The purpose of the Diversity Foundation is to “Bridge the Cultural Gaps” between people of all cultures, ethnicites, and religion. Our current programming focus is on reconciliation and outreach with the Indigenous Dakota people. Immediate service projects aid the Crow Creek and other impoverished Dakota Reservations.
Since 1995, the Diversity Foundation Inc. has recorded hundreds of hours video of native elders telling their unknown history and stories. Diversity Foundation also has helped facilitate and recorded numerous reconciliation events as well as having aided humanitarian relief drives —beds, furniture, and other household goods— from South East Minnesota to Crow Creek and other economically disadvantaged Indian Reservations. Since 2005, DF has also been partnering with the US Marine Corps “Toys For Tots” program, delivering toys to approximaely 15,000 native american youth from fifteen disadvantaged reservations across the Great Plains and Dakota Reserves in Canada.
Diversity Foundation's Promo Video
The following is a sample of Diversity Foundation's approximately 1000 hours of interviews with Dakota elders —most now passed onto Spirit World— as well as various “Reconciliation and Outreach” events and activities that we have videotaped over the past 2 decades.
The Diversity Foundation is in the process of producing a full length feature documentary about the life of Vern Ashley. We welcome your support in producing this important feature documentary that will tell the incredible life story of Crow Creek's legendary Vern Ashley.
More Broken Promises.
The tragic story of how the US Government destroyed several Native American Communities with water.
The above video is legendary Dakota Elder Vern Ashley telling the tragic untold story of how the poorest Indian Reservation in the country — the Crow Creek Indian Community in South Dakota — went from being proud and self-reliant to one of extreme poverty and hopelessness due to the lies and broken promises of the Army Corps of Engineers and the BIA.
The Vern Ashley Story
by Lance Nixon
Editor: Pierre's Capitol Journal
A 99-year-old Republican in the Crow Creek Dakota Reservation in South Dakota seems exempt from the bitter social and political struggles of the 21st century. His own life, however, is a story of rising from a bitter social and political history, building upon opportunities offered to serve his family and his people.
Vern Ashley was born as Tasunke Hinto, a Dakota name translating as His Grey Horse. It was 1916, during what Western cultures have called The Great War. But Tasunke Hinto grew up remembering that his great grandfather, Elder Hawk (also known as Stands Against the Wind), was among 38 Dakota warriors hung at Mankato, MN, on the day after Christmas in 1862, and his grandfather, Sinkpe (tr. Muskrat), was among thousands of prisoners of the U.S. Army following the great Dakota War that led to those executions.
When the U.S. Indian Agency failed to deliver promised food for the starving community in the reservation to which they’d been assigned below the Minnesota River near Mankato, a few young Dakota men attacked a couple farm settlers to steal their food, prompting a massive response by the U.S. Cavalry and the governor of the new state of Minnesota. Following the hanging of 38 (including some proven later to have been innocent of rebellion) in the largest mass execution in U.S. history – as well as one more the following day – Gov. Alexander Ramsey ordered all Dakota people forcefully exiled from Minnesota.
Diversity Foundation has videotaped over 30 hours of Crow Creek's legendary Vern Ashley sharing many “rare” and unknown stories about his family history. Our first meeting with Vern was in 2002 when we were invited to film and document Crow Creek's “first ever” Dakota Memorial Ceremony at Big Bend Dam which he helped organize. The ceremony honored his Dakota ancestor's tragic exile from Minnesota in 1863 to the Crow Creek “POW Camp,” aka reservation, in central South Dakota.
Diversity Foundation remains committed to producing an important feature documentary in order to tell this incredible life story of Mr. Ashley, who, after serving in WWII, came back home to Crow Creek and was elected the Tribe's first Tribal Chairman from 1946-1954.
As Crow Creek's Chairman, he often testified before Congress, where the Government made many “unkept” promises to him, prior to their flooding and destroying his Crow Creek Community and entire way of life. In his lifetime, Mr. Ashley worked for three South Dakota Governors as well as having many other accomplishments.
Vern Ashley was always forgiving and committed toward “Intercultural Reconciliation” despite the Government's numerous “Injustices and Atrocities” toward himself and his ancestors —including his Great Grandfather being one of the 38 Dakota Warriors hanged in Mankato in 1862 following the US-Dakota War.
Vern recently passed nearing the age of 100. On the day of his funeral, South Dakota Governor Daugaard ordered all state flags flown at half-staff, making Mr. Ashley the first South Dakota Native American Indian to be so honored.
