First Nations Hosts Training for Maine’s Wabanaki Women’s Coalition

Left to right are Montoya Whiteman, Julia Walton (WWC board member), Susie Fink (WWC board member), Nancy Soctomah (WWC board member), Tonia Dana (WWC board member), Jane Root (WWC executive director), Whitney Kizer (First Nations consultant) and Lisa Yellow Eagle of First Nations

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is a technical assistance provider for tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions nationwide. First Nations provides nonprofit capacity-building support for the tribal coalitions by strengthening the organizational capacity and program-management capabilities of the coalitions. We are proud to have hosted a recent financial management training for the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition at our office in Longmont, Colorado.

The Wabanaki Women’s Coalition, a Maine tribal coalition, became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in October 2013, and they were notified they were a grantee of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) in October 2014. Their mission is to increase the capacity of tribal communities to respond to domestic and sexual violence and influence tribal, national and regional systems to increase awareness, safety, justice and healing for all our relations.

Four board members and the executive director traveled to Colorado for a Financial Management Training to assist them in learning the basics of QuickBooks financial management software. They also received training on the roles of a nonprofit board of directors regarding fiscal operations; budgeting; and they reviewed their draft policies and procedures with First Nations Senior Program Officer Montoya Whiteman and First Nations consultant Whitney Kizer to gain insight and advice on those draft policies.

First Nations enjoyed hosting the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition to illuminate the nonprofit’s current success while looking ahead to their budding future.

By Lisa Yellow Eagle, First Nations Program Officer

First Nations Helps Two Nonprofits Form and Gain Tax-Exempt Status

Utah organizers with First Nations' Montoya Whiteman (far left) and Lisa Yellow Eagle (second from right in back row)

First Nations Development Institute received funding from the Office on Violence Against Women, which is part of the U.S. Justice Department, to help two new tribal coalitions form in states that previously did not have tribal coalitions to build education and awareness about violence against American Indian women.

The project was a big success! First Nations assisted two fledgling nonprofit organizations – Restoring Ancestral Winds (RAW) and the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition (WWC) – with the formation process.  This included assistance with drafting their articles of incorporation, mission and vision statements, and bylaws.  First Nations also helped them establish their boards of directors, and provided training on the roles and responsibilities of nonprofit board members. We also helped them finalize and submit their IRS applications for tax-exempt status.

Each organization has now received its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS!

Restoring Ancestral Winds is located in Utah.  Its mission is to support healing in Indigenous communities as a tribal coalition that will advocate for healthy relationships and educate Utah communities on issues surrounding stalking and domestic, sexual, dating and family violence.  RAW also will provide training to service providers engaged in similar work and collaborate with Great Basin community members and stakeholders on these issues.  RAW will provide a much-needed service for the Indigenous populations in Utah.  If you support RAW’s mission, you can contact or donate to it at this address: Restoring Ancestral Winds, P.O. Box 104, Tremonton, UT, 84337.

Organizers of the new Maine coalition

Wabanaki Women’s Coalition (WWC) is located in Maine.  Its mission is to increase the capacity of tribal communities to respond to domestic and sexual violence and influence tribal, national and regional systems to increase awareness, safety, justice and healing.  WWC has already provided an “advocacy training” for tribal advocates and Indian child welfare staff in Maine’s tribal communities.  WWC has been actively meeting with various state officials and attending meetings to inform them of the new tribal coalition’s presence and to represent the Maine tribal communities.  If you support WWC’s Mission, you can contact or donate to it at this address: Wabanaki Women’s Coalition, P.O. Box 365, Lincolnville, ME 04849-0365.  You can learn more about WWC at

Also, if you want to learn more about incorporating a nonprofit organization, please visit the First Nations Knowledge Center to download a free copy of our new “How-To Guide for Incorporating a Nonprofit Organization” at this link:

By Lisa Yellow Eagle, First Nations Program Officer

Strengthening Tribal Coalitions That Deal With Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence

At the Strong Hearted Native Womens’ Coalition on the Rincon Reservation are, L to R, Keely Linton, Co-Director; Germaine Omish-Guachena, Executive Director; and Catherine Revelez, Office Manager

Since 2007, First Nations Development Institute has partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice through its Office on Violence Against Women Tribal Affairs Unit to provide critically-needed training and technical assistance to build the capacity of Native American nonprofit tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions in the United States.

In June 2013, First Nations visited the Rincon Reservation in order to provide one-on-one tailored training and technical assistance to a coalition in Southern California.  This training included presentations on best practices for financial management of a nonprofit organization, roles and responsibilities of a nonprofit board, and a refresher on the importance of bylaws and what information should go into a nonprofit’s bylaws.  All of the information provided will help this tribal coalition become a stronger nonprofit organization.  For the First Nations staff members involved, it was a pleasure to work with the coalition staff and board members and learn some history of the tribes in the area.

A second training was provided, also in June 2013, to an emerging tribal coalition in Maine.  First Nations assisted this emerging coalition through the steps to legally incorporating as a nonprofit corporation.  This training was used to draft articles of incorporation and vision and mission statements, identify key components of the organization’s bylaws, and, last but not least, we helped the group through the IRS Form 1023 in order to demystify the incorporation application process.  This training provided a forum to the group to have their questions answered and to further their goal of becoming a nonprofit organization to fight violence against women. The meeting took place in Bar Harbor, Maine, at the Abbe Museum, which contains exhibits focused on the Maine tribes.  It was the perfect location to learn about the history and the contemporary lives of the Wabanaki people, as well as provide direction and distinct purpose to their activities.

The tribal coalitions increase awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault against Native American and Alaska Native women.  First Nations is honored to support the coalitions’ work through training and technical assistance.  It is always an honor to meet these strong women who are dedicated to making a difference in Indian Country.

By Lisa Yellow Eagle, First Nations Program Officer

The Maine group at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor are, L to R, Tiffany Hammer, Consultant; Lisa Yellow Eagle of First Nations; Jane Root; Tonia Dana; and Nancy Soctomah. Not shown is Julia Walton.