Southwest Tour Provides Personal Experience

The tour group at Nambé Lake

The tour group at Nambé Lake

First Nations Development Institute’s (First Nations) recent multi-day Southwest Tour gave some of the organization’s supporters the chance to personally witness the tremendous impact their investments are having on Native American communities, as told through the eyes of First Nations’ community partners. The tour participants saw first-hand the remarkable work Native community partners are doing at the grassroots level.

The Southwest TourExperience the Rich Cultures and Traditions of the Pueblo Peoples of New Mexico – was held June 11-16, 2017. It was an unparalleled opportunity to gain an insider’s perspective of First Nations’ guiding principle: We believe that when armed with the appropriate resources, Native peoples hold the capacity and ingenuity to ensure the sustainable, economic, spiritual and cultural well-being of their communities.

Red Turtle Dancers drummer

Red Turtle Dancers drummer David Trujillo

The Inn of the Governors on the Plaza in downtown Santa Fe provided a comfortable place to rest and relax at the end of each day. The 12 participants visited some of the 19 Pueblos and experienced their unique cultures, and were welcomed by the Red Turtle Dancers and a private tour of the Poeh Cultural Center in Pojoaque Pueblo, along with a dinner on the first day of the tour.

An early start to the next day began with a visit to the Nambé Pueblo Community Farm and Gardens, and later a hike up to Nambé Falls for a picnic lunch. The opportunity to take in the breathtaking views of northern New Mexico was just the start.

Hiking to Nambé Falls

Hiking to Nambé Falls

After lunch, the participants took a hay ride to the Pueblo of Pojoaque Bison Ranch where they saw the buffalo herd and learned about the Tewa Farms Crop Expansion Project. The day capped off with a delicious farm-to-table dinner prepared by Tewa Farms.

First Nations Board Chairman Benny Shendo, Jr. (Jemez Pueblo), who is a New Mexico state senator, visited with the participants at the Sandia Pueblo Feast Day on Tuesday, along with Tom Vigil (Jicarilla Apache/Jemez Pueblo), who is First Nations Chairman Emeritus, and Michael E. Roberts (Tlingit), First Nations President and CEO.

“We are very fortunate to be able to support the exciting and innovative work taking place in tribal communities,” said Roberts. “The tour gave us the opportunity to have our donors see for themselves the impact their support is having in the development and sustainability of programs and projects created by our community partners on their own terms. Also, to meet the people directly in their tribal communities gave us all a chance to connect with each other on a personal level.”

Pojoaque Bison

Pojoaque Bison

While at Sandia Pueblo, everyone got to experience the heat of the summer along with the traditional dances and the Pueblo feast-day foods of green and red chile stews, tamales, and feast-day cookies and pies. A visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque allowed for a break from the heat, with a tour of the IPCC museum exhibits. Some also enjoyed an afternoon bite at the Pueblo Harvest Cafe.

Pueblo de Cochiti Visitor Center

Pueblo de Cochiti Visitor Center

On Wednesday, participants visited the Pueblo de Cochiti and its new visitor center, the Cochiti Youth Experience, Farm Mentorship Program, and they toured the Community Farm. A hike up the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument gave everyone a chance to experience the Southwest cultural landscape before a lunch at the home of renowned Cochiti Pueblo potter Maria Romero, who is known for her storyteller pottery. A surprise drum-making demonstration by Dave Gordon “White Eagle” of Cochiti furthered the cultural experience before participants visited the Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC). The center’s staff and parents talked about how the young ones of the village are learning Keres, the traditional language, at KCLC and the positive impact it is having their families and community.

The exciting day wrapped up with presentations by 23 youth attending the Santa Fe Indian School’s Leadership Institute Summer Policy Academy. The event was held at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) on Museum Hill in Santa Fe, and dinner after the presentations allowed everyone time talk and connect one to one.

At Nambé vineyard, with George Toya at far left

At Nambé vineyard, with George Toya at far left

On the final day of the tour, a visit to the Healing Foods Oasis and lunch with Tewa Women United in Española gave everyone one last visit to northern New Mexico before returning to Santa Fe. A private tour of the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) allowed participants to see and experience the vast collection of Indigenous art and hear from area artists about their work. The tour concluded with a farewell dinner at a Santa Fe culinary favorite, the Blue Corn Café.

Eileen Shendo (Jemez/Cochiti Pueblos) escorted everyone on the tour, and her connections to the places and communities was invaluable. Also, George Toya (Jemez Pueblo), a noted artist and longtime supporter of First Nations, provided on-the-ground support with everything from coolers to chairs, and making sure everyone had a great experience at Nambé.

First Nations Development Associate Jona Charette (Northern Cheyenne/Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) served as the tour organizer, and Eileen Egan (Hopi), First Nations Associate Director of Development and Senior Program Officer, was also on the tour.

Tour Testimonials

Any surprises you could not have foreseen without having gone on the tour and experienced it in person?

“There is no substitute for being on the ground. It is easy to limit one’s expectations and to be cynical about results and impact. My “surprise” is that the quality of the people and programs is so high, the realized and potential impact so great, and the integration of program staff and beneficiaries into a strong team all seeking to achieve the best results possible.” – Frances Reid, England

What part of the tour left the most lasting memory?

“What struck me the most was the sense of empowerment by the people with whom we met and their determination to take ownership over their lives and the lives of their children. Every community should be blessed with people with such vision and determination. Also, the desire to preserve past traditions while moving forward to a better future was really inspiring to me. It’s not easy to accomplish this dual goal, but the groups we met with seem to be doing it.” – Mark Habeeb, Virginia

How did the tour expand your awareness of First Nations Development Institute’s work and the communities it serves?

