“Preserving, Protecting and Promoting the Dakota Culture for Future Generations”
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We are all saddened by the passing of Frances (“Frannie”) Fairbanks on October 30

We are all saddened by the passing of Frances (“Frannie”) Fairbanks on October 30, 2017 at the age of 88.

Frances (“Frannie”) Fairbanks

We are all saddened by the passing of Frances (“Frannie”) Fairbanks on October 30, 2017 at the age of 88.  “Frannie” started work at the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC) in 1975 as an employment counselor in the job training program, not long after the Center’s doors first opened. She was soon directing that program.  She became Executive Director in 1982, and led MAIC for nearly thirty years until she retired in 2012.  Under Frannie’s leadership, MAIC survived tough economic times in the 1980’s when many other urban Indian Centers across the country were forced to shutter their doors.  During Frannie’s time with the Minneapolis American Indian Center, she touched tens of thousands of Native people’s lives, by providing guidance, support, services, and by insisting on just treatment for her community.  When Frannie finally retired in 2012, the Minneapolis American Indian Center was firmly established as a legacy institution to serve the urban Indian community, and preserve and share our traditions with future generations.


Frances Fairbanks was one of the group of urban Natives who founded the American Indian Movement in the 1970’s, and she often talked about the terrible mistreatment of her people at the hands of police, government agencies, and the mainstream community that she had seen in her years.  In her role at the Center, she reached out to help Natives living in neighboring communities.  One of Frannie’s other legacies was the hundreds of young Native people she mentored and supported across her career. Nearly all of today’s leaders in the Minneapolis Native American community have a “Frannie story”, of how she inspired them with advice given in the old ways, through stories, by calmly and fairly arbitrating disputes in the community, sometimes by rebuking us in a friendly but firm way, and always by sharing a good laugh or shedding tears with us for our losses.


Frannie was a proud member of the Red Lake Nation.  She is survived by her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great – great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and siblings, as well as many children that she fostered over the years, as well as the hundreds of others who felt as though Frannie was also their auntie, or mother.


An all-night wake service will begin at 5:00pm at the Minneapolis American Indian Center on Wednesday, November 8th, 2017.  A service will be held at 7:00pm that evening; the service will be officiated by both, Mitch Walking Elk and Rev. Marlene Helgemo.  Funeral services will be held at 10:00am on Thursday, November 9th, 2017, at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, located at 1530 E Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Interment will be at the Gethsemane Cemetery, located in New Hope, Minnesota.




Mary LaGarde – Agnew

Executive Director

Minneapolis American Indian Center

(612) 879-1750