Open House Celebrates Permanent Home of First Nations

Some of First Nations' staff members at the Open House. L to R are Montoya Whiteman, Marsha Whiting and Lisa Yellow Eagle

On Sept. 6, nearly 100 people came together to celebrate First Nations Development Institute’s new permanent home and office building in Longmont, Colorado.  The occasion was an open house featuring good food, friends, supporters and, of course, lots of fun.

First Nations actually moved into the existing building in the north part of Longmont back on April 26, but it wasn’t until early September that we were ready and able to pause and celebrate.  We had to get everything situated and make a few updates and repairs (and we’ll continue to make improvements in the future), plus we had to do our regular work in the meantime.

John Emhoolah Jr. (Kiowa and Arapaho) offers his song

Some of the attendees included Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs and other local elected officials, state officials, representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, area business people, the professional and business tenants in our building, some of the funders, foundations and individual donors who help sustain us, and numerous representatives from other American Indian organizations in Colorado and New Mexico such as the Native American Rights Fund, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the American Indian College Fund, the Denver Indian Center, and Native American Bank.  We even had a few of our Facebook friends and Twitter followers drop by for the event.

Besides ample and delicious food and the chance to reconnect with many friends and professional Native connections, the highlights of the observance were remarks and a ceremonial ribbon-cutting by First Nations President Michael Roberts (Tlingit), and a Kiowa song and blessing by noted Colorado Indian leader John Emhoolah Jr. (Kiowa and Arapaho).  Then we celebrated with cake!

John EchoHawk, left, executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, chats with First Nations President Mike Roberts

We’re planning to call our building the “First Nations Professional Building.” It’s located at 2432 Main Street in Longmont, Colorado.

As the chairman of our board of directors, B. Thomas Vigil (Jicarilla Apache/Jemez Pueblo), noted in our recent annual report, “First Nations purchased its own headquarters building after years of leasing space and dealing with seemingly endless rent increases. It became obvious that First Nations needed to seize control of its own physical space. The building is now a key asset of the organization, providing operational space as well as rental income from other tenants. I believe it’s a sign of the continuing growth and maturity of the organization, and is testament to its growing presence, impact and credibility in Native communities.”

First Nations Keynotes at Seminole Conference

The Native Learning Center affiliated with the Seminole Tribe of Florida invited First Nations Development Institute to present at its Fifth Annual Summer Conference – Strengthening Tribal Communities Into the Future – in Hollywood, Florida, on June 5, 2013.

First Nations Senior Program Officer Montoya Whiteman (Cheyenne-Arapaho) spoke during a general session to approximately 150 conference attendees. She discussed First Nations’ history and purpose, the organization’s current My Green financial education campaign, and the Building Native Communities Financial Series, specifically A Journey to Financial Empowerment.

Montoya Whiteman

Montoya noted that the opportunity to share First Nation’s work in this type of environment reinforces the importance of collaboration, and provides insight into demonstrated strategies, tools and research activities.  “It also highlights the valuable resources that are free to Native communities and the public, and which are available through our First Nations website,” she added.

To learn more about research models and publications, visit and click on the “Knowledge Center” tab, or simply click here.

At First Nations, Montoya currently supports the organization’s Strengthening Native American Nonprofits Program through technical assistance, training, site visits, institutes, and webinars for improving nonprofit capacity and organizational effectiveness. She implements several U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women grants, as well the Housing and Urban Development One CPD Technical Assistance grant. Most recently, she has taken on responsibility for overseeing a new project that will expand First Nations’ work to urban Indians and organizations, beyond its normal focus on rural and reservation-based Native communities.