Grants Help Keep Traditional Native Arts & Cultures Alive

Local artists gather for a celebration dinner for their work, hosted by Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Local artists gather for a celebration dinner for their work, hosted by Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

In Native cultures, art connects generations, records a history, and tells a story. Through changing times and ongoing assimilation, art has steadily remained an integral part of the backbone of a culture, and one of the essential ways the culture is handed down and preserved.

That’s why First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) established the Native Arts Capacity Building Initiative, which is now known as the Native Arts Initiative, or NAI. Funding for it is provided in part by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. With the goal to support the long-term perpetuation and proliferation of Native artistic and culture heritage, the program bolsters organizations and tribal programs’ capacity to strengthen or expand their programming for artists and other community members by providing grants and technical assistance. Many of these programs support the sharing of traditional Native artistic practices between generations, which must occur for the survival of traditional art forms. The NAI also provides mini-grants specifically for professional development purposes such as trainings and conferences that supplement the main project grants and which fulfill a need that is often missing in the arts: the professional and business skills to support artists and empower them to continue creating.

From 2017 to early 2018, First Nations has awarded more than $60,000 in these mini-grants to Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal programs. The professional development opportunities in strategic planning, fundraising, museum best practices, curating and archiving, and digital marketing have enabled staff to share their new skills with their colleagues. The trainings have positioned them to strengthen their services, ultimately benefitting the field of Native arts.

Building a Connection – Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

This cultural center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is owned and operated by the 19 Pueblo communities of New Mexico and serves 75,000 Pueblo members. Guests visit the center every day to learn about the traditions of Pueblo people, including their governments, lifestyles and cultures. A key element of the center is the museum, which uses stories and objects to connect those who do not know Native Americans and Pueblo elders and children to the stories of people deeply rooted in the land. Stories are told through the collection of pottery, baskets, weaving and paintings. The center also serves as a resource and hub for Pueblo artists.

To continue the outreach of Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, fundraising is essential. Knowing this, the organization sought a professional development mini-grant through the Native Arts Initiative, and with it attended the First Nations Power of We Fundraising, Sustainability, and Telling Our Stories training held in Denver, Colorado, in September 2017. Kim Klein, a well-known nonprofit fundraising guru, lead the Power of We training. The training intent was to provide participants from Native-led nonprofits and tribal programs with the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of fundraising best practices and communicating impact in a peer-learning environment. Specifically, the training agenda focused on preparing participants to be able to identify relevant fundraising strategies and realistic revenue streams to maximize resources within their community, “Make the Ask” to better position their programs for a YES, and gain the skills to develop an action plan for fundraising.

Bianca Mitchell, left, talks with another attendee at the Power of We training

Bianca Mitchell, left, talks with another participant at the Power of We training

The goal of “telling our story” resonated with Development Officer Bianca Mitchell (Acoma Pueblo). “We need to tell our Pueblo story,” she said. “It is our way of life. Our identity. We want to be able to educate visitors about our traditions and keep our story alive.”

At the training, Mitchell connected with like-minded organizations and learned hands-on strategies for raising funds from a Native American perspective. The team brought back resources for the entire center and the insights to build a more effective fundraising plan. Moreover, she said, she learned how to articulate their story and to craft a strong story that would resonate with funders.

“We were able to gain perspective about how to create an effective message, and how we need to move our audiences,” she said.

The training also helped Mitchell understand a challenge that is common in Native culture, but essential for arts to survive: the ability to speak in front of people and be comfortable asking for money. “As a proud, self-sustaining people, they had to recognize that – while it may be difficult – they could do it and they could be successful,” she said.

The organization is now able to expand on fundraising efforts that will directly impact the Pueblo artists. They can continue the work of the center and expand the Daily Artist Program by offering “Investing in Artists’ Success” classes. Museum Director Monique Fragua (Jemez Pueblo) said these workshops teach artists skills they need to build a business.

“Many artists are self-taught, and may not have had the opportunity to prepare their sales pitch or create business cards or a resume,” she said. “These classes focus on skills beyond artistry – benefits and disadvantages of technology, customer service, marketing and public relations.”

The classes give artists confidence to not only tell the Pueblo story through their art but also tell their own story as artists – what makes them special, how important the art is, and who in the next generation they have inspired. Fragua said they can use this training to sell their art at the cultural center, with opportunities to talk directly with visitors and enhance the visitor experience.

Bolstered by the professional development and training they received from First Nations, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is continuing to be a resource and hub for artists. It’s given the center the skills to fundraise and the artists the skills to do business. “The people who come here want to connect,” said Fragua. “Now we’re able to make that connection stronger through art.”

Making Arts More Visible – Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin

The Menominee Cultural Museum is part of the Menominee Historic Preservation Department, which was created to preserve the culture and heritage of the Menominee people, including its language, culture and traditions. While the museum has 3,000 square feet of exhibit space to showcase artwork, Executive Director David Grignon knew they could do more to support local artists. “We have some excellent artists,” he said. “But they were kind of doing their own thing.”

As shown in this collage, art is being created with materials found on Menominee land

Traditional Menominee basket class uses materials sourced from Menominee land

In addition to providing exhibit space, the Menominee Culture Museum had become a setting for arts and crafts workshops on moccasin making, basket weaving, bead work, quill work, deer hide tanning, and the making of snowshoes and lacrosse sticks. The art is not only created locally, but created with materials actually found on Menominee land.

With the passing of one of the tribe’s most accomplished artists, the museum again realized how important it is to pass down skills and continue their artistic legacies. They set out to implement the takeaways from the training immediately.

Gleaning tactics from other tribes at the conference, the museum bolstered its workshops and began focusing on increasing the number of art fairs at the museum.

“People may not have known about these artists and, in turn, we may not have known about potential artists,” Grignon said. “People who have artistic talent are coming forward. Now they are coming to the museum and asking for help promoting their art.”

The training also gave them a pathway to bring artists together to explore additional needs and ideas. Since returning they’ve convened local artists and learned of their growing interest in having their own facility for workshops and exhibiting and promoting their art. Based on a workshop he attended, Grignon shared how Native artists near the Grand Canyon had similar dreams and had transformed an abandoned building into an art center.

“Seeing that other organizations had success made the possibility real,” said Grignon. “Now we’ve had two further meetings and we’re sharing ideas of how to do it, and how we can help move that process forward.”

The training has reignited efforts to continue to revitalize Menominee arts and crafts, a goal that is crucial to sustaining the Menominee Indian ways.

“Art is part of the culture, part of our customs, and part of our traditions and history,” said Grignon. “With efforts like this, things are coming back. It’s good for people, good for the reservation, good for everyone associated with the arts.”

