First Nations releases publication on Supporting Community Intellectuals and Partnerships in Native Communities


First Nations releases publication on Supporting Community Intellectuals and Partnerships in Native Communities

With generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation (Luce), First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) launched an unprecedented project in 2018 to explore Native American community intellectualism in partnership with four Native-run nonprofit organizations: The Hopi Foundation, Leadership Institute at Santa Fe Indian School, The Piegan Institute at Cuts Wood School and Salish Kootenai College. The resulting report is now available.

This project sought to articulate Native American community intellectualism within the context of their own tribal communities. Unlike the colonial definition of intellectualism—the exercise of the intellect at the expense of the emotions–these four programs expanded and refined the definition to support communities that perpetuate local Indigenous knowledge and practices.

 “I’m a bit of a preservationist,” noted Carnell Chosa, Co-Founder of the Leadership Institute at Santa Fe Indian School, “However, after discussing it over with the advisory committee, we realized that a community intellectual is somebody who is always moving the community forward with the changing times, changing resources and new ideas. Our lives are different because of our ancestors who themselves were always moving things forward for our communities.”

With the help of the four organizations, First Nations was able to identify five strategies for better supporting Native communities, which should aid tribes, Native organizations and their philanthropic partners’ efforts in supporting Native American community intellectuals.

To learn more, please download the report and check out our Knowledge Center for more publications about First Nations projects and reports on the Native American experience.

About First Nations Development Institute

For nearly 40 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 about First Nations, visit


Jennifer Churchill, First Nations Communications Officer or (303) 774-7836 x213