St. Paul, Minn. (Fox 9) - Minnesota United's supporter groups aren't merely super fans who chant, stomp, and drum at matches — they also have a community-focused mission. This dedication was on full display on Saturday when the three largest supporter groups joined forces to donate $8,000 to Dakota nonprofit Urban Conservation, Cultural Connections, and Environmental Education.
Although the groups — Dark Clouds, True North Elite, and Red Loons — presented the check on Saturday, the fundraising campaign began two months prior, during Minnesota United FC's inaugural Native American Heritage Night on April 15. The event was highlighted by one of the largest indigenous-designed TIFOs (large banners or flags displayed by fan groups) in North America, as per a press release.
Anishinaabe artist Sarah Agaton Howes was the creative force behind the TIFO, drawing from traditional Native beadwork and weaving. T-shirts showcasing the design were sold, with all proceeds going to Wakan Tipi Awaŋyaŋkap, a Native-led environmental nonprofit based in the East Side of St. Paul.
Maggie Lorenz, Executive Director of Wakaŋ Tipi Awaŋyaŋkapi, said the donation comes at a pivotal time. "This year is a big year for our organization - we are beginning construction of Wakan Tipi Center- a cultural and environmental interpretive center in Saint Paul, we just launched our indigenous youth summer program, and have doubled our staff."
The supporter groups share their optimism about their contributions and future collaboration potential. "This was an amazing opportunity for three Supporter Groups to come together and help raise awareness about the land we live on, work on, and benefit from," said Dark Clouds President Meagan Weber.
Echoing her sentiment, True North Elite Vice-President Miranda Muller added, "We are committed to building community, not just in the soccer world, but in the place that brings us so much joy," and part of that involves recognizing the land we inhabit and doing our bit to honor and support indigenous communities."