10 New Indigenous Leaders Selected for Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship

Cohort 2022 to Perpetuate Native Knowledge and Continue Strengthening Native Communities

LONGMONT, Colo. (February 24, 2022) – The Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship is entering its third year with the announcement of the 2022 Cohort of fellows consisting of 10 outstanding Indigenous leaders selected for their cultural knowledge and insights.

Conceived and facilitated by First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and the Henry Luce Foundation (Luce), the fellowship is designed to identify, support, and convene Native American knowledge holders and knowledge makers who embody exceptional creativity and progressive and critical thinking, and who have the potential to significantly move forward their fields in ways that will ultimately lead to broad, transformative impacts for Native communities and beyond.

First Nations President and CEO Michael Roberts said the new cohort represents an extraordinary cross-section of Indigenous leaders who are culture bearers in their communities, and a welcome addition to the growing pool of Luce Indigenous Knowledge fellows past and present.

“The Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship has become a key strategy in First Nations’ mission to strengthen Native communities and economies,” Roberts said. “The knowledge of these fellows and the communities that support them are a cultural asset, and investing in the creativity, genius, and talent of these fellows is a way to reinforce and perpetuate those community assets – ensuring cultural health of Native communities for generations to come.”

Sean T. Buffington, vice president of the Henry Luce Foundation, said he continues to be impressed by the knowledge and commitment exemplified by the fellows. “I’ve seen firsthand the fantastic work being done by these leaders. The Henry Luce Foundation is honored to support them and their contributions to Indian Country and beyond,” he said.

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 two-year fellowship to share and grow their knowledge, projects, and drive to achieve their personal and community goals.

The 2022 cohort of Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows was selected by an Indigenous advisory committee. Ten candidates were selected from over 300 applicants in a competitive, two-phase application, and peer-reviewed process.

The 2022 Luce Indigenous Knowledge fellows are:

Bernadette Demientieff, Tribal Member of Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribal Government
Knowledge Field: Land, Water, and Animal Protector/ Mother 
Demientieff will expand the work of protecting sacred sites and help people understand the issues facing the Gwich’in Nation, while investing in the next generation of Gwich’in leaders. Through the fellowship, she will engage young Gwich’in people, creating spaces for young Indigenous people to be on the land together, in connection with Gwich’in ancestors, as an essential part of building an inclusive, resilient, and effective movement. This work will include developing opportunities for community education and youth engagement.

Jessica Denny, Cheesh’na Tribe
Knowledge Field: Ahtna Language Specialist
Denny will further efforts toward becoming a language warrior, building partnerships, and creating a place to gather and share the Ahtna language. Her vision is to become an Ahtna scholar and expert of the language; create a collection of high-quality Ahtna sound files and videos; design a program that can be utilized virtually and in Ahtna Language retreats; and create an inclusive Ahtna language community through the hosting of an annual Ahtna Athabascan Language Symposium.

Mariah Gladstone, Blackfeet, Cherokee
Knowledge Field: Food Systems Advocate
Gladstone will continue sharing information about Indigenous foods through the expansion of her website, Indigikitchen, and its library of Native recipes, while adding information about other parts of Native food systems, including sustainable planting, preservation, and whole animal utilization. She will spend time working in more Native communities and learning from elders and knowledge keepers interested in showcasing the stories of their food.

Jessa Rae Growing Thunder, Fort Peck Assiniboine/Sioux
Knowledge Field: Beadwork/Quillworker
Growing Thunder will focus on promoting natural materials for porcupine quillwork. She will apply community-based methodologies like oral history and traditional ecological and cultural knowledge to develop comprehensive educational resources for traditional natural dyes. This work will result in community-based educational tools and resources for other Indigenous quillworkers to create a ripple effect in the promotion of all traditional art forms.

Coy Harwood, Blackfeet/Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
Knowledge Field: Hunter, Health and Wellness Advocate
Harwood will focus on the development and implementation of community outreach and service programs in a traditional camp platform. These programs will holistically interweave traditional conservation wisdoms, traditional plant foods, medicines, traditional art, songs, and stories within value-based preservation of his people’s lifestyles.

hôbEthlE Ryan Hill, Yuchi
Knowledge Field: Language Advocate
Hill will develop a creative space for second language learners to produce video content, which will serve as a learning tool for the Yuchi community and across virtual platforms to aide in Yuchi language acquisition. The videos will also be used to generate interest among younger generations of Yuchis, serving as the necessary representation they may need in hopes of motivating them to undertake their own language-learning journeys.

