Board Member Chandra Hampson: Combining Business with Heart

Chandra interacts with the “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” exhibit, in which black bars turn translucent when touched and reveal the names of U.S. Indian Boarding Schools that have been lost to history. Chandra has her hand on the boarding school Carlisle, where her great grandmother Elizabeth Bender and great uncle Charles Bender were sent.

Chandra interacts with the “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” exhibit, in which black bars turn translucent when touched and reveal the names of U.S. Indian Boarding Schools that have been lost to history. Chandra has her hand on the boarding school Carlisle, where her great grandmother Elizabeth Bender and great uncle Charles Bender were sent.

An inherent sense of community. A legacy of advocacy. A heritage grounded in education. They are signatures of First Nations Development Institute Board Member Chandra Hampson, and the driving force behind her schooling, career and ongoing outreach. From her childhood on the Winnebago and Umatilla reservations and in adjacent small towns, to her years as a banking executive, Chandra has built on this foundation, staying connected to her native heritage and always pursuing ways to make it stronger.

A Calling in Her Blood

Chandra’s tribal affiliation is Ho-Chunk from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and Ojibwe from the White Earth Nation. She is also the great granddaughter of Elizabeth Bender and of Henry Roe Cloud, a renowned educator and key player in the development of federal Indian policy in the early 20th century. The first Native American to graduate from Yale University, Cloud had a distinguished career in Native advocacy, first helping to institute modern schools for Native American youth and then being instrumental in the writing and implementation of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

Cloud’s legacy transcended generations, instilling in his descendants the importance of education and each person’s obligation to help their community.

Chandra has taken this heritage to heart, recognizing that wherever her life has taken her – from the reservations, to her studies in Italy, to business school at the University of Washington – she has felt a deep connection to her Native roots and an ongoing desire to give back.

The Need for Community

Chandra at her 25-year reunion at Stanford University, where she presented on a panel with some of her fellow graduates.

Chandra at her 25-year reunion at Stanford University, where she presented on a panel with some of her fellow graduates.

Chandra spent the bulk of her childhood in rural areas adjacent to and on the Umatilla Reservation. Here she maintained close contact not only with the Umatilla Tribe, but also with her own Winnebago Tribe from her roots in Nebraska. From here, she headed to Stanford University – a tradition in education for many of her family members. In fact, she said, her parents met at Stanford after both being assigned to the first co-ed dorm in the country.

While being raised in a rural area had given Chandra exposure to class racial divides, Stanford was her first introduction to a more expansive world of privilege. “My Native family who’d attended always spoke positively about Stanford,” she said. “But they were resilient in ways I can only imagine. For me it was challenging to find people I could identify with.”

Fortunately, an uncle who had been at Stanford in the 1970s connected Chandra with the Stanford Native Community Center that proved to be fundamental to her success. During her time at Stanford, she stayed involved with the group, which has since grown to become one of the best Native student programs nationwide. “My uncle was involved in forming this group, and the legacy has been amazing,” she said. “It’s something that Native people need, to avoid feeling isolated.”

Choosing to Help

Chandra graduated from Stanford into a national recession with a degree in art and photography. She found herself at a crossroads. She decided she would give herself six months to pursue a career in graphics and animation, or she would honor the calling instilled in her from her beginnings – helping others. In what ultimately would be a loss for the art world but a win for the Indian community, after six months she began working with a community partnership in Santa Clara County, focusing on Urban Indian community development with local Indian health and education organizations.

A move to San Diego next led Chandra to a management position with a family foundation, where she was introduced to a variety of trusts, grassroots organizations and other foundations. From this experience, a new career pathway began to reveal itself. “I found the nonprofit sector didn’t have a sense of business, and the business community didn’t have much heart,” she said. “I was looking for a space between.”

Her exploration led her to pursue an MBA at the University of Washington, where she focused on the intersection of community development and private-sector finance.

The Power of Banking

Chandra Hampson. Photo courtesy of Meredith Parker (Makah)

Chandra Hampson. Photo courtesy of Meredith Parker (Makah)

While “responsible business” and “corporate responsibility” were new concepts at the time she started business school, Chandra already had her focus on getting back to Indian Country. “In everything I did, I was always looking for the Native component,” she said. “I kept refusing to leave our First People out of the conversation.”

