Mending the Sacred Hoop, Inc. is a Native-led non-profit organization dedicated to addressing and ending violence against Native women. We organize on issues surrounding violence against American Indian/Alaska Native women in our home community of Duluth, MN and throughout the State of Minnesota. Nationally we work with Tribes and Native communities that are addressing the issues of domestic and sexual violence, dating violence, sex trafficking and stalking in their communities. We provide training to strengthen Tribal and Native community responses to these crimes, including advocacy and systems responses, community understanding and awareness, engaging men in the work to end violence against women, and coordinating community responses that provide for women’s safety and uphold offender accountability.
WHAT FRAMES OUR WORK
Native women are the highest victimized population in the United States by perpetrators of all races. (Bureau of Crime Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. American Indians and Crime Report. Washington: 1999).
Violence against women is a social problem that affects individuals, families, and communities (including schools, medical, and judicial institutions), and as such, requires societal change.
Colonization is based in a belief that one group has the right to exert their will over another and use people and resources for their own gain.
Domestic and sexual violence is about establishing power and maintaining control.
Acculturated values and beliefs have eroded our Indigenous structures and lifeways.
We must reclaim our own Indigenous teachings on culture and values to create social change in and for our communities.
Mending the Sacred Hoop works from a social change perspective to end violence against Native women and children while restoring the safety, sovereignty, and sacredness of Native women. We are dedicated to strengthening the voice and vision of Native peoples. Our approach is founded on grassroots organizing within communities, restoring the leadership of Native women in addressing domestic and sexual violence.
The Hoop, or Circle is one of the most powerful Native American symbols for wellness and creative problem solving. It represents wholeness, health, and harmony with self, family, community, nation, and the universe.
Mending the Sacred Hoop’s logo references Indigenous people healing from the devastating effects of European migration. The Sacred Hoop, broken by the effects of colonization, is being mended, beginning in the seventh generation.
Our logo represents the healing of our communities based on the teachings of the Medicine Wheel. Each section of the Medicine Wheel represents one of the four cardinal directions with a corresponding color. The outer rim shows the Hoop as being broken, and the ribbon signifies our work – we are in the process of mending the Sacred Hoop. The turtle represents Earth, North America/Turtle Island, wisdom, longevity, and woman. As women are at the center of our work, our families, and our communities we place the turtle in the center of the Sacred Hoop.
Cinnamon Bankey: Executive Director
Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota
Cinnamon is a member of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community, granddaughter of Chairman Saros, daughter of Vice Chairman Ronneng and a proud mother of two sons and five grandchildren. Assisting survivors through direct services while navigating the judicial system, she knows first-hand the challenges of working across multiple jurisdictions when working with Indigenous survivors of DV/SA. She has provided leadership and collaboration working with tribes and tribal SA programs nationally for over 22 years. Cinnamon coordinated the first National Tribal Conference on Sex Trafficking in Indian Country; co-authored the tribal section of the Office on Victims of Crime Toolkit; and provided training and technical Assistance (TTA) to OVW Tribal program grantees for 15 years. Cinnamon has assisted in curriculum development for the Tribal SA Forensic Examiner Training & Tribal SA Forensic Examiner Clinical Skills Lab, the Tribal SA Advocacy Curricula, and the American Indian Women’s Educational Support Group curriculum. She has led one of the first eight Tribal SART pilot project trainings in rural and reservation areas. Cinnamon coordinated SA multidisciplinary response team protocols and created the Native Women’s Crisis Line Training Protocol & Resource Manuscript. She has developed sexual violence advocacy programs in rural reservation and urban Tribal communities and worked as a program director in an urban program serving Indigenous victims/survivors. Cinnamon twice assisted drafting VAWA resolutions for the National Congress of American Indians. Cinnamon is one of the founders of the MN Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition (MIWSAC) and served as a Circle Keeper (board member) for 9 years.
Jennifer Hommerding: Operations Coordinator
Jennifer (Jen) joined Mending the Sacred Hoop as the Operations Coordinator in August of 2022. She has worked as an advocate for a sexual violence resource center and most recently as the supervisor of a tribal police department’s victim services program. Jen has spent significant time as a sexual assault multi-disciplinary team coordinator and has a passion for systems change. She assisted a case file review for Beltrami County’s system response to cases of sexual violence and is a former member of the Beltrami County Domestic Violence Advisory Council. She has served as a board member of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Recently her primary goal was to empower advocates who are working within the realm of sexual violence, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. Jen lives in Bemidji with her two dogs.
Lisa Marie Iyotte: Cultural and Engagement Coordinator
Lisa Marie Iyotte (Cochran) grew up on the Sicangu Makoce, the Rosebud Reservation, in South Dakota where her mother, Roseanne Cochran (Packard), is an enrolled tribal member. Lisa is an enrolled tribal member as A’aninin of the Fort Belknap Gros Ventre tribe in Montana where her father, Ruben Cochran, is from. Lisa has two daughters and a son and is an Unci (grandmother) to 6 Takoja (grandchildren) Lisa Marie Iyotte has advocated for ending violence against Indigenous Women for over 19 years. She applies her personal experience and knowledge of healing through spirituality to provide culturally responsive services to individuals, tribes, and non-profits. She has volunteered and worked for a number of non-profits serving Indigenous cultures across the Upper Midwest. She has received several awards and spoken nationally, including at the White House, to advance the rights of Indigenous Women and their children.
Rebecca Balog: Training and Technical Assistance Program Development Coordinator
Rebecca has a deep-rooted identity as a survivor advocate. She brings over 22 years of healthy relationships and anti-violence work through local shelter services, hotline management, national and grassroots activism, and youth engagement. Firmly committed to raising cultural awareness, Rebecca believes cross-cultural bridges and unified voices across communities are the foundation for social change and ending violence. Rebecca has been a facilitator of TA/training in various capacities: domestic violence, sexual assault, racial justice, sex trafficking, homelessness intervention, reproductive justice, economic equity/justice, intergenerational trauma, disabilities, leadership building, mentor projects, anti- oppression, and works in specialized capacities with Indigenous youth and youth-led community programming. Rebecca invests in the restoration of sovereignty for Native people to ensure safety for future generations by working with youth as leaders of the next generation. She also focuses on the premium importance of allyship to collectively challenge both visible and invisible privilege that impedes upon safety and security of all people of color and marginalized identities. Through the teachings of her mentor, Rebecca firmly believes “Healed People Heal People and Hurt People Hurt People” and that is a philosophy that can heal intergenerational trauma and end lateral oppression. Rebecca was born and raised in the mountains of Pennsylvania and is the mother of three boys. She is Oglala Lakota, Mohawk, and Hungarian-Slovac Romani/Gypsy descent. She lives in the Mid-Atlantic region and offers DV/SA advocacy to Natives and non-Natives as a professional and community volunteer.