California Tribal Fund

The California Tribal Fund supports California-based, California-Native-led nonprofits and tribal programs in controlling and protecting their land, water, food systems, and culture. Learn more about why this support is so important.

The mission of the California Tribal Fund is to invest in the viability and visibility of California Tribal Nations and communities. Read more about our mission, vision, and Guiding Principles here.

Program Areas

  • Stewardship of Ancestral Lands and Waters: Each community differs in its approach; examples include mapping land bases, managing land donations, fighting for water rights, and incorporating traditional ecological knowledge on land formerly under tribal control.
  • Tribal Community Food Sovereignty: Tribes and Native communities build sustainable food systems that increase access to healthy, culturally-based, and traditional foods, alleviate hunger, improve the environment, and increase control over agriculture.
  • Culture: Enduring cultural traditions and knowledge systems are celebrated and maintained through language revitalization, basketweaving, storytelling, medicine making, ceremonies, and more.
  • Fire and Drought: Tribal communities are responding to fire and drought through fuels reduction, wildfire prevention planning and education, emergency response and relief, and by strengthening their cultural fire practices to support healthy ecosystems.

The California Tribal Fund launched in March 2020 with funding from The California EndowmentSwift Foundation, Highlands 3:23 Fund, Ceres Trust, and 11th Hour Project. The Fund began as a collaboration between First Nations and board members and staff of the California Indian Basketweavers’ Association, and was then steered by an Advisory Committee of California tribal leaders and cultural practitioners for the first four years. We are grateful to all our contributors and collaborators that have helped to make the Fund a reality.

Through the California Tribal Fund, First Nations has awarded over $3.7 million in grants to 150 Native-led California organizations to help them continue vital programs and services. 

The California Tribal Fund releases one Request for Proposals (RFP) each year. If, after reading our mission, values, and program areas, you think your program may be aligned, we encourage you to reach out to See links below to learn more about California Tribal Fund projects and grantees and check back to learn about future grant opportunities.

If you have questions about the California Tribal Fund or would like more information, please contact Rebecca Tortes, Director of the California Tribal Fund, at


Acorn Conference Sows Seeds of Pride and Love for Traditional Acorn Practices

This November, Sherwood Valley Tribal Youth Program and Indigenous Community Initiatives hosted the first-ever Acorn Conference, supported by First Nations’ California Tribal Fund. Overall, the Acorn Conference was a success in fostering a love for acorns and encouraging people to revitalize acorn practices.

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Digging Deep to Protect the Roots of Native Lands

In January, First Nations’ California Tribal Fund hosted a Stewarding Ancestral Lands Gathering to strengthen connections and build capacity for California-based Native stewardship and protection of ancestral lands. This event was well-attended by staunch advocates for safeguarding Native lands ― 14 participants from nine tribes and tribal organizations ― at Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, and facilitated by Melvin Consulting, a Hopi-owned and -led firm.

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Preparing for Land Back with the Native American Land Conservancy: September 2023

Elizabeth Paige (Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians) is a desert naturalist and steward of the land, and she serves as the education and stewardship program manager for the Native American Land Conservancy (NALC). She takes us on her journey with the land-back movement and NALC’s efforts to protect sacred Native sites and lands in California.

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Returning the People’s Land to the Tongva Community: December 2022

The Gabrieleno /Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians is reclaiming one acre of its land through its Tongva-led nonprofit, the Taraxat Paaxaavxa Conservancy. The public announcement of this land reclamation was officially made with a story in the Los Angeles Times titled, “After nearly 200 years, the Tongva community has land in Los Angeles County.”

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The Historic Malki Museum: ‘We’re COVID-Safe!’: March 2022

Last year, a digital billboard off Highway 10 in Banning, California, not far from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians Reservation, flashed this reassuring message for three months: “Malki Museum: Celebrating Southern California Indian Culture for over 50 Years. We’re COVID-Safe!” The eye-catching, state-of-the-art messaging, with an emphasis on COVID safety, cost the museum $10,000. And it was worth every penny.

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‘Ačaam Together’: California Tribe Celebrates Language Through Seasonal Songs: March 2022

How do you keep a Tribal community united and strong during a global pandemic, especially when a state prohibits citizens from gathering in person to celebrate their long-held traditions? The answer for the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians was “Ačaam (singing) Together,” a musical instruction program taught via Zoom that drew families and friends together around the tribe’s language and culture.

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