She developed skills in marketing and finance and upon graduation sought a career in the industry that could make a real difference for Native communities: banking. For her, it was about capital and asset-building.

“I wanted to find ways to control the flow of capital and the extent to which it was available in Indian Country,” she said.

Through traditional banking, Chandra said she could work to get tribes more access to capital, which they historically hadn’t had due to racist beliefs and policies. She strived to get tribes treated as viable public finance customers. Drawing on her knowledge of other approaches to channeling capital to unserved communities, she worked to disrupt the way financial systems operated in order to get capital back to Indian Country.

“Through banking, I could help tribes and tribal members leverage what they have – social enterprises, government enterprises, entrepreneurialism. That’s social capital, which is as valuable, if not more so, as monetary capital.”

Chandra sought out banks that were doing good works via their Community Reinvestment Act requirements, and ultimately dove into a career with Wells Fargo for the next seven years. She transitioned from positions of bank examiner, to private banker, to commercial gaming lender, to relationship manager for the Pacific Northwest Region of Native American Banking Services Division. Through the last role, she finally had an opportunity to have a direct impact on Native communities and their access to funding to build their economies.

She continued with Wells Fargo until corporate policies and internal competition began to dictate what she was able to do for tribes.

“There was controversy surrounding gaming tribes, which the bank regarded as gaming enterprises instead of communities,” she said. “There were issues of land status and trust. Our team wanted to service these tribes as government agencies, which limited the bank’s returns. Meanwhile the bank considered them to be high-risk gaming organizations.”

It was a policy she could not condone.

Still focused on wanting to serve Indian Country, Chandra decided to pursue opportunities with Craft3 – a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution lender formed to strengthen economic, ecological and family resilience in Pacific Northwest communities. She accepted a position as Senior Vice President and was brought on to create the Indian Country Initiative.

Always Advocating

Chandra left the world of banking in 2012 to focus on her two small children, but has stayed true to her calling to her community.

She continues serving on several boards of Native organizations and has pursued contract opportunities that empower her to directly help tribes. Among them: writing economic development plans and reviewing business acquisition opportunities for tribes, writing business plans for Native nonprofit organizations, including “Feeding Seven Generations,” and teaching financing and accounting to Native people working in tribal gaming organizations through a UW American Indian Studies program.

Chandra Hampson. Photo courtesy of Meredith Parker (Makah)

Chandra Hampson. Photo courtesy of Meredith Parker (Makah)

The teaching engagements, she said, have allowed her to address the need for financial literacy in Indian Country. “I appreciate having the opportunity to show how accounting, for example, is just the language of business – how American capitalism communicates,” she said. “I let students know that their own concepts and traditional knowledge can be maintained. They’re just using the language of business to translate, so they can better advocate for themselves.”

Chandra said she also continues to focus on efforts that highlight the value of social versus monetary capital, stressing how Indigenous notions of economics are needed in our Native communities. “This is a beacon for how to right the way American capitalism has gone so far south. It’s been a long transition between bringing capital and the ‘ism’ that is tied to it to Indian Country and recognizing that we need to reinvest in ourselves,” she said.

Through it all, Chandra has continued her role on the board of First Nations, an organization that she said she’s honored to be a part of.

“I really respect coming on to a board where members have served for 30 years. It’s amazing to have people who have never lost sight.”

Moreover, she said she appreciates the alignment of First Nations with her personal mission to increase the flow of capital into Indian Country. “From reclaiming systems, to economic growth, to influencing the philanthropic community, First Nations is improving the overall asset base in a very thoughtful and strategic way,” she said. “They’re a first-class nonprofit.”

Going forward, Chandra said she is committed to the legacy established so many years ago by her great grandfather: Community, advocacy, education. They are attributes she said that will always be needed to help tribes rebuild what is historically theirs.

“It’s been a long evolution of finding how to best help communities coming out of economic distress. We still have a long way to go to support healthy land, healthy people and sustainability,” she says. “But we’ll get there.”