“It is clear that First Nations is considered a vital partner by communities in achieving critical social and economic objectives. The organization does a great job – listening, partnering and supporting local projects with financial and technical assistance, which is worth its weight in gold. The staff is first-rate.” – Wendy Mills, Virginia

Ways You Can Support First Nations Development Institute

See the Ways to Give page on the First Nations website, or you can contact Jona Charette, First Nations Development Associate, at or by calling us at (303) 774-7836. Also, read additional testimonials about our work.

By Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer

Meskwaki’s Pinnacle Bank Key Part of Network

NFLN logo

What do Iowa, baseball and banking have in common?

The classic sports film Field of Dreams tells the fictional story of an Iowa farmer who is divinely inspired to build a baseball diamond in a cornfield. In 2009 the Meskwaki Nation purchased Pinnacle Bank, a nearly 100-year-old community bank with a proud history of serving local farmers and families. The tribe’s move was a play right out of Field of Dreams – with the Hawkeye State as the setting for both stories.

Nestled in the central plains of Iowa, the Meskwaki Nation is home to the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, a vibrant Native community of more than 1,400 enrolled members. “The Meskwaki Nation has made huge strides in economic development over the past two decades,” explained Pinnacle Bank Trust Administrator Jody Fank. “The bank acquisition is a testament to that progress, with much of the motivation for choosing a banking venture to promote financial literacy for tribal citizens. It’s amazing what a powerful vehicle a financial institution can be when driven toward community and cultural objectives.”

Financial literacy workshop participants at the Meskwaki Settlement School in July 2011

Financial literacy workshop participants at the Meskwaki Settlement School in July 2011

Headquartered a few miles west of the Meskwaki Settlement, in Marshalltown, Iowa, Pinnacle Bank offers a diverse line up of banking solutions in addition to active trust management, investments, financial empowerment training and other services designed to meet the unique financial needs of Native American tribes across the country. In less than a decade it has become a respected player in the Native banking big leagues with a growing list of tribal clients who appreciate an appealing blend of professional expertise, dedicated personal service, and honest Midwestern values. Moreover, the bank has a solid record of partnering with First Nations Development Institute (First Nations). Working alongside a community financial literacy committee, the two organizations helped host one of the first $pending Frenzy reality fairs at the Meskwaki Settlement School five years ago. In 2011 First Nations assisted Pinnacle with a summer financial skills workshop for youth. Since then, enough Pinnacle and Meskwaki tribal staff have become certified trainers in the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum to make a pennant run. And they keep their skills sharp with a steady schedule of financial education workshops and classes.

Recently, Pinnacle Bank became one of six Native-led organizations to sign on with the newly-formed Native Financial Learning Network (NFLN), a capacity-building and peer-learning project co-managed by First Nations Development Institute and First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) with funding from Northwest Area Foundation. In May, the collaborative officially kicked off with a two-day planning meeting hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

“Pinnacle Bank is a progressive and focused financial institution and we’re thrilled to assist it and the Meskwaki Nation with a longstanding financial empowerment mission,” commented Sarah Dewees, First Nations Senior Director of Research, Policy, and Asset-Building Programs. “The Native Financial Learning Network will be a fantastic framework for Pinnacle to share and learn with our other partners while developing innovative strategies to foster and scale up financial empowerment.”

Pinnacle Bank staff, Meskwaki Financial Literacy Committee members, and partners pose with the 2012 Financial Literacy Program of the Year Award from the Native American Finance Officers Association in April 2012

Pinnacle Bank staff, Meskwaki Financial Literacy Committee members, and partners pose with the 2012 Financial Literacy Program of the Year Award from the Native American Finance Officers Association in April 2012

As part of the two-year NFLN project, Pinnacle Bank takes its financial empowerment efforts to the next level. Its plan consists of a community assessment to identify future financial education programs, services and resources, along with a messaging campaign to promote healthy financial lifestyles among tribal youth. The campaign will feature posters, rich media content, and a team of Meskwaki youth ambassadors serving as financial empowerment role models and coaches.

“I’m really excited to be a part of this undertaking,” explained 21-year-old Morgan Bear, a Meskwaki citizen and future youth ambassador. “It could bring a lot of change to our community in terms of better preparing young people for financial independence and responsibilities that come with living on your own.”

It’s summer time and baseball season is on! Keep your eye on Pinnacle Bank and our starting line-up of NFLN partners: Bii Gii Wiin Community Development Loan Fund, People’s Partner for Community Development, NimiiPuu Community Development Fund and I-Vision, Northern Eagle Federal Credit Union and Bois Forte Housing Department, and Leech Lake Financial Services.

For more information on how your program can join a winning team of financial empowerment heavy hitters, contact Sarah Dewees at or (540) 371-5615.

By Shawn Spruce, First Nations Financial Education Consultant

Tribe or Nonprofit? We Have Resources for You

Grantseeker Resources

One of First Nations Development Institute’s focus areas is strengthening tribal and community institutions. As such, we provide direct grants, training and technical assistance to our grantees under various programs, plus we offer numerous other free resources on our website to help any tribe or Native nonprofit organization.

Recently our experts pre-recorded a webinar called Government Grantwriting from A to Z. It was made possible through generous support from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians as part of its ongoing commitment to capacity building for Native nonprofits and tribal government programs, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Catalyzing Community Giving initiative. The webinar is part of the First Nations Knowledge webinar series. It features presentations by First Nations Development Officer Alice Botkin and consultant Marian Quinlan, CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive).

