community-led agroecology, environmental restoration, and food sovereignty initiatives in the Midwest and internationally. He currently serves as the Agroecology Coordinator for the Indigenous Peoples Task Force’s Indigi-Baby Food Sovereignty Project. Michael is also the Executive Director of a Pennsylvania based NGO, Partners In Progress, which collaborates with local organizations in Haiti and Uganda in inclusive and intergenerationally-led development initiatives related to agroecology, food, housing, livelihoods, and environment. He has a M.Ed. in Agriculture Education and a J.D.
Dr. Kalidas Shetty is currently the Associate Vice President for International Partnerships & Collaborations and Founding Director of Global Institute of Food Security and International Agriculture-GIFSIA &; Professor of Plant Sciences at North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, USA. Dr. Shetty & research interests focus on critical role of cellular and metabolic basis of oxygen biology for advancing new innovations in Life Sciences and especially Agricultural and Food Innovations that advance global food security and health in a sustainable environment.
His specific research interests focus on scientific, educational and policy strategies to advance climate resilient health-targeted food security solutions including malnutrition and hunger challenges. In particular, he has developed an innovative “climate resilient crops for health” research platform to counter diet-linked non-communicable chronic diseases (NCD). He has published over 250 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and over 50 as invited reviews and in conference proceedings with H-Index of 79 on Google Scholar.
In 2004, he was selected by the US State Department as the inaugural Jefferson Science Fellow to advise on scientific issues as it relates to International Diplomacy and International Development. Dr. Shetty has widely traveled and has been invited to present lectures and seminars in the areas of Food Biology, Climate Resilient Healthy Food Systems for Food Security & Health, and Food Safety in over 50 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. He also has a deep commitment to global education capacity building.
His current passion is to advance research, education capacity building and policy on “sustainable and ecological basis for climate resilient healthy food systems and food diversity to drive global food security. This vision is based on crops and food diversity, indigenous wisdom, traditional fermentations, and new technology innovations in ethnic and indigenous food systems that incorporates understanding of comparative cellular biochemistry of plant and animal systems and their interactions with microbial systems in diverse ecologies and cultures of earth. This system based integrated model and research platform based on cellular basis of oxygen biology of food plants and plant-microbial interactions is the basis for new and innovative sustainable agriculture and food solutions to advance climate resilient and health-targeted food security. Another area of interest that he is passionate about is impact of diverse food systems and indigenous foods on the mind and cognitive health and how food and intermittent fasting are essential and useful for cognitive health and flow of the mind.
Maestra Rita Navarrete is a Curandera (Traditional Healer), Temazcalera (Mexican Sweat lodge Guide), Sobadora (Energetic and Physical hands on healing), Consejera (Counselor), Yerbera(Herbalist), Nutricionista (Nutritionist), Quiropraxia (Traditional Chiropractor) Orador Motivacional (Motivational Speaker).Rita has been practicing Traditional Healing for over 28 years. She started her practice in Mexico City, and has continued her practice in Cuernavaca, and Jilotepec. Rita is also the director of Kapulli Mexico, La Cultura Cura, a school and clinic of Traditional Medicine in Jilotepec México. The school’s goal is to empower survivors of domestic violence to first heal then learn to heal others. She is a professor at Centro de Desarollo Hacia La Comunidad, at the University of México, Morelos. Her specialty is working with individuals with chronic illness, and life coaching. She will tell her patients, “Curanderismo is not magic, I cannot heal you, but I will teach you to heal yourself.
Cyndy Milda, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Tribal Member and Cultural Outreach Coordinator
Maria Morin McCoy is a mother of 4 and a Grandmother of 8. Maria lives in and works in St Paul, Minnesota. She comes from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota and is from the Bear Clan. She has worked at the American Indian Family Center since 2006 as Therapeutic Life Coach, Wellness Practitioner, Body Worker and Mentor using traditional healing and cultural wellness practices through the guidance of our Ancestors and holistic teachings of the Medicine Wheel to support health, wellbeing and balance of our spiritual, physical, emotional and mental parts of self so we may be filled with Biimadiziwin (living life to the fullest each day). Maria’s work supports community members healing from Historical/Intergenerational trauma through preconception, beginning stages of life all the way through the elder years by connecting with our Earth Mother’s Medicine by honoring and encompassing the seasonal changes of life’s cycle. The last stage of life is the honoring of our Elder’s life contributions to community as well as Elders generously giving back by mentoring and sharing their knowledge.
Dr. Maresca (Mohawk Tribe, Kahnawake Band) is the oldest of ten children born to a Mohawk iron worker and his wife. She has served as a family doctor for tribal, urban Indian, and IHS since 1987. She blends indigenous plant medicine work and cultural practices with Western medicine approaches to health. A clinical professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, she trains both Native and non-Native medical students and doctors to serve our Indigenous communities. Terry enjoys medicinal garden creation and remains involved in Indigenous seed saving, gardening, and tribal land and river restoration efforts. She is a grandmother of five and auntie to many.
Dr. Melissa Lewis is an Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and a citizen of Cherokee Nation. Her research includes co-creating and evaluating Cherokee cultural programs. Programs include Cherokee community building through reconnection with culture, history, land, and language, infant-mother language immersion, and a traditional Cherokee ecological knowledge youth camp. Her research has contributed to the body of work that demonstrates that Indigenous culture including language, foodways, and historical and cultural knowledge relate to improved health and well-being.
