1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Little Earth: Housing Policy, Indian Policy, and ‘Responsibility’ in Minneapolis

When the Little Earth housing complex first opened its doors in Minneapolis in 1973 its goal was to house and serve the urban American Indian community, providing human services, education, and economic opportunities and programs for its residents. Initially funded and managed by the Minnesota Council of Churches and the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, Little Earth rapidly faltered under the mismanagement and altruism of the church based owner-sponsors who lacked the required business savvy and cultural competence among the Native residents to successfully administer the housing program. Almost immediately the national office of the American Indian Movement (AIM) intervened and assumed responsibility for Little Earth to save the housing complex from foreclosure. In this paper, my focus on Little Earth as an Indian preference housing project bookended by the 1965 creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the 1988 Indian Housing Act which placed “responsibility” for American Indian housing needs under the broad scope of HUD. Over 98 percent of Little Earth’s residents are American Indian, yet Little Earth is designated as a non-profit organization, often struggling to maintain and acquire adequate funding to maintain its facilities and programming, largely geared towards educating and supporting Native youth. I historicize Little Earth, as a housing program and argue that Little Earth was envisioned by urban Indians in Minneapolis, and continues to be imagined, as an alternative to more mainstream housing programs, a place where culture and capitalism intersect and in many ways, collide.

Location: Brooks Hall Commons
Reception to follow

Event Date: 
Friday, 6 October 2017 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Speaker: 
Kasey Keeler
Speaker Title: 
Native American Studies Postdoctoral Fellow & Instructor, Univeristy of Virginia