With groundwork established by advocates like Henry Roe Cloud, and the ongoing work of leaders like Chandra, we will.

By Amy Jakober

Curiosity, Connections & Results are Key to this Donor

Gail helped First Nations celebrate its sixth year in a row of Charity Navigator's highest 4-Star rating

Gail helped First Nations celebrate its sixth year in a row of Charity Navigator’s highest 4-Star rating

A natural curiosity and making personal connections are what drive Gail*, one of First Nations Development Institute’s donors, to not only support the organization but to connect with the staff one on one. Gail strives to understand and learn about the challenges that reservation and off-reservation tribal communities face, and why the work of First Nations has been vital to Indian Country since its inception almost 38 years ago.

Gail says social justice issues are what she cares about, and that the First Nations program area of Nourishing Native Foods and Health is close to her heart.

“Agriculture has always been interesting for me. As a kid in the summers, I’d spend it alone with my aunt and uncle on their farm, near the mountains. The whole connection to the earth appealed to me and that part of my life was the happiest of my childhood. I helped out – I shelled peas and played in the garden. There were cows, horses, chickens and it made a lasting impression on me. All the programs you (First Nations) have are getting a good handle on providing healthy food to Native American populations,” she said.

Soft Spot for Kids

Investing in Native Youth, in particular the Native Youth and Culture Fund, is another First Nations program area important to Gail. “I have a soft spot for kids, and the youth programs are great. I wish there were more.”



An active lifelong learner, Gail has taken a deep dive into all the reports and information housed in the First Nations Knowledge Center.

“You feel like you’ve taken a couple of semesters of Native American Studies courses by reading all the reports in the Knowledge Center, along with the Indian Giver newsletters and e-blasts. It has helped me to understand so much more. I love the Knowledge Center, I’m reading about land reform now,” said Gail.

She credits Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog agency, for helping her to find First Nations, and she appreciates all the data information Charity Navigator provides. According to its website, “Charity Navigator,, is the largest expert charity evaluator in America. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the Financial Health, Accountability and Transparency of charities and by providing data about 1.6 million nonprofits.”

First Nations has earned the highest rating of four stars from Charity Navigator for six years in a row.

Accountability & Transparency

“After reading the report about First Nations’ work, their financial performance, transparency, and accountability, I then went to the First Nations website and started to learn about the mission, the work they do, the board, and their staff. I also read a couple of the newsletters. It was an organization that met every aspect of my priorities, and has since proved their transparency in a myriad of ways, while providing opportunities for Native American tribes in the United States to work toward fulfilling their potential. It is an honor to be a partner in their mission,” said Gail.

Gail also appreciates the personal connections she has made with First Nations staff members who answer her many questions whether via email or over the phone. She knows how busy the staff is, so the fact that they take the time to respond to her in a timely and professional manner is another reason she supports the organization. But her experience with another Native American organization, unfortunately, was not so positive.

“I became familiar with an American Indian organization that I still believe does some good work. I had been donating to them for a while when I started to attend seminars and learning about ‘intelligent’ giving – instead of writing a check to any cause that I thought was probably making a difference. When I asked the organization for an annual report and subsequently for a financial statement, I didn’t get either one. Then I wrote a letter asking for them and still I didn’t get either one. So I withdrew my support and looked to Charity Navigator for a reputable organization,” said Gail.

Gail heading up a mountain on horseback to work on a potable water project in Honduras

Gail heading up a mountain on horseback to work on a potable water project in Honduras

She also supports social justice organizations not only in the United States, but Indigenous organizations in Central and South America as well. “For three years my vacations included digging trenches for PVC pipe to carry water from mountains to villages in Honduras,” she noted.

Many & Varied Interests

After a long career in the private and nonprofit sectors, Gail is now enjoying retirement. Her various interests range from loving animals from “boa constrictors to horses” and being in the outdoors. She enjoys music from country to classical to jazz. She is a voracious reader and enjoys books, and is an exceptional baker. The First Nations staff have enjoyed many of her baked goods and they appreciate the goodies she sends, especially during those long, challenging work days.

