Beating the Clock to Keep the Yuchi Language Alive

94-year-old Maxine and 3-year-old Chaské Turning Heart represent the oldest and the youngest Yuchi speakers.

94-year-old Maxine and 3-year-old Chaské Turning Heart represent the oldest and the youngest Yuchi speakers.

In Sapulpa, Oklahoma, over 20 years ago, the Yuchi language was disappearing. With the Yuchi people withstanding generations of trauma and annihilation, their language had dwindled to a few Native speakers, and it was on the verge of extinction. The Yuchi Language Project has changed that destiny. And now, with funding from First Nations Development Institute’s Native Language Immersion Initiative, this organization is building on its programming in a race against time to ensure that the Yuchi language – and the culture, identity and perseverance that come with it – lives on.

Language of a People

Halay Turning Heart, project administrator for the Yuchi Language Project, explains that Yuchi is an isolate language. This means it is completely distinct, without related languages from which it has borrowed words or blended. It is guessed that the language reflects the culture of the people who speak it: exclusive, select, proud and, moreover, tenacious despite many obstacles.

Turning Heart explains how the Yuchi people were among the Native tribes forced from their homelands to Oklahoma on the “Trail of Tears.” Through the genocide, oppression and trauma, the Yuchi survived and remained unyielding, even years later when assimilation efforts were in full force, their children were sent to boarding schools, and “English Only” laws were implemented throughout their communities. Today, the Yuchi Tribe is not federally recognized as its own nation. Much of the tribe has been fragmented, with many members now enrolled Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Further, the remaining roughly 2,400 Yuchi people are spread out, with the Yuchi language concentrated in the Sapulpa area.

The Yuchi Language Project immerses people of all ages through classes at the “Endangered Language Habitat.”

The Yuchi Language Project immerses people of all ages through classes at the “Endangered Language Habitat.”

Still, while it can be said that the Yuchi language is weak in that its number of speakers became reduced to a handful. More accurately, the fact that the language has withstood through so many hardships is more a testament to its strength.

“The Yuchi people are very independent, self-reliant and self-determined,” Turning Heart says. “This has reinforced our language.”

It is the fortitude of the Yuchi people and their commitment to their language that brought them to the point 25 years ago when the Yuchi Language Project was founded.

Endangered Language Habitat

The Yuchi Language Project is a community-based organization dedicated to restoring the strength of the Yuchi language and thereby the cultural health of the Yuchi people. Since its inception it has worked to produce written Yuchi materials where none had existed, harvest the knowledge and stories of the few Yuchi-speaking elders, and develop immersion practices that would build fluency and create the next generation of Yuchi speakers. The project serves the entire Yuchi community through language classes for all ages, culture camps, master-apprentice sessions, curriculum development and youth programs like sports and clubs.

Learning the language young, kids soon become ambassadors for Yuchi culture throughout the community.

Learning the language young, kids soon become ambassadors for Yuchi culture throughout the community.

Now, with funding from First Nations, the organization is building on its success with the project gOnEEnû O’wAdAnA, meaning “A New Generation of Yuchi Speakers.” This project is designed to further sustain the Yuchi language by targeting young people (preschoolers and students in K-12). Turning Heart explains how it is critical to offer a program that engages children in learning Yuchi starting from an early-childhood stage through their schooling years so that they can keep growing their language skills.

Key to these efforts is the project’s “Endangered Language Habitat,” a physical space in which only Yuchi can be spoken and to speak English, one must step outside.

“We are dedicated to that boundary,” says Turning Heart. “Once we literally open the door to English, we see that it seeps in.”

Allowing English not only jeopardizes the students’ ability to learn Yuchi, it also oppresses the Native language and the pride and identity it encompasses. “When English is the language of commerce and the legal system, it becomes the only language that is valued, and the only one that matters,” says Turning Heart. “By creating an endangered language habitat, we’re raising the prestige of our language. We’re building pride in our students and their ability to speak Yuchi.”

The project takes steps to also make the learning process fun, with processes focused on peer-to-peer learning, sports, and active games in which teams may “lose points” if they accidentally speak English. Through it all, they are already seeing children learning the language faster and at a younger age. Moreover, the success of the language immersion is spilling into other areas.

For example, Yuchi language instructors use a method called Total Physical Response, Native sign language, and curriculum materials based on seasonal themes relating to the Yuchi cultural cycle. This means students learn the Yuchi language, and they learn in the way that Yuchi people best learn, which promotes academic skills and results in higher scholastic achievement.

This approach directly addresses a misperception in the local community about Yuchi children and how many automatically believe they need English as a Second Language classes. “There’s a lot of ignorance about our language, and as a result it can be looked down on,” Turning Heart says. “But all our kids are also fluent English speakers. We work to educate everyone that learning Yuchi doesn’t displace their English fluency. It actually builds both languages.

“It’s a misunderstanding that kids who speak Yuchi need extra help,” she says. “In reality, studies show that people who are bilingual are more likely to outperform in every area and to do better academically.”

Documenting the Language, Learning from Others

Through the First Nations funding, the Yuchi Language Project is also aiming to train more language instructors and create multimedia learning materials that document not just the language but also the memories and perspectives of the Yuchi elders.

They are having elders retell old stories and capturing their presentations on video. They are also collecting older recordings of Yuchi speakers who have passed away and having current elders interpret their words as youth create accompanying visuals. In the end they aim to have a series of videos that can be shared in classes or with the public. Kids will have a way to watch, listen and learn and there will be more ways to access the stories and traditions of the Yuchi culture that would have been lost forever.

Sports are played using the Yuchi language only. To make the learning fun, team that use English by mistake may lose points.

Sports are played using the Yuchi language only. To make the learning fun, teams that use English by mistake may lose points.

Also – through a separate travel scholarship from First Nations – delegates of the Yuchi Language Project were able to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2019, during the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages. The forum is the UN’s central coordinating body for matters relating to the concerns and rights of the world’s Indigenous peoples. There, Turning Heart says, they were able to meet with other language advocates and teachers who were in the same situation.

“We all have elders getting into their 80s and 90s, and we all only have a few years to capture their insights. We’re not alone in this struggle,” she says.

At the same time, Turning Heart says it was inspiring to feel “unity at a global level.” They could see what was happening internationally and locally, and how others are prevailing at passing down language so key to people’s cultures.

“At the end of the day, language is tied to everything,” she says. “It is a lens through which we see the culture. Without the language, we would lose our foods, ceremonies and stories.”

Speaking of Strength

Indeed, thanks to the Yuchi Language Project, the Yuchi language is sustaining, reflecting the strength and perseverance of a people. It is known as one of the world’s most ancient and richest languages and it continues to carry centuries of tradition, history and the unique Yuchi perspective. The project has future goals of expanding its programming, reaching more students and continuing to build fluency in the next generations. Moreover, it is bringing joy to Yuchi elders who thought the language would die with them.

English Stops Here

One of those elders is 94-year-old Maxine Wildcat Barnett, who has served as a bridge to the past, with memories and stories dating back to the 1800s, and who hadn’t heard the language spoken by young people since she was a little girl. Now, seeing the young students participate in Yuchi ceremonies and be ambassadors for the language, has created a huge source of pride. “I think seeing the language live on has been her purpose,” Turning Heart says. “I think it’s how she’s lived so long.”

Turning Heart is grateful for the support of the Yuchi community and First Nations in advancing the project’s efforts. “They understand the importance of our language and the strength of our people,” she says. “We’re up against the clock, but we’re not going to let it die on our watch.”

By Amy Jakober

Sister Cities Brings Arapaho Youth to Traditional Homelands

Northern Arapaho youth, chaperones and Sister Cities personnel at the Longmont Civic Center.

Northern Arapaho youth, chaperones, Longmont youth and Sister Cities volunteers at the Longmont Civic Center.

“We want your homeland to be your home,” affirmed Mayor Brian Bagley of Longmont, Colorado, speaking to Arapaho high schoolers and their chaperones at First Nations Development Institute (First Nations), which is headquartered in Longmont. The youth were joined by their Longmont youth partners and chaperones, Sister Cities volunteers and First Nations staff members who hosted the group for breakfast on June 14, 2019.

The Arapaho youth and their chaperones, Jana Grey and Grayson Medicine Cloud, were hosted in Longmont as part of the city’s effort to create an official Sister Cities relationship with the Northern Arapaho of the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

“It’s great to have you here,” said Raymond Foxworth, First Nations Vice President of Grantmaking, Development and Communications. “Our work here is about making Native communities strong and innovative, and young people are important to that.” In April of this year, First Nations awarded a $90,000 grant to the Northern Arapaho as part of its Native Language Immersion Initiative to support the development of a master-apprentice language program to educate and empower Northern Arapaho tribal members.

First Nations' Raymond Foxworth, left, with Sister Cities volunteer Ray Ramirez during the visit to First Nations.

First Nations’ Raymond Foxworth, left, with Sister Cities volunteer Ray Ramirez during the visit to First Nations.

Jace Buffalo, 15, enthused, “It’s actually pretty great, the things that First Nations talked about – what they are doing for all the tribes. I’m excited about all these people here we’re getting to know. The students from Longmont are pretty awesome to hang out with. At first, I was hesitant – I’m mostly a homebody – this is a kind of new experience for me.”

“This is a great chance for the kids to have this experience,” explained Medicine Cloud, who was chaperoning the youth as part of his position as Northern Arapaho Youth Coordinator. “We worked hard to encourage kids to come. I pitched it to the parents, and they were excited. Their parents want them to do things. The kids liked the idea at first, but then they would get afraid and change their minds.”

“Take Healthy Risks”

“Some of our kids have never even left the reservation,” added Grey, also a chaperone and a youth coordinator for the tribe. “We want to encourage them to take risks – healthy risks – for new experiences that help them grow and learn confidence.”

Longmont has been involved in the Sister Cities International initiative since 1991 and has partnerships with Chino, Japan, and Ciudad Guzman in Mexico. Sister Cities International was the vision of President Dwight Eisenhower, who proposed the program at a White House Conference on Citizen Diplomacy in 1956. Eisenhower believed that forming relationships between peoples of different cultures around the world through building city-to-city partnerships would foster peace and prosperity and help to avert future conflicts. The developing partnership with the Northern Arapaho, when it is finalized, would be the first of its kind: an American city in partnership with a sovereign Native American nation.

The youth listen to a brief presentation at First Nations, along with chaperones Jana Grey at right, and Grayson Medicine Cloud in the back of the room.

The youth listen to a brief presentation at First Nations, along with chaperones Jana Grey in foreground at right, and Grayson Medicine Cloud, wearing a hat in the back.

The seeds for the connection between Longmont and the Northern Arapaho were planted when Mayor Bagley, deeply impacted by a documentary on the Lakota of Pine Ridge Reservation, decided he needed to be responsible to the history that has so severely disadvantaged the Indigenous peoples of the U.S. With help and advice from Carmen Ramirez, Longmont’s Community and Neighborhood Resource Manager, and her husband, Ray Ramirez, a recently retired staff member of the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colorado, Mayor Bagley reached out to Sister Cities volunteer board members and the Northern Arapaho to open a conversation about the possibility of a Sister Cities relationship between the city and the tribe.

In August 2018, a delegation from Longmont traveled to the Wind River Reservation to open a dialogue with the Northern Arapaho. Led by Mayor Bagley, the delegation included Carmen and Ray Ramirez, Janice Rebhan – the Sister Cities board member who manages Longmont’s Sister Cities relationships with Mexico and Japan – and other Sister Cities volunteers and City of Longmont staff members. The Longmont group met with the Arapaho elders, known to the Arapaho as the Four Old Men, and the Tribal Business Council.

The dialogue ranged across topics from the sharing of Arapaho knowledge to expectations of a plan for conserved open space for tribal use in Longmont to ideas for managing efficient electricity and broadband.

A Starting Point

“At this starting point, we discussed beginning with something small scale,” explained Rebhan. “We opened the idea of a getting the youth of the communities together, and that was important to Crawford [White, one of the Four Old Men] – to do something that would make the kids comfortable and to allow them to expand their horizons and know their actual homeland.”

