Smoke Signals

News & Updates From The SPPS Indian Education Program

St. Paul Public Schools Indian Education Program

The American Indian Education Program, offered through the Saint Paul Public Schools District 625, is in existence to preserve and present the unique political, sovereign, cultural, traditional, and spiritual values of American Indian Nations through Education.

Our mission is to assist American Indian students in graduating from high school with a quality education and a positive cultural personal identity.

Welcome to the February 2021 Newsletter!

Happy Valentine's Day! Just in time for some students returning back to in person learning. Yes!

Indian Education classes and groups will continue with distance learning for now.

I come to you this month with something I am just not understanding, what is a virtual powwow? And since I haven't seen one yet, does anyone have a virtual powwow link they could share with me. Send it to . Thank You and stay healthy.

Cindy Johnson, Educational Assistant II

Introducing Indian Education Program Staff

Cindy Johnson

Educational Assistant II

I am most comfortable living in a house or apt. When I am not in school I like to usually sleep, eat, clean and color. I have lots of family, I'm not allowed to tell you who they are but I have two kids, over a hundred first cousins, I lost count after second cousins.

Indian Education Program Updates

Book Discussion - Professional Learning Community

Renae Davis and Nicole Other Medicine, Indian Education School Social Workers have been utilizing the book, My Grandmother’s Hand’s Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem for circle discussions with staff. Staff with licenses are required to participate in Professional Learning Communities. The School Social Workers within the District are using this book and Renae and Nicole are continuing the reading and discussion with the Indian Education staff. The readings have led to great discussions.

If you would like to purchase or check it out at your local library here is some information:

Peyote Stitch & Design Professional Development

St. Paul Public Schools requires staff to participate in Professional Development. Friday, January 29th the Indian Education staff participated in a Peyote Stitch class led by Dianna Johnson. The class was held through Google Meet. All staff were provided the supplies to participate. Dianna led the team through instruction on how to peyote stitch a pen. This lesson will help prepare staff to bead the Eagle Feathers for our upcoming graduating Seniors.

Big picture

SPPS Indian Education Program on Social Media

The SPPS Indian Education Program shares updates, events and resources from SPPS and the community on our Facebook page, as well as a weekly resource list. We are looking forward to engaging more with our students and families using our newly created Instagram & Twitter accounts, and sharing videos on our YouTube channel.

Thinking About Water: A Visit to the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Protest

- YouTube

Boozhoo everyone! A quick note about my recent visits to the Line 3 protest site just north Mille Lacs Lake. Recently I traveled up to Great River Road just about 15 miles north of Palisade, MN and Camp Migizi located just west of 35W near Cloquet, MN. I hear there are two other camps, one near White Earth and one near Red Lake nations. At both camps I visited, we were welcomed by a crew of hardy water protectors in the heart of beautiful woods and the river. Being next to the construction I could feel the pounding on Mother Earth. The sounds of the machines, blasts and drilling leaves a sick feeling in my stomach and even sitting here back in the cities, the trauma memories of seeing, hearing, touching and smelling the construction still makes my stomach funny.

So, what is Line 3 and why should I help?

The three biggest main points about Line 3:

  1. Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline ships Tar Sands crude from Alberta to Superior, WI, spanning over 300 miles across Northern Minnesota, crossing the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations and the 1855 and 1842 treaty areas. Line 3 was built in 1961 and now has significant structural integrity problems. Enbridge’s latest public estimates indicate over 900 integrity “anomalies” in the pipeline. Instead of fixing it or removing it, they want simply to abandon the pipeline and build a new one, the “Line 3 Replacement,” in a brand NEW corridor, (that crosses our treaty lands). *Per Honor the Earth Fact Sheet

  2. All pipelines spill. Line 3 isn’t about safe transportation of a necessary product, it’s about expansion of a dying tar sands industry. Line 3 would contribute more to climate change than Minnesota’s entire economy. *per

  3. Line 3 would violate the treaty rights of Anishinaabe peoples and nations and in its path — wild rice, a centerpiece of Anishinaabe culture, it grows in numerous watersheds Line 3 seeks to cross. *per

So, I think the most important piece is that nothing can survive without water and the horrible track record of pipeline spills is enough to prove that pipeline spills will contaminate our Minnesota waters and the real question is “WHERE DOES YOUR DRINKING WATER COME FROM?” So if you would like to help, look at the Stop Line 3 website, link below.

