At MIGIZI, we partner with American Indian young people to help them discover and strengthen their skills. We support, educate and train youth as they envision their future, identify a course of action and realize their goals. Our collaboration with other partners in the Twin Cities’ metro area assures a coordinated set of resources leading to successful futures.


MIGIZI Communications, Inc. has been in operation as a Minnesota non-profit since November 15, 1977. MIGIZI was founded with a goal of countering the misrepresentations, inaccuracies, and falsehoods promulgated about Native Peoples in the major media. For its first seventeen years of existence, MIGIZI trained Indian journalists who produced the first nationally-distributed Indian radio news magazine in the country. This news magazine performed two vital functions: 1) it provided a venue for Indian people to tell their own stories; and 2) it served as a primary source of accurate information about Native Peoples for thousands of non-Native listeners.

Mission:  MIGIZI Communications advances a message of success, well-being and justice for the American Indian community.

MIGIZI’s mission is carried out through four intersecting program components: Native Academy – STEM Education; Native Youth Futures – matched postsecondary savings and Economic Independence; First Person Productions – Media Production and social entrepreneurship; and the Green Jobs Pathway –Indigenous stewardship and career preparation in the Green Economy. Through these program elements we develop relationships with our students and provide activities that educate the whole child.

Native Academy® (NAC) is a middle and high school program focusing on science, technology, and math. NAC has been nationally recognized as a model for Indian student success. In 2014, the program was awarded a grant from the US Department of Education, Office of Indian Education and is working to increase the academic performance, graduation rates, and postsecondary enrollment rates of American Indian students in Minneapolis.

Native Youth Futures (NYF) and our Native Youth Financially Independent (NYFI) initiative is MIGIZI’s newest program. NYFI is designed to provide Indian young people (ages 14-21) with the wealth-generating experiences and opportunities that have not been available to previous generations, but are required to achieve economic independence in today’s economy. The project connects students with internship opportunities to earn income and contribute savings to Individual Development Accounts targeted for postsecondary education. The internships and IDAs, coupled with Financial Literacy and mentorship, will provide youth with the motivation and “reason” to believe that postsecondary education is, indeed, within their reach.

Through First Person Productions (FPP), we provide New Media training and production with an emphasis on developing social entrepreneurism. FPP has developed a media training pathway for American Indian youth that will lead to higher education and careers focused on the application of 21st Century technical skills in the production and distribution of Indian content. Students complete 200 hours of media training as part of our Summer Media Institute and then are hired as part of our Community Media Team to work with our professional staff to create media products for clients.

The Green Jobs Pathway goal is to increase the percentage of American Indian young people able to complete high school, succeed in postsecondary programs and secure living wage jobs as they build a career in the Green Economy. To that end, the Indigenous Stewardship Institute is a hands-on, project-based on-ramp preparing more of our young people to secure living wage jobs as they build a career in the Green Economy.

 As a result of our work across our program activities, in partnership with students, their families and the community, we expect students to graduate from high school on-time, and apply for and be admitted to a postsecondary institution in a degree or certificate program; complete internships; earn wages and build an Individual Development Account to support their post secondary education; and be healthy, expressing feelings of confidence and efficacy regarding their future.

MIGIZI has a strong reputation in the education and non-profit communities. The American Indian youth we serve and their families recognize us for the high quality and innovative programming we provide. MIGIZI’s innovative approach is designed with thoughtful input from youth, the community and our professional staff to help low-income at-risk American Indian students succeed and be prepared for post-secondary education. Our programmatic goal is to: increase the percentage of graduating postsecondary education ready Indian students in Minneapolis.

The innovative programming that MIGIZI offers is based on proven research and brings together a blend of best practices from Indian educators across the country. At the core of our best practices is the importance of relationships. Teachers and students must invest in positive, respectful, egalitarian human relationships. These informal mentoring relationships are at the center of our work.

An educator’s attitude toward their students needs to reflect a respect for students’ assets and strengths. We utilize a culturally competent approach that is informed by familiarity of indigenous culture and the local community.

Effective pedagogy practices recognize the value of and incorporate activities that are experiential and allow students to learn through discovery. The student’s curiosity is ignited and fed through their use of computers allowing students to gain experience and learn through an inquiry process. As a result students are motivated to pursue and uncover new knowledge.

Classroom content and curriculum must have relevance to the student. As we create authentic experiences that engage students in the real work of building community through active participation, the more meaningful their learning becomes. When we challenge students to think critically and develop problem solving skills, we see students rise to the challenge and discover creative solutions.

Ultimately, our efforts will aid in improving the profile for American Indian students in Minneapolis. We will see increased percentages of American Indian students graduating from high school, an increase in the number of students enrolling into and completing post-secondary education, and more students gaining the 21st Century skills necessary for successful employment.


MIGIZI has decades of history supporting local American Indian communities in various ways.

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We have an experienced and skilled board of directors drawing from experience from many fields, occupations, and organizations.

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Our Staff

Kelly Drummer

Executive Director

Graham Hartley

Graham Hartley

Director of Programs

Binesikwe Means

Social Enterprise/New Media Team Leader

John Gwinn

John Gwinn

Project Director/Media Specialist

John Hunter

John Hunter

Green Jobs Pathway Coordinator

LeVi Boucher

Financial Literacy and 21st Century Skills Trainer

Nicole DeCoteau-Vause

Nicole DeCoteau-Vause

Recruitment and Retention Specialist

Tedi Grey Owl

Tedi Grey Owl

Technology Instructor


  • Nawayee Center School
  • Minneapolis Public Schools
  • City of Minneapolis
  • AchieveMpls
  • Minnesota Education Equity Partnership
  • Education Equity Organizing Collaborative Partners
  • Voices for Racial Justice
  • Native American Community Development Institute
  • Neighborhood Development Center
  • American Indian OIC
  • Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC)
  • Twin Cities Youth Media Network
  • Vision Maker Media
  • Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
  • Dunwoody College of Technology
  • Minnesota State (formerly MnSCU)
  • Community Shares Minnesota
  • City of Minneapolis Health and Family Support Urban Advisory Committee
  • Twin Cities in Motion
  • Youthprise
  • City of Minneapolis SHIP Community Leadership Team
  • Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors
  • TPT MN
  • KFAI Radio
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