The youth enjoy breakfast burritos and fruit during their visit to First Nations.

The youth and chaperones enjoy breakfast burritos, granola bars and fruit during their visit to First Nations.

Just a few weeks later, in September, the Arapaho Business Council including Chair Lee Spoonhunter and Stephen Fast Horse, along with the rest of the business council and other tribal members, visited Longmont. The group decided to use the Sister Cities template for youth exchanges to organize a visit during which Longmont youth would host Northern Arapaho youth.

Jenny Diaz-Leon, a chaperone for the Longmont youth during the gathering, has been a chaperone for the Longmont Sister Cities youth exchanges to Mexico and Japan. Diaz-Leon emphasized the importance of building youth relationships across cultural lines: “My culture is who I am; I am submerged in my traditions, celebrations and norms. I believe when we come together and honor other people’s cultures, learn about their music, dances, food, ceremonies, we learn so much; we learn more about ourselves and build genuine friendships.”

To prepare for the visit, the Longmont youth and their parents engaged in an experiential exercise on the Doctrine of Discovery with Boulder Friends Meeting, a Quaker group, called “Toward Right Relationship with Native American Peoples.” Jennifer Kamenides, mother to Gwendolyn, one of the Longmont youth participants, said the experience impacted her deeply. “History is not history,” she emphasized, “it’s now. We are living on Arapaho ancestral lands because they were forced away. We have to figure out how to understand and deal with that in a fair way.”

“Need to Keep Learning”

Longmont youth host Estella Percarpio added, “After learning about such a dark and sad history, I thought there would be a lot of heaviness for the weekend. But there isn’t. We’re having fun. We’ll keep getting to know each other, and we need to keep learning.”

“Guilt should never be the base of this relationship,” affirmed Ray Ramirez. “We need these kids, the parents, everyone, to be open to education and for people to be willing to be responsible and take good actions.”

The Arapaho teenagers first met their Longmont youth hosts at dusk in Dawson Park for pizza and cake. Silhouetted by the sunset and reflections off Macintosh Lake, they began to get to know each other. It did not take long for them to share smiles and start their journey toward friendship.

The youth learn about First Nations during their visit to Longmont.

The youth learn about First Nations during their visit to Longmont.

The next two days were filled with events like painting ceramic tiles and skateboard decks, learning about interviewing and storytelling with local radio station KGNU, swimming and game-playing at Longmont’s recreational center, sharing communal meals, and each Arapaho teen sharing supper at the home of their Longmont partner host.

“This has been such a wonderful experience to be a part of,” stated Carmen Ramirez. “We’ve worked in Native communities, and there are always the stereotypes. This generation needs to be proud of who they are, their own cultures, and proud of where they come from. We older folks need to step back and allow them to grow into leaders and to lead.”

Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley, near left in suit, discusses the city's developing relationship with the Northern Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation.

Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley, near left in suit, discusses the city’s developing relationship with the Northern Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation.

Final Celebration

On the final night of the youth gathering, the Arapaho visitors, hosts, city officials and allies met at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center for dinner and a celebration of the gathering. The celebration featured a ceremonial dance and blessing of the youth by Tlahuitzcalli, an Aztec dance group, a Grass Dance by 14-year-old Nemo Divers, a performance of songs by sisters, Cedar and Miracle Manzanares, and a video sing-along thank you from the Longmont youth, featuring the lyrics to the Beatles’ iconic “Hey Jude” and photos from the weekend. The Manzanares sisters also led the audience in a Round Dance on stage to, in their words, “promote love and good feelings.”

Cedar was reflective in the quiet moments before breakfast at the Ramirez home the morning after the closing celebration. When asked about why she participated in the youth gathering, she explained, “Sometimes kids don’t get to have a life or they make bad decisions, get stuck just partying and not thinking about the future. I want to keep this partnership, to keep in touch, to be a role model for kids so people can be proud and don’t give up. It’s all about kindness and communication and making community.”

By Virginia Kennedy, West Nottingham Academy

“Salish Sojourn” Recap: Our Special Tour of the Pacific Northwest

Tour participants and staff at the beach.

Tour participants, guides, board members and staff taking a “Salish Sojourn.”

Often news about the hard work and impact of First Nations Development Institute’s grantee projects is shared externally through photos, reports, social media postings and newsletters, such as First Nations’ Indian Giver. Although these methods provide a wonderful glimpse into the work being done, actually seeing the projects first-hand offers a far more comprehensive understanding and a much deeper appreciation.

In June 2019, six tour participants had the opportunity to visit with First Nations grantees and other communities in coastal Washington and personally get to know the individuals involved and see, first-hand, the amazing grassroots work they are doing in their communities.

A Salish Sojourn: A Northwest Tour took place June 9-15 and included visits to seven tribal communities and one Seattle-based grantee. Participating communities and organizations were each given a small grant to thank them for taking the time and effort to be a part of the tour. The goal of this trip was to present an opportunity for First Nations donors and other participants to understand the challenges and successes of grantees and other Native groups in the Northwest.

Traditional Foods

The tour began with a home-cooked dinner of traditional foods prepared by Muckleshoot tribal member Rosa Maldonado. Participants met with Rosa, tour guide and Muckleshoot tribal member Valerie Segrest, and Muckleshoot tribal council member Louie Ungaro. First Nations President & CEO Michael Roberts and Board Member Chandra Hampson also were in attendance. The meal was a wonderful kickoff to the journey, and showcased traditional foods in a variety of preparations, including fresh-caught, sage-baked salmon; locally hunted venison with a garlic-sorrel sauce handpicked from local mountains; wild rice cakes; grilled maple squash; and sweetgrass tea.

Tour attendees learned much about traditional foods and medicines.

Attendees learn about traditional medicines used at the Elders Herbal Pharmacy with Muckleshoot tribal member Valerie Segrest.

The second day began at Muckleshoot Tribal College, where staff presented on the work done through funding from First Nations’ Native Arts Initiative (NAI). This grant has primarily served to lead classes on traditional crafts, ranging from regalia creation to weaving. After the group’s time at the college, participants visited the Muckleshoot Carving Shed. Carvers Tyson Simmons and Keith Stevenson shared their stories and answered questions while guests toured the shed. The group then toured the Muckleshoot Elders Complex, a beautiful facility that provides meals, medicines and other services to elders within the community. This tour included a special visit to the Elders Herbal Pharmacy – a service offered by Valerie Segrest. In addition to guiding our tour for this journey, Valerie is a Native nutrition educator and traditional foods specialist. She works with elders in the Muckleshoot Elders Complex to determine traditional, plant-based medicines that treat any ailments in congruence with their prescriptions. The pharmacy visit included an opportunity to learn about traditional herbal remedies, as well as a chance to watch Valerie make a traditional tea for skin and hair, which participants were then able to take home.

Traditional Medicines

The afternoon of the second day was spent at Squaxin Island. Community members Aleta Poste and Elizabeth Campbell led a guided walk of the Squaxin Island Community Garden, explaining the plants seen on a wooded path filled with traditional medicines, and then touring the garden itself. Participants had an opportunity to see the natural state of many of the medicines they had seen in their dried form in the Herbal Pharmacy, including stinging nettle, devil’s club, horsetail and salmonberry. After the garden, the tour visited the Squaxin Island Tribe Museum, Library and Research Center. There tour attendees were led by Tribal Council Member Charlene Krise and given a brief overview of the tribe’s history. The day concluded with a traditional canoe ride led by Chris Sigo and a seafood fest. Chris took the time to share some of the local history, explain paddling protocol, and give an overview of the annual Canoe Journey. Participants also were treated to a traditional seafood feast prepared by community member Bobbi Brown’s Kalmiche catering. This feast included geoduck chowder, baked salmon and local clams, along with fresh fruits and vegetables.

our intrepid travelers partake in a traditional Squaxin canoe ride led by Chris Sigo.

Our intrepid travelers partake in a traditional Squaxin canoe ride led by Chris Sigo.

On the third day, the group made its way to scenic Neah Bay. Situated in the westernmost point of the continental United States, Neah Bay is home to the Makah Tribe. After a winding, tree-sheltered drive along miles of cliffs towering over rock and glimmering sea, participants were led on a tour of the Makah Cultural and Research Center (Makah Museum) by Executive Director and Makah tribal member Janine Ledford. This tour was extremely detailed, including access to the museum’s archives and a tour of a traditional longhouse. Afterward, the group traveled to the Be?is gathering place, where they learned from expert weaver Theresa Parker and had an opportunity to walk out and greet the ocean.

View of trees from Neah Bay on the Makah reservation.

View of trees from Neah Bay on the Makah reservation.

House of Myths

The next stop was the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. The fourth day began at the House of Myths Carving Shed, where a master carver and an apprentice carver gave an overview of the variations between tribal carving methods and symbols, spoke of upcoming projects, and explained the story poles they were in the process of painting. After the House of Myths, participants met with Ron Allen, the Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and former First Nations board member. He explained the history of the tribe’s battle for recognition and some of the tribe’s current projects.

That afternoon, the tour visited Suquamish, where attendees met with Suquamish Museum Director Janet Smoak and tribal member and museum staffer Gus Purser. Janet gave an overview of the museum’s history and its NAI project, which features an artist-in-residence program. Gus led the group on a tour of the museum and archives before bringing everyone to the Chief Sealf (Seattle) grave site. A figure of massive importance in Northwestern and American history, Chief Seattle was a chief of the Duwamish Tribe who is best known for his dedication to his people, negotiation skills, and an especially well-known speech encouraging traditional Indigenous ecological values. The tour then visited the House of Awakened Culture, a longhouse specifically built in time to host the 2009 Canoe Journey. The day drew to an end at Kiana Lodge, where participants enjoyed traditionally roasted salmon and heard from Jay Mills, a former First Nations grantee and Suquamish Tribal Council Member.

Healing to Wellness Court

The fifth day began in Swinomish, where Community Health Specialist Larry Campbell and Environmental Health Analyst Dr. Jamie Donatuto gave an overview of the tribe’s history and current projects. Participants then enjoyed a traditional snack of dried salmonberry while tribal members made balms and ointments that will be used on the upcoming Canoe Journey. After the time in Swinomish, the tour journeyed to the Tulalip Tribes for a visit at the Hibulb Cultural Center. Nicole Sieminksi, tribal member and Executive Director of the Tulalip Foundation, gave an overview of their work. Center staff led a tour of the museum. Participants then visited a traditional longhouse by the sea. The next stop was Tulalip’s Healing to Wellness Court, which is a prime example of one of many ways tribes can exercise their sovereignty by Indigenizing and decolonizing current legal practices, mental health and chemical-dependency treatment methods. Participants heard from and spoke with staff currently involved in the Wellness Court, and left with a better understanding of the ways the court works to guide defendants to a safer place in life. The day ended at the Hibulb Center with a traditional dinner prepared by community member Inez Bill and a flute circle with tribal member and musician Cary Williams.

Attendees view a traditional canoe at Squaxin Island Museum Library and Research Center.

Attendees view a traditional canoe at Squaxin Island Museum Library and Research Center.

Ethnobotanical Gardens

The final day of the journey took place in Seattle. Tour attendees met with the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation (UIATF), a nonprofit serving Natives in the Seattle area. UIATF began with a tour of its Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center for an introduction to the center and a presentation of the organization’s recent NAI-funded workshops, then participants explored the facility and were taken on a guided tour of the Bernie Whitebear Ethnobotanical Gardens. That afternoon, the group visited the Preston Singletary Gallery, where the Tlingit artist creates exquisite glass creations rooted in traditional imagery. Finally, the tour concluded with a traditional dinner, including time to speak with First Nations Board Member Chandra Hampson and Muckleshoot Tribal Council Member Louie Ungaro.

Tour participants, First Nations staff and Makah tribal members at Neah Bay.

Tour participants, First Nations staff and Makah tribal members at Neah Bay.

Despite the long hours and many destinations, tour members left feeling invigorated, educated and ready to learn more about the tribes of Washington and beyond. A Salish Sojourn provided an excellent opportunity for guests to see Native Americans as they exist today – multifaceted and diverse, varying massively from community to community, and existing in both rural and urban spaces.

In an evaluation of the trip, participant and donor Catherine Thiemann said she was “inspired to learn more about the Native tribes and communities” especially around her home in the San Diego area. This is precisely the outcome that First Nations hopes for in arranging these tours – that attendees will leave with a feeling of inspiration and a desire to learn more about Native communities in their local areas and beyond.

By Rana LaPine, First Nations Program Officer, and Jona Charette, First Nations Development Officer

Protecting Inherent Powers, Keeping Wisdom for the Sicangu Lakota

“We have been here for thousands of years. This is our territory and we are not going anywhere,” says Two Eagle, speaking about the Sicangu Lakota people.

“We have been here for thousands of years. This is our territory and we are not going anywhere,” says Two Eagle, speaking about the Sicangu Lakota people.

Every day throughout Indian Country, encroachment of Native rights is happening. For most tribes, this means a perpetual uphill battle involving government, public education and legislation. Protecting those rights in South Dakota for the Sicangu Lakota people is the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council. With a two-person staff, eight Tribal Council members and a broad-scale mission, this grantee of First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is readying to take on every challenge, from oil and gas to climate change.

The Keepers of Wisdom

The mission of the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council is to assert its inherent dominium over the Sicangu Lakota Oyate territories expressed in the Fort Laramie Treaties. Under this mission, the council works to bring awareness of the history and the rights of the Sicangu Lakota as part of the Great Sioux Nation and the Oceti Sakowin Tribes within the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation.

According to Executive Director Phil Two Eagle, the threats to these rights are widespread, involving everything from oil and gas drilling, uranium mining, to gold mining operations in the Black Hills. “Like our Lakota Warrior Scouts and War Chiefs, we keep our ears on the ground on the issues that will affect our people and our territory,” he says.

Executive Director Phil Two Eagle (third from right) with the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council, whose members represent Sicangu Lakota Oyate as part of the Oceti Sakowin Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Tribes in the area.

Executive Director Phil Two Eagle (third from right) with the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council, whose members represent Sicangu Lakota Oyate as part of the Oceti Sakowin Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Tribes in the area.

The demand is great, he explains, as protection is needed for all Lakota natural resources – subsurface minerals, burial sites, ground water and air space above treaty lands – and all the Native rights associated with them. This means there is an ongoing fight to ward off pollution and climate change, protect hunting and fishing rights, honor sacred sites, and ensure that natural resources will benefit the local Native economy.

To meet this demand, the treaty council acquires, keeps and passes down tribal knowledge and works with federal, state and local governments as a Native advocate and negotiator. Moreover, like treaty councils everywhere, it serves as a guide for tribal councils.

Two Eagle explains that treaty councils have traditionally comprised the chiefs – the traditional leaders of the tribes – and they have played a vital role in tribal governance ever since the first treaties were signed. Today, they continue to provide traditional leadership and consultation to tribes and hold tribal leaders accountable for what they are elected to do.

“Treaty councils are the wisdom keepers of the tribe,” Two Eagle explains. “Without treaty councils, treaties – and the language, history and culture they protect – would be gone.”

Broad Reach Funding

In this capacity, the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council has served the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation since 1992, with input from eight treaty council members representing the Sicangu Lakota Oyate as part of the Oceti Sakowin Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Tribes in the area. Now, they are maximizing a First Nations grant – made possible through the Broad Reach Fund of the Maine Community Foundation – that is designed to support Native American-led community efforts pursuing environmental justice, with a particular emphasis on combating abusive extractive industry practices occurring on treaty lands. Through the grant, the treaty council will build on its momentum with dedicated efforts to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The council’s job is to share knowledge to protect the rights of the Sicangu Lakota as part of the Great Sioux Nation and the Oceti Sakowin Tribes within the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation.

The council’s job is to share knowledge to protect the rights of the Sicangu Lakota as part of the Great Sioux Nation and the Oceti Sakowin Tribes within the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation.

The current Keystone Pipeline delivers oil from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Texas and to oil tank farms in Oklahoma. The proposed XL Keystone Pipeline would further connect the pipeline system through a shorter route, running through Montana, North Dakota, and the Great Sioux Reservation, which was established by treaty.

The XL expansion is now tied up in legal challenges, including proceedings initiated by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, which asserts that the permit authorizing the expansion does not consider tribal sovereignty and federal trust obligations. If approved, the XL project will not only cut across Native land, it will wreak further havoc on Native resources in its path. Two Eagle reports that the existing Keystone Pipeline has had numerous spills since it began in 2010, including a recent 1,800-gallon spill in Missouri and a 400,000-gallon spill in South Dakota last year.

Through the project, the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council will lead community outreach and engagement efforts to teach tribal members, the public and all stakeholders about the impact of the expansion and the inherent rights of Lakota and Sioux People. The work will be two-fold. First, the council will host community meetings at each of the seven Lakota tribes to provide updates and develop a unified strategy to oppose the pipeline. Next, the council will raise awareness about tribal treaty violations through an illuminated billboard.

“As wisdom keepers, our job is to educate people about the inherent powers of our treaties,” says Two Eagle. “The billboard is part of a marketing strategy to convey how the Sicangu Lakota feel about the pipeline, and the negative impact it will have on both treaty rights and the environment.”

Two Eagle says the billboard will inspire viewers to initiate their own research about the pipeline expansion and direct them to a website for more information.

Treaty council meeting

Treaty council meeting

A site for the billboard will be selected with input from a local advertising agency to strategically reach drivers of the 2,500 vehicles that travel on Interstate 90 across South Dakota every day. “That’s over one million people a year who will see our message and become better informed,” he says.

It is the council’s hope that greater awareness will increase the power of treaty councils and tribes in protecting their inherent rights.

“A lot of times, the government only consults with us after the fact. We need to hold the federal government accountable,” Two Eagle says. “We need to get ahead of the game.”