About Line 3:

Lisa Bellanger, SPPS Indian Education American Indian Specialist, Lead Teacher

Returning to School

Big picture

There are big changes coming as students are welcomed back into SPPS school buildings. This may cause excitement, stress, or fear. This is normal considering the recent pandemic. Some of you may have decided to keep your child in virtual school, some may have decided to return them to the building, whatever choice you made is best for your family. If your student is returning to the building you should make a plan for safety. We want to ensure your students, other students and school staff are safe each day they enter. When getting ready each day go through the symptom list provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and make sure no symptoms are present.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headache

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Make sure if your child is sick do not send them to school. Practice good hygiene like washing hands frequently. Avoid touching your face. If you sneeze or cough use a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Disinfect frequently. Everyone needs to be safe, so please teach your child to do these things for their safety and the safety of others.

Planning ahead will help in those stressful days when your student wakes up not feeling well. Make a plan for when someone is sick, can they stay home alone or is there someone that can stay with them. Have a Plan A and Plan B in case the first one doesn’t work. Always stay in good communication with your students' school. Let them know if they are out sick for the day so the absence can be excused.

We hope everyone has a wonderful 3rd quarter and Spring is just around the corner.

Stay safe and don’t forget to smudge!


Ramsey County COVID-19 Testing Sites

Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Symptoms of Coronavirus

Renae Davis & Nicole Other Medicine, School Social Workers

Reclaiming our Traditions Chemical Health Prevention Program

Big picture

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! Don’t forget to treat your “Minimoshenh” sweetheart to some chocolates and a greeting card to let them know they are appreciated and loved.

This month I would like to offer some information on Vaping/E-cigarettes. Firstly, what is VAPING?

  • Vaping/electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems, vaping devices, e-cigs, or JUULing). Vaping products are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine and flavorings without burning tobacco. In most products, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The resulting vapor is then inhaled (called “vaping”).

Vaping products, also called e-cigarettes, are fairly new products. They’ve only been around for about ten years, so researchers are in the early stage of studying how they affect your health.

How Vaping Products Work

Vaping products are designed to deliver nicotine without the other chemicals produced by burning tobacco leaves. Puffing on the mouthpiece of the cartridge activates a battery-powered inhalation device (called a vaporizer). The vaporizer heats the liquid inside the cartridge which contains nicotine, flavors, and other chemicals. The heated liquid turns into an aerosol (vapor) which the user inhales—referred to as “vaping. .Nicotine from vaping products activates the brain’s rewards circuits and increases levels of a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine. The pleasurable feelings caused by nicotine’s interaction with the brain’s reward circuit can cause a person to seek out nicotine and use it again and again, despite the risks to their health.

Research so far suggests that nicotine vaping might be less harmful than cigarettes when people who regularly smoke switch to them completely and no longer use tobacco cigarettes. But, because it affects the development of the brain’s reward system, continued e-cigarette use can lead to nicotine addiction. It can also make other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, more pleasurable to a teen’s developing brain.

It's important to remember that nicotine in any form is a highly addictive drug. Health experts have raised many questions about the safety of these products, particularly for teens:

  • Testing of some vaping products found the aerosol (vapor) to contain known cancer-causing and toxic chemicals, and particles from the vaporizing mechanism that may be harmful. The health effects of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear.

  • Some research suggests that nicotine vaping may serve as a “gateway” or introductory product for youth to try other tobacco products, including regular cigarettes. A study showed that students who have vaped nicotine by the time they start 9th grade are more likely than others to start smoking traditional cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products within the next year.11 Another study has shown an association between nicotine vaping and progression to smoking actual cigarettes.12 These studies suggest that vaping products may actually encourage cigarette smoking in adolescents. As a deterrent to encouraging vaping, the legal age to purchase e-cigarettes has been raised to 21.

If you would like more information on vaping, or any other drugs, please google NIDA-Adolescent Drug Use. There is information on all the drugs, the effects, and how to recognize signs if your child may be using them. Until next month, please continue to be safe – support each other and know that Indian Education staff is always available to lend support and help.

Kay Urich, Chemical Health Teacher

Sewing Society

Big picture

Happy February, the month of love. Whether you like Valentine’s Day or not, it can be a fun time to display love for friends and family also. The Sweetheart powwow at AIMS was always a fun powwow to attend. Watching the crowd take part in the potato dance contest is a favorite. Good memories will continue when we are able to be social in the future. I am just reminiscing. So I think about powwow season and how it may go this summer. All us seamstresses and beadwork artists will wonder what we did with our time in the last year when that first powwow is able to happen. I know I will. I hope you have found time in these winter months to do some beading or sewing. I find my dining room table always full of projects to be finished. Definitely always a sewing machine on the table. A good reminder to get going on that sewing. So when you are thinking of how this last year has gone, remember this is a new year and we will move on together. Stay positive, stay crafty, & stay healthy.

