Listen: Indian center; good for Indian kids

MPR’s Catherine Winter reports on opening of Elaine M. Stately Peacemaker Center in Minneapolis. The center is designed as a safe place for Native American and other neighborhood youth to gather. Segment includes speech by Clyde Bellecourt, a founder of center.


(00:00:00) Across the street from the little Earth housing project in Minneapolis in front of a small building about a dozen American Indian men and boys sit in a circle on Chairs set up on the wet grass beating to drums and singing a traditional Song behind them girls in Jingle dresses and other traditional costumes dance, the children are helping celebrate. The opening of The Elaine stately peacemakers Center a new place for young people to gather. Actual leader Chris Leith conducts a pipe ceremony passing the long pipe around a circle as traffic Roars by on Cedar Avenue and overhead on Hiawatha Avenue Leaf addresses, the crowd that has
(00:00:41) gathered in my prayers. I asked and our people wake up now. Because we have been sleeping for a long time. And it's time we wake up and take notice. Of who we are where we came from. What are we doing? And what direction are we going
(00:01:03) lead says the new center will help give Indian children back their identity. The center will offer cultural and arts programs children and their families can learn to do beadwork and other crafts. There will be a drum and dance group and traditional powwows American Indian movement leader. Clyde bellecourt a founder of the peacemakers center says the center will also work with the police the county attorney's office and Other organizations to try to deal with violence in the community.
(00:01:28) We're calling for a new world order in our community. We're calling for peace in our community and we are dedicating to center today to bring it about that type of piece here in a Minneapolis American Indian
(00:01:40) Community bellacourt says the center will be a safe place for children and unlike other youth center's it will not close at 4:30 in the afternoon, but will be open 24 hours a day
(00:01:52) problem for Indian. You don't even begin until 4:30. 30 when they come home to overcrowded conditions 70 80 90 percent unemployment rates and they find themselves out in the streets standing around you can go to this community at night on weekends and there are hundreds of young people standing around on the corners with their hands in their pockets with nothing to do and soon as they get a little Mischief soon as I get a little trouble the first thing they talk about is we need more police protection. We got to put them
(00:02:22) away. The peacemakers center will Offer counseling and mediation and organizers will work to keep kids from joining gangs by giving them something else to do inside the center one room holds two pool tables in the Next Room. Two teenage boys knock a ping pong ball back and forth and two others play foosball at the back of the building. There's a boxing ring pictures with Native American themes. Hang on the walls alongside posters cautioning kids not to smoke drinking drugs and smoking are not allowed in the building a group of teenage girls. Stands outside. So one of them can have a cigarette the girls say they started coming to the center even before it officially opened
(00:03:01) why I think it's a place to come to get off the streets, you know, and like if you're at home and you have nothing to do you could come here are you having problems and you just want to get away you could just come here meet new friends, you know something to do during the day besides being out on the streets and raising hell with gangs and everything. You know, I think it's a good place to be because there's a lot of gangs and stuff out on the street. And when you come here you can get away and everything. It's just like a second home here in no go here from after school. And I don't know you could sit and watch TV play games. Do your homework
(00:03:38) organizers of the peacemakers center are also forming teams for sports such as baseball and Tennis. They say kids of all Races are welcome at the center anytime of the day or night. I'm Catherine winter.


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