It wasn’t too many generations ago that Minnesota’s Native American children were forcibly enrolled in Indian boarding schools and taught to forget their traditions in favor of American culture.
Anishinable Academy, an elementary and middle years public school in Seward, was founded so Native kids would have a place to learn the Anishinabe and Lakota languages, along with math and science. The focus is on diminishing the achievement gap between white and Native students in Minneapolis Public Schools.
That can be a tall order. As 98 percent of its students come from low-income families and 27 percent struggle with homelessness, Anishinabe is always in need of more supplies than parents can afford.
Now and then organizations like the Islamic Circle of North America will donate bags filled with notebooks, pencils, rulers, and scissors. Other years, the school won’t get any donations at all.
Seward resident Tom Mooney and his girlfriend, Jordan Steininger, weren’t even aware of the need until they read a Star Tribune article that matched Anishinabe’s supply drain against that of other neighborhood schools, and mentioned that teachers were paying for supplies out of their own pockets.
Steininger noticed that Anishinabe was located in Mooney’s neighborhood, and began to drop off school supplies.
“I’ve been donating to this school since I read … about how many local schools are suffering, in that their students can’t afford school supplies and their teachers can’t afford to provide the materials needed for their classes,” Steininger says. “I’m not a parent or a teacher, just someone who likes to try and help out in the community.”
On February 26, Mooney and Steininger are holding their first major fundraiser for Anishinabe. The pair are members of the band Blood Cookie, which will be playing a benefit show at 331 in Northeast, along with punk rockers Ego Death, Cool Dog, and Puff Puff. The cover: school supplies or a cash donation to Anishinabe.