Dianna Johnson, Education Assistant II & Sewing Society Lead

Exploring New Foods: Easy Chicken Pot Pie


  • 1 (2 pk) Pie Crust
  • 3 chicken Breasts
  • 1 (26 oz.) can of Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 (16oz) pkg of Frozen Vegetables


  1. Thaw pie crust
  2. Dice up chicken breast and Sauté
  3. Mix the vegetables with the soup.
  4. Put crust in pan, put the chicken breast on the bottom then put mixture of vegetables and soup on top.
  5. Put Pie crust on top, flute the edges and put slits on the top of crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


  • I diced two potatoes and boiled them, drained them, and added them.
  • You can use any type of leftover chicken, and vegetables you prefer.

Renae Davis, School Social Worker

Sweetheart Virtual Powwow

Friday, Feb. 12th, 6-8pm

This is an online event.

Join us online for St. Paul Indian Education's first virtual powwow! Share videos on the Indian Education Facebook event page before the night of the powwow of you or your family in regalia dancing to powwow music for others to see. Be sure to watch the live feed the night of the powwow and say hi, we'll see you there! Details are available at .

Virtual Families of Tradition

Thursday, Feb. 11th, 6-7:30pm

This is an online event.

Reclaiming our traditions through cultural activities. Meet with other families, and connect with your community.

St. Paul Public Schools Indian Education Program will be holding Virtual Families of Tradition events on the second Thursday each month. Families will virtually gather using Zoom to meet each other and some of our Indian Education Program staff.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 594 600 5478

Passcode: FOT1

You can join by phone using the Meeting ID and Passcode listed above by calling (646) 568-7789.

We are looking forward to meeting will everyone virtually. For up to date details please view our Faceboo event listing. If you have any questions, please contact Kerri Rosebear-Channer at or (612) 751-0571.

No School, Holiday (PreK - 12th Grade)

Monday, Feb. 15th, 12am-11:45pm

St Paul, MN, USA

Saint Paul, MN

Return To In-Person Learning (Grades 3-5)

Tuesday, Feb. 16th, 12am-11:45pm

St Paul, MN, USA

Saint Paul, MN

SPPS American Indian Parent Advisory Committee Meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 16th, 5:15-6:30pm

This is an online event.

The American Indian Parent Advisory Committee (AIPAC) helps guide and support American Indian education programming for the district. The AIPAC also helps identify student need which informs programming for Title VI and Minnesota World's Best Workforce Grant (MWBW). Duties for the AIPAC:

Advisory to the district
  • Conducts regular open meetings
  • Approves application and amendments in Title VI and MWBW programs
  • Approves Title VI and MWBW budget allocation
  • Abides by reasonable by-laws
  • And conducts an annual public hearing to gather input from American Indian students and families

The AIPAC shall act as a voice in representing the Indian students and their parents in the district and align our values with the district's purpose and that is to “inspire students to think critically, pursue their dreams and change the world.”

Details and meeting information can be found on the SPPS AIPAC webpage.

For more information and to receive an invitation to the meeting please contact Dominic Good Buffalo, the American Indian Cultural Specialist at the Office of Family Engagement and Community Partnerships, at or 612-297-9374.

Board of Education Meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 23rd, 6pm

This is an online event.

The St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education will be meeting at 6:05pm.

Members of the public will be able to monitor the meeting online at or tune to Saint Paul Cable Channel 16 (for cable subscribers).

An agenda and additional information regarding the St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education is available at .

No School (PreK - 12th Grade)

Friday, March 5th, 12am-11:45pm

St Paul, MN, USA

Saint Paul, MN

School Priority Application Deadline

Friday, March 5th, 12am-11:45pm

St Paul, MN, USA

Saint Paul, MN

St. Paul Public Schools Resources

Saint Paul Public Schools Urban Teacher Residency (SUTR) Program

This program aims to recruit, prepare and retain highly qualified teachers who share similar life experiences as our diverse student population in SPPS. SUTR provides an affordable, accelerated program to earn a Minnesota teaching license and master’s degree in 15 months from the University of St. Thomas.

Big picture
School Choice

It’s almost time to enroll for the 2021-22 school year! Find the right school for your child, plus information about how and when to apply, frequently asked questions, virtual open house dates, and what’s new for next year.

The priority deadline for applications for the 2021-22 school year is Friday, March 5. Applying by this date gives you the best opportunity to get into the school of your choice. All kindergarten through 12th grade students living in St. Paul are guaranteed a spot at one of our schools.

School Choice Season is Here

Community Resources & Events

Big picture

Fare For All

A community-supported, non-profit program that is open to all! We provide easy access to low-cost, nutritious foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen meat packages. Locations are available throughout Minnesota, The Mega Meat packs ($25), Mini Meat packs ($11), Produce Packs ($10), and Combo Packs ($20) will be available, along with the Hot Buy special of the month.

