My name is YellowCloud Provencial. I’m from the Sicangu(burnt thigh) and Mnicoujou(planters by the water) bands of the Lakota Nation and tribal member of Rosebud, South Dakota. As a teenager growing up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota I was naturally and heavily influenced by the negativity that the inner city attracts, so, naturally I gravitated towards trouble. In which that trouble brought me to several juvenile institutions which included MCF-Red Wing where I met Stephanie Autumn at the time. I was 16 years old going on 17 while at MCF-Red Wing and during that time I learned more from that Men’s Talking Circle, spiritual and cultural activities than I have ever before up to that point. Stephane’s Men’s Talking Circle helped me put my personal trust in other’s and not be so close minded which helped tremendously later on in my personal sobriety.
During my time at MCF-Red Wing I learned that spirituality is the one thing that was missing in my life that ultimately saved me. I was able to attend the Inikagapi(first purification ceremony, sweat lodge) at least one time a month which I eagerly looked forward to every month. I was also able to thankfully go to a Sundance ceremony as well in Pipestone, MN thanks to Stephanie Autumn and her son Craig Camp who helped me reconnect to my spirituality further.
Even after spending 9 months in MCF-Red Wing I felt to some degree that I honestly wasn’t ready to be released. Haha. Yeah I know most people wouldn’t admit that as well but I am. After leaving MCF-Red Wing I maintained sobriety but also relapsed many times off and on for the next 10 years. In the year 2012 I met a spiritual uncle by the name of Art Owen who just happened to be Stephanie’s late husband in which I didn’t know at the time. He taught me not only about sobriety but how to maintain it through spiritual practice which I follow and do as of today. He taught me about the Circle of Life and how that everything we do negatively or positively eventually comes back around. I don’t know if fate brought me towards this spiritual uncle/teacher but I do believe that in all the good that we do good eventually comes back to us. To this day I’ve been clean and sober now for over 9 years and even though life can be tough at times I still remember what I was taught while at MCF-Red Wing and my experiences with the Men’s Talking Circle and spiritual practices
Boozhoo, My name is Diana Nason. I am an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chippewa Tribe. I am also a formerly incarcerated member of the American Indian Prison Project Reentry Program. I was incarcerated at the Minnesota Women’s Correctional Facility for several years when I met Ms. Autumn. After my release I maintained contact with her and Ms. Nord who facilitates the Reentry Talking Circle. I have been out of prison for two and a half years and have been going to the AIPP Reentry Talking Circle every month for two years. I have been going to every circle faithfully because I feel comfortable and excepted. It feels like we are family and there is much needed support for all the women. Being a part of this group of women feels different than going to 12 step groups like AA. This is where I feel like home which has really helped in being sober and changing my life around so I can stay out of prison. Not only does it feel like we are a family but we support each other like a family. I really appreciate the reentry and emotional support that I get from going to talking circle, and I also really appreciate the financial support towards my health and wellness each month. Since the start of the covid 19 pandemic the AIPP has helped us a couple of times to be able to buy groceries for our families or pay a light bill which has been very helpful.When we meet for talking circle we do different things such as cultural ceremonies, beading, we use our medicines, eat lunch or dinner together, have guest speakers, and of course have a safe place that we can talk. These circles really have mean so much to me and I have learned a lot. I have been disconnected from my culture for so long and I finally feel like I belong again. I love being a part of the American Indian Prison Project Reentry and our Facilitator Teresa Nord. She and the other women are always there for me when I need them. I enjoy every minute of being a part of the talking circle group, and I know whenever I walk into the room I will always be respected and loved as a sister!!
Diana Nason, 2/09/2021