Boozhoo my relatives, my name is Donna LaChapelle. I am of Ojibwe/Dakota heritage. I was raised with my Ojibwe grandmother, and I follow my elders and Ojibwe & Lakota relatives to Sundance and Mide ceremony. I grew up in Indian country, my heart is home with my relatives here in the city. My life’s work has been in service to the community. I have worked for the UMN, Indian Upward Bound, Dream of Wild Health, MIWRC, and NACC. My life is rich with cultural experience and teaching that I share and give back in my work.
Today, I continue to work at NACC as the Elder in Residence. I am also one of the elder’s at the IPTF’s community. I live and work with our relatives and I pray to be and do my best everyday.
Payton Counts is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe in North Dakota. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Payton has worked in the suicide and mental health realm for over 5 years in different capacities – research, community work, theater, and facilitating trainings. Through this work she focused on cultural identity as a protective factor for helping individuals manage mental health challenges. Payton’s hope is that through advocacy and education work we can all find tools to move through our struggles and grief in a healthy way. Payton is a certified trainer for QPR, Adult Mental Health First Aid and Mending Broken Hearts curriculum.
Nicole Christian has been working for the Indigenous Peoples Task Force since 2019 and is currently the Farm Site Manager for the Indigi-Baby Food program.
Gio ‘Giiwedini Binesiikwe’ Cerise of the Eagle Clan, descendant & citizen of White Earth Nation is an Usui Reiki Master Teacher, Certified Aromatherapist & lead Switchel brewer for Hobby Farmer Canning Co. Gio has her own holistic healing practice, Giiwe’ode ~ Return to the Heart. Her own healing journey as an adoptee has brought her full circle, back to her Ojibwe traditions. Gio weaves her knowledge of traditional teachings with other healing modalities to help others return back to one’s true heart center. Gio believes when you care for self & spirit, you heal; bringing you back into healthier relationships with family, friends and community.
Renee Butters “Awanishbaasin-The Breath of the Spirits” owner & founder of She Heals Noojimo-Noojimo’iwe, is an Indigenous Healing Practitioner/Teacher/Guide, and is a skilled facilitator of community self-healing ceremonies and circles. She is descendant of the Ojibwe Snake Clan, and a citizen of The White Earth Nation. Renee uses cultural, holistic, and hands on approaches to teach others how to reclaim their most powerful healer, their healer within. Her life’s goal is to make a significant impact on humanity, by helping to empower others in awakening to who and all they truly are & what they came here to do.
Nathan Bergluns is Oglala Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and age 19. He grew up in the Twin Cities and is a part of the Indigi-baby Food farm team and is also in the Ikidowin Youth Acting Ensemble
Sharon M. Day, Ojibwe is the Executive Director and one of the founder’s of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force (IPTF), formerly known as the Minnesota American Indian AIDS Task Force.
She is an artist, musician, and writer. She has performed at Illusion Theater, The American History Theater, Pangea World Theater, and for performances at the Ordway, the Guthrie and the Kennedy Center. Her writings have been published in journals and anthologies. She has scripted several plays for Ikidowin Youth Theater and a recent musical theater play that had a staged reading at Pangea World Theater. As a visual artist, she has won 2nd 3rd place awards for soft sculpture for a national juried art show for urban Native American Artists at Southwest Museum. She was recently featured in Nijimoo, at All My Relations art gallery.
An environmental activist, she has led over 23 Water Walks since 2011 to offer prayers for these rivers. These rivers include the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Ohio and the James River in Virginia.
Acknowledgements for her work include the Resourceful Woman Award, the Gisela Knopka Award, BIHA’s Women of Color Award, The National Native American AIDS Prevention Resource Center’s Red Ribbon Award, the Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Award. The Governor of the State of Minnesota, and the mayors of both St. Paul and Minneapolis named November 10, 1998 after her: Sharon M. Day, Day. She is a Spirit Aligned Leadership Fellow.
She is an editor of the anthology, Sing! Whisper! Shout! Pray! Feminist Visions for a Just World: Edgework Books, 2000. She featured in Drink of the Winds, Let the Waters Flow Free, Johnson Institute, 1978.
Hello I’m Kailani Lawrence, I’m 15 and I’ve been with Ikidowin for three years my first ever project was the play called in my shoes I was first the mom and an extra in a few scenes and then later I was Blake. My favorite memories with the group was when we went to Wisconsin dells it was a really fun vacation and it was fun bonding with everyone that went. I’m not quite sure what I want to do in my future, but I know I want to go to college at the University of Minnesota.
I’m Simar Means, I’m sixteen and I’ve been in Ikidowin for three years. The first ever project I did with the group was ‘In My Shoes’ by Payton Counts. I had played the role of Ellie/Eli. My favorite memories with the group are our trips to Ireland and Duluth. I loved our Ireland SOOO much, the people from the ‘Making Relatives Collective’ were nothing but kind to us. They treated us with the upmost respect and almost as if we were celebrities. I am just so thankful to have had that experience. Then I LOVED the Duluth trip because it was just so much fun for all of us. We had a water balloon fight, we played hide and seek, and Murder in the Cabin, but the best part was when in the middle of the night we left because we thought there was a ghost. Without Ikidowin I wouldn’t be have had nearly as many experiences or as much confidence. Right now I am about to go into my Junior year, which means college applications soon. I want to go to college at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. In college I want to study psychology to help better the mental health of my people and remove the stigma around getting help for mental health.