The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) recently made a $100,000 donation to the Reclaiming Native Truth project that is co-managed by First Nations Development Institute and Echo Hawk Consulting under a major grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The gift was part of a package of new SMSC donations totaling more than $4 million for Native American causes in several states.
Reclaiming Native Truth is a groundbreaking project that 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. From 2016-2018, the project team is working 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 will have the tools necessary to build consensus around tackling this long-standing problem. It is expected that the project will lead to the creation of a national campaign to achieve greater awareness, respect and equality for Native peoples.
“Launching an unprecedented national project like Reclaiming Native Truth requires farsighted dedication from planners and funders. The SMSC’s donation shows a long-term commitment to improving the lives of Native Americans,” said Michael Roberts, co-director of Reclaiming Native Truth and president and CEO of First Nations Development Institute.
“There are so many needs across Indian Country, and this new financial support will go a long way toward improving the lives of many people, especially children and future generations,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig.
The SMSC has donated approximately $350 million to organizations and causes since 1992.
The donation to the Reclaiming Native Truth project was made on the heels of a $200,000 gift the SMSC made to fund living allowances for AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers working to improve Native nutrition, as part of the SMSC’s $5 million Seeds of Native Health campaign. It was the first time in VISTA’s history in which a tribe provided funding to deploy VISTA members nationally. In an editorial lauding the SMSC’s Seeds of Native Health campaign, the Star Tribune – Minnesota’s largest news outlet – called the tribe a “philanthropic force.”