2021 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows

In 2019, First Nations, in partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation, launched the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship to honor and support a select cohort of fellows as they work to further Indigenous knowledge creation, dissemination and change in Indigenous communities.

The Fellowship continues with the selection of 13 new Fellows for the 2021 Cohort – each one chosen for their work in their knowledge fields, as well as their contribution to this growing Fellowship.

Selected Fellows receive a monetary award of $75,000 and access to additional resources for training and professional development. They also commit to meeting regularly throughout the first year of the fellowship to share and grow their knowledge, projects, and drive to achieve their personal and community goals.

The 2021 cohort of Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows was selected by an Indigenous advisory committee. Thirteen candidates were selected from over 450 applicants in a competitive, two-application, peer-reviewed process.

Learn more about the fellows below, and check back for updates as we share news of their Fellowship projects, accomplishments, and impact they’re making on the health and futures of their Native communities.

Back to Luce Indigenous Fellowship page

2021 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows

Brooke Mosay Ammann, St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin

Brooke Mosay Ammann, St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin

Knowledge Field: Language Warrior
For the Fellowship year, Brooke will plan for a time of revisiting experiences, envisioning, and gathering resources of other leaders in language revitalization to create leadership approaches for her community that will help the Ojibwe People. As part of this reflection process, Brooke will outline and develop the foundation for an Indigenous language and culture revitalization leadership training series based on best practices. She will also use the time to process her experiences to make them more accessible outside the Indigenous language and culture revitalization circle.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“This fellowship provides me with an opportunity to bridge my doctoral research to practice — understanding that language and culture revitalization requires culturally appropriate leadership development.”

Evelyn Lance Blanchard, PhD, Laguna/Yaqui

Evelyn Lance Blanchard, PhD, Laguna/Yaqui

Knowledge Field: Social Work Activist/Educator
Evelyn’s work addresses how social work has not given attention to Native social work theory and practice and has historically viewed Indian Country through a deficit lens. The Fellowship will support the transformation of Evelyn’s dissertation, “To Prevent the Breakup of the Indian Family: The Development of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978,” into a text for social workers and Native and non-Native practitioners and administrators. Doing this will shed light on this law, which has been obscure to educators, students and practitioners, thus disabling the law’s intent to prevent the breakup of Indian families.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“The fellowship provides the opportunity to tell the story of the development of the Indian Child Welfare Act and its implementation in the face of serious impediments and opposition. Despite its passage 43 years ago, the profession of social work has struggled to translate its Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice into successful services in Native communities, on and off-reservation. As a fellowship cohort, I will be able to share knowledge and experience gained in over 50 years of practice with service providers and other helpers who respond to the crisis needs of our people and who have a central role in the prevention of the breakup of the Indian family. Cohort selection provides the means to broaden the project scope to include a research component that addresses contemporary Native practitioner response to the ICWA and its benefit to their communities. Currently their voices are not heard.”

Gimiwan Dustin Burnette, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Gimiwan Dustin Burnette, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Knowledge Field: Ojibwe Language Immersion Educator
The Fellowship will support Dustin’s work to build a collaboration, unite Ojibwe language immersion efforts, and maximize resources from institutes and individuals. During the Fellowship, he will create a collaborative communication network of professionals in the field, develop a repository of shared curriculum and materials, and enhance the repository by collecting and organizing pre-existing public language materials. This infrastructure will combine resources, knowledge, and individual skills to support language revitalization across Indigenous communities by maximizing the sharing of valuable resources.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“I am incredibly grateful and excited to be accepted as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow. The education and investment from this experience will greatly accelerate the collaboration that has started between our Ojibwe language immersion programs. Our efforts will increase sharing, organization, mentorship, and distribution of /access to language and materials to all of our communities.”