Creating a Living Culture – Tulalip Foundation and Tulalip Tribe’s Hibulb Cultural Center

The Tulalip Foundation supports the Tulalip Tribes and surrounding communities of Tulalip, Washington, including the Hibulb Cultural Center, whose mission is to collect and enhance the history, cultural values and spiritual beliefs of the Tulalip Tribes. The center is a “living environment” where the public can learn through poetry readings, lectures, films and artist workshops, and local artists can display their work and teach others their skills.

ATALM Conference Booklet

ATALM Conference Booklet

After being awarded the grant, Museum Curator Tessa Campbell headed to the ATALM Conference with a goal to learn best practices from other organizations: specifically how to lead a successful evaluation process and improve the museum’s displays.

Campbell explained that the museum never had an evaluation process. “We didn’t know how our guests would find out about us or what else they would like to see in the museum,” she said. Through the training, she learned what should be involved in a proper evaluation, which has enabled the museum to create a stronger marketing plan.

Campbell also came back armed with how to improve the look and feel of the whole gallery. Before the training, the display labels were poorly lit, long and wordy, and often illegible, she said. Through the workshops, they learned how to improve the structure of the displays along with techniques for layering text, grouping items, and breaking down information.

Tulalip Foundation Executive Director Nicole Sieminski said the new displays will help people learn from the past and bring that knowledge into the future. “We have to improve our presentation and show that our culture and art are still alive. We want to convey that things are still being created,” she said.

Nicole Sieminski, left, of the Tulalip Foundation at the Power of We training

Nicole Sieminski, left, of the Tulalip Foundation at the Power of We training

From the Power of We fundraising training, Sieminski learned other ways to bolster the museum. The training provided tactical strategies to sustain their programming, including introducing Tulalip art to the public and expanding attendance at the workshops, thus encouraging more people to try art themselves.

“We want to grow the number of artists, and the way to do that is to start teaching,” she said. “Art used to be passed down, but in this modern day, it takes the museum to share it with it as many people as possible. We can do that. We know how.”

The training was also helpful in that it was specific to fundraising for Native-led organizations. Sieminski said she’s attended other trainings for nonprofit organizations where she learned tactics that might work for other organizations, but not for the Native-owned and controlled Tulalip Foundation. “We’re a giving people. We’re taught to give away, but not to ask,” she said. “It was nice to be in a room with everyone else who understood that position.”

Native Arts Always

First Nations recognizes the important role art plays in the traditions, values and history of Native people. Through these professional development grants, organization and tribal leaders can keep art alive by strengthening necessary infrastructure and supporting the artists who make the art possible.

To learn more about the funding opportunities of First Nations’ Native Arts Initiative, visit

By Amy Jakober

Group photo of First Nations grantees attending the Power of We training

Group photo of attendees at the Power of We training

Native Arts Project Explores Traditional Pueblo Connections

Participants of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute's Community Institute on Art and Creativity held at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya, owned and on the land of the Pueblo of Santa Ana, in early April 2017

Participants of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute’s Community Institute on Art and Creativity held at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya, owned and on the land of the Pueblo of Santa Ana, in early April 2017

When driving through New Mexico there are road signs along the highways that let people know when they’re entering and leaving tribal lands. The state is home to the 19 Pueblo Nations of New Mexico, as well as three Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation, according to the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe also has trust land that extends into northwestern New Mexico.

For the 19 Pueblos, their presence in the state spans far more than signs on the road, as they have been living on their traditional tribal homelands for centuries – long before New Mexico became a state and the United States became a country.

It was this strong sense of place and communal responsibility to cultural expression that was at the heart of a gathering of Pueblo artists held last year by the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute (Leadership Institute) with support from First Nations Development Institute (First Nations).


First Nations awarded 15 Supporting Native Arts grants and three professional development mini-grants to Native American tribes and organizations under the Native Arts Initiative (NAI). Launched in early 2014, the purpose of the NAI is to support the perpetuation and proliferation of Native American arts, cultures and traditions as integral to Native community life. Funding for this project is provided in part by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

The NAI grant was used to expand the Leadership Institute’s Art and Anthropology Academy (formerly called Art and Archaeology), which brought together around 50 Pueblo artists who committed to attending the full, two-day Community Institute on Art and Creativity (Art Institute) held at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya, owned and on the land of the Pueblo of Santa Ana, in early April 2017.

Over the two days, the artists and participants reflected on the past, present and future of traditional arts in Pueblo communities, and the question of “Why is art important?” The participants brought a creative piece of cultural significance to them, which they shared with everyone. The pieces varied from photographs to sculptures, and from pottery to weavings. The stories within the objects served as a communal foundation for the Art Institute. Intertwined into the discussions was a presentation on the impact of federal Indian policy on Pueblo tribal communities and how government policies have impacted Pueblo creativity.

Dr. Carnell Chosa

Dr. Carnell Chosa

Dr. Carnell Chosa is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute, where over 60 Community Institutes have been held over 20 years. Chosa is from Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico and says the NAI grant helped support a continuous dialog among the Pueblo peoples about the arts and its place in their lives.

“One question raised is how to include creativity as a tool, which is integral and very intertwined as a way to benefit Pueblo students in the schools. A big question that arose is mentorship – some artists want more opportunities to serve as mentors, others want to be more respected and acknowledged within their communities about what they bring economically and culturally, and how to have more art spaces within the communities,” said Chosa.

Diane Reyna is from Taos and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblos in New Mexico, and in her consultant work, she is an integral part of the work of the Leadership Institute and the Art Institute. She says how an institute is held plays a key role in how the people interact and help to move the conversation on creativity and community forward.
“The way the institutes are intentionally constructed and put together is by topics, and in both the facilitated and interactive sessions, there’s a flexibility. It gives people a chance to listen – and to be heard. People are touched by the chance to hear each other. We’re all inclusive of everything,” said Reyna.

Participants of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute's Community Institute on Art and Creativity at the opening interactive activity facilitated by Diane Reyna of Taos Pueblo

Participants of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute’s Community Institute on Art and Creativity at the opening interactive activity facilitated by Diane Reyna of Taos Pueblo

Eight 15-minute Art Talks were held on various topics such as Art and Youth, Art and Identity, Art and Economy, Art and Storytelling, Pueblo Expression and Technology, Food and Culture, Landscape and History through Migration, and Creativity in Pueblo School Education. The participants talked about how to “Define Art in Your Own Words” and later, in the breakout sessions, they discussed further the transfer of art and creativity as part of intergenerational knowledge within the cultures and languages, art in Pueblo education, and other areas.

Theresa Pasqual is from Acoma Pueblo, and she moderated the Art Talk on Landscape and History through Migration. She works in the area of identification and protection of traditional cultural landscapes. Currently, she serves as the Joint Tribal Liaison for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Water and Science, on Glen Canyon Dam.

