2023 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 10 new Fellows for the 2023 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 convening three times during  the first year of the two-year Fellowship to share and grow their knowledge, projects, and drive to achieve their personal and community goals.

The 2023 cohort of Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows was selected by an Indigenous advisory committee. Ten candidates were selected from over 250 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.

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2023 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows

Martha A. Austin, Navajo

Martha A. Austin
Knowledge Field: Language educator

Austin will work toward completing the Navajo Ethno-Medical Encyclopedia, which was discontinued in the early 1980s when the Federal Government ceased funding the project and conduct a series of in-service workshops across and beyond the Navajo Nation for healthcare providers, Navajo language/culture teachers and college professors. The encyclopedia initiative is unique in that there are few places in the world where research funding, a still-vibrant Indigenous health and healing system, and research expertise are all present in the same national community.

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

“It is an honor to continue the work of the Navajo Ethno-Medical Encyclopedia in Navajo Language with some English translation. By sharing this important knowledge of the Navajo medicine people, the next generation of Navajos may know the traditional ways of living a healthier life and they may continue to use the Navajo Language.”

Keola Kawaiʻulaʻiliahi Chan, Native Hawaiian

Keola Kawaiʻulaʻiliahi Chan
Knowledge Field: Kumu Lapaʻau

Chan will work toward reestablishing traditional healing practices to increase the spiritual aspects of such practices to be more consistent with how Native ancestors viewed and treated health. Through the fellowship, Chan will develop a curriculum that includes learning the skill sets of how to become a healer, building relationships with the environment, traversing the spiritual realm through cleansing, and shifting and moving mana (energies) to maintain and sustain mauli ola.

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

“Being selected for this fellowship supports my efforts in uplifting and rebuilding our traditional healing practices to actualize a vision of ‘A healer in every home.’”

Michon R. Eben, Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone

Michon R. Eben
Knowledge Field: Cultural resource manager/THPO

Through the fellowship, Eben will work to empower Nevada and Eastern California tribal nations, including Native youth, to advocate for the protection and preservation of Native American cultural resources and sacred sites adversely impacted by the extractive mining practices being proposed in the State of Nevada. Eben will provide the tools and knowledge for tribes to respond to the rapidly changing landscape by creating a tribal cultural resource managers group to participate in hands-on training.

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

“I am excited and looking forward to being a Luce Fellow and tackling the immense problems of extractive mining projects that are misplacing Nevada’s Native American cultural resources. We are at critical juncture with the explosion of lithium mining and Native people’s cultural and spiritual places.”

Anna Brown Ehlers, Chilkat Tlingit

Anna Brown Ehlers
Knowledge Field: Chilkat artist, educator

Brown Ehlers will execute a monumental 20×12-ft Chilkat weaving, with support through the fellowship, and strategize how to give the monumental work a public life and audience to amplify its messages of cultural pride, identity, and power. Brown Ehlers is inspired by monumental carved and painted wood house screens in historic Northwest Coast clan houses, as well as the giant tapa cloth wall hangings on exhibit in the Burke Museum in Seattle. She feels the art form of Chilkat weaving can be elevated to this scale, and her people along with it.

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

“I have looked forward to doing this oversized Chilkat project since my youth. The obstacles of time, space, and money were what held me back from this production. This fellowship will allow me to realize my dreams. Thank you for the opportunity of representing my culture and people. Gunalcheesh.”

Sara L. Chase Merrick, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Shinnecock Nation

Sara L. Chase Merrick
Knowledge Field: Language activist and educator

Merrick will pilot a Hupa language nest, which will include recruiting families to participate; providing daily immersion instruction for students; creating, using, and expanding current Hupa language immersion curriculum; training teachers; and providing support for families to continue language use at home. Merrick will also disseminate knowledge gained through this process via social media, conference presentations, and possibly a publication with a learner-teacher cohort.

