Minneapolis, MN – The city of Minneapolis announced their intent to close down Nenookaasi Ikwe Healing Camp in the East Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. Nenookaasi is an encampment of primarily indigenous people and has been a safe space for over three months.
Because of the steadfast support of local indigenous elders and other local volunteers, the camp has been home to up to 200 people. Because it provides a stable base, residents have been able to access government services, 74 people have gotten stable housing, and the camp has had zero overdose deaths.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who campaigned on ending homelessness in Minneapolis, has been playing a deadly game of whack-a-mole, where encampments of the unhoused are violently closed down, with no place for people to go. Despite many pointing out the cruelty of this approach, Frey has continued this policy.
Nenookaasi recently won their fight to get portable toilets to aid in keeping the site sanitary for the residents. One day later, an eviction notice was issued.
Lead camp organizer Nicole Mason said, “Eviction is violence and results in overdose, disease spread, assault, and the deaths of our relatives.”
Organizers called for a rally on Wednesday December 13, where hundreds of people assembled at The Wall of Forgotten Natives , the site of a former encampment that was violently shut down several years ago. Rallygoers chanted “Who’s land? Native land!” and “Land back” as they marched to the Nenookaasi encampment.
Residents of the encampment were visibly touched to see the massive support for the site that has meant so much to them.
At the rally, a 19-year-old resident of Nenookaasi encampment spoke of the safety and security she had, even as one of the youngest amongst older people. Nenookaasi gives her a place where people do not judge her, something she wished others would take note of and follow. Another Nenookaasi resident spoke if being “outside for a year” and “how that became so isolating.” New to Nenookaasi, he spoke of the welcome and warmth he receives there. The comments from these residents show Nenookaasi is not simply a location, it is home with the attributes of safety, security and support.
Community members, joined by organizations like the Climate Justice Committee, are committed to support Nenookaasi Ikwe Healing Camp. The city of Minneapolis has already moved the date of eviction once and may be moving a second time.
Meanwhile organizers and residents continue to demand no evictions until there is stable, safe housing for all residents, and that the city continue to meet with Nenookaasi representatives to coordinate next steps.