MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the second night in a row, Native American activists gathered at the Wall of the Forgotten Natives.
The activists reoccupied the area near Hiawatha and Franklin Avenues, where a homeless encampment with hundreds of people once stood.
“Take back the wall,” shouted the crowd of demonstrators.
In an act of civil disobedience, dozens of Native American activists made a move they hope will bring healing to their community.
“It’s important that we express our gratitude and thank you before we ask for anything, so we start out usually with a thank you prayer and thank you song, so we are in truth,” said one tribal leader.
Traditional songs led way to the movement of bodies through a hole in the fence, onto the land they reclaimed as their own.
“Last year at this time they took our land, tonight we are here to take our land back,” said another tribal leader.
Last year, hundreds called the Wall of Forgotten Natives home.
For many, it was a place where they could gather to care for one another until housing became available.
It was here, resources were offered to help the most vulnerable in the community.
The activists wanted to begin the process of recreating what was.
“We’re going to put our people back here in a good way, so we can watch over them and we can pray with them and we can understand them,” said a representative from Leech Lake.
This group said they will not leave until local officials address their demands for more emergency shelter beds.
“Tonight we take back the Wall of Forgotten Natives to protect our vulnerable from the constant eviction and relocation across the city. We are here to inform you that we reject the attempts to brush the problem under the rug,” a tribal leader said.
Members of the group walked across the land and put up a teepee.
They said it will stand until “culturally specific” shelter is made available.
Daylight brought about a repair of the hole in the fence and talks with local government on a peaceful resolution.
‘Technically with the paperwork we have they have no right to arrest us, but they could and if we all get arrested we are not going to get what we want and we are not going to be recognized as indigenous people like we’re here for,” a tribal leader said.
Mayor Jacob Frey’s office released a statement that said, “the mayor has pushed aggressively for progress on deeply affordable, permanent housing as a long-term response to homelessness. He successfully secured new funding in next year’s city budget designed to provide low barrier housing for those experiencing homelessness.”
Many gathered around the fire near the wall said they had heard this before.
“This government has been saying this to us for over 500 years, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that and the only thing they do is take our land,” said a tribal elder.
The group said it will work the proper channels to get what is needed to help their community.
If progress is not made within a specific amount of time, they said they are prepared to make a permanent encampment until their needs are met.