In November 1997, the Minnesota Board on Aging (MBA) sent out a special request for American Indians, reservation staff, professionals in the field of aging, staff of area agencies on aging, and others to form a special Indian Forum Planning Committee called “The Seventh Generation – Tomorrow’s Elders.”
Aging of the state’s population has even more severe consequences for American Indians, who face several barriers to health services. Indian Health Services’ statistics for American Indian elders paint a grim picture.
Between 1997 and 2000, reservation and urban Elders, Native Americans of all ages, and reservation staff gathered to discuss issues and solutions to aging issues facing American Indian Elders and their families today and in the future. Staff from a variety of state agencies, including the MBA, attended and supported the meetings.
Wisdom Steps was created to overcome barriers. The program is developed and run by the American Indian community. Tribes across the state are partners, sharing ideas and resources, sponsoring walks and health screenings and more.
Learn more about the History of Wisdom Steps.
Wisdom Steps is represented by a Board of Directors who are appointed by their respective Tribal and Urban Indian Advisory Councils. Currently, Wisdom Steps is represented by nine reservations and three urban communities. Wisdom Steps hold quarterly meetings, hosted by a tribal or urban community. The meeting are open to all elders and elder can join as an advisor. Each appointed representative, alternate and advisor(s) also serve as the local Wisdom Steps coordinator and promote, recruit and plan Wisdom Steps activities in their local communities. Participation in Wisdom Steps is voluntary and self monitored. Members encourage each other to conduct the Wisdom Steps activities and report their efforts once a year to their local Wisdom Steps coordinator for inclusion into tribal/urban support to attend the conference. Over 300 Elders attend our annual conference in June of each year. Minnesota is home to an estimated 5000 American Indian individuals age 55 and over.
Wisdom Steps would not be possible without the support of our volunteers, partners and Tribal Communities. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Indian Area Agency on Aging was also instrumental in the development of Wisdom Steps. All the board members, alternates and advisors also volunteer to support the project. These Wisdom Steps volunteers often seek local donations and support through their respective tribes and local communities.
The success of Wisdom Steps is tied to its Board of Directors. These appointments have been received from Tribal Councils and Urban Indian Affairs Council. Click here for our Board of Directors.
Interested American Indian Community Members from reservations and urban communities serve as advisors. For a complete list of our advisor list click here.