Bud Lawrence and the Norwegian-Dakotah Connection Video
As a young man, Louis "Bud" Lawrence saw a sign thast had the words "Here were hanged 38 Sioux Indians" written on it.
"What did these people so to deserve this?" Bud thought to himself.
He soon learned of the 1982 US-Dakota Conflict that ended with 38 Dakota men being hanged in Mankato, Minnesota. It was then that he made plans for an annual Wacapi (Dance or Pow Wow) in the city of Mankato to start reconciliation between the Dakota people and the citizens of Mankato as well as the state of Minnesota and the world.
The above video is his story.
Pathfinder Awards Honor Those with King's Spirit
MANKATO — The ideals honored by Mankato's Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Board Thursday were far from lofty ones.
The Pathfinder awards are given to community members and organizations that have made a real difference in Mankato.
Take Bud Lawrence, who was one of the first fast-food restaurant managers in Mankato to hire women or girls. More recently he helped develop Native American curriculum for Mankato Area Public Schools.
Betty and Shirley always knew they were Norwegian, and one day they found out they were 50% Dakota as well.
Click arrows to advance slideshow
Betty, Shirley, and their Norwegian-Dakota Connection
For most of their life, Diversity Foundation cultural advisors, sisters Shirley Greising and Betty Smith, knew about their Norwigian roots, but like many Native Americans, did not speak about their Dakota heritage. Above is their story -- in pictures -- of how they began their journey and continued to explore and learn more about their Dakota ancestry.
The picture on the left shows Shirley Greising and Betty Smith posing at the Diversity Foundation Store in Rochester, Minnesota. Click Here to view a slideshow about Shirley and Betty.
Letters of Support
US Senator Paul Wellstone
I am impressed with the work of the Diversity Foundation. Speciﬁcally, I am impressed with the way you have merged education and documentary ﬁlm-making.
There is no question that we need to work hard to ease tensions and bring about reconciliation in our ever increasingly diverse population. Coming up with effective, creative ways to ease those tensions and effect reconciliation is crucial for our success. The Diversity Foundation seems to have done just that.
Paul Wellstone was a supporter of the Diversity Foundation and Minnesota's US Senator from 1991 - 2002.
Eric B. Sorensen
Retired City Manager
IN 2004, the City of Winona & the Diversity Foundation organized Winona's first "Great Dakota Homecoming & Gathering (now entering it's 12th annual) Reconciliation has been the underlying basis for our involvement and the leaders of this connection have been many Dakota elders over the years. The glue of this effort has been Lyle Rustad and the Diversity Foundation, I have personally traveled with him to several reservations and have witnessed their filming efforts. It would be a terrible injustice not to codify the Foundation's material collection for posterity and in doing so preserve the images and voices of so many Dakota elders.
Support from Lynn Salt and David Mueller; Hollywood and Award Winning Producers, Directors, and Writers.
Producers, Directors, and Writers:
Dennis Banks Documentary
And future directors for the Vern Ashley Project
This letter will serve to express our strong interest in and support of the programs sponsored by the Diversity Foundation for the education, well being, and benefit of Native American people.
Lyle Rustad has out grea1esl respect. He is a powerful and positivive force in this world and his focus on helping Native children survive ihe difficulties of reservation life and to learn to prosper in the fast evolving world of technology is so impressive.
Film Trailer for "A Good Day to Die", a movie produced, written, and directed by Lynn Salt and David Mueller
Wesley Petersen, Ph.D.
While not Mayo employees, Mr Rustad and Mr Lohnes have supported and provided the publicity that led to the emergence of the Mayo Employee Rescue Group, CELEBRATE DAKOTA! The group was co-founded by two Dakota Norwegian employees at Mayo Clinic, Betty Smith and Shirley Greising. Diversity also supported the sister's efforts to found the community organization, Greater Rochester Area Dakota Supporters (GRADS) and has provided support and publicity for the recognition and protection of Rochester's City Heights as sacred ground.
Efforts by Diversity Foundation to promote reconciliation of Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Winona, Mankato, Pipestone, and other communities with the Dakota people are numerous and difficult to catalogue in any meaningful way because of the broad scope of Diversity's vision and their sense of urgency to do a lot with minimal resources and staff. I will say that the Foundation has perhaps the most far-reaching set of activities and influence of any similar organization working in this state or any neighboring state on behalf of tribes.
Wesley Petersen, Ph.D.
Native American Research Outreach
Office of Health Disparities research
Dr. Cynthia Lindquist
North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission
Member, Spirit Lake Nation, Ft. Totten, North Dakota
I offer my fullest support for the endeavors of the Diversity Foundation and am willing to serve as an advocote and/or advisor. It is imperative to utilize the educational technologies available to promote better understanding between Indians and non-Indians. Multi-media tools such as ﬁlm and video are wonderful mechanisms to teach and will generate more participation and better understanding. The stories and truth from Native perspective are powerful and must be told.
Video of Cynthia Lindquist (and Roger Trudell) talking about a store proposal for Rochester, Minnesota
ANASOC SOAG Medical Mentor (Defense and Space) at Engility Corporation
It has been my pleasure to work with Lyle on a number of significant projects. His optimistic approach and tireless enthusiasm for teamwork and the shared goals at hand inspire stakeholders and collaborators to achieve success.
An Example of the many Native Elders and Community Leaders that we have interviewed over the last thirty plus years.
2016 NAACP's Annual Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Freedom Fund Dinner
This years Central Minnesota's NAACP MLK dinner was held Jan 17, at St Cloud's Kelly Inn. Despite being coldest night of the year, well over 250 attended this years 33rd annual event.
The keynote speaker was St Benedict's College President, Dr. Mary Hinton is pictured here congratulating this years NAACP “Presidental” &
“Community Service” Award Winners Dr. Earl Potter (left) President St Cloud State University and Diversity Foundation Exec. Director Lyle Rustad (right). St Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis presented his Mayoral Proclamation, and was among many other dignitaries & guests attending.
The Dakota 38 + 2 annual 2015 Memorial Ride ends at Mankato's Reconciliation Park (December 26, 2015)
The photo at left is DF photo taken as over 100 Dakota 38 + 2 Riders approach downtown Mankato's Reconciliation Park for Memorial Ceremony paying Tribute to the 38 Dakota Warriors hanged at this site Dec 26, 1862 following the US-Dakota War, with their surviving relatives held as POW's at Ft. Snelling and later exiled to Crow Creek, South Dakota.
Since 2007 These Dakota 38 riders travel back from Crow Creek to Mankato to commemorate this tragic part of US History. Diversity Foundation's photo gallery also includes a few pictures from the “Reconciliation Feast” at Bethlehem Lutheran Church following Ceremony.
Each year the Diversity Foundation and USMC help Santa delivers toys to Native American children across the Great Plains and Canada.
After a long day delivering toys to children around the world Santa was excited to find time to land in Mankato, Minnesota where the “Fat guy” and his “Elfies” distributed Toys (as well as Joys) to the Dakota 38 + 2 riders families and their children “In the Spirit of Reconciliation” Christmas Day, 2015, prior to their final Memorial Ride and Ceremony the following day (Dec. 26) in downtown Mankato.
Santa's visit, as always, was sponsored by the Diversity Foundation and the Twin Cities United States Marine Corps.
Diversity Foundation partners with the United State Marine Corps and their annual Toys for Tots program to help deliver toys to thousands of native american children from disadvantaged reservations across the Great Plains
Santa and the Diversity Foundation began its Native American “Toys for Tots” program in 2002, at the request of Santee Dakota elder Rod Steiner, who was already providing humanitarian relief and TFT on behalf of his Santee and Crow Creek Reservations. (The 2000 Census rated Crow Creek as the poorest Reservation in America)
Starting in 2004, the Diversity Foundation started its partnership with the US Marine Corps and was fortunate enough to be allowed to expand its Toys For Tots program after receiving many requests from other reservations as well. This enabled Diversity Foundation to deliver toys to thousands native youth from many other disadvantaged Dakota/Lakota communities across the Great Plains and the Dakota Reserves in Canada.
It seems only appropriate to have the USMC partner with our Native American Toys For Tots program as American Indian populations have the highest per capita percentage of all minorities serving in US Marine Corps and all branches of Military Service.
Fr. Cst. K.D.(Oale) McKay #062
Dakota Ojibway Police Service
Birdtail, SiouXValley, Pipestone Detachment
Thanks to your United States Marine Corps and Minnesota "Toys for Tots" Program, "Chief" Bone, along with my Police Commander and myself (last Christmas) were able to deliver toys and gifts to our underprivileged chlldren and youth. (ages of 0-17) many for the fim time! The smiles on the faces of these children who received gifts was priceless.
Pat Madsen, Director Lower Brule Sioux Headstart Program
The children, the parents and the Lower Brule Sioux Head Start Program
would like to thank you and your foundation for the generous donation of toys. The smiles on the faces of the children were a true reflection of the
Christmas spirit and helped to make Christmas special for our children.