Logo JPG largeThe webinar recording, a copy of the PowerPoint (PDF), and the handouts (PDF) can be accessed at this link: The handouts include links to online resources, relevant email lists, logic model resources, a sample logic model, data resources, a sample budget form and other items.

The webinar is set up in four sections. For ease in navigating through the recording, here are the times when the various sections begin and end:

  • Introduction and Account Setup: Webinar Beginning to 11:15
  • Finding and Applying for Federal Grants: 11:15 to 21:10
  • Application Forms and Documents: 21:10 to 55:00
  • After the Application: 55:00 to Webinar End


You can also find other valuable webinars on the page (click on the “Previous Webinars” link for any given year) as well as other important free resources in the First Nations Knowledge Center at

Other Helpful Materials

We also have specific, written “grantseeker” resources that are freely available on our website. They are here: and they include information that is specific to applying for grants from First Nations, plus additional information that is relevant to seeking grants from any foundation or organization.

Partnership Positively Impacts 6,000+ in Native Communities

Seeds of NH Imp Report 2015-2016 (LoRes))

First Nations Development Institute recently published a new report – Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities: Impact Report 2015-2016 – that illustrates the significantly positive impact its work has had on Native American communities under First Nations’ participation in the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s (SMSC) Seeds of Native Health campaign.

First Nations was the largest of the SMSC’s inaugural partners in its groundbreaking Seeds of Native Health campaign, which was launched in 2015. Because of First Nations’ “longstanding expertise in efforts to eliminate food insecurity, build the health of communities, and support entrepreneurship and economic development,” it received $1.4 million from the SMSC for re-granting to and management of projects relating to food access, food sovereignty, and capacity building. During 2015 and 2016, First Nations managed 30 separate grants under the program, supporting tribes and Native organizations in numerous states across the U.S.

SMSC_Logo_1“Most of Indian Country is in a dietary health crisis. Supporting local efforts to build community gardens and provide access to fresh foods for vulnerable populations is critical to improving Native peoples’ well-being,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “First Nations’ incredible expertise in this area has made them an ideal partner to help tribes and communities address this crisis.”

Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities finds that the grants from First Nations led to the community partners/grantees generating 63,613 pounds of harvested vegetables, 56,385 pounds of harvested wild rice, 1,572 pounds of harvested fruit, and 102 pounds of grown medicine, in addition to the more than 250,000 fish that were harvested. Fully 89 percent of these foods and medicines were donated to community members for subsistence purposes. The estimated food revenue that was saved and/or earned was $1.75 million, with the local communities leveraging an additional $1.56 million to support their community projects. These efforts served a total of 6,319 people, including 1,386 elders and 2,555 Native youth.

Efforts included community gardens and smoke houses, farmers’ markets, farm-to-school programs, classes, workshops and other activities. In addition, 129 new jobs and 859 food-related businesses were created or supported, nine new tribal food policies were developed, and two new traditional foods curricula were prepared. First Nations also provided technical assistance and training to grantees to assist with the long-term sustainability of programs, including topics such as strategic planning, business planning, financial recordkeeping, project management, and various specialized technical trainings. The report also highlights lessons learned from community partners that can further food sovereignty and nutrition for Native communities and other partners, including funders. The complete numbers can be found in the report.

Print“There is a vibrant and active food sovereignty movement taking place in Native communities, and the Seeds of Native Health campaign has been a tremendous asset in furthering the work of this dynamic, Native-led movement,” noted Raymond Foxworth, First Nations Vice President of Grantmaking, Development and Communications. “The Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities report documents Native innovation when it comes to community-led solutions to improving local food systems and Native nutrition. First Nations is honored to be a partner of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Seeds of Native Health campaign that will have a lasting impact in growing strong and healthy Native communities.”

Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities is available as a free download from the Knowledge Center on First Nations’ website at (Note: The Knowledge Center requires a free online account in order to download the report and access numerous other free resources.)

The full list of grant recipients can be seen in the report or at

Hopi Artist Wins National Veterans Art Contest

“Homage to Hopi Code Talkers"

“Homage to Hopi Code Talkers”

Filmer Kewanyama is a humble person who enjoys drawing and painting about his life as a Hopi. Kewanyama, who lives in Prescott, Arizona, also spends his time hiking with his good friend James Heuerman.

Filmer Kewanyama with his winning artwork

Filmer Kewanyama with his winning artwork

Heuerman, a generous supporter of First Nations Development Institute, contacted First Nations President Michael Roberts about Kewanyama’s entry into a national art competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Kewanyama was selected out of 1,600 entries as the national winner for his painting titled “Homage to Hopi Code Talkers” that tells the story of the Hopi’s involvement in the U.S. military during the first two world wars. Kewanyama, a U.S. Army veteran of 21 years, will be traveling to the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Buffalo, New York, in October 2017 to receive his award.

Two news stories offer different and unique perspectives on Kewanyama’s life and work. One story in the Hopi Tutuveni newspaper offers cultural insight into his family and life in Hopi. A profile of Kewanyama and his military career is featured in Vantage Point, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (Click on the links to read the stories.)

Filmer Kewanyama

Filmer Kewanyama

Heuerman says Kewanyama’s tribute to the Hopi Code talkers is important in raising awareness of the fact that there are high numbers of Native Americans who have served and are serving in the U.S. military.

The National Native American Veterans Memorial website page  – “Our Heroes Native American Soldiers in Our Midst” – cites that currently there are more than 31,000 Native Americans and Alaska Natives who are active military, and that Native Americans have historically served in higher numbers than other groups, prior to 9/11. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian was given the task by the U.S. Congress to create the memorial in Washington, D.C., by 2020.