Tessie Naranjo, Santa Clara Pueblo
Knowledge Field: Cultural Preservationist
Naranjo will address the fact that fewer and fewer Santa Clara children are becoming fluent in Tewa. She will gather Tewa stories and songs, and incorporate them into a book, which includes a digital audio component made available to Tewa people and to community organizations like the Poeh Cultural Center – a museum and educational community hub owned and operated by Pojoaque Pueblo.

Melody Windsong Redbird-Post, PhD, Kiowa Tribe
Knowledge Field: Educator
Dr. Redbird-Post will focus on ensuring that the Kiowa community has a foundation on which to embrace Kiowa knowledge, bring back Kiowa understanding of child development, and develop their own perceptions of their Indigenous early childhood knowledge systems. She will engage with Kiowa elders and educational partners to sift through existing resources to define Kiowa child development knowledge through language and culture, and use computer technology to document Kiowa elders’ knowledge, stories, and experiences.

Francis “Palani” Sinenci, Native Hawaiian
Knowledge Field: Kuhikuhi Pu’uone (Master Indigenous Architect)
Kuhikuhi Pu‘uone Francis “Palani” Sinenci will elevate the practice of kūkulu hale and uhau humu pōkahu by supporting practitioner development and stewarding natural resources to build the infrastructure needed for continuing this traditional architecture practice. He will also document his knowledge for future generations and train his most skilled students to ensure they are able to achieve mastery, so that each of the islands throughout Hawai’i has a trained team of practitioners ready to carry on his work when he is no longer physically present.

Lynda Teller Pete, Diné/Navajo
Knowledge Field: Diné Weaver
Teller Pete will explore and expand the Navajo/ Diné weaving artform, as well as research and properly archive the expertise and processes of Diné weavers. She will continue to conduct classes online, addressing Navajo history, warping, beginning weaving, troubleshooting, finishing, and marketing, and preserving Diné students’ weaving journeys. She will also partner with a Diné language expert to translate her book, How to Weave a Navajo Rug and Other Lessons from Spider Woman, into a spoken word version for language immersion classes.

Honorable Mentions Recognized

With support from the Henry Luce Foundation, First Nations also awarded honorable mentions to 16 candidates who demonstrated a strong commitment to generate, perpetuate and disseminate Indigenous knowledge.

The 2022 Fellowship Honorable Mentions and Knowledge Fields are:

  • April L. Stone, Bad River Band of Ojibwe (Chippewa), Traditional Black Ash Basket Maker
  • Blythe K. George, Yurok, Tribal Justice
  • Chantel Dolphin Lady Comardelle, Choctaw, History and Environmental Justice
  • Christina M. Thomas, Numu (Northern Paiute), Newe (Western Shoshone), and Hopi (Tobacco Clan), Language Resurgence, Indigenous Musicology, and Indigenous Performing Arts
  • Diane M. Zephier, Oglala/Yankton, Epistemology/Philosophy
  • Stormy Hamar, Kaigani Haida, Haida Dugout Canoe Revitalization
  • Helena Jacobs, Koyukon Athbascan, Alaska Native Wellness and Wellbeing
  • Julia Wall, Pueblo of Jemez/Anishinaabe, Indigenous Land Education and Birthwork
  • Leialoha Ilae-Kaleimamahu, Native Hawaiian, Mele/Oli/Hula – Puna Traditions
  • Leslie Jonas, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Land Rescue and Conservation, Cultural Respect
  • Luci Tapahonso, Diné (Navajo), Literature
  • Meghanlata Gupta, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, History and Journalism
  • Mike Marshall, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Lakota Games and Toys, Parfleche, Ledger Art
  • Pamela Čəlalákəm Bond, Snohomish, Yakama, Ho-Chunk, Cultural Educator, Traditional Storyteller, Plant Medicine Specialist, Weaver, Activist
  • Tamara Lynn Trahant, Shoshone Bannock, Red Bottom Assiniboine, Sustainability, Earth Systems, Indigenous Plants
  • Tanaya Winder, Duckwater Shoshone, Pyramid Lake Paiute, Southern Ute, Literary (Creative Writing), Youth Leadership Development

Additional background on the 2022 Fellows, along with information about the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Advisory Committee and past fellows, is available here.

About the Henry Luce Foundation

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. The foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art and public policy.

Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., the foundation’s earliest work honored his parents, missionary educators in China. The foundation’s programs today reflect the value Mr. Luce placed on learning, leadership, and long-term commitment in philanthropy.

The Henry Luce Foundation is a private independent foundation based in New York City.

About First Nations Development Institute

For 41 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit

For more information about the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship, contact Kendall Tallmadge, First Nations Senior Program Officer, at ktallmadge@firs​ or (303) 774-7836.

Communications Contact:
Amy Jakober, Senior Communications Officer
(303) 774-7836 or