Widening the circle
Clashes between American Indians and Somalis living in the heart of Minneapolis' Indian country have given rise to a group seeking peace between neighbors.
By Allie Shah
Three women--two Somali and one American Indian--walked arm in arm.
This small, bold act was designed to send a message to the American Indians and Somalis living near Franklin Avenue: We can and should be friends.
It's along this stretch of pavement, in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, where a people who have been on this land the longest regularly bump up against a people who have only recently arrived.
Now, ambassadors from both communities are striving to move from animosity to friendship. Calling themselves the Native American Somali Friendship Committee (NAFSC), they meet monthly to speak frankly about the latest clashes and find common ground.
Group members say they've been through a transformation themselves since they started up last year.
"I was one of the top ones saying, 'I can't stand these people. They park in our parking lots. They stop in the middle of the road and talk to each other,'" said Mike Forcia, a committee member who runs the Wolves' Den cafe at the American Indian Center on Franklin. "Getting to know these people on a personal level has really changed that."
For more on Indian/Muslim comparisons, see Muslims Killed Thousands, Christians Didn't?!, Muslim "Tribes" = Indian Tribes?!, and "9/11 Mosque" = "Devil Worship." For more on the subject in general, see All Bigotries Are Similar.