Culture & Language

Culture & Language

Encouraging Learning Preservation & Diversity

The SMSC believes in creating opportunities for Native people to be proud of who they are and to honor our relatives. For many, this pride shines through in artistic expression, language-based classes, cultural events and programming and celebrating diverse and inclusive communities.

Improving Health By Re‑establishing Native Food‑Ways

North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems

Founded by James Beard award winner The Sioux Chef, North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS) seeks to address the economic and health crises affecting Native communities through food-related enterprises. As part of this objective, the organization made plans to launch the Indigenous Food Lab in Minneapolis, an Indigenous restaurant and training center focused on research and development, Indigenous food identification, gathering, cultivation, and preparation, and all aspects of starting and successfully running a food-related business based on Native traditions and foods. The food lab will work to provide education and training about healthy Indigenous food, while building demand for a new food system, based around hyper-local ingredients and Native food. The SMSC provided $300,000 in support of the project, which will go toward the build-out of the restaurant and training center, projected to open in the spring of 2020.

NATIFS is a Native-led and Indigenous-focused nonprofit organization working to reconnect Native Americans with traditional food systems to improve health, promote economic development, establish food sovereignty, and preserve tribal history and culture across artificial colonial boundaries.


Connecting People, Animals, and the Natural World to Save Wildlife

Minnesota Zoo

Through its programming, research, and policies, the Minnesota Zoo has long worked to ensure that wildlife is protected and everyone has access to build a greater connection with the natural world. The Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd is one such endeavor, aimed at protecting and preserving North America’s largest land mammal for generations to come. Once hunted nearly to extinction, bison have made a dramatic comeback in the last century, yet face new challenges based on the genetic threat posed by interbreeding with domestic cattle.

Once numbering tens of millions of animals across the North American prairie landscape, bison were hunted to near extinction during the 19th century. Since then, the population has multiplied to safe numbers as a result of bison restoration and protection efforts.

—Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd

Amplifying Native Voices Through Storytelling

Guthrie Theatre

Seeking to support a Native-led production and to better serve the local Indigenous community, the Guthrie Theatre set into motion Stories From the Drum, a special program and performance envisioned and performed by an all-Native cast from the Twin Cities. The program—supported in part by a $5,000 donation by the SMSC—took shape first through a series of workshops focusing on the celebration of Native voices through storytelling processes that decenter Western methodologies, culminating in a special two-day performance on the Guthrie’s McGuire Proscenium Stage in June 2019.

The Guthrie creates transformative theater experiences that ignite the imagination, stir the heart, open the mind and build community through the illumination of our common humanity.

—Guthrie Theater’s Vision

See more examples of the SMSC donations in action.

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Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

2330 Sioux Trail NW
Prior Lake, MN 55372
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