The personal connections and knowing that her support is making a direct and positive impact are key for Gail.

“We are all unique, with our own experiences, talents and gifts. First Nations Development Institute gives all of us the opportunity to be a partner in an organization that is providing a chance for Native American tribes to use their own abilities to succeed in producing food, regaining their languages and cultural traditions, to lead healthy, secure lives. For me, it is a better investment than I’ll find anywhere else.”

*) Gail’s last name and location have been omitted at her request.

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.

‘Power of We’ Part 1: Leilani Chow Finds Inspiration

Chow gives a practice fundraising pitch to a panel of Native American leaders.

Chow (right) gives a practice fundraising pitch to a panel of Native American leaders at the Power of We event. The “judges” represented First Nations, AISES, American Indian College Fund, Native American Rights Fund, and First Nations Oweesta Corporation

Leilani Chow was born and raised on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. One of seven children, Chow knows how important the sustainability and resiliency of the island is to its 7,500 residents, most of whom are Native Hawaiian.

At 16, she got involved with Sustʻāinable Molokai, which “seeks to restore Molokai to the food- and energy-secure island of the past by supporting local agricultural and renewable energy resources from the island.” The organization is a longtime grantee of First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and participates in First Nations’ project that is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

Hui Up is an effort that conducts energy audits aimed at the 3,500 homes on Molokai that have some of the highest electricity rates in the U.S.

Leilani Chow

Leilani Chow

“I thought it was pretty cool. I was really happy to help people save on electric bills at home. It’s necessary and it has helped a lot of people. When I started it was the first year – we did the applications by hand. Now it’s easier to get the audits done, we have an online application. The first year we updated 100 refrigerators. This year we did 207, and we have a waiting list of over 100 people,” said Chow.

Now 24 and a recent graduate of the University of Hawaii, Chow trains Molokai youth to conduct energy audits.

“There’s a team of six with two to a team, and we have youth volunteers. My team was made up of middle schoolers and they did a great job. I was so proud of them,” said Chow.

Chow is expressive about how important the island and the work of Sustʻāinable Molokai is to her. It’s one of the main reasons she returned home the summer of 2017 after graduation.

“I want to go back home and have a more permanent position and do more projects with Sustʻāinable Molokai. I want to help build my community,” said Chow.

Chow (right) poses with some other attendees at the conference

Chow (right) poses with some other attendees at the conference

Chow’s passion and commitment to Sustʻāinable Molokai and her community lead her to be one of the 54 attendees, representing Native nonprofits and tribal programs from across the country, at the Power of We – Fundraising, Sustainability and Telling Our Stories training event held by First Nations in September 2017. 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.

Two speakers who especially impacted Chow were Regis Pecos (Cochiti Pueblo), Co-Director of the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS), and Diane Reyna (Taos Pueblo), a Consultant with the Leadership Institute at SFIS. Chow connected with how they develop curriculum and that the students get to determine the rules.

Emillia Noordhoek is the Co-Executive Director and the Director of Renewable Resources of Sustʻāinable Molokai, and has known Chow for the past 12 years. She sees the importance and the need to create a place for the youth to come back to for the sustainability and resiliency of the island.

Sustainable Molokai“We work hard to keep the youth engaged so they can come back after college, but they can’t earn as much as they would on the mainland or in Honolulu if we didn’t have stipends. So part of our leadership program, as we’re reimagining it, is that someone can work on a project, go back to college or other training, and be able to return to Molokai and pick up the project where they left off,” said Noordhoek.

Building their capacity to create positions for Chow and the youth of Molokai is a key effort of Sustʻāinable Molokai and Noordhoek. Attending the Power of We training gave Chow and the other attendees an opportunity to see what other Native communities are doing, to learn from other emerging and accomplished, committed community leaders.

“I had no idea what to expect as this was my first Power of We conference that I’ve been to. I was blown away with the speakers as they were so amazing. It was well-planned and fun. I learned a lot. I had never thought about fundraising in those ways – it’s an area that we need to look at,” said Chow.

By Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer