Littlewolf leaves Virginia council for foundation post

Virginia City Councilor Nevada Littlewolf was recently named CEO of the Tiwahe Foundation.

Virginia city councilor Nevada Littlewolf is leaving office for a prestigious new job as CEO of a Native American foundation.

Last week, the Minneapolis-based Tiwahe Foundation named Littlewolf as its new leader. The foundation grants funds to Native American communities to promote independence and stronger leadership.

“I understand firsthand the importance of indigenous voices in decision-making spaces,” said Littlewolf in a statement. “I am passionate about growing resources and building opportunities for indigenous people. From philanthropy to working in the courts with the Indian Child Welfare Act to affecting policy changes in the political arena, I have spent my life working as a leader, advocate and champion. I am so excited to bring all that I have to build upon and grow Tiwahe Foundation’s vision for indigenous leaders in Minnesota.”

Littlewolf was the first Native American woman to serve on the Virginia city council or the council of any Iron Range city. That’s significant given the cultural divide between Range towns and nearby reservations over the past 100 years.

The Mesabi Daily News reported on the news, interviewing Littlewolf, Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe,

From the story:

Littlewolf is excited for this opportunity, not only for her career, but also for the Virginia community.

“I have been on the council for 10 years,” she said. “People are upset that I am leaving because they say that I represent them. It is time to look around and see who else can represent you — otherwise, it is time to represent yourself.”

She encourages community members to step forward and take an active role in city politics.

Having a voice like Littlewolf’s on a city council does many important things for a city. No, electing a woman doesn’t fix gender equity issues. Electing a native person, or a member of any other group, doesn’t fix all the problems that group faces, either. It’s much more about the fact that we learn how to talk to each other when our representation reflects the entire community.

Not only do we hear concerns from people who see things differently, but we learn something from the mundane, as well. We see that the fundamental concerns of a city — the streets, taxes, emergency services — are important to everyone. Was it important that Councilor Littlewolf took a stance against the KKK mailers last month? Absolutely. But mostly she discussed street improvements and voted on resolutions the same as any city councilor. We are all part of the community.

Congratulations to my friend Nevada. She has set a great example for a new generation of leadership on the Iron Range. And she’s not going anywhere. She’ll retain her home in Virginia as her children finish the school year.


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