On May 2, 2014, First Nations brought representatives from the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, the Hopi Education Endowment Fund (Arizona), the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (Minnesota) and the Spokane Tribe of Indians (Washington) together in Denver, Colorado, for a final meeting of the Native Asset-Building Partnership Project.
The project was meant to strengthen tribal and Native institutions through peer learning and model development that will help improve control and management of assets for the Oneida Tribe and the Mille Lacs Band. First Nations found tribal mentors to help the Oneida and Mille Lacs design programs that will support, educate and strengthen the capacity of the youth of each tribe.
The Hopi Education Endowment Fund (HEEF) is an Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 7871 program that raises funds for Hopi students’ education. This means HEEF is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as being a division of a tribal government that can receive tax-deductible donations. HEEF has mentored the Oneida on designing and implementing an IRC Section 7871 program. Oneida has chosen to put together a framework for an Oneida Youth Leadership Institute to encourage, empower and provide leadership training to tribal youth. Oneida has chosen to use the IRC Section 7871 designation rather than the 501(c)(3) designation because it supports tribal sovereignty while still allowing donations to be tax-deductible.
The Spokane Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources has conducted a summer youth and mentorship program for more than a decade. The department incorporates traditions and culture into its summer programs and learning camps to teach youth how their ancestors used science to fish, hunt, build housing, etc. The department mentored the Mille Lacs on designing and implementing a summer youth program in Minnesota. The Mille Lacs designed a curriculum for high school students as extra-curricular science classes that will incorporate traditions and culture. The Mille Lacs also will implement a summer internship program at its Department of Natural Resources during June 2014. This will allow a tribal youth to work with the staff and learn about the different programs within the department as well as learning about career opportunities.
At the final meeting, all partners presented on their projects to First Nations and to the other partners involved in the project. First Nations also helped the two partnerships come up with action plans for the next year (after the grant is complete). The meeting was a success and the two projects developed more definite plans that will help them implement their projects in the upcoming months.
By Lisa Yellow Eagle, First Nations Program Officer