Broad-Scale Impact

At the heart of these efforts is the knowledge that treaty protections are just one part of the overall work that’s needed to protect the Sicangu Lakota way of life. Two Eagle explains there is work to be done to bolster education, drive the economy, protect the environment and preserve the Lakota language, which he says is only 10 years away from extinction unless something is done.

“The Lakota language, history and culture are our inherent sovereignty and we must do everything we can to protect our people from becoming assimilated, because without your Indigenous language you are no longer sovereign. You are completely assimilated, and you can disappear into the mainstream American society,” he says. “But we have been here for thousands of years. This is our territory and we are not going anywhere.”

“Like our Lakota Warrior Scouts and War Chiefs, we keep our ears on the ground on the issues that will affect our people and our territory,” says Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council Executive Director Phil Two Eagle.

“Like our Lakota Warrior Scouts and War Chiefs, we keep our ears on the ground on the issues that will affect our people and our territory,” says Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council Executive Director Phil Two Eagle.

Recognizing these needs, planning is underway to build a Lakota cultural center and to bring in legal training for the treaty and tribal council members on issues that affect Native sovereignty. In addition, the council works regularly with the International Indian Treaty Council and with others aligned with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Further efforts are being directed to formalize a Lakota language program as part of the local Indian school curriculum. The council is also collaborating with other treaty councils on ways to address climate change, in solutions that go beyond the federal government.

“There are no more traditional enemies within tribes. We’re all in this together and we all have to work together to help the world come up with solutions,” he says. “Traditional Native knowledge is critical right now to teach the world what needs to be done.”

For Seven Generations

As is common in Indian Country, the Sicangu Lakota believe every generation has a responsibility for the next seven generations. For the Sicangu Lakota, this means opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline, from meetings to billboards to education. And it means taking all steps needed to protect treaty rights and natural resources and preserve the culture, history and language of the Lakota. Through these efforts, the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council is persevering in honoring its inherent sovereignty, and it continues to be the wisdom keeper of its people.

By Amy Jakober

First Nations Receives Top 4-Star Rating for 8th Straight Year

Charity Navigator 4 Stars 600px

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has once again received the highest rating of four stars from charity watchdog agency Charity Navigator, making it the eighth year in a row that First Nations has achieved this distinction. Only 4 percent of the charities rated by Charity Navigator can claim the honor of receiving this top rating for eight consecutive years.

Charity Navigator is America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities. The coveted rating is recognition of First Nations’ “strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency,” according to the rating agency.

In a July 1, 2019, letter to First Nations President & CEO Michael E. Roberts, Charity Navigator President & CEO Michael Thatcher said:

“We are proud to announce First Nations Development Institute has earned our eighth consecutive 4-star rating. This is our highest possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that First Nations Development Institute exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in your area of work. Only 4% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 8 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that First Nations Development Institute outperforms most other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets First Nations Development Institute apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

“As we have been for eight years straight, we are honored and proud to receive this outstanding rating, especially since so few nonprofits ever attain it,” said First Nations’ Roberts. “It reflects our dedicated accountability to all of our constituencies – our generous donors and the Native American communities we serve – and it demonstrates our commitment to pursuing our important work in a clear, honest and fiscally responsible manner.”

Those interested in supporting First Nations in its mission can do so by clicking here. To see First Nations’ profile on Charity Navigator, click here.

Three Grantees Selected for Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign

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The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the American Heart Association and First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) recently announced nearly $250,000 in grants through the collaborative Policy Innovation Fund. These grants are part of the Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign, a $1.6 million funding initiative to support Native American nutrition and health advocacy. Grant recipients will improve access to healthy foods, reduce consumption of sugary drinks and foods, and strengthen food sovereignty work that is rooted in tradition, culture and Indigenous knowledge.

The campaign was developed jointly by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives, and its Voices for Healthy Kids initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. First Nations, which administers the Policy Innovation Fund, conducted the first of two national solicitations for grant proposals. Grants were awarded through a competitive process to tribes and Native-led organizations to support innovative projects designed to improve nutrition and health policy systems at the tribal, local, state and national levels.

To support the success of Native grantees and advocates, the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF), a Native-governed nonprofit organization, will provide leadership development, technical assistance and movement-building activities to support the growing nutrition and health movement in Indian Country.

Grant recipients are:

  • California Indian Museum & Cultural Center (Santa Rosa, California): $81,667 — The Ma Pʰidin: Protecting Our Ground project serves Native people of all ages from 24 Pomo and Miwok tribes in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties in Northern California. These tribes have limited access to traditional food resources, so the project will focus on removing barriers to access, such as updating county park codes, which currently prohibit gathering food. The project also includes conducting a community assessment, engaging stakeholders and developing recommendations to ensure tribal and county leaders can address barriers and improve nutrition and health.
  • Karuk Tribe (Happy Camp, California): $81,667 — The Yav Pananu’avaha: Karuk Tribe’s Our Good Food project supports developing, advocating and implementing policies that promote tribal food sovereignty. Our Good Food will improve access to Native foods for community members and food-service programs; promote healthy choices for K-12 students through Native health lessons and a youth-led food sovereignty campaign; and encourage comprehensive implementation of the Karuk Tribe Food Policy in all tribal events. The project also will advocate for changes to school, summer, community and elder food-service programs and finalizing the tribe’s food sovereignty policy through research and community engagement.
  • Port Gamble S’Klallam Foundation (Kingston, Washington): $80,000 — The Port Gamble S’Klallam Shellfish Grow-Out Expansion Project will focus on ways to sustain and expand natural shellfish resources for a healthy traditional diet of the S’Klallam tribal community. The project will develop shellfish aquaculture policy, conduct community outreach focused on sustaining shellfish populations for community subsistence and later expand the shellfish population for commercial production.


The Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign is made possible through generous funding from Seeds of Native Health, a $10 million philanthropic effort of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, to improve Native nutrition, and Voices for Healthy Kids. First Nations will lead grant administration and the American Indian Cancer Foundation will provide consultation services to the policy change campaigns.

Apply Now for Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowships

LUCE-Logo-Full-Color-MThe application period is open until September 13, 2019, for the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship program. First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and The Henry Luce Foundation (Luce) partnered to launch this fellowship, which is a 12-month, self-directed enrichment program designed to support the growth, development, knowledge and networks of Indigenous knowledge holders and knowledge makers.

