Wicoie Nandagikendan Staff

Jennifer Bendickson – Founding mother and Currently serving as Executive Director

Jennifer Bendickson is from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.  She is one of the Native American Leadership Circle members and helped in the formation of the Wicoie Nandagikendan Immersion  Project.  Jennifer was also the coordinator for the Dakota Ojibwe Language Alliance and worked with Margaret Boyer on some of the early Legislative efforts to secure funding for immersion in the state of Minnesota. She is married with four grown sons who reside in the metro area.  Her favorite things to do include sketching, playing cards or scabble, and spending time with her 12 grandchildren.  Jennifer has always wanted young preschool native children to have the opportunity to learn their language.  She hopes someday that all native children in Minnesota will learn their language.

Hope Flanagan

Aaniin! Hope Flanagan zhaaganaazhimowin igaye Noodinesikwe Anishinaabewiinikaazowin, Naadawe-awi dash.  Mikinok indoodem.  Tonawanda ishkoniganing indoonjibaa.
Hope currently works as an Ojibwe immersion classroom teacher at the Four Directions/Family Partnership Program with Lillian Rice the classroom elder. Their students are from 16 months to 5 years old.  She has been working for Wicoie Nandagikendan since August 2009.  Prior to working there, she was the Storyteller/Alcohol,Tobacco and Other Drugs Prevention Specialist at Anishinabe Academy for six years.  Hope has also been the Curriculum Coordinator for the Golden Eagles Youth Program at the Minneapolis American Indian Center and the Youth Leadership Development Program Coordinator at the Division of Indian Work. She first worked in language acquisition for the University of Central Florida during the 1990’s.
Hope received her teaching degree from the University of Minnesota in 1982 and has teaching certification in Minnesota in Secondary Social Sciences and American Indian Language and Culture.  Her Florida teaching certificates include: Social Sciences, Elementary Ed., Pre-Kindergarten and English as a Second Language.  Hope’s graduate work was in Environmental Education.
She attends language tables, present at the Fond du Lac Language Camp, and completed third year Ojibwe at the University of Minnesota. Hope enjoys teaching and learning about plants, birchbark work, fishing, camping, craftwork and traveling.

Brenda Cisneros

Bernadette Cisneros AKA ( Ete Ska ) Came to work for Wicoie October 1st, 2011. She is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She is a first Language Lakota speaker and is working at the Anishinabe Academy with the Dakota High-5 class. Bernadette has some experience working with kids in the past; she has worked in a Head Start class room and she was in the medical field before coming to the program, working with pediatricians, children and adolescents. Bernadette likes to read, walk around the lake, and fix puzzles on her spare time.

Katie Jo Wo Okiye Blue Bendickson

Katie Jo came to work for the Wicoie in August of 2012. Her Dakota name is Wó Okiye Wiƞ and she is Dakota from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. She is a member of the Upper Sioux community and cherishes the Dakota Language. Katie has a daughter who is seven years old and a son who is five years old. She has studied Dakota language for four years now through the University of Minnesota and working with a Master speaker. Her interests include going on family trips, traveling, biking, jogging, outdoors, powwow dancing, sewing, beading, and living the Dakota way of life. She loves working with children and is looking forward to a fun year of Dakota language, traditions and teachings with the class.


Betty Jane Memegwesiikwe Schaaf

Betty Jane Schaaf grew up in the Leech Lake area and is an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. Betty Jane has received her degree in early childhood from Fon du lac Tribal College and also attended the University of Minnesota. Betty Jane has lived and worked in the Twin Cities Native American early childhood community for the past 16 years. As a member of the Native American Leaders Circle, Betty Jane is a founding mother of the Wicoie Nandagikendan Preschool Language Immersion Program and is currently serving as the Interim Program Manager. Some of Betty Jane’s other activities include being involved with MNTrecc Planning Team and Metro Work Group, Early Childhood Advisory Board for the Minnesota Children Theater and also is a board member for the Minnesota Advocates for Immersion Networking.

Shirley Yeoman

Shirley Yeoman has been the Alliance of Early Childhood Professionals’ bookkeeper since 2004. She has a B.S.Ed. from Greenville (IL) College and has completed Master’s level coursework in the area of Management from St. Mary’s College of Minnesota. Shirley has over 30 years of non-profit work experience. She is also currently employed as the Neighborhood Coordinator/Administrator for the Standish Ericsson Neighborhood Association in south Minneapolis.