White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP)’s mission is to facilitate recovery of the original land base of the White Earth Indian Reservation, in northern Minnesota, while preserving and restoring traditional land stewardship, language fluency, community development, and spiritual and cultural practices. A key strategy is to purchase back land from non-Indian owners, and receive donated land. Currently only 10% of the reservation is held by Ojibwe (Anishinaabeg) Indians.
Equity Trust’s loan to WELRP was made in collaboration with White Earth Investment Initiative, a nonprofit lender dedicated to creating jobs and improving community life on the reservation. Equity Trust’s participation supported refinancing, with better rates, the loan for the building that houses the organization’s programs, including the Native Harvest Store, selling heritage crops, traditional crafts, books and more, and a new Ojibwe radio station (“independent news for an independent nation”). Our loan also leveraged a $30,000 write-off on old debt for WELRP.
In this way, acre by acre, we will restore our land base, protect our ancestor’s graves and create a wider sustainable, traditional harvest-based economic foundation for members of our community.
–WINONA La DUKE, Founding Director, WELRP