Theresa Pasqual

Theresa Pasqual

“Art at its core is a form of expression – whether it’s the petroglyphs, pottery shards or metates, all were forms of expression at some point of time. A man or woman created something as a form of expression to meet the needs of the people, whether it be to till the ground, create a vessel to carry water or to cook beans,” said Pasqual.

Art as a form of expression to meet the needs of a community resonates with the core cultural values of many Pueblo communities. However, with the introduction of traders and the commodification of art, a disconnection between the creator of the art form and the receiver of the art has been created.

Ted Jojola, from Isleta Pueblo, is the Regents’ and Distinguished Professor in the Community and Regional Planning Program within the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico. Jojola moderated the talk on Art and Economy and said the Art Institute allowed people to discuss complex ideas from a communal perspective.

“How do we use art as a form of expression, and balance that within the roles and responsibilities within the communities? It’s hard. It’s a delicate balance … it’s an innate, communal kind of expression. It’s second nature, but it doesn’t translate into what is learned now in terms of building our own economies,” said Jojola.

Jojola says Pueblo communities are looking at how to become more strategic and in tune with artists, so the value of what they contribute to the community, both culturally and economically, gets higher within the community. He says it comes down to a sense of place for the artists to invent themselves.

Maxine Toya of Jemez Pueblo (far left) and Jason Garcia of Santa Clara Pueblo (front right) walk and reflect on what their art means to them and their communities

Maxine Toya of Jemez Pueblo (front left) and Jason Garcia of Santa Clara Pueblo (front right) walk and reflect on what their art means to them and their communities

The Leadership Institute also surveyed Pueblo artists during the 2017 Pueblo Market, which was held in late November 2017, to gain an understanding of the artists’ views and strategies on how to preserve traditional Pueblo art forms. More than 100 Pueblo artists were surveyed at both the Art Institute and the 2017 Pueblo Market.

Some of the themes that emerged from the opening questions of “Why is art important?” and “What this art piece means to me?” were “art as a connection to family” and “art as a representative of relationships and experiences” and “art as a symbol of culture and identity” and “art embodying love and connection,” as documented in the project’s final grant report.

Also, a high school arts curriculum, based on the Art Institute outcomes, was overwhelmingly received and encouraged by the artist participants. They want to see and be a part of furthering the continuance of Pueblo arts and culture in their communities and as part of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute’s Art and Anthropology Academy.

The artists know the power and cultural significance that a renewed energy and commitment to art can bring, and how it not only relates to Pueblo values, but how it also speaks to the people and their way of life.

By Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer

Report Shows Gaps in Funding for Native Causes

Community Foundation Report Cover Only 600px

A report released recently by First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) highlights that community foundations often fall short when it comes to philanthropic giving to Native American organizations and causes.

In Community Foundation Giving to Native American Causes, First Nations researchers found that, on average, only 15/100ths of one percent of community foundation funding goes to Native American organizations and causes annually. The report looks at giving by 163 community foundations in 10 states.

In all of the states studied except Alaska, which was an outlier, the dollar amount of grants given to Native American organizations and causes was much lower than might be expected given Native American population size and levels of need.

“Our data suggest that there is very little funding interaction between Native communities and local community foundations,” said First Nations Vice President Raymond Foxworth, who was the lead researcher on the project. “Obviously we think that’s a problem that can be addressed, so we conclude the report by highlighting strategies and practices we think can expand collaboration between community foundations and Native nonprofits. Overall, we hope that community foundation giving can, in the long term, become more reflective of the rich diversity within states, and this includes supporting Native American organizations.”

The states studied were Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Dakota. For the full findings and recommendations, you can download the report for free from the First Nations website at (Please note that if you don’t already have one, you will need to create a free online account to download the report.)

This research project was supported by Fund for Shared Insight, a national funder collaborative working to improve philanthropy by advancing the practice of feedback loops and elevating the voices of those least heard.

Food Sovereignty Report & Videos Highlight Exemplary Work

FSA Report Cover 600px

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) recently published a new report on Native food sovereignty assessment efforts, as well as four new videos dealing with food sovereignty, ranching and agricultural issues.

The report, titled Food Sovereignty Assessments: A Tool to Grow Healthy Native Communities, details some of the outcomes and lessons learned from a project that funded numerous Native American communities in conducting food sovereignty assessments, with the goal of collecting valuable localized data, creating action plans, and eventually moving toward more control over their local food systems for improved health and nutrition, and for the economic well-being of those communities. It is available as a free download from the First Nations Knowledge Center (under the “Nourishing Native Foods & Health” section) at (Please note that if you don’t already have one, you will need to create a free online account to download the report.) The report was authored by First Nations Vice President Raymond Foxworth, with data-collection assistance from consultants John Hendrix, Michelle Desjarlais and Joseph Madera.

In 2016 and 2017, First Nations provided 39 grants totaling nearly $640,000 to Native communities. This allowed these communities to develop and implement efforts to assess their local food systems and establish forward-looking plans designed to transform the future of those systems. Much of their work was conducted using First Nations’ Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool (FSAT), which was first developed in 2004 and significantly updated in 2014. Food sovereignty assessments have been a starting point for many communities as they work to develop mechanisms to increase local food-system control. A community food sovereignty assessment is a community-developed and community-led process for assessing local food-system control. A food sovereignty assessment puts Native communities in the driver’s seat, as it empowers them to identify their own goals, methods and process for data collection, analysis and strategy development.

Some of the grantees specifically featured in the publication are the Chahta Foundation in Durant, Oklahoma; the Nisqually Indian Tribe in Olympia, Washington; the Nebraska Indian Community College in Macy, Nebraska; and the Seneca Nation of Indians in Irving, New York. Most of the participating organizations (56%) were Native-controlled nonprofits or grassroots community groups, while 44% were tribes or tribal departments.

The four new videos, posted on the First Nations YouTube Channel, deal with food sovereignty, ranching and agricultural issues. They feature current and past grantees of First Nations in Arizona, New Mexico and Washington. They were produced for First Nations by Frybread Productions.

“As part of our work under our Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative and other efforts, we think it’s important to document and publicly highlight some of the successful projects that are making good strides in Indian Country,” said A-dae Romero-Briones, First Nations’ Director of Programs for Native Agriculture and Food Systems. “We think these efforts and grantees exemplify some of the great work that is happening at the grassroots level in Native food systems, agriculture, youth programs and general community and economic development.”

