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Guiding Principles




Economic Sectors

The Challenge















































































NACDI is an American Indian intermediary community development organization.

To partner with American Indian communities to build and execute 21st century community development strategies.

All American Indian people have a place, purpose, and a future strengthed by sustainable community development.

Work with others to expand the American Indian community's capacity to:

  • Develop sustainable physical assets
  • Develop economic assets and economic vitality
  • Develop and maintain effective human and social relationships through cooperative efforts

Guiding Principles

The prime principle is to embrace the values of American Indian people through:

NACDI will work to strengthen American Indian community cohesion and cooperation.

NACDI will work to listen and engage the heart, mind, and spirit of the people.

Honoring the Creator and all Creation
NACDI will work to promote responsible stewardship of all Creation for generations to come. (top)


  • Training and education
  • Research
  • Economic and entrepreneurial development and workforce initiatives
  • Homeownership and wealth development and stability
  • Technology capacity building


The Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) is an American Indian intermediary organization - the first of its kind in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The organization is configured as an alliance of the major Indian nonprofits and several Indian businesses in the metropolitan area committed to community-building through sector economic development and large-scale development. Foremost in our transformation plan to develop a new community infrastructure is to build community capacity and assets within high growth economic sectors.

Currently, no alignment and capacity-building structure exists in the American Indian community for social or economic change. To begin to develop a community-based strategy for social and economic change, NACDI will first work with American Indian nonprofits to rebuild their community-driven structure that responds to the demands and opportunities of the economy. Specifically, we will work with American Indian nonprofits on sector strategy development in Land and Housing, Entertainment and Media and Health and Wellness. These three “sectors” share the characteristics of high job growth potential; opportunities for asset development; and sustainability as a part of longer-term American and global industry growth. (top)


Over the past three years, American Indian community leaders have been working to strategically transform the American Indian community for the 21st century.

NACDI was created because leaders in the American Indian community realized that the knowledge economy, coupled with a younger American Indian community on average, increased private surrounding development and opening global markets, presented an opportunity to develop significant economic growth and take advantage of other community improvement opportunities.

The Indian community thus created NACDI to take a new direction toward innovative community development approaches that broker cross-sector partnerships and alliances and mobilize investment. American Indian nonprofits are ready for change, but need an innovative intermediary to re-direct them to asset development through greater entrepreneurial activity. The work needs the energy and alignment of the group and not the solo process to succeed.

NACDI grew out of the work of the Hennepin County American Indian Families Project (AIFP), a partnership project between Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors organization.  Through this community-driven initiative, the idea of focusing on American Indian community through community economic development came about.  The result was the formation of the NACDI Taskforce, a coalition of more than 60 individuals — including representatives from American Indian nonprofits, American Indian businesses, Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Minneapolis Public Schools, as well as community-based and philanthropic organizations. A strategic plan for NACDI was completed in October 2006 after a 10-month, community-engaged, strategic-planning process. At the heart of this strategic plan is a community commitment to work together.  (top)

NACDI Economic Sector Areas

NACDI is committed to building the assets and capacity of American Indian communities to participate in the economy through community economic development in three key sector areas: Health and Wellness, Land and Housing, Entertainment and Media.  These three sector areas enjoy stable growth and demand, require the skills of tomorrow, and lead to livable wage jobs and careers.

Health and Wellness
According to national and regional data, health and wellness is a leading growth area for new jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor, in making job projections for 2015, notes the importance of health sector job growth. Not only will baby boomer retirement affect the labor market, but new technologies, new job categories, and changing population health needs will all play a role in sector growth. Local demographics also are important to note, as Minnesota will have a measurably higher percentage of retirement-aged citizens. In addition, there will be an increase in the population of older American Indians, particularly in the metro area. 

Land and Housing
According to the Federal Reserve, the home is typically a family’s largest and most important asset and homeownership is one of the cornerstones of wealth creation. However, there is a wide disparity between the percentage of American Indians who own their own home and Minnesotans overall. The metro area offers shrinking opportunities for housing and other land development that will benefit the American Indian population in the future. A major development effort is needed now to position and encourage new land development efforts from within the American Indian community. This is an opportunity that will evaporate quickly if no response is mounted. The creation of an intermediary is a vital link in realizing gains in land and housing development activity over a relatively short time frame of five to ten years.

Entertainment and Media
The entertainment and media sector is responding to rapidly changing global conditions. This sector is shifting focus from large-scale, large-screen investments, to a growing diversity of activity from telecom, cable, film, wireless, Web-based and other related revenue activities.  Each of these new activities offers opportunities for American Indians. A major shift in attention within the sector is toward content: its production, proliferation, diversity and distribution.  Opportunities for producing and distributing content, and training in new media technologies make inclusion in this sector not only beneficial, but a major imperative for Indian people. Local enterprises, training models and collaborations are not only feasible, but with encouragement and development, they stand to become major profit centers within the Indian community.

The Urban Indian Develoment Challenge

American Indians are largely underrepresented in high growth and high demand sectors of the economy. The Twin Cities Metropolitan American Indian community is also experiencing demographic shifts. Population aging and population growth are creating fresh challenges for service providers. There are significant pressures on the population as it outgrows its surroundings with a resulting dispersion of American Indian people into several city neighborhoods and the suburbs.

American Indian community investment in businesses and financial activities that compete in the global economy is, by-and-large, miniscule.  Instead, the primary employers in the American Indian community are social service nonprofits and government entities. Indian jobs, income and quality of life are connected to focusing on deficits and poverty within the community.  The result is a weak economy based on providing services to fill gaps, creating long-term dependency on those services – both for those who provide the services and those who receive them. 

At the same time, significant numbers of American Indian people wish to remain within their historic/recognized community area. There remains a strong desire to preserve and strengthen community and place for American Indians, and yet two challenges persist: A lack of strategic alignment and investment among American Indian nonprofits to work on collaborative projects that leverage their assets; and a lack of community and economic development capacity to create the new prosperity envisioned by Indian residents and businesses. 

Nationally, the Minneapolis American Indian community is a respected and well-known model of urban American Indian development — a place where American Indian people have created a sense of community identity and place.  Much of that work has been done through non-profit organizations including the Indian Health Board, Little Earth of United Tribes, American Indian OIC, MIGIZI Communications, Minneapolis American Indian Center, Heart of the Earth School, American Indian Community Development Corporation and American Indian Business Development Corporation (now AINDC).

Currently, as South Minneapolis, including the neighborhoods of Phillips, Ventura Village, Powderhorn, and Seward undergo significant growth as a result of light rail and other urban development, the American Indian community is, for the most part, not a viable or respected player at the development table. This must change. An organized effort is required to develop and bring Indian economic power into the ongoing stream of development opportunities.

Further, the metro area offers less land and housing development at an affordable price that will benefit the American Indian population in the future.  The positioning of new enterprises within the American Indian community needs to occur soon to generate gain on investment for existing and new opportunities.  Significant benefit to the Minneapolis American Indian population will be realized only if an asset building strategy is part of the changes that are coming to the area. Failure to act will result in exacerbated poverty and lack of opportunity with no change in the current conditions. (top)




Community. Strength. Promise.

1404 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN. 55404
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