First Nations hopes you enjoy reading more about the fine artistic work of Filmer Kewanyama, and learning more about the service of Native Americans in the military. Again, a big thanks to our friend and supporter James Heuerman for bringing us this story.

Boys With Braids & REDCO Make a Healthy Foods Connection

Boys with Braids Rosebud members (left to right) DJ, Cayden, Mason and Yamni, with Mike Prate, go over list of ingredients for smoothies.

Boys with Braids Rosebud members (left to right) DJ, Cayden, Mason and Yamni, with Mike Prate, go over list of ingredients for smoothies

One of First Nations Development Institute’s grantees under its recent “Nutrition Education for Native American Communities” grant program is the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), a tribally-chartered corporation of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. REDCO’s Community Food Sovereignty Initiative received the funding from First Nations as part of First Nations’ Nourishing Native Foods and Health program area. The nutrition education program was generously supported by the Walmart Foundation.

“Partnerships are essential to creating a stable and deep learning environment, especially when youth are involved,” says Wizipan Little Elk, REDCO Chief Executive Officer. “First Nations’ investments and technical support have helped us further develop our partnerships and move the Community Food Sovereignty Initiative forward.”

The “Feeding the People: Strengthening Family and Community Health through Shared Meals and Nutrition Education” project brings together REDCO’s Community Food Sovereignty Initiative and a group known as Boys with Braids Rosebud to address “the effect of food on individual and community health” that is often absent from discussions around food sovereignty.

Boys with Braids Rosebud members Clayson (left) and Darin (middle) – with the rutabaga – listen as JR White Hat, one of the Boys with Braids Rosebud mentors, explains how to weigh vegetables and determine the price by weight at the Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods

Boys with Braids Rosebud members Clayson (left) and Darin (middle) – with the rutabaga – listen as JR White Hat, one of the Boys with Braids Rosebud mentors, explains how to weigh vegetables and determine the price by weight at the Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods

Boys with Braids Rosebud brings together families from the Rosebud community who are dedicated “to teach the sacredness of hair, foster a sense of pride using education as a way of interrupting teasing,” according to its Facebook page.

Boys with Braids Rosebud approached REDCO about partnering on a project, and both groups realized they could do more than talk about the state of healthy eating in their community. They could put their energies toward “integrating nutritional food into both their programming and their homes.”

Empower Healthier Choices

The activities created as part of the project’s goals were to “expose the families to new and healthy foods, to empower the families to make healthier food choices at the grocery store, and to be food advocates.”

David Espinoza is a Rosebud Sioux tribal member and one of the Boys with Braids Rosebud volunteer mentors. He along with JR White Hat, also a tribal member, support Lakota males in becoming grounded in cultural knowledge of their language and identity to counter the bullying and teasing they may experience due to having long hair.

“The group – it’s an entry point to engage the youth through different activities – meets once a week. We were super excited to partner with REDCO and Mike on the food activities. Food is intertwined with community. A lot of the kids are low income, they live with grandma or single parents, so healthy eating is not a reality for the boys,” said Espinoza.

Mike Prate is the Food Sovereignty Coordinator for REDCO. He sees partnering with Boys with Braids Rosebud as a way to expand the discussion and practice of healthy eating in a community that is working to reconnect with cultural traditions around food and creating new habits around food.

“I see Boys with Braids developing healthy and holistic young men. They are supporting them in their masculinity and to be culturally grounded. As far as food sovereignty initiatives, healthy foods are often overlooked in most things. Half the time the youth are eating unhealthy foods. So there’s a disconnect between what we say and what we do,” said Prate.

Going Grocery Shopping

The partnership between REDCO and Boys with Braids is working to make healthy connections with food the new normal. But changing the eating habits of the youth took more than discussions about food choices. It took having the boys do the grocery shopping for meals they would cook and prepare for their families.

Yamni checks out the food label for the yogurt ingredients for the smoothies that he, Darin and the other Boys with Braids Rosebud members will make

Yamni checks out the food label for the yogurt ingredients for the smoothies that he, Darin and the other Boys with Braids Rosebud members will make

Prate reached out to the Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods, one of REDCO’s enterprises. Turtle Creek has an ongoing focus of “Food is Good Medicine” with informational signs indicating healthier food items and recipes to promote healthy eating. In January 2017, Espinoza, Prate and White Hat, along with some grandpas, uncles, dads and one mom, went to Turtle Creek to help the boys shop and be role models. For most of the boys it was their first time at a grocery store.

“Most boys don’t get the opportunity to shop, some never get to do their own shopping and they don’t see dad in the store shopping for healthy meals,” said Espinoza.

Each of the boys had a budget of $25 to spend toward their healthy meal shopping. They had to make sure to read the labels and the cost of each item. It was a teachable activity as the boys learned that produce costs per pound. They learned to weigh the produce and to use their math skills to keep track of how much they were spending.

The boys had two choices: make either chicken fajitas or baked chicken. They learned to make the choice of brown rice over white rice or potatoes, and how to incorporate vegetables into the meal. One unexpected hit of the shopping trip was when the boys learned what a rutabaga is. They wanted to try it and include it in their meals.

“When we went shopping in the store, it was really fun and I enjoyed shopping with the boys. I also enjoyed going home, cooking and eating with my family,” said Yamni, a Boys with Braids participant and Rosebud Sioux tribal member.

Cooking in Action

After the shopping activity, each of the boys went home and cooked the meal for their families, some took pictures and made videos of themselves cooking in action, which can be found on the Boys with Braids Facebook page. Kayden, another Boys with Braids participants and Rosebud Sioux tribal member, particularly enjoyed the creative side of the cooking process.

Darin and DJ, Boys with Braids Rosebud members, have fun making smoothie samples for Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods shoppers

Darin and DJ, Boys with Braids Rosebud members, have fun making smoothie samples for Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods shoppers

“My favorite experience was when we made the chicken. When we put the sauce on the chicken before we cooked it, and I got some sauce on my fingers,” said Kayden.

More shopping expeditions were held at Turtle Creek, with one recent excursion where the boys shopped for fruit, vegetables, yogurt and other ingredients for smoothies. The boys made different smoothies and handed out free samples to Turtle Creek shoppers.

The mentors explained to the boys why they want them to focus on healthy food and the growing of food. They want the boys to see the traditional connection of how it is the young men’s responsibility to bring home and provide food for the family. The cultural connection of providing food also supports the young men in their development into manhood and prepares them to be leaders.

Some of the other activities have included preparing a meal to feed the community, which Boys with Braids Rosebud did during the last St. Francis Indian School high school basketball game. The boys prepared chili and passed out the food to the elders first, and then the rest of the community during halftime. The goal of having the boys “see the value in providing and serving the community” has been successful.

Rights of Passage

Boys with Braids Rosebud members cut up buffalo meat from their first buffalo harvest

Boys with Braids Rosebud members cut up buffalo meat from their first buffalo harvest

“Another community feed is planned for May 24 with REDCO, Boys with Braids Rosebud, and Tiwahe Glu Kinipi, the local horse therapy group, all partnering to put on a community social dance event. The boys are going to cook using buffalo from the harvest they participated in earlier this year,” said Prate.

Another key activity – which was done in addition to the Community Food Sovereignty Initiative activities – was the harvesting of a buffalo and the rights of passage for one of the older boys.

“The rights of passage and the taking of the buffalo, the continuation and the relationships to the buffalo, and praying. We did it in an honorable and respectful way. We wanted the boys to know the history and the cultural processes today,” said Espinoza.

The boys learned to skin and gut the buffalo and process the meat. The mentors talked about the traditions of sharing food among the generations and the community.

After a busy winter and spring, the Boys with Braids Rosebud youth, Espinoza, Prate and White Hat are busy gearing up to produce a short video and a poster on the importance of healthy food and the cultural connection of traditional foods to the community. What the group has experienced and learned over the eight-month project was shared at a community roundtable event this spring. Prate says they are grateful to First Nations for the support in making this project happen.

Engaging Families

DJ, Boys with Braids Rosebud member, catches the ground buffalo meat, while Cedar, another member waits his turn

DJ, Boys with Braids Rosebud member, catches the ground buffalo meat, while Cedar, another member, waits his turn

“I’m excited for this work, to see it go forward. To see a parent group take the initiative of what their sons want to grow and know, to hear parents talk about what they eat, where the food is from – it influences and affects the boys. Then they bring it home – where it impacts and engages the families.”

The work of REDCO and its partnership with Boys with Braids Rosebud will continue into the upcoming seasons. Just as the seasons are about growth and harvesting, so it is with the partnerships being built said Prate.

“We have recently received an additional grant from First Nations to partner with Boys with Braids Rosebud this summer. This will go toward growing gardens in each of the boy’s homes, taking them on traditional foods harvests, and completing a second buffalo harvest. This will be a way to continue the conversations held this winter into the summer in a tangible and concrete way.”

By Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer

First Nations Board Profile: Susan Jenkins

First Nations Board Member Susan Jenkins

First Nations Board Member Susan Jenkins

When it comes to serving communities and driving change, First Nations Board Member Susan Jenkins is inspired by a quote she learned from her tribe, the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma: “You must listen to understand rather than listen to respond.”

It’s a mantra that’s guided her throughout her life, career and leadership with First Nations Development Institute. “You have to listen to what people need, and be sensitive about their experiences in order to implement solutions,” she says.

Today as a member of the Choctaw Nation and an advocate for the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, she continues to listen, always drawing from the insights she hears to enhance the quality of life of others.

Experience in Education

Susan grew up with her twin brother in rural Oklahoma at a time when being Native was not something to be “proud of.” She says that while she knew her family was Native American, she didn’t fully get to know her culture until she was an adult, when lessons of racism had become more apparent.

In her teens, Susan’s family moved to Ohio, and without enough money for both twins to go to college, Susan pursued nursing school after graduation. She worked briefly as a nurse, but soon realized it wasn’t the job for her. “It was a time when nurses had to stand up and give the doctors their chair,” she remembers.

She left nursing to pursue a bachelor’s degree in health education at Ohio State University, and then a master’s at the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Georgia. At Georgia, she began working with the university’s extension service, and was deployed to Athens to set up wellness programs for underserved communities.

Susan (right) with Valorie Johnson (left) at a October 2016 tribute dinner for Val after she retired from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Susan (right) with Valorie Johnson (left) at an October 2016 tribute dinner for Val after she retired from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Through the University of Georgia, she also did outreach work in Western Africa, engaging communities in Burkina Faso and Mali in setting up a health system. “We were there to help them, but they helped us a lot more,” she says.

Indeed, through her experience in Africa, and then later as a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, she realized the importance of listening to others. “All those experiences culminated in making me much more sensitive,” she says. “You have to go through some of that. You have to look for opportunities that are quite uncomfortable so you can learn.”

She learned through every visit. She was able to see firsthand how differences divide people and how racism has manifested in America, internationally and, ultimately, in her own Native culture.

Understanding at Every Opportunity

To Susan, racism is a direct result of not taking the time to learn from other people and accept each other as they are. Because of this, there is a tendency to assert one’s beliefs on others, thinking they know the “right way” to do things. Susan experienced this herself on one of her trips to Western Africa. As rural health specialists, they were there to set up medical institutions as they would in the United States. But they quickly learned that their way of doing things wasn’t the way of the African people.

