Equality for American Indian People

Access to opportunity, resources, leadership, networks, healing and support for American Indian people to live culturally centered, economically independent, and healthy lives — grounded in sovereignty and indigenous worldview.

About Tiwahe Foundation

The Tiwahe Foundation is a place for giving — and giving back — that benefits the well-being of American Indian people and communities in Minnesota. We are a community foundation of friends and supporters — Indian and non-Indian — who have resources, time, and talents to share. Together, we all work to unleash more philanthropy and generosity that are not only held within every person but also embodied collectively.

We think of this as the Circle of Giving — a continuous cycle of success grounded in indigenous culture that recognizes that giving benefits both giver and receiver. The Tiwahe Foundation is a trusted community partner, connector and resource.

Our Core Values

Tiwahe (ti-wah-hay) means family in Dakota. It symbolizes how we are connected to all living things and one’s personal responsibility is to protect family, community, and mother nature. There is no asset more precious to Indigenous communities than the health, safety, and well-being of our children, youth, elders, leaders, and families. Tiwahe Foundation is located on Dakota and Ojibwe homelands, and we honor Dakota and Ojibwe cultural values. These values help guide our directives and commitment to our relatives — all Indigenous peoples who live in the Twin Cities and Minnesota:

  • Wóčhekįya – (Prayer)
  • Gwayakwaadiziwin (Honesty) To achieve honesty within yourself is to recognize who and what you are.

  • Wahwala / Dabaadendiziwin (Humility)

  • Wičákha / Debwewin (Truth)

  • Wóksape / Nibwaakaawin (Wisdom)

  • Waúnšila / Zaagi’idiwin (Love/Compassion)

  • Waóhola / Manaadendamowin (Respect)
  • Wóohitike / Aakwade’ewin (Bravery/Courage)
  • Wacantognaka / Gizhewaadizi (Generosity)

Board

Wakinyan LaPointe (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) – Board Chair – Cultural Consultant and Program Officer, Headwaters Foundation

Reid Raymond (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) – Board Vice-Chair – Attorney, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office

Joe Hobot (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe descendant) – Board Treasurer –  President and CEO, American Indian OIC

Amber Annis (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe) – Program Specialist, Minnesota Historical Society

Patrick Rock (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe)  CEO/Physician, Indian Health Board of Minneapolis, Inc.

Alyssa Terleski (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa)  American Indian Cancer Foundation, Operations Director

Mary Kunesh (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe descendant)  – Minnesota State Senator

Kelly Miller (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe) – Department of Indian Work, Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul

Nigel R Perrote (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin) – National State and Program Director, MN Coalition Against Sexual Assault,

Maggie Lorenz (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) – Executive Director, Lower Phalen Creek Project

Our Story

The Foundation evolved from origins as a culturally responsive grantmaking initiative of three Minnesota family foundations known as the American Indian Family Empowerment Program. Launched in 1993 initially by the Marbrook Foundation, American Indian Family Empowerment Program was the inspiration of Markell Brooks. It operated as a donor-designated fund with monies from a collaborative of the Marbrook, Westcliff and Grotto Foundations. In 2009, American Indian Family Empowerment Program transformed into a new entity, the Tiwahe Foundation. While Tiwahe Foundation is an independent community foundation with its own board of directors, the original American Indian Family Empowerment Program remains part of the ongoing work.

The Linkingleaders Partnership

The LinkingLeaders Partnership is a cross-racial, cross cultural partnership that brings together four networks of leaders in the Indigenous, Black, Asian, and Latinx communities. A shared effort of the African American Leadership Forum, Coalition of Asian American Leaders, Latino LEAD, and Tiwahe Foundation, LinkingLeaders focuses on strengthening connections across our networks in order to increase our shared leadership and solidarity practices so that we can advance powerful systems change work that aims to achieve racial justice and equity.

Please contact Consuelo Gutierrez Crosby to learn more about LinkingLeaders.

Staff

Nikki Pieratos, Executive Director

Nikki Pieratos, Executive Director, is a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. Nikki previously served on the Tiwahe Board of Directors for three years. She has over ten years of experience in community development finance, most recently providing financing and capacity building for large-scale Indigenous regenerative development projects. Nikki also is also a recognized thought leader, speaker, and writer on changing systems within philanthropy and impact investing to align and support racial justice, social justice, economic justice, and climate justice. Nikki holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

Brook LaFloe Headshot

Brook LaFloe, Program Director

Brook LaFloe (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) grew up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota and is an educator and entrepreneur with passion for revitalizing culture and facilitating the growth of local Indigenous economies. Brook was born into the Eagle clan and descends from the Bear clan. Her academic background includes a Tulane University Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Anthropology, a Loyola University of Maryland Master’s degree in Education and 2 Association Montessori International (AMI) diplomas in Assistants to infancy (birth-3 years) and Primary (3-6 years). Brook has over 5 years of experience in making educational material and many years in beadwork and sewing. She enjoys fancy dancing at Powwows, being a sister and aunty, basketball coach, and engaging in anything sports-related.

Tony Drews, American Indian Family Empowerment Program Coordinator

Tony Drews has worked in the Native American community his whole professional career. As Tiwahe’s Program Manager he leads both the American Indian Family Empowerment Fund, and the Oyate Leadership Network. Tony comes to Tiwahe as a recent grant recipient. Tony used his grant to develop board and hand games in traditional Anishinaabe language to foster cultural knowledge for youth and adults.

Tony has spent the last 5 years working with Anoka-Hennepin Schools as the Indian Education Advisor. In addition, Tony also worked as the Residential Director of two Native American Youth Homeless shelters, and as Vice President of Operations for a Native American owned elder care organization.  Tony attended the University of Minnesota and studied Sociology and American Indian Studies. He is from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and has studied the Anishinaabe language for over 15 years.