Indigenous group takes over Minneapolis homeless camp, denounces ‘unacceptable’ shelter shortage


A teepee and a small camping tent stand again on the site of the former Minneapolis homeless camp.

A group of activists reoccupied the site early Saturday to protest what they see as a lack of progress on the part of Minneapolis leaders in ensuring safe and stable housing for Native Americans with no place to stay.

“Our First Nations people continue to suffer and sleep outside tonight,” the group said in a statement posted online. “The slowness of the search for a solution is unacceptable and the community can no longer remain inactive.

“We are here to inform you that we reject these attempts to squeeze the problem under the rug and will protect our homeless community there until they have a culturally specific overnight shelter.”

A locked fence surrounds the former Minneapolis homeless camp site.

Cody Nelson | MPR News

Last year, hundreds of people stayed for months at the site near a noise barrier at the intersection of Franklin and Hiawatha avenues in Minneapolis. The site has become known to some residents as the “Wall of the Forgotten Natives”. At its peak, the camp housed over 200 tents.

Authorities dissolved the camp about a year ago. Many residents have moved into a nearby “navigation center” – heated tents with health and social services that can accommodate around 120 people.

But the year after the homeless camp dissolved, homeless advocates said housing problems were even worse in Minneapolis. A count in July found 723 homeless people in Minneapolis.

Catholic Charities recently announced a $ 65 million development in downtown Minneapolis that will house around 200 people when completed, but it is not expected to open until fall 2021.

The activist group that reoccupied the encampment is calling for more than just shelter – they want it to be tailored to Native American needs and come with other support programs.

Until that happens, the group say their teepee and tent will remain in place. Members say they have agreed with city and state officials that they will not occupy the camp site at this time and will only leave the teepee and tent. But if their demands are not met, they say they will establish another permanent encampment.

For the moment, the tipi and the tent are demarcated by fences and “No entry” signs.

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