“In Burkina Faso, it is customary to hire health or medical professionals, train them, and send them out into the villages to help people,” Susan explains. “But in the U.S., we will put up medical buildings, create pharmacies, and expect people to come to us.”

Understanding these differences, she says, changes how you provide services to people, and how you support them in their development. As a direct result, Susan made taking time, asking questions, and visiting with all stakeholders in a community key to her career.

Getting on the Agenda

After her time at the University of Georgia and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Susan went on to work as a senior program officer for the Hitachi Foundation in Washington, D.C. From there, she was recruited to come to North Carolina to set up the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

Susan at the Cherokee Preservation Foundation office

Susan at the Cherokee Preservation Foundation office

Starting out, there was no structure and no staff. While the tribe was recognized as a tribal nation, it lacked the education and resources and even the general knowledge of what a foundation is. It was Susan’s job to establish operations, and the first thing she did, as always, was start listening.

She says while the tribe was fragmented, there were community clubs, which met once a month to discuss challenges and opportunities. “I made sure I was put on their agenda,” she says. “I wanted to hear what the people wanted, as well as what the chief wanted. Unless you do that, it is really hard to hear what the community truly was looking for.”

As executive director, she began her focus in three areas: cultural preservation, economic preservation, and workforce development. By listening to the tribal members, she was able to develop solutions specific to the Cherokee community. And by calling on her experience in Georgia and at the W.K. Kellogg and Hitachi Foundations, she had a good idea of what would work and what wouldn’t, and how to direct dollars.

During her 12 years at the foundation, Susan helped establish programs in each focus area. These included leadership and cultural tourism initiatives and the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources, which works to teach, protect and promote Cherokee art, resources and land care. She helped form the Certified Financial Development Institute, known as the Sequoyah Fund. She also led a downtown revitalization program that resulted in a 25% business improvement for tribal retailers.

Perspective that Empowers

Susan’s appreciation of other cultures, global view of the effects of racism, and hands-on experience helping people thrive has drawn her to the work of First Nations Development Institute. She says it’s an organization that has always been on the cutting edge of community development. It is able to see the potential of projects and initiatives, and help them build the infrastructure to get on the radar of other funders. In addition, First Nations is able to recognize the grassroots efforts that result in large-scale, long-term change.

“First Nations brings a sensitivity to the work that I don’t think anybody else can,” she says. “They know Natives don’t need a hand out. They need a hand up.”

Moving forward, Susan shows no signs of slowing down. Active on several boards, and vital to the work of enhancing the lives of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, she continues to lend her experience and perspective. She continues to listen, and people continue to respond.

By Amy Jakober

Camp Reinforces Pyramid Lake Paiute Traditions

Moccasins made as part of the Pyramid Lake Paiute's Cultural Summer Day Camp

Moccasins made as part of the Pyramid Lake Paiute’s Cultural Summer Day Camp

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Nixon, Nevada, was one of 24 American Indian organizations and tribal youth programs to receive funding from First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) through its Native Youth and Culture Fund (NYCF) for the 2016-17 funding cycle. First Nations launched the NYCF in 2002 with generous support from the Kalliopeia Foundation and other foundations and tribal, corporate and individual supporters.

Pyramid Lake Paiute Chairman Vinton Hawley is pleased that by investing in its youth and giving them a sense of community and tradition, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe is ensuring that it will have strong future leaders. The tribe commended First Nations for support of the much-needed “Cultural Summer Day Camp.”

nycf-logoThe tribe received a $20,000 grant that supported the camp where elementary school-aged youth learned the Paiute culture and heritage through a language-immersion unit. The sharing of the Paiute culture, language and history included hands-on learning and classroom activities. Tribal high school and college students served as peer mentors to their younger, fellow tribal members.

Through the NYCF grant, the cultural camp was able to provide transportation for all three of the tribe’s communities. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) Reservation is located 45 miles northeast of Reno, Nevada, in Washoe County. PLPT has three communities, Nixon, Wadsworth and Sutcliffe. The communities of Wadsworth and Sutcliffe are located approximately 15 miles from Nixon, which was the location of the Cultural Summer Day Camp.

The cultural camp’s ability to provide transportation sparked an interest from many families, and supported an increase in attendance. Over the four weeks in July 2016 there was an average daily attendance of 73 students, which was an increase from the previous year of an average daily attendance of anywhere from 60 to 65 students.

Pyramid Lake Paiute youth make hand game pieces during the camp

Pyramid Lake Paiute youth make hand game pieces during the camp

Tribal elders were key to the success of the cultural camp and they served as consultants to the program. One of the elders who served as one of the language teachers was Flora Greene.

“We were very fortunate that one of our oldest elders, who is 100 years old, came and worked with and spoke to the students. Parents also came and watched as the students learned,” said Janet Davis, Tribal Recreation Coordinator.

The youth were taught traditional Paiute dances and songs and they learned to make their own traditional clothing. The tribal museum directors spoke to the students and showed them the different parts of the regalia such as the moccasins, collars, beaded belts, headbands, cloth and buckskin dresses. Tribal members who sew traditional clothing also came together to measure each and every student for their own traditional Paiute cloth dress or shirt. They also helped cut the fabric as well.

The key to the language-immersion program was the learning of the “NUMU” language by playing traditional games and songs. The students also learned to make hand-game pieces to use when playing hand games such as the Bamboo Game. The students learned NUMU words by repeating simple words, phrases and body parts. Elders and community members played bingo games with the children using NUMU words. They also told stories in both Paiute and English.

A screenshot of the YouTube video about the camp

A screenshot of the YouTube video about the camp

A short film entitled, “Pyramid Lake Recreation: Summer Culture Program” documents the Cultural Camp. The almost 13-minute video can be found on YouTube and was produced by Robert Hicks Jr. of Nokwsi Films.

Hicks is a student at Haskell Indian Nations University, majoring in health, sport and exercise science. His experience as a videographer and audio engineer lead him to serve as the film’s producer, videographer and editor. A Pyramid Lake Paiute tribal member, Hicks knows the importance of the camp.

The video includes interviews with the tribal community members, and footage of the youth wearing their traditional clothing and participating in their traditional dances such as the Antelope Dance, the Bear Dance and the Owl Dance.

Davis said the impact of the camp is ongoing.

“With the First Nations grant funding, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe was able to successfully serve youth and community members from all three of our tribal communities. This increased the access and sharing of our Paiute cultural customs and beliefs, and renewed our culture in the ways of our ancestors in order to promote our identity for future generations. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe is very thankful to the First Nations Native Youth and Cultural Fund for the support of this project.”

By Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer

Chief Harjo & Terry Mason Moore Exemplify TCEMP Impact


The Tribal Commerce and Enterprise Management Program (TCEMP) was a project of First Nations Development Institute that was implemented in the fall of 1984 and ran through the summer of 1987, It was generously funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

TCEMP fellows attended Yale University and the University of Minnesota for two years, then the fellows entered a year of service and worked for their tribal communities after graduation. An overview of TCEMP was featured in First Nations’ Indian Giver March/April newsletter – Recalling Our Roots: TCEMP Helped Boost Tribal Economies.

This edition features two TCEMP alums: Chief Leonard M. Harjo of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma (Yale ’88), and Terry Mason Moore of the Osage Nation (University of Minnesota ’92).

Chief Leonard M. Harjo

Chief Leonard M. Harjo, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

Chief Leonard M. Harjo, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

Chief Leonard M. Harjo was elected and sworn into office as the Principal Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma on September 5, 2009. His journey to becoming chief of his tribe was one that would take him down many different roads, with some that he did not imagine he would ever take when he was growing up near Wolf, Oklahoma.

Being raised on his grandfather’s allotment in rural Oklahoma by his parents, Floyd L. and Esther Barnoski Harjo, allowed him to learn how to raise livestock and crops. But his grounding in the Seminole rural and cultural life gave him the strong foundation needed in order to venture out into the world during his junior and senior years of high school.

He participated in a program called “A Better Chance” that allowed him to attend a preparatory school in the northeastern part of the United States. This early experience would prepare him for the Ivy League colleges of Harvard and Yale, which he’d go on to attend and earn a B.A. degree in economics in 1979, and a master’s degree in public and private management, respectively.

His graduate school years at Yale were funded by the Tribal Commerce and Enterprise Management Program, or TCEMP, which was a project of First Nations Financial Project (which was renamed First Nations Development Institute in 1991). TCEMP was generously funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

‘Not a lot of Support’

“I had been away for long enough to know what to experience being on the East Coast. There is not a lot of support for Natives out there. So we (other graduate students) supported each other, the different races and communities at Yale. We kept our eyes open and on each other’s kids.”

Harjo said there were a few Native students scattered throughout the university and each student got absorbed into their own area or program, as there was not an effort to bring the Native students together at that time. In spite of the lack of Natives on campus, Harjo did well.

“For me, I liked the Yale School of Management. I was used to small classes and enjoyed and worked better in smaller groups. The classes were interesting and focused on accounting, marketing, finances, environment, education and public speaking.”

Harjo was not alone at Yale, his then four-year-old daughter went with him. He juggled his time between his studies and being a father.

“I was a divorced single parent. I took my daughter to Yale, and she spent her fourth and fifth years of age there. She loved it. We lived in the graduate family housing and there were a lot of kids her age.”

Harjo had started to pursue an MBA in Oklahoma by attending night school. But when his life situation changed and he became a single father, he knew the “only way to do it was to go to school full time.”

Citibank Internship

In the summer of 1987 Harjo did an internship for Citibank in New York and reviewed statutes and policies affecting the banking industry in Oklahoma.

“It was an enjoyable opportunity to be in New York in the summer of 1987 after my first year in business school. Companies heavily recruited students between the first and second year of business school. It was an enjoyable summer listening to what others had to say.”

Harjo completed TCEMP and graduated with a master’s degree in public and private management from Yale in 1988, and returned to Oklahoma. He then went on to be the tribal planner to director of economic development, and was appointed the first director of the Seminole Nation Development Authority. Harjo did whatever was needed for his tribe for the next 20 years. He knows he’s fortunate to have had the experience of being a TCEMP fellow. It gave him the confidence to tackle the hard issues and trust in his capabilities and take responsibility to get the job done. But he knows not all Natives are as fortunate.

“Some are not used to facing challenges they are not familiar with. They almost freeze, they don’t know what to do. Yale helped give me the tools … so it was not an issue for me to figure out how to do it, and how to not fear not knowing how to do it.”

Harjo says another TCEMP is still needed today to give Native people an opportunity learn basic business management skills. He sees the need everyday as he works to bring people on board in positions with the tribe’s enterprises. An on-site campus experience for a semester or more, where the students can come together on campus once a month to focus on their studies with other Native students and then return to their home communities to continue their work on the ground, is his vision.

Seeking the Same Things

“I remember telling Rebecca Adamson (First Nations founder and former president) and Sherry Salway Black (former First Nations senior vice president) at that time, that an on-site program is a good one. It brings together like-minded people with other professional Native people seeking the same things they are.”

Harjo continues to see how important the work of First Nations Development Institute is for tribal communities. He said the work is especially important in creating Native economies, particularly in the area of entrepreneurship, and developing alternatives for tribes to consider beyond relying on government funding and tribal gaming.

“… to really create a private sector owned by tribal members, real entrepreneurship growth has to come from our communities. We need to develop and have an economic sector that is owned by our people and in our own tribal communities.”

Terry Mason Moore

Terry Mason Moore, attorney and tribal judge, Osage Nation

Terry Mason Moore, attorney and tribal judge, Osage Nation

Terry Mason Moore is a very curious person, an adventure seeker and a risk taker. Moore, a member of the Osage Nation, had earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Northeastern State University, and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, plus she had studied international law and comparative law at Oxford University.

She was already an accomplished Indian law attorney when, in the fall of 1990, she left Oklahoma to become a fellow with the Tribal Commerce and Enterprise Management Program, or (TCEMP). The fellowship program was a key component of the First Nations Financial Project, as First Nations Development Institute was called until the name was formally changed in 1991. TCEMP was originally based at Yale University from 1986 to 1988. It then moved to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. TCEMP was generously funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York from 1991 to 1994.

Moore recalls: “Back then, there were no monies to support you getting an education. It (TCEMP) was a blessing – there were no options then. We were on our own. We appreciated the opportunity. We took a chance, we took a risk and we just went.”

For the next two years Moore and her fellow mate, Aurolyn Stwyer (Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon), focused on their studies with their young children in tow. They were involved with both the Native community on the UMN campus and in the greater Twin Cities.

Gaining Confidence

“We took economic development, economic nonprofit management classes. It was fun. Aurolyn was in a different major, but we took the core classes together. In our second year more TCEMP students came. We were pioneers, Aurolyn and I. We helped lay the groundwork. It made us stronger, gave us the confidence and made us competent to deal with the non-Indian world. We imagined we could succeed and we did. We graduated and we could see the possibilities. We knew we could do it.”

Both Moore and Stwyer would graduate from the UMN Carlson School of Management with master’s degrees in business administration in 1992. Another Native student on campus who was close with Moore and Stwyer was Annette Bowsher Hamilton, who is from the Kickapoo Tribe of Indians of the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas. She was considered a TCEMP student, but was funded by an outside organization. Hamilton graduated in 1993.

Moore credits TCEMP for the opportunity to expand her knowledge and experience.

“Because of First Nations and TCEMP, I grew. I remember Sherry Salway Black (former First Nations senior vice president) and Rebecca Adamson (First Nations founder and former president) taking Aurolyn and I to the First Nations office in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Sherry had us stay over at her house and spend the night, then we went home. It was a great opportunity I would not have had without TCEMP. The incentives, the stipend which covered our living expenses, it all made such a huge difference in being in the program. I could not have done it without funding. It was an opportunity to take advantage of.”

Early Days of Tribal Gaming

Moore stayed in Minnesota for 10 years and combined her law and business degrees to assist tribes in the early days of tribal gaming.

“I was the business contracts person when I worked for Kurt Bluedog’s law firm in Minneapolis. I worked with tribes in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. It was a great experience. I worked on some of the first tribal gaming compacts, helped tribes build casinos and resorts, and many are still doing excellent today. I’m proud of that.”

During her time in Minnesota, Moore served as vice president of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, a board member for the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, and on numerous other organization boards and task forces in the state. She served as tribal judge for the Prairie Island Indian Community, the Lower Sioux Indian Community, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, and the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. Currently she serves as tribal judge for the Santee Sioux Nation in Nebraska, and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota.

Return to the Osage Nation

In 1999 Moore and her family returned to the Osage Reservation, where she was born and raised, and she began working for her tribe. Moore was the legal counsel for the Osage Nation Tax Commission and later general counsel as a contractor.

“I wore every hat. I worked as gaming commissioner, served on the Tribal Council, and was the first woman Assistant Principal Chief. I have worked as general counsel in some capacity since 2000. There is always something going on when working for a tribe. I am now legal counsel to Chief Standing Bear. I work with outside attorneys, litigation and lobbyists in Oklahoma and in Washington, D.C. I was fortunate to go back to work for the tribe – it was a commitment.”

Moore’s commitment to working for her tribe and helping it grow is something she credits back to TCEMP. It also prompted her to take First Nations’ Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families (BNC) training and certification in 2012. She saw it as a way to help empower her tribal community members to achieve their financial goals and manage their assets.

“I took the training to help make the community better. There is a need among our young people to learn how to manage their finances and manage their credit. I was curious about the BNC training so I took it. It was interesting and I learned something new.”

Profiles by Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer

Sponsors Lining Up for “Reclaiming Native Truth”


The groundbreaking Reclaiming Native Truth: A Project to Dispel America’s Myths and Misconceptions effort has been gaining steam … along with new financial sponsors.

First Nations Development Institute is co-leading the project with Echo Hawk Consulting. This initiative will consolidate and build upon previous research efforts in order to create a long-term, Native-led movement that will positively transform the popular image of and narrative about Native Americans. Between 2016 and 2018, the partners will work with an advisory committee of Native leaders, stakeholders, and racial equity experts and advocates to understand the underlying reasons for society’s negative and inaccurate perceptions of Native Americans. Based on this improved understanding, the project team will have the tools necessary to build consensus around tackling this long-standing problem.

The effort was made possible initially through a $2.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since then, additional sponsors have come on board. In the last issue of Indian Giver, we announced support from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota (see story here). They have now been joined by these additional supporters: