North Star Journey Live

In Focus: Sustainability in Indian Country

Sustainability is a way of life for Indigenous communities in Minnesota — and beyond. Unique Indigenous nations and cultures have survived over time in large part because of sustainable practices passed down through the generations. Across Minnesota, Indigenous communities’ connections to land, nature, language and culture honor the delicate balance between the past, present and future. In doing so, Native communities are ensuring their ways of life are viable today and for the seven generations.

How exactly are Indigenous communities of Minnesota reclaiming their lands, cultures and dreams for the future? What challenges, both old and new, pose the greatest threats to ensuring sustainability for future generations of Native people in Minnesota?

In partnership with We Are Still Here Minnesota, MPR News presents In Focus: Sustainability in Indian Country, a conversation led by community leaders and moderated by Twila Dang, producer and and co-host of small change: Money Stories from the Neighborhood, a podcast from MPR News.


  • Hope Flanagan (Seneca) is from the Turtle Clan. She serves as a cultural teacher and community outreach leader at Dream of Wild Health, a Twin Cities organization whose mission is to restore health and well-being in the Native community by recovering knowledge of and access to healthy Indigenous foods, medicines and lifeways. She is an elder who teaches about plants and wild plant gathering. She is also a storyteller, whose stories were passed to her from Ona KingBird from Red Lake reservation. She has taught and worked in the Twin Cities Native community since the late ‘70s. Most recently, Flanagan taught in an Ojibwe immersion classroom for 10 years. Prior to that, she was a storyteller for the Minneapolis Public Schools in drug and alcohol prevention for six years. 

  • Leah Lemm is a citizen of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and a community story sharer. She currently lives in Grand Rapids, Minn., with her husband, young son and country dog. Lemm spends her time dedicated to her mission to amplify Native voices through radio and podcast programs, including Minnesota Native NewsNative Lights: Where Indigenous Voices Shine and COVID-19 Community Conversations

  • Reuben Kitto Stately comes from both the Red Lake Nation and Santee Sioux Nation. He’s a fourth-year student at Augsburg University and an intern for the Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakičhiye (Dakota Language Society). He has formally studied the Dakhóta language for five years and dreams of a future where his language and people thrive.

  • Twila Dang (host) is a producer and co-host of the MPR News podcast “small change: Money Stories from the Neighborhood,” which highlights smart, practical and collaborative money skills developed by people living with lower and unstable incomes. She is also an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Matriarch Digital Media, a women-centered, women-focused media company and online community that understands, encourages and uplifts women through women-focused content and actionable steps to build community across audio, social media platforms and live events. 

Use the video or audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

Subscribe to the MPR News with Angela Davis podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or RSS.