The videos are:

14R video thumbnailNahata Dziil 14R Ranch, located on the rural Navajo Nation, utilizes community, land and long-cultivated ranching skills through a cooperative business model to provide local beef to community and businesses that serve the Navajo Nation. Where few businesses exist, 14R Ranch has managed to create and maintain a sustainable and responsive business model. This video can be found on YouTube at

Ndee Bikiyaa Peoples Farm video thumbnailNdée Bikíyaa – The People’s Farm, on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, seeks to reconnect the community to its food, traditional lifestyles and, ultimately, a healthier mindset. The People’s Farm is a mentorship organization that is growing young Native American farmers and challenging notions of Native American health. This video can be found on YouTube at

Muckleshoot video thumbnailThe Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project is reconnecting Native American foods and diets to Native value systems. The project focuses on activities ranging from breastfeeding to gathering traditional foods to improving diets. This video can be found on YouTube at

Zuni Youth video thumbnailThe Zuni Youth Enrichment Project focuses on connecting youth to movement and food. It challenges young people to think critically about building community through action and food choice. This video can be found on YouTube at

NICC & Partners Expand Food Project’s Reach

Omaha Tribe's Farmers' Market

Omaha Tribe’s Farmers’ Market

Coming together with partners can often help stretch valuable resources for a project, but it can also amplify and improve the outcomes of the project itself. That’s what happened in northeast Nebraska when Nebraska Indian Community College joined forces with the Omaha Tribe, the Santee Sioux Tribe and the Center for Rural Affairs to get more bang for the buck on a food sovereignty assessment effort.

NICC logoNebraska Indian Community College (NICC), a federal land-grant institution since 1994, serves the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska at its Macy Campus, and the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska at the Santee Campus. It also has a campus site in South Sioux City, Nebraska, according to Mike Berger, NICC grantwriter

In keeping with its commitment to serve the two tribal nations, NICC was one of the recipients of grants awarded to 39 Native American tribes and organizations to help them conduct food sovereignty or community food assessments in their various locales, from 2016 to 2017. First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) provided the grants, totaling nearly $650,000, under its Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative, with generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Indigenous People’s Fund of Tides Foundation.

The grant allowed NICC to partner with the Santee and Omaha tribal governments and programs, and the Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) located in Lyons, Nebraska, to carry out activities to encourage community participation in the food sovereignty assessments. Berger is the grantwriter for NICC and the grant manager with the project.

Expanding Reach

nicc7 crop 600px“We serve 170 students at three locations, and have less than 10 faculty members. We’re a very small tribal college and without partnering we couldn’t have implemented a food sovereignty project. We have limited staff, and partnerships with this project greatly expanded our reach into our communities,” said Berger.

The tribes, NICC and CFRA first held group and individual discussion groups to talk about the food sovereignty projects for both tribes, and the goals of gaining a “broader understanding of the current Santee Sioux and Omaha food systems, and how to build interest and support” from the communities being served, according to their project report to First Nations.

Information was shared at several locations in each tribe’s community, including the Omaha Pow Wow Committee meetings, Omaha Advisory Health Fair, the Santee Health Center, and the Walthill library, to name a few.

NICC's campus demonstration garden

NICC’s campus demonstration garden

Surveys were handed out to community members at various events, and were gone over one to one at some events like the Rosalie Old Settlers Days, the Santee Health Center Diabetes Program’s Greek salad cooking class, and the Omaha tenant education class.

In-Person Activities Important

While social media was used to get initial information out to the communities, it was the activities that were held in person that were the most successful when talking about food sovereignty and getting surveys, which in the end numbered more than 500 participants total for both tribes.

“The survey established and identified what we need to address and the interesting pathways that we are looking at delving into for the delivery of vegetables – such as mobile ‘veggie vans’ and working with the tribes to develop a delivery system for people who request fresh vegetables. At the local grocery store, vegetables are imported, but with a mobile grocery store – that could create a market for area farmers,” said Berger.

The idea of mobile “veggie vans” would not only provide access to fresh produce, but also fill in the transportation gap that many tribal members experience on both reservations. Even if someone has access to a car, they face an hour or longer drive, one way, just to reach the nearest big-box store. Add on the cost of gas and car upkeep, and this often puts a trip for fresh produce out of the reach for many tribal members.

Jelly workshop demonstration

Jelly workshop demonstration

In addition to creating access to heathier fresh fruits and vegetables, the surveys indicated there is a strong interest in revitalizing the growing of traditional foods within the existing community gardens and providing access to traditional foods to community members who can’t grow their own.

“The communities would like to see a Native seed bank happen, where seeds and roots stocks can be reintroduced. But instead of sending out seeds, keep it in the community and then they own stock in community,” said Berger.

Traditional Foods Draw Interest

There were some traditional foods that drew a large interest in terms of learning how to grow or access the foods, and how to prepare the traditional dishes.

“Venison, squash and corn were the top three traditional foods requested by survey participants, so for us as a college, we’re interested in what types of foods the community members are interested in. It’s also good for us to find out what local farmers were interested in cultivating,” said Berger.

CFRA oversees farmers’ markets on behalf of both tribes and there is a great interest by both the food producers and consumers to have access to more locally-grown foods. In addition, interest in family or community gardens and container gardens has been on the increase for the past few years in both tribal communities. CFRA works with both tribes and offers garden technical assistance for the challenging growing conditions. In 2017 alone, there were nearly 300 requests for support.

farmers marke1 crop 600px“The community gardens have really started taking off. Also, cooking and canning workshops are offered so we can better educate the community on food safety, drying and canning,” said Suzi French, Community Food Specialist with CFRA and an Omaha tribal member.

Berger added that often it is hard for people to imagine that there are food inequities or food deserts in their part of the country, as “here we’re surround by corn, but it’s all feed for cattle.”

The food sovereignty assessments have already had a great impact on the Omaha and Santee Sioux tribal communities and the Nebraska Indian Community College, Berger added. The assessments now provide the groundwork and direction for further community-developed proposals to address such areas as the seed bank, how the college fits within food sovereignty, and the overall impact on the health and wellness of all the communities.

‘Power of We’ Part 2: Passion Resonates at Conference

Left to right at the Power of We training are Regis Pecos of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute (SFIS), Bianca Mitchell of IPCC, Carnell Chosa, Chasity Salvador and Diane Reyna of SFIS, and Corrine Sanchez of Tewa Women United

Left to right at the Power of We training are Regis Pecos of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute (SFIS), Bianca Mitchell of IPCC, Carnell Chosa, Chasity Salvador and Diane Reyna of SFIS, and Corrine Sanchez of Tewa Women United

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations), in July 2017, awarded 15 Supporting Native Arts grants and three professional development mini-grants to Native American tribes and organizations under First Nations’ Native Arts Initiative (NAI). Launched in early 2014, the purpose of the NAI is to support the perpetuation and proliferation of Native American arts, cultures and traditions as integral to Native community life. Funding for it is provided in part by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

NAI grantees have been using their grants to strengthen their organizational and programmatic infrastructure and sustainability to reinforce their role in supporting the field of Native arts and artists as culture bearers in their communities and, ultimately, the perpetuation and proliferation of traditional Native arts, traditions and cultures. In addition to financial support, the NAI grantees receive individualized training and technical assistance as well as professional development opportunities for staff members.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC), Inc., located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was one of the grant recipients. IPCC used the grant to support its Daily Artist Program by providing Native artists with an Investing in Artist Success workshop series in which the artists gain tools to promote themselves as artists, market their work, submit their work to art shows, and build professional portfolios.

