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Migizi reopens on Lake Street 3 years after fires during the unrest destroyed original building

Native American youth center Migizi reopens after building destroyed in George Floyd uprising
Native American youth center Migizi reopens after building destroyed in George Floyd uprising 01:56

MINNEAPOLIS — Thursday marked the beginning of new era for Migizi, a Native American youth center. In 2020, Migizi's former home near the Third Precinct went up in flames in the uprising following the murder of George Floyd.

In the aftermath, staff members returned to lead a healing prayer outside the building, that was reduced to rubble.

"Today means we get to start a new journey," said Lisa Skejefte, Migizi Deputy Director.

The set back of from the fire impacted the organization and the students they serve, like Shawn Wakanabo.

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"I felt a little lost because I didn't know where to go," Wakanabo stated.

For Wakanabo, Migizi was like a second home, a space to dream, and a place that pushed him to the best he could be.

However, staff members like Binesikwe Means quickly sprung into action to see the organization stand tall and stronger than ever at Lake Street.

"It's been a long time coming, but we are very excited to be sharing this with the community," Migizi Lead Media Instructor Binesikwe Means said.

More than $6 million went to the new building, but staff members were intentional about incorporating what once was as a constant reminder.

"We were able to salvage wood from our building that burned down," Skejefte said.

Skejefte believes the wood symbolizes a tough past, but a brighter future where students like Wakanabo have the space to thrive.

"If it wasn't for the staff, I wouldn't have graduated high school," he said. "I'm the first person in my family to attend college."

Migizi provides support to youth through educational, social, economic, and cultural programs. Programs include Indigenous Pathways and in-person tutoring.

"When someone is empowered with the knowledge of their ancestors, it makes for a really strong individual," Skejefte smiled.

The bigger space allows the organization to expand their reach. They currently serve 300 students every year.

To learn more about Migizi, click here.

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