Cayla Bellanger DeGroat joined the Northland Foundation staff in February as a Program Officer working primarily with Maada'ookiing. Born and raised in White Earth, Minnesota, Cayla is an enrolled member of Gaa-waabaabiganikaag, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe.
She is a life-long student of Indigenous history and federal Indian policy with a Bachelor of Arts in American Indian Studies and Master of Tribal Administration and Governance from the University of Minnesota Duluth.
She has served the community in several roles, including working with her tribe as Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and Homeless Housing Resource Specialist, as well as with the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Department of American Indian Studies as Community Outreach Coordinator. She has also worked with Native Organizers Alliance on grassroots political campaigns and is a current member of the City of Duluth’s Indigenous Commission.
Learn more about Cayla in her own words, below.
"As a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, working towards the betterment of indigenous people and our communities is my passion and purpose in life. My family impressed upon me that each of us have gifts, and as Anishinaabeg it is our duty to share those gifts to support and uplift our community."
Q: What is most interesting or exciting to you about this work, so far?
A: Meeting the grantees and learning more about the amazing work that is being done in the community has been very inspiring and gratifying. We are fortunate to live in a community that works hard for the greater good and is always striving to do better. The Maada’ookiing program is a beautiful example of how institutions can build up communities by supporting the important work on a grassroots level.
Q: You've been writing a book that will soon be published. What is it about?
A: The book is children’s non-fiction, with the goal of introducing kids to Indigenous history and voices.
Q: When you're not busy working or writing, what are some things you enjoy doing?
A: My family keeps me very busy! I am mother to a wonderful five-year-old daughter and am expecting a son early in the Spring. In my spare time I like to recharge with reading, writing, painting, beadwork, and exploring the Lake Superior Hiking Trail.
The Northland Foundation is thrilled to have Cayla on our team and introduce her to you. She will be taking family leave very soon and will return to work with Maada'ookiing later this summer. Welcome, Cayla!