Left to right are Monique Fragua, IPCC Museum Director and now Vice President of Operations; Marla Allison of Laguna Pueblo, featured artist for the IPCC Artist Circle Gallery; and Bianca Mitchell, IPCC Development Director

Left to right are Monique Fragua, IPCC Museum Director and now Vice President of Operations; Marla Allison of Laguna Pueblo, featured artist for the IPCC Artist Circle Gallery; and Bianca Mitchell, IPCC Development Director

Bianca Mitchell is from the Pueblo of Acoma, and serves as the IPCC Development Officer. She joined the organization in July 2016 as the volunteer and membership coordinator, after serving three years as the executive director for the Grants MainStreet program that promotes economic vitality for the rural city. Mitchell gained management experience by overseeing the program and through the creation of large events to bring tourism dollars into the area. She saw her move to IPCC as a natural one, to see what she could do on behalf of the 19 Pueblo nations that IPCC serves.

“Monique Fragua, the museum director for IPCC (now the vice president of operations for IPCC), felt it would be a good opportunity for me to jump into the development role after I mentioned to her that I was interested in the position, as there was not an established development donor program. We have several events throughout the year at the IPCC which gives our Pueblo artisans the opportunity to showcase and sell their work to guests from all over the world. As the development officer I am responsible for planning, organizing and implementing fundraising and development strategies to increase our donor base in support of the IPCC Programs. So we’re exploring how we begin to develop our major donor program,” said Mitchell.

It was Mitchell’s new role as the development officer that prompted her to be part of First Nations’ Power of We – Fundraising, Sustainability and Telling Our Stories training in September 2017. She was one of 54 attendees representing Native nonprofits and tribal programs from across the country. The informative and engaging training focused on sustainability, and provided the attendees an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of fundraising best practices and communicating the impact in a peer-learning environment.

“It was an eye-opener to be involved with other nonprofits who are trying to create their own and develop programs as well. Areas such as annual fundraising programs, crafting the message, and determining the organizational values are more than just measuring the value. I enjoyed Kim Klein’s presentation and her book. I also enjoyed meeting and learning together with my peers,” said Mitchell.

Corrine Sanchez presenting at the Power of We training

Tewa Women United Executive Director Dr. Corrine Sanchez of San Ildefonso Pueblo speaks from the heart about her experience heading a rural Native nonprofit to the Power of We training participants

One Power of We speaker in particular who struck a connection with Mitchell was Tewa Women United (TWU) Executive Director Dr. Corrine Sanchez of San Ildefonso Pueblo. Sanchez’s presentation was entitled: “The Irrigator: A Metaphor for Organizational Sustainability.” She shared how TWU is incorporating the farming and early legacy of their ancestors into their vision and strategies for organizational financial sustainability. The story covered the “herstory” of Tewa Women United and lessons learned over 28 years of evolution in addressing social change and transformation.

In recalling her presentation, Sanchez said “technology failed and it was a good thing,” as due to technical difficulties she was not able to show her slide presentation and she had to speak directly from the heart.

“It was a really good session. I was nervous and so I focused on nonprofit programming in a rural community, and the struggle with finding funding, planning and sustainability. How do you sustain an organization, a budget over the years, how things happen, the struggle – I wanted to convey what it feels like to deal with all this,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez and Tewa Women United are a part of, a project of First Nations Development Institute which has been supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. After many years navigating a small nonprofit, she understands the challenges many face.

Dr. Sanchez, center, with other participants at the Power of We training

Dr. Sanchez, center, with other participants at the Power of We training

“I think the common thread that I hope everyone took away was that in order to make pottery or art to sustain community, whether it is through fishing, hunting or harvesting, we had to have the planning in place. Some think that Native communities don’t plan well, but it’s the Western bureaucracy which doesn’t allow us to move the way we should have. We already have the knowledge and the skills needed to translate and transform our communities,” said Sanchez.

It was Sanchez’s passion and commitment to her organization that resonated with Mitchell, and the advice and support given by the speakers and other participants, which Mitchell took home with her.

“The advice to keep learning about what is going on in the community, to advocate, to learn more about the culture and heritage, and give back to the community itself – this I preach to my son. I tell him to explore, but come home and give back to the community, be a role model for the younger community members, the people, and his siblings. The training material was very useful for me, in reference to developing programming, how to plan effectively, and how we craft our message to supporters. It was a really great conference. I appreciated First Nations’ continued support and the funding to bring us all together.”

By Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer

A Poem of Zuni Cultural Identity

Tyla Kanteena

Tyla Kanteena

A-dae Romero-Briones, First Nations’ Director of Programs for Native Agriculture and Food Systems, recently presented via the internet about agriculture in Indian Country as part of a distance learning session for Arizona State University graduate and undergraduate students. The class is about contemporary American Indian issues, and A-dae spoke about how food is closely and culturally tied to identity in many American Indian communities.

As an assignment, the students were asked to write their reflections. One of them, from ASU student Tyla Kanteena, was a poem.

“I feel that Tyla’s poem speaks to what we do at First Nations, because we are trying to ensure the perpetuation of tribal nationhood, and our most important partners are those folks in tribal communities all across the country who ensure their communities remain tied to their identities.” A-dae noted. “We are working on more than just getting additional money to Indian Country. We are trying to support people like Tyla who are tied to their people, but on the pathway of forging solutions for their own people – on their own terms. Tyla’s journey begins with her daily greeting to Ho’n A;wan Yadokkya Datchu.

Here’s is Tyla’s poem. Please enjoy it:

I am Zuni
By Tyla Kanteena

I am Zuni, I am Shiwi,
I come from the ones who searched for the Middle Place,
a sacred place, protected from disasters like tornados
to live by the guidance of our Koko,
to greet Ho’n A;wan Yadokkya Datchu.

My mother showed me, my father taught me,
as well as hotda, wowo, nana, kuku
to love and care for my family, my siblings,
to breathe in life and blessings,
to greet Ho’n A:wan Yadokkya Datchu.

They gave me strength, they gave me protection
using the words of our ancestors
they showed me the way and how to pray,
to be happy to live and see another day
to greet Ho’n A;wan Yadokkya Datchu.

Like my family before me, like our ancestors before them,
like the prayers passed down to keep our people living,
we will breathe in life and blessings for you to pass on
strength and protection while you sprinkle your offerings at dawn
to greet Ho’n A;wan Yadokkya Datchu.

Muckleshoot “Rethink Your Drink” Effort Aims for a Healthy Tribe

Healthy beverage posters intended for display in classrooms and throughout tribal communities to promote ancestral beverage consumption.

Healthy beverage posters intended for display in classrooms and throughout tribal communities to promote ancestral beverage consumption.

In 2016, under one of its programs, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) awarded 15 grants totaling $422,500. These grants were funded by the Seeds of Native Health campaign created by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) to improve the nutrition of Native Americans across the country. One of the grantees was the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s Traditional Foods and Medicines Program and its “Native Infusion: Rethink Your Drink Campaign.”

The project’s focus is to encourage tribal youth to incorporate and increase traditional, ancestral beverages, fruits and vegetables – healthy foods – into their diets. By focusing on traditional, ancestral beverages and foods, the tribe hopes to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and improve the health of the younger tribal members to combat diabetes, obesity and tooth decay later in life.

Valerie Segrest

Valerie Segrest

Valerie Segrest is the Traditional Foods and Medicines Program manager, and a tribal member. Segrest says the implementation of the “Rethink Your Drink Campaign” is an important part of creating change in the eating habits of the tribe’s youth and their community.

“The discussion is focused on the facts and information … our communities have been disempowered for so long that we need to start with culture in the discussion. To let them (the community) be the driving force, so they feel more empowered to take their health into their own hands,” said Segrest.

Six healthy beverage posters were created by two Salish artists, Roger Fernandes (Lower Elwha) and Joe Seymour (Sqauxin), who drew the images; and Annie Brule, who was the graphic designer. The posters will be displayed throughout the tribal community in the schools and community centers. A curriculum guide was created and made available to educators to increase the number of people who can teach the youth about traditional diets and how to make healthy beverage choices.

A tea bar display that includes several herbs highlighted in the curriculum and recipe book.

A tea bar display that includes several herbs highlighted in the curriculum and recipe book.

Segrest and her colleague, Elise Krohn, M.Ed., co-authored Native Infusion: Rethink Your Drink – A Guide to Ancestral Beverages, which is included in the toolkit. The guide is extensive and provides information on how to “Navigate the Beverage Aisle” to avoid the sugary drinks; information on the six posters and how the images connect to the ancestral drinks and cultural teachings; how to make infused waters, herbal teas, sodas, bone broths and smoothies; how to set up a beverage station; and where to find further information and resources.

The curriculum includes how to set up an interactive, traditional, healthy beverage station. It includes ingredients for participants to make their own blends as well as pre-made teas such as dandelion root lattes and Douglas fir tip infused water.

The curriculum includes how to set up an interactive, traditional, healthy beverage station. It includes ingredients for participants to make their own blends as well as pre-made teas such as dandelion root lattes and Douglas fir tip infused water.

The Muckleshoot Tribe offered a one-day nutrition education summit in mid-May 2017 with 40 educators, tribal community members and youth leaders trained on using the healthy beverage toolkit. Youth representatives, mostly middle-schoolers from the Muckleshoot Tribal School, attended, along with youth from the after-school program.

There were guest speakers who addressed the health impacts of sugary drinks, the healthy beverage movement in British Columbia, and how to set up beverage stations. The summit was more than handing out information. It strived to engage the attendees and to encourage dialog to reinforce that the return to creating and drinking traditional healthy beverages is an act of tribal sovereignty.

“We traded our ancestral drinks in for the sugar and energy drinks, which don’t have our health in mind. There is a rich cultural tradition in our healthy beverages,” said Segrest.

Dr. Rose James discusses the importance of evaluating the reach of the healthy beverage campaign.

Dr. Rose James discusses the importance of evaluating the reach of the healthy beverage campaign.

At the one-day nutrition education summit, Segrest and Krohn demonstrated how to make bone broth, and teas out of leaves and flowers versus bark, roots and hard berries. Attendees also learned how to harvest, dry and store the teas correctly. There were beverage stations set up so people could sample the various teas, which reinforced the accessibility and taste of the teas.

Infused waters were made with fruits and vegetables to encourage the drinking of water. One theme Segrest often hears is that water has no taste, so people avoid drinking it. The infused waters gives people options and encourages them to stay hydrated.

The participants went home with their toolkits made up of the six posters to display around their communities, along with the guide and a tribal recipe book, which included a section on beverages. The recipe book is another Muckleshoot project supported by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board and the Centers for Disease Control’s Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC) program. Segrest utilizes all available resources to maximize her program outreach and funding. She saw an opportunity to add beverage recipe cards to the existing popular recipe program that features foods specific to the area.

Presenters Fiona Deveraux (left) and Dr. Gary Ferguson (seated) listen intently as participants share their experiences teaching about healthy food traditions in tribal communities.

Presenters Fiona Deveraux (left) and Dr. Gary Ferguson (seated) listen intently as participants share their experiences teaching about healthy food traditions in tribal communities.

Segrest reminded the participants that “sovereignty isn’t an end goal, it’s something we do every day. Drinking ancestral beverages is a political act.”

Segrest and her colleagues will continue to provide trainings over the next several months and she is thankful to the Shakopee Seeds of Native Health campaign, the Muckleshoot Tribe’s Traditional Foods Program, and to First Nations for supporting her work as an activist for her community.

“The work wouldn’t be as prevalent or as strong without the support of First Nations, and it’s not just due to the funding, but to the relationships built with the folks within the organization. First Nations brings people together to feed off each other – to think, to partner. At First Nations’ gatherings you’re able to cross-pollinate with others, which reminds you that you’re not alone.”

The Seeds of Native Health effort encompasses efforts to improve awareness of Native nutrition problems, promote wider application of proven best practices, and encourage additional work related to food access, education and research. First Nations was one of SMSC’s strategic, inaugural partners in the effort. The campaign builds on localized efforts to solve the problems of Native American nutrition and hopes to raise awareness, spread knowledge, create capacity for change, and develop additional solutions on a broader scale.

By Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer

Bishop Paiute Expands Nutrition Education

Amaranth seeds

Amaranth seeds

For a 2016-2017 project, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) selected 21 tribes and organizations across 12 states to receive grants to support nutrition education, especially among individuals who receive food under the USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. Among those selected, under generous funding from the Walmart Foundation, was the Bishop Paiute Tribe of Bishop, California.

Walmart Fndtn report D(This story was originally published in the recent “Outcomes Under the Nutrition Education for Native Communities Project” report that First Nations prepared for the Walmart Foundation. The full report is available for free on the First Nations Knowledge Center at

The Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Food Sovereignty Program (FSP) has been working to expand its garden-based nutrition education projects to encourage healthy food and lifestyle choices by partnering with the Bishop Elementary School (BES), the Bishop Indian Head Start (BIHS), and the Inyo County Health and Human Services Department and its food initiative programs.

With the funding provided by First Nations and the Walmart Foundation, the Food Sovereignty program, now in its third year, worked to expand the tribe’s work and community outreach.