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

“It’s such an honor as well as a responsibility! I’m so excited to be able to have the time and resources to fully dedicate to my project and share this work for the benefit of all Indigenous communities.”

Kyle K. Nahoi, Native Hawaiian

Kyle K. Nahoi
Knowledge Field: Farmer  

Nahoi will create a collaborative, comprehensive collection of knowledge of the different varieties of Taro or Kalo; the cultivation, nuances, needs and preferences of locality; pests; viruses; soil; and effects on future farmers. He will continue the intimate research needed to arrive at a successful observation, collection, documentation, and distribution of Hawaiian varieties, and enable study of crucial specifics not researched before like salt tolerance, alluvial soil propagation, and king tide solutions.

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

“This fellowship is an affirmation of the great work I am dedicated to continue and its importance to preserving my people, our heritage, and land security. I am humbled to be a vessel for the next generation behind me.”

Kathleen Sanchez, Tewa-San Ildefonso Pueblo

Kathleen Sanchez
Knowledge Field: Community activist, educator, elder, pottery artist

Sanchez will share with her community the Two World Harmony Butterfly Model – and the relational activities of time, space and memories – to offer an understanding of how an Indigenous person navigates between the traditional and the Euro-American ways of being. Sanchez also will look at and implement traditional sharing, visually and orally, of life narratives with a core team of Tewa and Indigenous women elders to give and gain the connectivity of health pathways.

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

“Being selected for this fellowship is a humbling honor. I am eager to have our intergenerational gathering of youth and elders in our communities to interactively learn from each other while sharing innate wisdom of holistic ways of knowingness, as modeled using the transformative tool of the Two World Harmony Butterfly Model. This model has truly evolved overtime in dream space with holistic cosmic ancestral guidance to gain a sense of belonging in our beloved ancestral homelands where Cultures of Peace are rooted. Our future is with us now and our past is ahead of us guiding our minds, our hearts, and our spirits.”

Anton Treuer, Leech Lake (descendant)

Anton Treuer
Knowledge Field: Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University

As one of the youngest fluent speakers of Ojibwe in his community, Treuer will identify and work closely with four apprentices on a major Ojibwe language and culture preservation and revitalization initiative. This will serve to deepen the Ojibwe language knowledge and accomplishments of the apprentices so that they can continue efforts to preserve and revitalize Ojibwe. Treuer’s goal is to catalyze the growth of the apprentices in these areas through intentional master-apprentice model application.

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

“I am humbled and honored in equal measure at being named a Luce fellow. The future vitality of the Ojibwe language and culture is in our hands and there isn’t a second to waste. We are indebted to our ancestors and future generations to make the most of this incredible opportunity.”

Wayne Valliere, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewas

Wayne Valliere
Knowledge Field: Language and culture educator

During the fellowship period, Valliere will lead a project to build a dugout canoe, which will provide an opportunity to pass down the Anishinaabe language, as well as topics associated with the art of canoe-building, including ecology, history, technologies, math, and chemistry, to the Anishinaabe community and its youth. By bringing that knowledge back to the community, Valliere hopes to strengthen the Anishinaabe way of life.

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

“I am very honored to represent my people and to pass on the knowledge of my grandfathers.”

LaRae Wiley, Sinixt (Colville Tribal Member)

LaRae Wiley
Knowledge Field: Language activist

Wiley will carry out regular cultural and language activities to the benefit of herself and her community. She will engage with fluent Elders to discuss and record information about important cultural practices. Wiley will also produce and record new Salish language music, ranging from traditional hand-drum songs to country and rock music in Salish. She will also organize regular Salish immersion cultural, ceremonial and social activities with new speakers so that Salish people can live in the language and to be happy together as a cultural community.

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

“Being selected as a Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow is an honor and is very exciting. Being selected as a fellow recognizes and validates all the hard work I have been doing for the past two decades, and it will give me opportunities to take my language and culture work in new, creative directions.”