Twenty-one American Indian organizations and tribes in 15 states from Hawaii to Massachusetts have received grants through First Nations Development Institute’s Native Youth and Culture Fund (NYCF). The grants total $400,000 for the 2018-19 funding cycle.
“We invest in genius and hard work in Indian communities throughout the U.S.,” Michael E. Roberts (Tlingit), President and CEO of First Nations Development Institute, previously told Native Business Magazine in the article First Nations: Applying Venture Capitalist Principles to a Not-for-Profit. “We recognize that a lot of these folks have never had access to grant capital before. But we also believe that they’re fully in control. They have the best ideas for how to change and make their communities better.”
First Nations launched the NYCF in 2002 with generous support from Kalliopeia Foundation and other foundations and tribal, corporate and individual supporters. The NYCF is designed to enhance culture and language awareness, and promote youth empowerment, leadership and community building. To date under this fund, First Nations has awarded over 370 grants to Native youth programs throughout the U.S., totaling $6.3 million.
These are the 2018-2019 projects:
- Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Anchorage, Alaska, $19,550 – ACAT will train Alaska Native adolescent girls from 13 Norton Sound communities using a toolkit created by the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and intergenerational mentoring. The toolkit and mentoring provide a framework for a nascent Alaska Native Girls Network, by offering the historical context for colonization and genocide that colors the contemporary situation in which these girls live, as well as giving them tools to reclaim their voices and control over their futures.
- California Indian Basketweavers’ Association, Woodland, California, $14,550 – Tending the Wild: Junior Class will engage Native American youth ages 12 to 22 in learning about traditional basket-weaving practices including gathering, preparation, and storage of basket-weaving materials. The project will focus on preserving traditional cultural knowledge among youth from Siskiyou and Del Norte County in Northern California through field trips and cultural history talks with tribal elders.
- Catawba Cultural Preservation Project, Rock Hill, South Carolina, $19,550 – The Catawba Culture Fellowship will develop the cultural skills of five Catawba youth. Fellows will be mentored by accomplished traditional artists in their area of interest and later teach their skills to Catawba Youth participating in summer programs. Fellows will host monthly community luncheons and present their skills to the Catawba community. By connecting cultural skill development, elder mentorship, community culture strengthening, and youth leadership development, it will help prepare the youth to become culturally conscious leaders.
- Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Warm Springs, Oregon, $19,550 – The project will serve 160 youth ages 6-17 and will be guided by local artists and elders with support from the Boys and Girls Club of Warm Springs staff. There will be four comprehensive sessions, each meeting for six to eight weeks. The summer session will focus on cultural crafts, fall session on traditional regalia, spring session on the wild game and traditional foods that still grow locally, and the winter session will focus on language acquisition.
- Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos Inc., Rio Rancho, New Mexico, $19,550 – The project will assist 4- to 5-year-old Head Start children in embracing their cultural identity through everyday classroom instructions. The project’s focus is to implement more age-appropriate cultural-related activities such as song and dance, storytelling, and arts and crafts. The project will also be used to increase parent engagement so children will get educational support at home, creating lifelong learners.
- Fort Belknap Indian Community, Harlem, Montana, $14,500 – This project will engage youth ages 5 to 18, and community elders, in activities targeted at renewing cultural uses of medicinal plants. The project will allow youth and elders to form connections that will firmly establish a learning and leadership model as they design, plant and harvest a medicine wheel garden in each of two established community gardens. Participants and leaders will create a digitally-generated medicinal plant guidebook as a final project, allowing others to access valuable local medicinal plant information.
- Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Peshawbestown, Michigan, $19,550 – The project is to teach dance styles, origins and regalia making to the youth. The Chippewa Indians cultural focus will be Anishinaabek dance customs with emphasis on language use for powwow etiquette. The project will serve students who want to live a healthy lifestyle, are currently participating in Anishinaabemowin classes, attending school regularly, and who show a commitment to preserving the culture and traditions.
- Inter Tribal Sports, Inc., Temecula, California, $20,000 – The project aims to provide four regional traditional Native artists from within the reservation with opportunities to connect with, teach and engage up to 560 tribal youth ages 4 to 18 through mentoring and teaching of traditional arts. The project is designed to bring together intergenerational teachings, connections and inspire next-generation traditional artists. The Native artists come from Kumeyaay, Cahuilla, Luiseño, Diegueño and Cupeño cultures from the Southern California region.
- Kauahea Inc., Wailuku, Hawaii, $19,550 – Kupuohi i Paeloko will recruit 20 eighth to 12th graders from the Native Hawaiian population on Maui. Students will learn Mālama ʻĀina (land stewardship), Nā Mea Kanu (Native plants) and the cultural practices that are critical to increasing and maintaining Hawaiian identity. With Hawaiian Kupuna (elders) and practitioners, students will design, coordinate and implement plans using the crops that are planted, nurtured, and produced there. Activities will be based on Hawaiian practices and will incorporate language, ceremony and protocols.
- MIGIZI Communications, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, $19,550 – The purpose of Wanna Wota (“Let’s Eat” in Lakota) is to investigate, document and share information and ideas concerning the revitalization of traditional food systems among the tribes of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Youth media producers with Migizi’s First Person Productions program will produce a media series that features both elders and young activists from the community who are working to preserve traditional foods and lifestyles as well as introduce urban agriculture to the urban Native community.
- Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, $18,150 – Connect the Disconnect is a youth-led project focused on strengthening cultural and spiritual practices, beliefs and values and increasing youth leadership through integrated educational and mentoring programs. Mvskoke youth ages 12-24 will develop, facilitate, participate and host three one-day events and one overnight camp to connect youth with the Mvskoke culture, to help them face challenges such as bullying, low self-esteem, and suicide. Youth will also develop a social media campaign to promote cultural knowledge and activities throughout the year.
- Nipmuc Indian Development Corporation, Grafton, Massachusetts, $19,550 – Nippeash Waapemooash is a developing tribal civics/rites-of-passage initiative addressing the unique challenges Nipmuc youth experience and promoting a positive sense of self-worth and cultural pride within the tribe. The goal is to prepare youth for adulthood through a traditional approach, one that is guided by culture, family and Nipmuc values. Youth, grades 5 to 9, are introduced to histories, traditional arts, farming, and tribal government/civics in a year-long mentoring process with elders and tribal leaders.
- Ohero:kon, Akwesasne, New York, $19,550 – Ohero:kon, a Mohawk phrase meaning “under the husk,” is a youth rites-of-passage process at Akwesasne. It’s a ceremonial journey culminating in a solo fast to ensure that the needs within the development of Mohawk future leaders are being met. Beginning each January with mid-winter ceremonies in the longhouse and extending throughout the spring in various traditional settings, the youth receive teachings from the elders about Haudenosaunee traditional knowledge, lifeways and practices as they approach adulthood.
- Ohkay Owingeh, Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico, $19,550 – Ohkay Owingeh tribal youth ages 5 to 18 will be provided with greater cultural exposure through a variety of traditional regalia-making classes that will educate, challenge and inspire youth to form lasting linkages to their Native culture and to participate in their cultural ceremonies.
- Pala Band of Mission Indians, Pala, California, $20,000 – The Pala Tribe’s Learning Center supports the California American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival (CAIIFF) each year. The Pala Traditional Arts Project links to that previous work by supporting six American Indian students as they create a documentary film based on four Pala Native artists. It will be screened at the 2018 CAIIFF.
- Penobscot Nation Boys & Girls Club, Presque Isle, Maine, $19,550 – The project will serve the Boys and Girls Club of Presque Isle (BGCPI) Unit youth ages 5 to 18. It will incorporate culture and tradition to address social issues faced in the community while preserving cultural practices, values and beliefs through engagement between youth and elders, which will be recorded and shared on an online Micmac site that will be supported in collaboration with BGCPI and the Micmac youth, and Cultural and Education Departments.
- Pueblo of San Felipe, San Felipe, New Mexico, $19,550 – This project will serve 25 San Felipe youth between the ages of 10 and 18. Elders will identify and teach youth about traditional plant and animal species common to San Felipe Pueblo lands, and their traditional uses in the San Felipe Keres language. Youth will document and record the names of plants and animals using audio and visual equipment.
- Santa Fe Indian School, Santa Fe, New Mexico, $19,550 – Brave Girls is an out-of-school leadership and empowerment program for Pueblo Indian girls, grades 7-12, at the Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS). The project directly serves the students attending SFIS. The school is a representative of New Mexico’s 22 tribes, providing a great opportunity to reach out to all of the communities.
- Tatanka Wakpala Tiyospaye, Gettysburg, South Dakota, $19,550 – Camp Ohokila seeks to bring together a diverse group of Lakota youth to establish a society knowledgeable in Lakota kinship relationships, gender roles, survival skills, traditional food gathering and Lakota crafts and skills. They will commit to protect and support each other while navigating growing up on an Indian reservation. Lakota traditional gender roles include two-spirits. This camp will help combat bullying and suicide, which are both rampant on the reservation.
- White Buffalo Recovery Center, St. Stephen’s, Wyoming, $19,550 – The project seeks to enhance three initiatives of White Buffalo Youth Prevention. The first is a three-day summer camp teaching youth decision-making, problem-solving, self-efficacy, social, and communication and survival skills. The second is an annual medicine-gathering trip whereby knowledge about ceremonies and language is shared with youth by elders. The third is using sweat lodges to teach youth about prayer and songs to strengthen their identity. White Buffalo Youth Prevention serves middle school- and high school-aged youth.
- Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP), Zuni, New Mexico, $19,550 – In 2018, ZYEP will offer its 10th consecutive summer camp (seven weeks long) where 160 youth participants, ages 6-12, will engage in the following cultural activities: Zuni language, traditional gardening, pottery/mural making, Zuni songs/dances, cultural hikes, and Pueblo oven construction. These activities are blended with a curriculum that includes language arts, nutrition, martial arts, swimming, yoga and stress-management. Summer campers will be mentored by 20 Zuni counselors ages 15-24, who are paid by ZYEP and educated/mentored by local cultural advisors.