Families Learn Together

FoodCorps Service Member Shanae Vega works with Head Start youth participants in a hands-on cooking activity as part of the Bishop Paiute Tribe's Food Sovereignty Program nutrition education classes.

FoodCorps Service Member Shanae Vega works with Head Start youth participants in a hands-on cooking activity as part of the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Food Sovereignty Program nutrition education classes.

“We focused on increasing garden-based and nutrition education offerings for the fifth-grade classes at BES, and offered similar food related activities to BIHS students,” said Jen Schlaich, Food Program Specialist for the Food Sovereignty Program. “Additionally, in collaboration with our FoodCorps Service Member Shanae Vega, FSP staff held an eight-week nutrition education class for Head Start families with hands-on cooking activities for both parents and children.”

Each week the class featured a new fruit or vegetable in recipes that the FSP cooked in advanced to share with participants as a taste-test. Parents then went through the preparation steps for the featured recipe.

“BIHS already had a nutrition curriculum. However, in the evening classes, which involved both parents and their children, we were able to integrate foods that students were learning about during the day into their home lives,” said Schlaich.

Roasted beet salad is prepared as part of a hands-on cooking activity for Head Start parents participating the Bishop Paiute Tribe's Food Sovereignty Program nutrition education classes.

Roasted beet salad is prepared as part of a hands-on cooking activity for Head Start parents participating the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Food Sovereignty Program nutrition education classes.

While the parents were trying out the new recipes, the kids were engaged in simple cooking activities that incorporated the same fruit or vegetable that their parents were learning about. The class ended with a fun activity for the whole family such as painting clay pots and planting cooking herbs or designing a fruit basket to take home to an elder. Also, the parents who attended the class were able to take home the meal that had been prepared in class that day.

Plants Impact the Community

While the youngest students were cooking up fun at the Head Start kitchens, the middle school students were busy outside in the gardens tending their own growing plots, and learning about a plant not indigenous to their area. In the Fall of 2016, as part of a farmer-to-farmer cultural exchange supported by The Garden’s Edge, Quachuu Aloom, a Guatemalan Farmers’ Cooperative, visited the FSP gardens to teach community members about one of their important traditional foods – amaranth.

Bishop Indian Head Start youth processing amaranth at the Food Sovereignty Program's garden near the Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center.

Bishop Indian Head Start youth processing amaranth at the Food Sovereignty Program’s garden near the Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center.

Both the fifth-graders and the Head Start students visited the garden to learn about how to harvest and process amaranth, in addition to cooking with it and using it to make crafts. “We puffed the amaranth using a hot skillet and used it to make honey ‘granola’ bars that the students were able to taste. The seeds can be used in stews, ground into flour, or eaten like porridge. It is also a wonderful natural dye which the students were able to experiment with when making holiday gifts from plants to bring home to their families. The amaranth became so popular with the students that the small health food store in town ran out of amaranth. Community members requested seeds to plant along their fences as a usable barrier, and amaranth seed packets were distributed to those who were interested in it,” said Schlaich.



Other foods planted and harvested in the FSP’s family-demonstration garden included: Mohawk red corn courtesy of Rowen White from Akwesasne and founder of Sierra Seeds, tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, rainbow chard, leeks, radishes, acorn squash, herbs and flowers useful for medicinal purposes or for crafts, currants, gooseberries, beans, peas and bamboo.

Nutrition Education from the Ground Up

Shanae Vega, a Bishop Paiute tribal member, worked with FSP as the FoodCorps service member and served as the garden education mentor. Vega would provide support with the nutrition education lessons during the day with the Head Start students, and later in the evenings was involved in the eight-week cooking series for the Head Start families.

Bananas rolled in amaranth

Bananas rolled in amaranth

Schlaich says Vega was excited to be involved and connecting with community members around garden-based and nutrition education, especially with the kids. At every cooking class Vega was surrounded by kids, who were wondering what she was going to help them cook or what they might get to taste-test next. Vega was also excited to work with all of the fifth-grade classes in Bishop that included students from the reservation and from the City of Bishop. She also worked with all children at BIHS and their families from the reservation.

All of the project’s efforts, including the partnership with FoodCorps, provided over 127 BES students with 10 hours of nutrition education, and nearly 85 BIHS students with six plus hours of garden-based education. Schlaich and Vega worked to get the information out to the community through a variety of ways, via the tribal newspaper, KBPT Bishop Paiute tribal radio station, and through their partnerships with BES, BIHS, and the Inyo County Health and Human Services Department.

Schlaich says the partnerships, and the funding support from First Nations were key to their success. “We never would have had the resources for the eight-week nutrition education cooking classes without the support from First Nations. It was definitely a huge support that made the garden-based and nutrition education components of the Food Sovereignty Program much stronger. We’re excited and motivated to continue with cooking demonstrations during the third year of our community market.”

By Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer

22 Native Youth Programs Get a Boost

NYCF 2017

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) recently announced the selection of 22 American Indian organizations and tribes to receive grants through its Native Youth and Culture Fund (NYCF) for the 2017-18 funding cycle. The grants total $410,000.

First Nations launched the NYCF in 2002 with generous support from Kalliopeia Foundation and other foundations and tribal, corporate and individual supporters. The NYCF is designed to enhance culture and language awareness, and promote youth empowerment, leadership and community building. To date under this fund, First Nations has awarded 351 grants to Native youth programs throughout the U.S., totaling $5.96 million.

These are the 2017-2018 projects:

  1. California Indian Museum & Cultural Center, Santa Rosa California, $20,000 – The project serves Native youth in the center’s tri-county, rural service area of Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties. The youth, ages 11-18, are members of or descended from five tribes in the region, with the primary affiliations being Pomo and Coast Miwok. They work with Native elders and adults to produce K-12 curriculum videos for a program that serves all Native youth in the region.
  2. Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Odanah, Wisconsin, $18,200 – “Weshki Niigaaniijig – Young Leaders” serves tribal youth, ages 13-18, in developing leadership and role-modeling skills through projects focused on traditional Anishinaabe harvesting activities. The youth will teach cultural harvesting practices to other youth in four communities, thereby encouraging development of positive cultural role models.
  3. Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, Hollister North Carolina, $20,000 – This project focuses on reclaiming traditional coming-of-age ceremonies for boys and girls ages 13-18 by connecting youth and elders, culturally and spiritually, to their history. By engaging the elders to share their wisdom and cultural knowledge, the youth participate in workshops that teach them fundamental lessons and help document disappearing cultural traditions. These youth will then teach the next generation.
  4. Hoopa Valley Tribe, Hoopa, California, $20,000 – The xo’ji kya’ project provides an opportunity for young Native women to work closely with female cultural experts/elders/regalia-makers to make ceremonial dresses and document the process to share with the community via videos and manuals. Each young woman is expected to pass on the knowledge to other young women.
  5. Iḷisaġvik College, Barrow, Alaska, $20,000 – During the summer, the college implemented three cultural camps for Alaska Native youth ages 13-25 on Iñupiaq Land Use, Values, and Resources; Iñupiaq Arts and Culture; and an Iñupiaq Immersion camp. The camps are focused on traditional hunting/camping/gathering skills; Iñupiaq language, grammar and linguistic development; and exploring art, history, culture and expression through an Iñupiat worldview.
  6. Lakota Cultural Center, Eagle Butte, South Dakota, $20,000 – This project passes on cultural arts and knowledge from the elder generation to the next on the Cheyenne River Reservation. A series of cultural arts courses will be held in order to begin building the next generation of culture bearers within the Lakota community.
  7. Lakota Language Consortium, Bloomington, Indiana, $3,300 – This project identifies young members of the Lakota Nation and trains them simultaneously as language learners and teachers. The Lakota Summer Institute is a four-week boot camp at Sitting Bull College, where youth learn Lakota language, phonology and teaching methods and, empowered with these skills, return to their communities where they will host and teach their own language workshops.
  8. Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Cass Lake, Minnesota, $20,000 – Our “Heritage, Culture and Traditions – Uniting Youth and Elders” pilot project will bring youth ages 14 to 24 and tribal elders together to plan, implement and evaluate a cultural (aanji-bimaadizi – change life) learning center program for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. This initiative will establish the foundation, tools and community investment required to develop a sustainable program and permanent site for future generations.
  9. Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Harbor Springs, Michigan, $18,300 – Because of a history of assimilation through education, youth are struggling emotionally and spiritually without purpose or place. Regenerating rites-of-passage ceremonies to connect youth to themselves and their purpose is critical. Because many families are disconnected from traditions, there is unfamiliarity with and lack of access to ceremony. This project addresses this, and will increase the number of youth ages 10-19 who demonstrate positive identity development and increased cultural knowledge.
  10. Medicine Lodge Confederacy, Garrison, North Dakota, $20,000 – The Arikara Tribe has historically had young men societies where they were mentored by older men. The confederacy is striving to revive these ways of teaching. The Star Boy Camp will recruit young men ages 12 to 15 and teach them the skills of leadership, communication, confidence and self-discipline. Those who excel will become peer counselors during the next year.
  11. Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains, Eagle Butte, South Dakota, $20,000 – Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains has 24 members on reservations throughout the Northern Plains. There are 10 shelters for women and their children. The Empowering Children in Shelter project will focus on three of the shelters of the Santee Sioux Tribe, Oglala Nation and Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The project will enhance the environment for these children with cultural activities and ceremonies during their healing from trauma.
  12. Navajo Studies Conference, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico, $20,000 – The organization will work with youth and elders during the school year. The teams will form Diné Alliances and will be responsible for development of a cultural project that responds to a social issue. These partnerships will have a lasting impact for the next generation and will be recorded. The Diné Alliances will post their cultural projects online.
  13. Ogallala Commons, Inc., Nazareth, Texas, $14,000 – Since 2013, First Nations has funded 13 Native internships through the Ogallala Commons Community Internship Program. This grant will fund additional internships, one each on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, and one in North Dakota, as well as intern travel to attend the orientation retreat in Texas and the convening of two youth-engagement days for high school students at Sinte Gleska University and Oglala Lakota College.
  14. Osage Nation, Pawhuska Oklahoma, $19,800 – Trunks of culturally and spiritually significant items will be transported countywide by the Osage Nation Cultural Center staff (accompanied by tribal elders and youth to assist as curriculum guides and with interactive presentations) to schools and youth events. This will increase youth access to hands-on, multi-generational interactions that serve to preserve, strengthen and renew Osage traditions and beliefs.
  15. Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Nixon, Nevada, $20,000 – The Summer Cultural Day Camp and activities planned throughout the year will teach children their Northern Paiute culture and heritage through language immersion, traditional dances, oral history and the making of traditional Paiute beadwork. Elders and community members will share their knowledge in both hands-on and classroom settings.
  16. Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, Tama, Iowa, $16,600 – The grant will serve the cultural needs of youth through the creation of Iowa hand drums, one large drum, two-piece dresses, the learning of traditional Meskwaki songs and the learning of traditional Meskwaki dances. The grant will serve youth ages 10-18.
  17. Santa Fe Indian School, Santa Fe, New Mexico, $20,000 – The Leadership Institute will implement the 2017 Pueblo Convocation. The first Pueblo Convocation was held in 2012 and brought together more than 600 Pueblo people to learn about Pueblo priority areas. This project will add a youth track, where youth will be involved in organizing, planning, research and presentations.
  18. Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation, Suquamish, Washington, $19,800 – The Suquamish Tribe, in collaboration with tribal employees, community members and elders, will provide two one-week trainings to introduce tribal youth to traditions and practices regarding local subsistence foods. This programs will focus on how science and sovereignty support traditional tribal values as well as provide an opportunity for tribal youth to explore career paths within the tribe and develop their mentoring skills.
  19. TC Roughriders 4-H Club, Walthill, Nebraska, $20,000 – Children and young adults will learn to identify traditional foods and ceremonial plants that are important to the Omaha Nation. Tribal elders and other experts will conduct educational activities outdoors and in the kitchen. Participants will learn Omaha language words for the plants and food products. The youth will meet the elders and learn their stories of using these foods and of growing up Omaha. These activities will provide alternatives to unhealthful choices for at-risk children.
  20. White Mountain Apache Tribe – Water Resources, Ndee Bikiyaa, The People’s Farm, Fort Apache, Arizona, $20,000 – The summer farm camp is a learning opportunity for local tribal students ranging from grades 5 to 8. This serves as a bridge between youth and elders by providing hands-on cultural crafts, traditional farming techniques, Apache language, wild foods gathering, food preservation, and education on food sovereignty. All major communities on the reservation will be included.
  21. Woodland Boys & Girls Club, Neopit, Wisconsin, $20,000 – The project aims to “Build Brighter Futures through Language & Culture” by incorporating the use of the language in programs, teaching traditional songs and dances, and teaching hunting, fishing and gathering. This will help youth develop mind, body and spirit as Native people who understand the balance in their lives. The teaching of language and culture also helps with youth self-esteem and identity issues, and builds resiliency to negative behaviors.
  22. World Indigenous Nations University, Hula, Hawaii, $20,000 – The OPIO Leadership Academy will provide training by elders/cultural Hawaii Pasifika (WINU HP) mentors/master practitioners to 20 aspiring Native youth in Hawaii, in the traditional practices of Hawaiian healing arts. Training will incorporate traditional protocols, practices, performance and proficiencies specific to each healing art. Youth participants will demonstrate their understanding, knowledge and application of these principles and practices in family, school and community settings through a community-wide Hoike or public performance.