35 Years of History: A Look Back at Some Milestones

Photo from First Nations' 1996/97 Biennial Report (Photo by Owen Seumptewa, courtesy of The Hitachi Foundation)

In observing our 35th Anniversary during 2015, we’ve been taking a look back at some of our history. We’ll be sharing some of these historical tidbits with you by way of this newsletter over the rest of the year. Here are three milestones from the earliest years:

  • In 1980, First Nations Financial Project (renamed First Nations Development Institute in 1991) was founded with a $25,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, making First Nations the first nonprofit social enterprise exclusively committed to Native control of tribal assets. www.firstnations.org
  • In 1982, First Nations began research for its Oweesta Program (from the Mohawk word for money), and established the program in 1986. In 1999, the Oweesta Program became First Nations Oweesta Corporation, which is an independent subsidiary of First Nations. Oweesta is a certified national Native community development financial institution (CDFI). Oweesta’s programs and services include lending, capacity building, financial education and asset-building. www.oweesta.org
  • In 1985-86, First Nations assisted in the creation of The Lakota Funds on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the first Native American community development financial institution (CDFI) in the U.S. www.lakotafunds.org

 

 

First Nations Welcomes New Board Member Susan Jenkins, Ph.D.

Dr. Susan Jenkins (Choctaw) has been elected to the Board of Directors of First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) for a one-year term.

Jenkins lives in rural western North Carolina, where she moved to help the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians start the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.  For over 10 years, she served as executive director of the foundation. Currently, she serves on the Native Arts and Culture Foundation Board of Trustees, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina Board of Directors, Western Carolina University’s Foundation Board of Directors, Lake Junaluska Assembly Board of Trustees, WCU College of Business Advisory Council and several other local nonprofit boards and committees.

Jenkins has worked in communities of color in the State of Georgia, the Southeast and in the West Africa countries of Mali and Burkino Faso. After 20 years of community work, she served as program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she oversaw a multi-million-dollar portfolio focused on rural development, and served as senior program officer at the Hitachi Foundation before finishing her career as founding executive director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. An enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, Jenkins holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Georgia.

“We are delighted to have Susan join us on the board, and we know that her contribution of expertise, experience and guidance will be highly valued as First Nations continues to grow and expand its mission of helping build and revitalize Native American economies and communities,” said First Nations Board Chairman B. Thomas Vigil (Jicarilla Apache/Jemez Pueblo).

A full list of First Nations’ Board members can be found here: http://firstnations.org/about/board.