Grant Launches Native Intellectual Leadership Project

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“We are honored and excited to partner with the Henry Luce Foundation to support the diverse array of knowledge makers and knowledge keepers in Native communities,” said Michael E. Roberts, President and CEO of First Nations Development Institute (First Nations), when announcing that First Nations had received a grant of $1.35 million over two years from the Henry Luce Foundation to fund a fellowship program that will support intellectual leadership in Native American communities.

Roberts continued: “The beauty of this project is that it will support and convene community leaders – from cultural and community intellectuals working to perpetuate traditional arts, Native languages and foods, to intellectual leaders working on economic development, climate change and other contemporary or Western manifestations of intellectual leadership. We hope that by investing in Native leadership, Indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems will be supported for the benefit of Native communities and beyond.”

The new fellowship program will support 10 outstanding Native Americans who hail from a wide variety of fields and who utilize different modes of expression in communicating their knowledge and work. The goal of this fellowship will be to identify, support and convene Native American intellectual leaders who embody exceptional creativity and progressive and critical thinking, and who have the potential to significantly move forward their fields in ways that will ultimately lead to broad, transformative impacts for Native communities and beyond. Core to this program is supporting Native individuals who are engaged in the creation and dissemination of knowledge that advances their respective field or area of expertise.

Work Can Take Many Forms

For this fellowship, Native intellectual leadership is defined broadly and will include cultural leaders, media makers, scientists, health professionals, academics, curators, artists, writers, and policy makers, among others. The work of these leaders may take many forms, including journalism, visual art, film and video, speeches or sermons, educational curricula, music or theater, formal scholarship or research, public health strategies, legal arguments, fiction, policy analysis, etc.

“This initiative marries two of the Henry Luce Foundation’s core commitments: a commitment to the development of leaders and a commitment to the public dissemination of knowledge,” said Sean T. Buffington, Vice President at the Henry Luce Foundation in New York City. “We believe, with our colleagues at First Nations, that knowledge and ideas have the power to transform communities at the local, national and global levels, but only if that knowledge and those ideas are put into the hands of communities. By investing in leaders who create new knowledge and share that knowledge publicly, we can empower the communities that those leaders address and serve.”

Advisory Committee

In launching this new program, First Nations will also select and convene an eight-member advisory committee of distinguished intellectual leaders who will participate in program design and selection of fellows. The committee members will be distinguished knowledge makers and knowledge keepers themselves, and they will have deep knowledge of Indigenous culture and broad experience working in and with Native communities.

A formal application process will be launched in the fall of 2019. Individuals interested in the fellowship may apply directly or be nominated. Each fellow will receive $50,000 to advance her or his work. The fellows will also gather together three times during the fellowship year to learn from one another. All fellows will be eligible to seek an additional $25,000 to continue their work in the year after the fellowship.

To be informed of when the application period opens in 2019, please regularly check the First Nations website, subscribe to First Nations’ emails at this link, or follow First Nations on various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.