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AV: Audrey Thayer, Bemidji's First Indigenous City Councilwoman

Audrey Thayer

I serve everybody...I'm a servant leader... I humbly walk alongside the people, not in front of them. And that's kind of where I'm at. -Audrey Thayer, Bemidji's first Indigenous City Councilwoman


As leadership professor at Leech Lake Tribal College, Audrey Thayer inspires and empowers her students to make positive change in the world. Her life experience has given her a unique perspective on societal stereotypes, limiting systems, and navigating both legal and political platforms. In this Area Voices segment, learn about the path that led her to using her voice for change, what she hopes to accomplish in the next four years as Bemidji’s first Indigenous City Councilwoman, and the importance of diversity at the policymaking table.

Diversity has to do with women, with the disabled. It has to do with cultures of people who think differently. You could have a group of non-natives who culturally think differently than the mainstream and  they’re not brought to the table because they don't fit that criteria of what the Western world viewpoint is, of who should have office, who should be qualified to lead people. And of course, women...women of all cultures...we've been held back...So the importance of diversity at the table is that broad base of ideas, of thought, of inclusion...Diversity brings such a wide array of thought from different perspectives instead of all the same… - Audrey Thayer

Click on the arrow to hear the whole conversation and how Audrey Thayer grew into a woman of action who is passionate about building a stronger community through inclusion and diverse perspectives.


...we need to move forward and we need to be a sustainable city - leading in sustainability...even though we're not big by numbers, we're a big city. We have a huge Sanford center, the head of the Mississippi, we have three large reservations around us. We are unique, and we could make something of that if we would just move out of this mindset of of not accepting those who are "different." - Audrey Thayer


Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. She returned for a second stint in 2016-23. She produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota.