The two tribes are situated far from each other – more than 1,600 miles apart – with one in northeastern Wisconsin and the other in northeastern Arizona. They experience totally different climates and landscapes, and enjoy distinctly different cultural underpinnings and practices.
Nonetheless, the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin and the Hopi Education Endowment Fund, a Section 7871 program of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona, are partnering in an effort to improve both of their communities, thanks to First Nations Development Institute’s Native Asset-Building Partnership Project. It’s a long-distance relationship that holds much promise.
Many Native American communities have lost control of many assets over time. Without control, the benefits of the assets flow away from tribal communities. First Nations launched the Native Asset-Building Partnership Project between 2008 and 2010 with funding from various organizations. It was intended to explore the use of tribe-to-tribe peer learning as an effective asset-building strategy and as a vehicle for tribes to share, explore and expand other strategies for sustainable economic development in Native communities. The project was a success and paved the way for further partnerships.
This year, in 2013, the Hopi Education Endowment Fund and the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin are partnering under the Native Asset-Building Partnership Project to strengthen their ability to implement and sustain asset-building projects. They also will engage in an evaluation to document the learning process and outcomes in order to create an even better model for future use.
The Hopi Education Endowment Fund (HEEF) will share its knowledge of philanthropy and IRS Section 7871 organizations with the Oneida Tribe in order to help them establish their own successful Section 7871 organization. The Oneida Tribe will receive a grant to start its own IRS Section 7871 organization. HEEF will also receive a grant to cover staff time spent on mentoring the Oneida Tribe. HEEF will also be able to use the grant to increase its organizational capacity and become a stronger organization. By doing this, HEEF will continue to have the ability to serve its community.
Just this month (March 2013), both partners finalized a Memorandum of Understanding that lists their individual responsibilities, a timeline, project benchmarks and expected outcomes. A site visit to the Oneida Nation is planned for early April by representatives of HEEF, a consultant and a First Nations staff member. This site visit will allow for an in-person meeting, relationship building, a tour of Oneida’s community for HEEF representatives, and to get the ball rolling on the project.
By Lisa Yellow Eagle, Program Officer