Free Food Distribution with Sisters Camelot

4th Thursday of the Month


Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center (788 E 7th Street, St. Paul, 55106)

COVID protocols at Indigenous Roots: face covering, 6 feet apart (minimum), stay home if you’re not feeling well, use sanitation station on site.

Hallie Q. Brown Food Shelf

Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Available by appointment during other days/times.

(270 N Kent Street, St Paul, MN 55102)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have modified our operations to follow the State of Minnesota and the Center for Disease Control guidelines. We are not able to allow clients and community members to shop for themselves in our food shelf, however, we will shop for you. You can still make an appointment via phone, or you may use the Hallie Q. Brown Food Shelf Request Form by clicking on the link ( and we will fill your request and have it ready for curbside pick up or delivery (Priority is given to be seniors and health-related homebound persons).

Masjid At-Taqwa Food Shelf

3rd Saturday of the month

12:00pm - 1:00pm

(1608 Como Ave, St Paul, MN 55108)

Masjid At-Taqwa's monthly Food Shelf is open to all and occurs the 3rd Saturday of every month. Open to all! We do start registrations as early as 11:30am. During the COVID-19 Pandemic we do not allow customers into the building. Customers must stay in their cars and an attendant will bring out registration materials and food to your car.

United Way

United Way 2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember, three-digit number that families and individuals in Minnesota can call to obtain free and confidential information on health and human services. 2-1-1 call centers are staffed 24/7 by trained Community Resource Specialists who quickly assess needs and refer callers to the help that they seek.

2-1-1 Offers Information on a Broad Range of Services, Including:

  • Food and housing support
  • Mental health and substance abuse resources
  • Legal assistance
  • Youth programs
  • Medical and dental clinics
  • Job training opportunities
  • Household items
  • And much more!

If you need assistance finding food, paying housing bills or other essential services, dial 2-1-1, 651-291-0211 or 1-800-543-7709 or Text ‘MNCOVID’ to 898211 and a Certified Community Resource Specialist will help to locate available resources in your area.

Mille Lacs Band Elder Food Distribution

Wednesday, Feb. 10th, 1pm to Thursday, Feb. 11th, 3pm

1404 East Franklin Avenue

Minneapolis, MN

Items will include: Chicken Breasts, Frozen Hash-Brown Potatoes, Fresh Apples, Green Beans, Bread, Soup, Pancake Mix, Salad Oil. Additional details can be found at .

Birds in Ojibwe Legends

Monday, Feb. 15th, 6-7pm

This is an online event.

Aadizookedaa! Let's tell the Legends! Want to see Hope tell stories? Check out the upcoming 'Birds in Ojibwe Legends' event hosted by the Urban Bird Collective.Make sure to register ahead of time as the event will not be recorded. Register by contacting Monica Bryand: .

Our Plant Relatives, A Wintertime Storytelling with Hope Flanagan

Wednesday, Feb. 17th, 5:30-7pm

This is an online event.

Aadizookedaa! Let's tell the Legends! Join us for winter storytelling by Hope Flanagan! Hope will be sharing stories about our plant relatives. This event will NOT be recorded. Please register to receive the zoom link. This way we can avoid security issues and ensure a great event.

Register here:

Fireside Reading Series: Heid Erdrich

Wednesday, Feb. 24th, 7-8pm

This is an online event.

Little Big Bully begins with a question asked of a collective and troubled we – how did we come to this? In answer, this book offers personal myth, American and Native American contexts, and allegories driven by women's resistance to narcissists, stalkers, and harassers.

Heid E. Erdrich has authored seven books of poetry, a non-fiction work on indigenous foods, and edited New Poets of Native Nations anthology for Graywolf Press. Her honors include a National Poetry Series award and two Minnesota Book Awards. She teaches in Augsburg University’s Low-residency MFA. Erdrich is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain.

Details and registration are available on the Facebook event page.

Jingle Dress Dancers in the Modern World Presentation/Discussion

Thursday, Feb. 25th, 3pm

This is an online event.

Please join us for AICHO's next cultural session entitled "Jingle Dress Dancers in the Modern World."

This session and discussion will be led by Brenda J. Child, a Red Lake Nation tribal member and Professor of American Studies & American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. Professor Child will discuss about the documentary, and the jingle dress origins in the influenza pandemic over a century ago. We will also discuss the evolution of the tradition and its meanings to American Indian people today, as we face another global pandemic.

Register at by Feb. 19. Registrants will receive the zoom link on Feb. 24.

Registrants should view the film at this link: before joining in a conversation and Q & A with Professor Child.

Additional details can be found on the Facebook event page.

Winter Word Search

Did you find all of the Winter Words?
Big picture

A Valentine's Riddle

What has 13 hearts and no other organs?