First Nations is now accepting applications for the inaugural year of the program. In 2020, First Nations will award 10 fellowships of $50,000 each to outstanding Native Americans engaged in meaningful work that benefits Indigenous people and communities in either reservation and/or urban settings.

This fellowship is intended to support Native knowledge holders and knowledge makers as they advance their work and significantly move forward their field in ways that will ultimately lead to broad, transformative impacts for Indigenous communities. It is open to both emerging and experienced leaders from a wide variety of fields, including but not limited to agriculture, food systems, youth leadership development, natural resource management, climate change, economic development, journalism, language and cultural revitalization, traditional and contemporary arts and more.

Complete information and a link to the online application can be found at this link. All applications must be completed and submitted by 5 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Friday, September 13, 2019.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be a member of a federal- or state-recognized Native American or Alaska Native tribe or community, Native Hawaiian, or demonstrate significant and long-standing engagement with and commitment to an Indigenous community in the U.S.
  • Be engaged in the development or perpetuation of knowledge in their field.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be U.S. citizens.


Applicants may self-apply or nominate another individual. First Nations recognizes that some individuals may not apply for this fellowship on their own. We understand that some individuals might be uncomfortable identifying themselves as knowledge keepers, cultural producers, intellectual leaders, etc. within their own communities. We ask for assistance identifying those individuals, and encourage their family, friends, colleagues, co-workers and others to work with potential candidates to submit an application on their behalf.

Applicants will be asked to complete an online application and provide other required information, including three short essays, two reference letters, and a current resume/curriculum vitae. Please see the online application for more details.

The Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship is designed to honor and support these individual leaders as they work to further Indigenous knowledge creation, dissemination and change in Indigenous communities. This fellowship will give Native knowledge holders and knowledge makers the funding and connections necessary to maximize their potential and realize their vision for their communities. It will provide these cultural producers with the resources to match their existing knowledge, passion and drive to achieve their personal and community goals.

Grant Helps Promote Native Youth Entrepreneurship

11th Hour Project Logo

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) recently received a $250,000 grant from the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation in order to boost Native American youth-led entrepreneurship activities, which in turn and over time will significantly benefit tribal communities and other Native population centers, many of which suffer large economic disparities when compared to other communities.

For numerous years, First Nations and its independent subsidiary, First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta), which is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), have been assisting tribes and Native communities throughout the U.S. in conducting much-needed but culturally appropriate financial and investor education programs. Oweesta, in particular, also provides professional development services to strengthen other Native American-run CDFIs.

Under the new effort, First Nations will specifically focus on entrepreneurially minded Native American youth. First Nations will link these emerging youth entrepreneurs to accomplished mentors who will help them strategize their business models and develop formal business plans, which is a foundational step in launching a new enterprise. In conducting the project, First Nations will partner with CDFIs and other experienced business professionals to mentor youth finalist and serve as competition judges.

“Native youth are one key to sustaining and expanding the ongoing improvement and advancement of Native communities across the U.S.,” said Michael E. Roberts, First Nations President & CEO. “We believe this project will help boost overall economic development by potentially creating new businesses, more jobs, higher incomes and bringing broader opportunities to Native America, as well as fueling the entrepreneurial drive of kids in these communities.”

Penobscot Club Provides Safe Haven for Micmac Youth

All programming at the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club is vetted by its cultural department to align with Micmac culture.

All programming at the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club is vetted by its cultural department to align with Micmac culture.

Through the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club (PBGC) in Maine, kids have a place to belong, where positive influences, role models and activities keep them on track for a bright future.

“We’re fun-based but we’re prevention-based,” says PBGC Program Coordinator Fenton Jones. “We want to be a safe haven where kids can find safe, healthy things to do.”

Indeed, youth programming is a need in the community, which Jones says has been hit hard by the drug and opioid crisis. The PBGC strives to meet this need by promoting the Micmac tradition and culture and providing an educational foundation and experience.

Now, with new funding from First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) made possible through RISE for Boys and Men of Color, the PBGC is building capacity and expanding outreach to have an even greater effect. RISE for Boys and Men of Color is a project co-led by Equal Measure, a national nonprofit evaluation and philanthropic services firm, and the University of Southern California (USC), Rossier School of Education, USC Race and Equity Center. RISE for Boys and Men of Color is a field advancement effort that aims to better understand and strategically improve the lives, experiences and outcomes of boys and men of color in the United States. RISE spans five fields (education, health, human services and social policy, juvenile and criminal justice, and workforce development) and focuses on four populations (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans).

About the Club

Cultural Director John Dennis teaches regular language classes at the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club.

Cultural Director John Dennis teaches regular language classes at the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club.

Founded in 1995, the PBGC is the umbrella organization for three Boys & Girls Clubs in Maine – the Maliseet Boys & Girls Club, Sipayik Boys & Girls Club, and Boys & Girls Club of Presque Isle. The PBGC was the first Native American Boys & Girls Club to be established in the Northeast region of the United States. While today the organization overall serves more than 240 kids, both Native and non-Native, the Boys & Girls Club of Presque Isle is located in Micmac territory and designs programming specifically in line with the Aroostook Band of Micmacs.

The PBGC is funded by donations and grants, including from First Nations’ Native Youth and Culture Fund. Funding in 2018 supported a project at the Boys & Girls Club of Presque Isle to increase engagement between Micmac youth and elders through interviews, talking circles and classes that pass down the practices, beliefs and values of the Micmac people.

Further funding from First Nations is building momentum for this project and the overall work of PBGC by adding to what we know about youth programming that impacts Native American boys and men.

Responding to Needs

This type of funding is critical in keeping PBGC going, Jones says. “There’s not any kind of services dedicated to teens in our area. We’re trying to fill that void.”

For staff of PBGC this means leading programs for character and leadership development, education and career development, sports and fitness, the arts, and health and life skills. On a day-to-day basis for teens, this might involve attending a PGBC Black Light Dance or a Teen Dating Violence Awareness program, or it may be just coming to the community center to hang out after school, says Jones.