Diversity Foundation helps legendary Rev. Sidney Byrd Celebrate his 97th Birthday at Flandreau's Community Center.
(Video Coming Soon)
Our Diversity Foundation (DF) was honored to film, play Santa and join many other Flandreau Tribal Members & guests attending Rev. Byrd's Dec 19th 97th birthday Party (Click Here See Photo Gallery) The following day, Mike and Lyle were invited to attend church services at Sid's historic First Presbyteran Church (SD's oldest church) After services, DF interviewed Sid and Rev Clifford Canku, telling the early history of their Dakota people and Presbyterian church. Sid also talked about his Selma Civil Rights Marches with Rev. Martin Luther King. Over past 20 years, DF has interviewed Rev. Byrd at various “Reconciliation” events across Minnesota and the Dakotas.
Why the Diversity Foundation started our Humanitarian Relief Programs
In 2002, the late Rod Steiner (Santee) invited us along to film Crow Creek's first ever Dakota Memorial where Rod delivered a dramatic speech about the many injustices and unknown atrocities suffered by his Dakota ancestors after being exiled here from Minnesota in 1863 following the US-Dakota Conflict of 1862. For many, this was the first time they were made aware of these atrocities and nearly 3rd world conditions at Crow Creek. This is when Rod Steiner asked us to help him with his efforts to bring humanitarian relief to Crow Creek and other disadvantages Dakota Indian Reservations.
Vern Ashley - Farewell to a Chief
By Lance Nixon
Drums, honor songs sung in Dakota and an eagle whistle celebrate Vernon Ashley’s life.
As flags across South Dakota flew at half-staff in his honor, friends and family celebrated the life of the late Vernon Ashley, a chief of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, on Tuesday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Pierre.
Ashley died Nov. 10 at age 99. Gov. Dennis Daugaard ordered the flags across South Dakota flown at half-staff Tuesday as a token of respect for Ashley, who was elected tribal chairman at Crow Creek in 1946 after serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Ashley had the lead role in writing the tribe’s constitution and bylaws, and he also negotiated for the tribe as tribal lands in the rich Missouri River bottoms were being seized by the federal government for flood control projects.
Honor song and an eagle whistle
Ashley - born Jan. 15, 1916, at the mouth of Wolf Creek, near the Crow Creek District -
was honored with a song in the Dakota language during the church celebration, sung by
Londel Seaboy. Vernon Ashley's given name, Sinkpe - muskrat - was one of the few
words a non-Dakota speaker would recognize in the song.
Danny Seaboy, Londel's father. asked all the veterans to stand and be honored as well,
and they did - quite a number of Native Americans, and several more who were not.
Mysteriously, some of those who attended the funeral reported hearing an eagle whistle
while the veterans were being honored, Vernon Ashley's son, Joe Ashley said afterward.
To his knowledge, Ashley said, there was no one present blowing on an eagle whistle,
though such whistles made of eagle bone were traditionally used by some Plains Indian
Those attend ing included Crow Creek Tribal Council Member Fabian Howe, who said
Vernon Ashley was "a born leader" who earned honor by the important work he did
writing the tribe's constitution.
Also attending was Lyle Rustad of the Minnesota-based Diversity Foundation Inc. He
said the foundation has compiled multiple interviews with Vernon Ashley and plans to
issue a book, a feature documentary or both that would lean heavily on Vernon Ashley's
experience to help tell the story of the Dakota people who were driven out of Minnesota
after the Dakota uprising of 1862. Vernon Ashley's family was among those exiles, who
were forcibly relocated to the Crow Creek Reservation in central South Dakota starting
Vernon Ashley was a descendent of a Dakota warrior named Elder Hawk who was
among the 38 Dakota who were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota, on Dec. 26, 1862. But
Vernon Ashley made a deliberate effort to show friendship to the people of Mankato,
"He was very big in reconciliation," Rustad said . "That was Vern's thing - he was willing
Marcella LeBeau — a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member who served in the Army Nurse Corps in World War II — talks about her long-time friend, Vern Ashley
Marcella LeBeau, 96, said Ashley loved his country and was always concerned about other soldiers who had served.
“He was always so interested in other veterans and how they’re getting along,” LeBeau said. LeBeau said Ashley’s commitment to his own people meant serving at a time when the tribe needed to write its own founding documents.
“It was unprecedented, what he did in writing their constitution and bylaws. He was a great leader among the Dakota people. He had lived through a lot of trauma, historical trauma, in his own family,” LeBeau said, referring to the events of 1862 and the execution of Elder Hawk. That affected Vernon Ashley deeply, she said.
“He was a very kind and gentle man, and I admired him for that because he could have been a very bitter man,” LeBeau said.
Vern Ashley - A Leader of His People
Nov. 11, 2015
By Lance Nixon
Crow Creek chief and elder Vernon Ashley dead at age 99.
The man who helped author the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe’s constitution and bylaws, served the tribe during the era in which it lost its best lands for Missouri River flood control projects and later worked for three South Dakota governors has died at age 99.
Vernon Ashley – born Sinkpe, or Muskrat, to Wallace and Elizabeth Ashley nearly a century ago, in January 1916 – died Tuesday.
Poet and essayist Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, who also has roots on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, also remarked about Ashley’s attitude.
“He represented a lot of people in the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe who have survived genocide, basically, and who have not given in to vengeful, bitter thinking,” Cook-Lynn said. She added that she first remembered Vernon Ashley serving in tribal office at a time when Indian tribes on the Missouri River were dealing with the federal government’s plans to put in a series of dams on the Missouri River. Especially for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, who had been forcibly relocated to Crow Creek after the 1862 war in Minnesota, that was a hard blow, Cook-Lynn said.
“Vernie Ashley was an important figure during that time. People were very, very opposed to the flooding of all that land,” Cook-Lynn said. “The people of Crow Creek were there from the war in Minnesota, people were pulling themselves together and going forward and then this disaster. It was a very, very difficult time for both of those tribes, Crow Creek and Brule.”
Executive Director Lyle Rustad of Minnesota-based Diversity Foundation Inc. said Vernon Ashley was especially important to Minnesota because he was a link to that war of 1862 that had forced so many Dakota people to relocate to what is now South Dakota.
“He had every right in the world to be bitter because of what happened in Minnesota, with his great-grandfather being hung as one of the 38,” Rustad said. “He eloquently expressed what they went through with no bitterness.”
Rustad noted that Vernon Ashley held to conservative political beliefs.
“He remained a Republican through thick and thin,” Rustad said, adding that Ashley remained critical of “reservation systems” and “welfare mentality.” Instead Ashley emphasized – and demonstrated – independence and a belief that people should take care of themselves.
To the end, Rustad said, Vernon Ashley remained seriously interested in developing an idea for a public/private prototype of “housing villages” that could include such amenities as greenhouses, solar, wind energy and geothermal heating to make life better for people.
One of the major highlights was when Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a proclamation denouncing Governor Alexandra Ramseys decision in 1862 to exhile the Dakota from Minnesota and to welcome them home during the Flandreau Reservation's “Legacy of Survival”.
Minnesota Govenor Dayton's offical Dakota proclamation and Flandreau's "Legacy and Healing" ceremonies were long overdue and a culmination of many reconciliation and educational wacipi's and homecomings in cities and communities all across southern Minnesota.
Over the past 20 years Diversity has recorded well over twelve hundred hours of interviews with elders, their unknown stories, unknown parts of history, and reconciliation events.
The majority of these native elders and leaders have passed on to the “Spirit World”. It is Diversity's intent that these stories and unknown history be preserved and made available to audiences including schools, history centers, librarys, and for documentaries. We have been fortunate to document most of their stories, but time is of the essence as the opportunity to document others is running out.
Our work recording forgotten history as well as our reconciliation and outreach efforts such as providing urgent supplies and service projects and improving housing and social-economic conditions for Crow Creek and other impoverished Indigenous communities is of continuing urgency.
Vern Ashley talks about life on the Reservation
Vern Ashley gives a speech about life on Indian Reservations and Native American programs during the Great Depression. This event was taped at the South Dakota State Historical Society at Pierre, South Dakota, in the year 2006.
The Diversity Foundation is in the process of developing a documentary on the life of Vern Ashley. We have already obtained the the services of award winning directors Lynn Salt and David Mueller.
Dave Mueller and Lynn Salt Bios ...
David Mueller and Lynn Salt porduced and directed the award winning documentary "A Good Day To Die" and will be working with Diversity Foundation to produce films in the future. Some of their accomplishments include:
...co-producing Dalai Lama Renaissance (2007), a documentary about the Dalai Lama narrated by Harrison Ford, now in the top 300 box office-grossing documentaries of all time
...directing and co-writing Beautiful Wave
...directing principal actors on second unit for Universal Pictures on the episodic television shows “New York Undercover” (Fox) and “The Wright Verdicts” (CBS)
...directing segments for “Dateline NBC”
...directing national commercial spots for Panasonic and Pacific Bell
...selling an original screenplay The Haworth Bells, based on the lives of the Bronte sisters (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights) to Disney Studios
"A Good Day To Die"
Documentary About Dennis Banks ...
"A Good Day To Die" tells the story of Dennis Banks, who co-founded the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) in 1968 to call attention to the plight of urban Indians in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the rise of A.I.M. itself. Much of the film's energy is focused on the early and controversial actions of A.I.M. in Washington DC, Custer, South Dakota and Wounded Knee. . Click Here For More Information ...
Dennis Banks Interview ...
Dennis Banks is a Native American leader, teacher, lecturer, activist, and author. He was born in 1937 on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Northern Minnesota.
At an early age he was removed from his home and sent to boarding schools, run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in which native Indian languages were forbidden.
Over more than fifteen years, the Diversity Foundation Inc. (DF) has led or aided humanitarian relief drives (beds, furniture, and other household goods) from SE Minnesota to economically disadvantaged Indian Reservations across
the Great Plains. DF is also working with the US Marine Corps Toys For Tots program, having delivered toys to over 14 under-served Reservations.
DF remains involved and committed toward improving intercultural relations and education.
DF was recently honored when JoAnne Bird, internationally acclaimed native american Artist, offered to donate a limited edition of her award-winning litho art prints, to help raise awareness and funding for our work.
Dedication of the Chief Wabasha II Sculpture...
On Septemeber 18th, 2010, the city of Wabasha, Minnesota dedicated a a ten foot bronze sculpture made in the likeness of Chief Wabasha II, designed and scultpted by Joanne Bird. along with a new fountain, designed and sponsored by John Bouquet. Both now grace the city of Wabasha's Mississippi River front next at the National Eagle Center. Go Here To View Photo Gallery and Dedication Video...
Here are the latest stories from DiversityFoundation.org
History of the Dakota Homecoming and Reconciliation Program ...
The Dakota Homecoming and Reconciliation Program actually began in the mid 1990's when Diversity Foundation Executive Director Lyle Rustad, Board Chairman Edward Lohnes, Winona Mayor Jerry Miller, and Winona City Manager Eric Sorensen began meeting with various Dakota Elders and uncovered a need for reconciliation between the Dakota people - who's ancestors occupied southern Minnesota before the Treaties of 1851 - and the descendents of the white settlers who moved into that area.
The following interview is with former Winona city manager Eric Sorensen. In this interview he discusses the role of Lyle Rustad, Ed Lohnes, and the Diversity Foundation during the early days of Winona's Dakota Homecoming.
Eric Sorensen Interview
Testimony - Rev. Sidney Byrd and his daughter Pamela...
The Winona Gathering holds special meaning to my father, 92 year old Sidney Byrd and myself. We come every year to share our culture, our past, and most important, our hearts with everyone at the Gathering.
Ceremony Starts Year of Mourning
for Ancestors at Indian Heights Park
With songs, storytelling, and the passing of a sacred pipe, American Indians from Rochester and beyond held a ceremony Tuesday (April 25, 2012) to start a year of mourning for their ancestors at Indian Heights Park on the city's northwest side.
“We’re going to help our relatives get home,” said ceremony leader Peter Lengkeek of the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation in South Dakota as he stood at the park’s entrance in a circle of roughly 40 people. Go Here For More...
Joseph Gomer Interview ...
Retired U.S. Air Force Major Joseph Gomer served as a fighter pilot with World War II's famed Tuskegee Airmen. Gomer was born on June 20, 1920, in Iowa Falls, Iowa. From the time he was a small boy, he dreamed of flying airplanes.
Dakota 38 + 2 Ride Dec. 26, 2012 ...
On December 26, 1862, the largest mass execution took place in Mankato, Minnesota. 150 years later a ceremony was held at Mankato's Reconciliation Park to remember the event.
U.S. Marines Honored With Ceremony...
On Wednesday, November 10th, 2010, the 235th Anniversary of the United States Marine Corps, Edward Lohnes and Lyle Rustad of Diversity Foundation, Inc. honored the Marines with a traditional Native American blanket ceremony.Click Here To View Photo Gallery and Video...
Diversity Foundation Partners with the Marine Corps Toys For Tots Program again in 2012...
The Diversity Foundation partners with the Twin Cities Marine Corps to make this and every year's Christmas a happier one for Minnesota inner city youth and over fourteen thousand youth from thirteen disadvantaged Native American communities from Minnesota and across the Mid-West, by helping to organize volunteers and facilitating these deliveries.
Crow Creek Cemetary Restoration ...
"Just a shame we don't keep these graves up," former Crow Creek Tribal member, Vern Ashley, 95, says. "The cemetery is one of many things that need attention at Crow Creek." A delegation from the Rochester Trinity Presbyterian Churche has been working on this restoration project for over four years now. Go Here For More...
Why the Crow Creek Cemetery Restoration Project is important ...
It's more than mowing lawns and fixing grave markers. This video explains. Go Here For More...
Video Project - Stories of the Dakota Elders (and other Native Americans) ...
Here is a selection of interviews that Diversity has done throughout the years. We are currently in the planning stage of developing a documentary film that would include these and other interview like them. Go Here For More...
Rod Steiner with Hereditary Chief Wabasha VI ...
This is a re-edited version of Rod Steiner's speech at the 2002 Crow Creek Memorial dedication. He talks about the history of the Dakota people, their 1863 exile, and what the Dakota women had to endure at Crow Creek duirng the late 1800s. Go Here For More...
Peter Lengkeek ...
A series of videos where Peter talks about the history of the Dakota people and what they had to endure during the Dakota exile of 1863. Go Here For More...
Clarence Wolf Guts - The Last Lakota Code Talker...
Clarence Wolf Guts is not the sort of hero who capitalizes on his exploits; he hasn't written any books or run for office, and you can count his speaking appearances on one hand. He lives almost as simply today as when he was a boy on the Rosebud Reservation in the 1920s. Go Here For More...
Eli Taylor ...
After a interview at the 1997 Mankato Reconciliation ceremonies, shortly before his passing at age 92, Eli Taylor strongly urged Diversity Foundation Executive Director Lyle Rustad to “keep on working toward ‘Reconciliation’ and healing between the Native and white people” and that we should continue filming, recording and telling the History and stories of “all the Dakota elders before it is too late and this culture and history will be lost forever.”
Meeting with the Minesota Historical Society to discuss the anniversary of the Dakota Uprising in 1862 ...
On September 17, 2010, representatives of various Dakota Native American Communities met in St. Peter, Minnesota to discuss the 150th anniversary of the Dakota uprising. The building where they met is located only a short distance away from Traverse Des Sioux (meaning the “crossing of the Sioux”) an area of the Minnesota River where people crossed.
Crow Creek Long Riders - New Videos ...
Peter Lengkeek, member of the Crow Creek Tribal Council and the Crow Creek Long Riders talks about the meaning of the ride from Fort Snelling to St. Louis and to Crow Creek and some of the history of his people.
Diversity Foundation's Scholarship and Education Program at Work ...
The Diversity Foundation of Minnesota is proud to annouce its first graduate from the Diversity Foundation Education and Scholarship Program - Larry Cortez from the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
More Deliveries ...
Diversity Foundation of Minnesota recently delivered two semi-truck loads of furniture and other goods to the Santee Indian Reservation in Nebraska and to the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The items delivered included beds, sofas, love seats, recliners, large flat screen televisons and much more.
On the Santee Reservation alone, 192 people were helped by our latest deliveries.
Here are earlier updates for DiversityFoundation.org
JoAnne Bird Art Gallery ...
Bird's paintings depict her Native American heritage, mainly portraying the rich traditional way of life in a contemporary style. Much of her work is spiritual in nature and timeless. Her work often employs rich, bold colors in a fluid motion presenting images of warriors and horses that seem to be approaching the viewer straight off the canvas.
Audrey Wolf Discusses Crisis at her family's South Dakota Crow Creek Indian Reservation and the need to assist Diversity Foundation with its Dakota Reconciliation and Outreach...
A real example of the water/housing crises in Crow Creek is one my sister and her family faces. She is the only one in the household with a job. Her daughter cannot find a job. They cannot use the water to drink. They don't like to use it for bathing and laundering. Her stairs to the basement have collapsed on one side. She can't afford to fix it. She has four grandchildren plus herself and her daughter using these stairs daily.
My sister desperately needs new or used appliances- washer, dryer, stove, and refrigerator. Next year, she plans to move into Chamberlain [South Dakota] and leave the family homestead. That is a real shame because that land has been there for our family for generations now. She has no choice, they need drinkable water and a house fit and safe to live in.
Audrey Wolf Interview ...
Audrey Wolf works as an accountact for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She grew up on the Crow Creek reservation and has family members that still live there. In this interview she talks about the dire conditions at the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. Click Here For More Information ...
2011 NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet Honoring Re. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr....
The official theme of the 2011 NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet was "One Nation, One Dream," but the underlying message was "We can do better."
Eric Sorensen Retirement Party ...
Eric Sorensen, Winona, Minnesota city manager and Diversity Foundation long time friend and advisor retires from his duties as city manager and people throw him a party in his honor. Click Here For More Information ...
Frito Lay Corporation partners with the Diversity Foundation to collect food ...
Frito Lay held a food drive as part of their annual mid-west regional conference September and October 2010 and collected over 3,000 pounds of food. The picture on the left shows leaders of the Frito-Lay/PepsiCo Midwest Region, along with two members of the Twin Cities Marine Corps, weighing the food which was collcted to help the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in central South Dakota.Click Here To View Photos and More Information ...
Diversity receives donation to help Crow Creek...
Diversity Foundation, Inc. received approximately $2,000.00 from the Dodge County Boots and Saddles Club. Lyle Rustad, Diverstiy Foundation Executive Director received the check from Robert Kocinski at the Frito Lay coporate office in Bloomington, Minnesota. Robert Kocinski is the Frito Lay Regional Manager for the Madison, Wisconsin area as well as a member of the Dodge County Boots and Saddle Club. The money was used to cover part of the expenses involved in transporting semi-loads of much needed beds, furniture, food, clothes, and other household supplies. Go Here To Watch A Short Video of the 2010 Beaver Dam Halloween Parade...
Frito Lays 2010 Golf Outing ...
A Photo Gallery of Frito Lay's 2010 golf Outing at the Black Bear Golf Course in Carlton Minnesota. The course is part of Fond Du Lac's Black Bear Casino and Resort. Frito Lay is one of the Diversity Foundation's Sponsors.
With Your Help, The Diversity Foundation Delivers Food & Furniture ...
Slumberland, Kahler Inn and Suites, other Rochester Minnesota area hotels, as well as other supporters, donated furniture while the Frito Lay Corporation donated 3,000 pounds of food for underserved Dakota Indian Reservations - Both of which are very much needed. Thanks to help from our supporters, the semi-trucks rolled into Crow Creek bringing food, and beds. Go Here For More Information ...
Crow Creek: The Forgotten People...
One of the counties which the Crow Creek Reservation is located, Buffalo County, is the poorest county in the United States with an average per capita income of just over $5,000.00. Unemployment on the reservation can be as high as 80-90 percent. The state wide unemployment rate is around nine percent. Today the Crow Creek Reservation and Buffalo County have the highest poverty level in the entire country, and living conditions are dire!Go Here For More...
Edward A. Lohnes Sr. ...
Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to Ed Lohnes Jr., C.E.O. of the Diversity Foundation, and his sisters, other family members and friends on the passing of Edward A. Lohnes Sr.
Edward A. Lohnes Sr. age 88, of Brooklyn Center, formerly of NE Mpls., passed away Dec. 1, 2010 after a short illness. Go Here For More ...
Diversity Foundation's Assistance with Scholarship and Educational Programs ... Diversity Foundation, Inc. is attempting to make a difference in some of the underserved Dakota/Native Indian Reservations across the Great Plains. Over the past years, the Diversity Foundation has begun facilitating scholarships and financial aid in order to provide educational opportuities for Dakota Reservation youth.Go Here For More...
Youth Initiation Mentoring Academies...
Youth Initiative Mentoring Academies (YIMA) is a not-for-profit organization founded by "Sister" Mamie Singleton who also serves as a Diversity Foundation Advisory Board Member. YIMA sponsors selected programs for at-risk youth that exposes them to careers, helps them to develop leadership skills, and facilitates civic responsibilities.
Dakota Reconciliation ...
Since 2002, when Rod Steiner & Diversity Foundation, Inc.begin their Dakota Outreach & Reconciliation efforts, well over 30 semi-loads of beds, clothes, food & other household items have been donated by the southeastern Minnesota cities of Winona, Rochester, Rushford-Peterson, St. Charles, Wabasha-Kellogg, and others. Go Here For More...
Dakota Homecoming ...
The festival is known as “Otakuye Hdihunipi” meaning All relatives have come home, and takes place every year in the city of Winona Minnesota. It is an experience like no other where Wasicun (Caucasian) and Dakota worship, dance, feast, share stories, and play together along the shores of beautiful Lake Winona. 2010 was the 7th annual inviting of the descendents of the original people who once called the Winona area their ancestrial home before the 1851 treaties. Go Here For More...