Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith
MMIR Organizer Legal Advocate MN350
Cultural Legal Advocate, Two-Spirit warrior, Indigenous Scholar and researcher, Indigenous Peoples Rights Activist, Water Protector, National speaker and trainer, Qualified Neutral in MN and WI
Jessica Smith (Gidagaakoons) is a a proud Two-Spirit member of the Bois Forte Band of The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. Jessica is the MMIR Organizer and Legal Advocate for MN350. Jessica is an award winning legal advocate and researcher.
She received her Associates of Science degree in Law Enforcement from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in 2008, and her Legal Studies Bachelors from University of Wisconsin-Superior, where she was a Dean's List Student and has received multiple UW Foundation Scholarships, and received the Justice Service Award twice from the Criminal Justice/Legal Studies Program for her dedication to MMIP, and our land and water. She is a dedicated activist and advocate for social and systemic change, and is committed to helping her people by using her experiences and trauma to fight for justice, the safety, wellbeing and equality of BIPOC and LGBTQ2S people. Jessica has received 2 justice service awards, received the Outstanding Young Advocate Award, The McNair Research Excellence Award, and The Outstanding Leadership Award from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and the Wisconsin TRIO Achiever award. She was the 2021-22 Newman Civic Fellow for UWS and graduated with the Chancellors Leadership Award as well as having the greatest honor of being the student speaker. Jessica is also a proud member of the Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society.
Jessica is a qualified neutral in Minnesota and Wisconsin. She received her certificate in Mediation and was the first student to complete the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from UWS. She has completed her 40 hour certificate training in Native-Focused Sexual Assault Advocacy from Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition. She is a dedicated legal advocate for social and systemic change, environmental justice and is committed to helping her people by using her experiences and trauma to fight for justice, the safety, well-being, and equality of all people and for the preservation of land and water. Jessica is currently studying for her Masters in Tribal Governance and Administration and plans on attending law school to further fight for her people, land and water. There are many issues that affect Indigenous communities and Jessica works fiercely to combat threats to traditional lifestyles and culture. She believes that we come from the land, we are the land, and we must fight for the caretakers of the land and water.
Jessica speaks nationally on issues Indigenous people face in systems of oppression. She provides trainings on historical and multi-generational trauma, trainings on how to keep our children safe on the internet because she was groomed into human trafficking via Facebook. She provides trainings on how agencies can better support Indigenous survivors of violence and how they can be inclusive of all Indigenous people, especially Two-Spirit people. She provides trainings on the risk factors and what to look for in human trafficking, how to protect our people against it. She speaks out against systems of oppression and actively works to decolonize these colonial systems of oppression.
Jessica is a registered legal human rights advocate and consultant in MN and provides court advocacy and support, organizes justice rallies and press conferences for families of MMIP and victims of violence.
Jessica is a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Jessica leads and does her own research on MMIP and the correlations such as extractive industries and the foster care system. Research is a form of cultural healing, all too often our stories are told by others, so by taking back our voices and using them to educate others is a form of decolonization. Living and walking in your truth is medicine, Indigenous knowledge is power, turning pain into power is a beautiful thing.
"Being a two-spirit Indigenous woman, we are often an invisible population within an invisible population. Especially in the data, so taking back that space that we have been historically pushed out of is one of my life goals. To decolonize research and to do it in a healing and non retraumatizing way.