This resource is imperative for several reasons. According to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 15.1 million children are left unsupervised after school each day, a situation that can lead to increased dropout rates, poor health outcomes, crime and other unwanted behaviors. Boys & Girls Clubs of America further reports that Native youth are among the most vulnerable with higher rates than their peers across the board for poverty, suicide, alcoholism, obesity, diabetes, and quitting high school.

Adding to this, Maine faces a “distressing rate” of drug overdose fatalities and the opioid epidemic continues to be “tearing apart Maine families and communities,” according to the Maine Attorney General.

Through its mentoring program, academic support and community center, the PBGC provides a healthy pathway for kids at risk. “We’re able to reach kids who are on the streets, to connect with them before bad things happen. Then if bad things do happen, we provide support to help them through it,” says Jones. “We’re here in the community as a place to turn.”

Nichole Francis, PBGC CEO, says that the organization is not just a safe space for youth of all ages to come and receive a hot meal or educational and prevention programming. “We are a place where lives are positively shaped and molded,” she says. “We build character – the type of character our community needs and strives to become.”

Francis adds that without the support of community and foundation funding, PBGC programs would cease to exist and the community would be facing even more of an epidemic on all fronts.

Reinforcing Native Culture

Keeping the Micmac language alive is essential, especially for children in the community who may not be learning about their culture and heritage at home.

Keeping the Micmac language alive is essential, especially for children in the community who may not be learning about their culture and heritage at home.

In addition to funding overall operating costs, the First Nations grant has also supported the revitalization of the AmeriCorps VISTA position for the PBGC. VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America, and while the position is not paid, there are costs associated with facilitating their work.

Jones says all PBGC programming is vetted by the PBGC cultural department to align with Micmac culture. However, he says, being able to establish the PBGC VISTA in Indian Country has made it possible to bolster these activities.

The PBGC VISTA is based in the community and spends 40 hours each week focused on tribal resource development and direct outreach to the Native community about the kinds of support Native youth, especially boys, need. From there, the VISTA reports back to PBGC to plan events and guide programs that draw on the strengths of the Micmac culture.

This programming is essential for keeping the culture – and the language – alive for kids who are often not taught about it at home. Moreover, it’s education that benefits not only Native youth, but also the non-Native community, says Jones. “So many of us don’t know the customs and cultural knowledge, but from these programs, we all have something to learn. Having this focus gets us all on the same page and helps us better respond to the community, which is what we’re here to do.”

Meeting Challenges

Through the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club, youth learn about and draw strength from their heritage. Here, kids display regalia they made themselves in a special after-school class by a traditional artist who resides in the community.

Through the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club, youth learn about and draw strength from their heritage. Here, kids display regalia they made themselves in a special after-school class by a traditional artist who resides in the community.

Like other Native- and youth-serving organizations, the PBGC faces challenges in space and funding. While it has acquired a community center for after-school programming, classes and events, Jones says they’re quickly outgrowing their space. There is always a need to reach more kids, and with more kids comes the need to diversify programs to reach different ages and to add staff to lead the programs. All of this, Jones says, requires funding.

Still, they do what they can by getting creative with budgets and always collaborating and partnering with the community. “We’re blessed to have a lot of support and a lot of interaction with the people we serve,” he says.

Going forward, the PBGC hopes to expand on efforts, further engaging parents, building more capacity and leveraging the success it has gained through the support of First Nations and other partners to continue to do more for the Boys & Girls Club youth.

“It’s important and it’s good for kids,” Jones says. “I would love to be able to do it all.”

By Amy Jakober

Report: Youth Programs Underfunded, Overstretched

Positive Pathways

Positive Pathways

Related to the Penobscot story and RISE for Men and Boys of Color, First Nations recently published a report that examines the organizational characteristics of, plus the strengths and challenges faced by programs that specifically serve Native American boys and young men, which as a group tends to experience more social and health disparities than white males and Native females. In fact, previous research by First Nations noted that the key to overcoming these disparities is to reconnect Native boys and young men with their cultures and communities, and provide strong mentorship opportunities for this group.

The report – Positive Pathways: A Landscape Analysis of Programs Serving Native American Boys and Young Men – examines the current landscape of programs serving Native boys and young men. The findings from this report generally conclude that numerous programs exist across Indian Country that serve this group; however, these programs tend to be severely underfunded by philanthropy, as well as significantly overstretched in their staff resources. Because of limited resources and inconsistent funding, programs serving Native boys and young men are scarce and short-lived, thus hindering the development of these critical programs.

Moreover, programs are in need of resources to train and develop mentors within their programs. This includes equipping men already in the community with the skills to take on mentoring positions, and building a pipeline for boys and young men in programs to become future mentors. This follows with First Nations’ belief that it is critical to reconnect Native boys and young men with their cultures and communities, and to provide strong positive mentorship for them.

The report recommends that funders consider the benefits of supporting existing and new programs over longer periods of time. There is a huge need for extended support so that organizations have the time to achieve and sustain long-lasting impacts. With this comes a need to receive less-restrictive funding so that organizations can grow their capacities where needed and allow for program growth and change.

The results in the report come from a national survey that First Nations conducted to collect information about the overall landscape of organizations and entities serving Native American youth. Additional information was gleaned from follow-up telephone calls and an in-person convening of 10 of these organizations. Through the report’s dissemination, First Nations hopes that nonprofits serving Native boys and young men, tribal government leaders, educators of Native American children, federal decision makers, grantmakers and other stakeholders of Native communities will learn about issues affecting these services and may work toward favorable systemic and policy changes. It is also hoped that the body of knowledge about services for Native boys and men will be significantly expanded, and topics for future research or the need to develop additional programs to serve these supportive organizations will likely be identified, with the aim of improving these efforts which, in turn, will improve the lives of those constituents.

The research and subsequent report were funded under a $150,000 grant to First Nations from RISE for Boys and Men of Color. However, the opinions expressed in this report are those of First Nations and do not necessarily reflect the views of RISE for Boys and Men of Color host institutions or any of its supporters or funders.

The full report can be downloaded from the First Nations website at this link.