On Indigenous People's Day the Franklin Hiawatha encampment was visited by staff from the American Refugee Committee, who had contacted us about coming to serve a meal on that day. It was poignant because in many ways this "tent city" is, indeed, a refugee camp. The Native American residents here - and across the country - are the victims of land theft, forced migration, and genocide. They face incredible racism and hostility every day. While the theft and migrations may be historic in nature they continue to be current in impact, as invisible traumas play out in the shape of mental illness, addiction, and generational poverty. It's also worth noting that not all of the residents of the encampment are Native American; people from many backgrounds have found a home at the camp. But they all have one thing in common: they are all refugees in an economic war which pits capitalism and free market systems against decency, dignity and human rights.
Thus it was perfectly appropriate to have a meal served by the American Refugee Committee. The absolutely delicious hot meal was made possible by staff who chose to BYO lunch to what would have been a day-long, catered work meeting; leaders who allowed the staff to redirect those dollars - and even a bit more budget than usual - toward the purchase of a meal for the camp; and a caterer who discounted prices so that ARC could serve 200 people. The meal came from Boca Chica Restaurant y Cantina in St. Paul, where owner Jose Frias and his family have been active community members since 1964. Thank you one and all!
It tool the generosity of many to provide a delicious meal of salad with corn, beans, avocado and greens, tortillas, rice, beans and spicy pork. The lunch was served up in a chilly light drizzle but for a moment the rain didn't matter - only the wonderful meal and the feeling of solidarity with a community that cares.
Staff from the American Refugee Committee after serving a hot meal at the encampment.
Posted by Camille.