The most inspiring moment for me was receiving a genuine Quechuan percussion instrument as a gift from the community. It showed me that the community valued my presence and it is something that I will never forget.
The White Earth Reservation is located in Becker, Clearwater, and Mahnomen counties in north-central Minnesota. Created in 1867 by a treaty between the United States and the Mississippi Band of Chippewa Indians, it is one of seven Chippewa reservations in Minnesota. Called "Chippewa" in the United States and "Ojibwe/Ojibway" in Canada, the White Earth tribe prefers to call themselves "Anishinaabe" meaning "the people". There are approximately 20,000 tribal members registered with the White Earth reservation. Although the White Earth Anishinaabe no longer live as their ancestors did, they have kept alive their tribal heritage. Almost every aspect of their present-day life has been strongly influenced by the past. In partnership with White Earth Land Recovery Project/Native Harvest, GCN works with the local community. Most projects focus on maintaining the Anishinaabe culture, language, and way of life. Possible projects include cultural projects with the youth group, refurbishing of community buildings and harvesting crops in the community gardens. In partnership with Sacred Spirits, the GCN team assists with the seasonal ricing camp in August and neighboring community powwow preparation.
Trip participants will make their own travel arrangements to the group meeting point at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) in Minneapolis, MN. The team will travel by van, four hours throughout the scenic prairie lands north to Callaway, MN.
This area is the gateway to the White Earth Reservation. Once the team has arrived in beautiful northern Minnesota, the team will get settled into their accommodations, typically a communal building or lodge, and meet with the community leaders to plan out the projects. During the trip, volunteers have opportunities to interact with local people and learn about their culture. In addition, volunteers may choose to hike to the headwaters of the Mississippi River in beautiful Itasca State Park, visit the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, or rent a canoe and fish in one of the 10,000 lakes Minnesota has to offer.
A Day in Community
Team members wake in the morning in their communal cabins and have a breakfast of eggs, cereal or pancakes. After traveling to the community project site, the team begins work on the project site. Some projects include gardening, building porches, painting murals, and harvesting raspberries and wild rice. After a break for lunch with the community, some team members continue working on the project site, while others talk with community members, make traditional Native American jewelry or visit local schools. Team members return to their cabins to have a group dinner of wild rice, venison and fry bread and afterwards have time to journal, play games and visit with the community before heading to bed.
Nearest Hospital: Detroit Lakes Clinic/ER
Food: Wild rice, eggs, fruit, venison, breads
Lodging: Cabins or communal stay
Arrival Airport: Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)
Program fees cover on-site accommodations (lodging and meals), airport pick-up & transportation, cultural orientation materials, a donation to the project, and a team leader to manage logistics and facilitate your cultural immersion experience. Airfare to/from Minneapolis-St. Paul and costs relating to activities outside of the reservation are an additional responsibility of the individual participant.