City Council committee advances plans for Truth and Reconciliation Commission

June 30, 2021

The City Council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee has directed the City’s Division of Race and Equity to work with other departments to develop a framework, timeline and budget for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The first-of-its kind, cross-cultural commission will examine the experiences of American Indians and Black/African descendants, drawing on narratives from each groups’ historical experiences in order to tell the truth about the level of harm each group has endured.

The Council committee’s action follows recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Workgroup established in October 2020 by a City Council resolution. The workgroup has spent the last six months examining the meaning of reconciliation and has established definitions for priority groups outlined in the resolution – American Indians and Black/African descendants – and clarifying the importance of focusing on these communities. The workgroup has also outlined a vision statement for the truth and reconciliation process, provided guidance on implementation in Minneapolis and made recommendations to partner with the City in appointing commissioners.

The City Council has proposed amending Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed spending plan for the first round of federal funding awarded to the City through the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act to include $500,000 to support the City’s truth and reconciliation work. The Council is scheduled to vote Friday, July 2 on adopting the spending plan.

Truth and reconciliation processes have taken place all over the world, including in South Africa after the end of Apartheid and in Sierra Leone after the end of an 11-year civil war.

“I want to acknowledge the significant emotional labor from our Black and Indigenous community members and staff expended in the development of this work,” said City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins. “I am proud of the recommendations set forth by the work group members, the leadership from our Race and Equity division, and for helping to bring to fruition a truth and reconciliation process in partnership with our American Indian communities and Black/African descendants impacted by the government-sanctioned harms of this city. I will continue to work with, and on behalf of, these communities for funding and resources to support the critical work ahead of truth, accountability and justice, as defined by a future Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

“As we move into the next chapter in Minneapolis history and chart a path to make our city more equitable and inclusive, we need to do so with an honest understanding of our past,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “I want to commend Council Vice President Jenkins and our Race and Equity team for spearheading this work, and it is critical that supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is truly a shared priority across our local government. I know other City leaders share that sense of urgency for addressing our city’s prevalent racial disparities and implementing solutions that are by and for our Black and American Indian communities.”