Delores Churchill, Ketchikan Indian Community/Haida

Delores Churchill, Ketchikan Indian Corporation/Haida

Knowledge Field: Visual Art
One of the last living speakers of the Haida language, master weaver Delores is an eminent Haida weaver and an expert in gathering and preparing materials for cedar bark, spruce root, and Naaxiin weaving, as well as Ravenstail textile and cedar clothing weaving. During the Fellowship, Delores will share knowledge with new weavers, who in turn, will teach their own students, perpetuating the skill and traditions of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian weaving. The Fellowship also will make it possible for Delores to complete and publish a book on weaving and work to promote it to various communities and organizations. She will also continue teaching and sharing her knowledge, as well as learning and researching basketry and textile weaving.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“With the support of the Fellowship, I can continue doing research, teaching people about basketry, and ensuring that the people I teach will go on to share their knowledge. I am thankful for the Fellowship. All the Fellows are doing such important work in continuing their language and their art – I’m so appreciative to be a part of it.”

Steven A. Darden, Diné (Navajo), Cheyenne

Steven A. Darden, Diné (Navajo), Cheyenne

Knowledge Field: Artist, Human Rights Advocate, Business Owner, Traditional Practitioner
The topic of death, bodies, the afterlife and final preparations for burial of the body is extremely sensitive for Navajo people and must be approached with prayer and protocols in the Navajo language. Through the Fellowship, Steve will prepare protocols to engage traditional practitioners who have Diné perspectives on the life cycle. He will develop and disseminate a curriculum on traditional knowledge and network with educational institutions to facilitate a return to traditional knowledge and practices. His work will facilitate a widespread movement to reclaim ancestor knowledge and practices around the end of life.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“It is an honor and privilege to continue to learn and engender traditional Dine’ Knowledge and practices. It’s an opportunity to revitalize ancient knowledge, which is beautiful, rich, viable, and vital.”

Charles Kealoha Leslie, Native Hawaiian

Charles Kealoha Leslie, Native Hawaiian

Knowledge Field: Kupuna Lawai’a (Elder Fisherman)
Chuck is one of the last traditional Native Hawaiian net-makers and kupuna lawaiʻa (fishing elder) in Hawaiʻi. To capture and share his knowledge, Chuck will develop an Indigenous lawaiʻa apprenticeship program, accompanied by a video and workbook course for teachers and students. Chuck will also foster and develop a statewide lawaiʻa network for the traditional ʻōpelu fishing families. Through net-making and outreach, he will strive to restore the fishing culture back into the lives of the younger generations.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“I am truly humbled and honored to be a Luce Foundation First Nations Fellow.  This recognition helps me to build my net-making classroom, travel to other fishing communities to connect our ʻohana lawaiʻa, build my teaching program and archive my practices.  To be recognized as a fellow shows me that others believe in and are helping me to ensure my generational traditions I have practiced since I was 5 will continue to thrive and feed our kanaka maoli.”

Jennifer Malone, Wukchumni

Jennifer Malone, Wukchumni

Knowledge Field: Wukchumni Cultural Consultant
Jennifer and her mother are among the last remaining speakers of the Wukchumni language, and their professional and personal lives are dedicated to ensuring their language, people, and understandings of the world continue. In line with this, Jennifer will create a series of videos. One will show young Wukchumni people teaching traditional lessons around language, land skills, and traditional stories. Another video will share the story of the Wukchumni people from genocide to termination and the land theft. This Wukchumni story will be one for all tribes in the country to strengthen their commitment to status, tribal lands, and their future.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“The fellowship means that local tribes will be able to continue carrying on our culture, language, basketweaving and ceremonies by having a site to gather.”

Charles E “Aulii” Mitchell, Native Hawaiian

Charles E “Aulii” Mitchell, Native Hawaiian

Knowledge Field: Kumu Hula, Artist
Charles is the only Kumu Hula in the world committed to create, preserving and perpetuating the practice of carving and dressing images for the ritual dancing of hula ki’i that is closest to the oldest written accounts. Charles will focus on revitalizing this traditional medium of communication to strengthen the sacred and secular wellbeing of ka lāhui Hawai’i, the Hawaiian people, through hula ki’i. Throughout the year, he will teach the Hula Ki’i process; make a Galleria Exhibition on hula kiʻi with hula students, the Hula Ki’i Collaborative, and hālau hula; and complete a book manuscript.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“Being selected for the Luce Indigenous Fellows means working with a collective consciousness in the creating, preserving, perpetuating, and disseminating, our traditions, customs, and beliefs of our traditional practices within our indigenous communities. Making tribal and clan connections through our indigenous art mediums, keeping them alive.”

Richard Moves Camp, Oglala Sioux

Richard Moves Camp, Oglala Sioux

Knowledge Field: Traditional Healer
Richard’s work reinforces cultural identity and improves self-esteem and self-efficacy of Natives at high risk of suicide, violence, and addiction. During the Fellowship, Richard will formalize his traditional teachings by developing a written curriculum to equip urban and rural organizations and community leaders with culturally responsive strategies for addressing contemporary issues and preparing future Native leaders. The Fellowship will enable Richard to amplify the traditional view of health and wellness, share his ancestors’ philosophies, and transfer knowledge using new tools and instruments to help young people learn, grow, and heal.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“I’m very honored that my work is being recognized.”

Theresa Secord, Penobscot Nation

Theresa Secord, Penobscot Nation

Knowledge Field: Basket Maker
Working with an apprentice, Theresa will demonstrate ash and sweet grass basketry/language use, fostering self-determining efforts to organize basketry phrases into a working document that can be shared with community members, tribal language departments, classes, workshops, and immersion camps. Theresa, a basket maker for 33 years, will work with speakers and tribal linguists to learn and complement existing Wabanaki language resources in Passamaquoddy and Penobscot, with the goal of updating and creating a new basketry/language workbook (print and digital) for publication and community use. This work offers a solution to secure and actively practice Indigenous language in Wabanaki basketry and its specific, associated terminology, which is rapidly falling into disuse.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“This fellowship is an honor for me as well as helping to fulfill a 30+year dream. To be able to weave traditional ash and sweet grass baskets in my language is something my late teacher told me (in 1990) I would need to do, in order to be truly proficient as a basket maker.”

Charlene Stern, Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government

Charlene Stern, Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government

Knowledge Field: Scholar
During the Fellowship, Charlene will use her training to work with the remaining elders in her community to document their traditional knowledge and contributions to key tribal political developments in Alaska. She will focus on meaningful research for her tribe and document the stories and life experiences of Gwich’in elders who have played a key role in the tribal sovereignty movement in Alaska and who are among the last generation of fluent language speakers to be raised on the land and in the traditional lifestyle of the Neetsąįį Gwich’in.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“Being selected as a 2021 Luce Fellow is a tremendous honor. I am grateful for the opportunity to engage with other fellows from different regions to collectively advance Indigenous knowledge in a variety of disciplines.”

Reba Jo Teran, Eastern Shoshone

Reba Jo Teran, Eastern Shoshone

Knowledge Field: Shoshone Language Specialist
During the Fellowship year, Reba will finalize and register the Eastern Shoshone font and complete an Eastern Shoshone dictionary that will be the foundation of many Shoshone language projects, and will help speakers of the 64 Shoshone bands reference their words and remember lost words. She will also re-record 7,000 audio files that have been compromised by background noise or other interference. These language audio files will be converted to MP3 files and stored for safe keeping, future distribution and public access.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“Receiving this fellowship from such a prestigious foundation brings a lot of honor to the work we have been doing to preserve our language. This is the first time we have been recognized nationally and it gives us the opportunity to have our Shoshone dictionary published to help revive our language.  My dream will become reality.”

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Kanaka (Native Hawaiian)

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Kanaka (Native Hawaiian)

Knowledge Field: Kuma (Teacher)
Hinaleimoana will write and voice a public broadcast documentary film and produce a digital exhibition exploring the stone monument on Waikiki Beach that honors four legendary mahu – people of dual male and female spirit – who brought healing arts to Hawaii and used spiritual power to treat disease. The Kapaemahu project will use animation, newly discovered archival materials, and expert interviews to revive this cultural legacy of healing and gender diversity, examine how and why it was suppressed, and provide tools to educate and engage audiences on the importance of maintaining traditional knowledge in the face of modern challenges.

What does being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow mean to you?

“It is an honor to become a part of the Luce Fellowship cohort.  I look forward to learning, growing, sharing and possibly even contributing to possibly strengthening another Native individualʻs growth. I am also humbled and most grateful for the support it will provide me to honor the obligations being made of me in this lifetime.”