December 2021 Newsletter

Highlights from First Nations, Gratitude for You

Dear Friends,

As 2021 draws to a close, all of us at First Nations reflect on the year with ongoing gratitude for your readership and support. Our collective investment in Native communities and economies continued strong in 2021, helping build the capacity and bolster the programs and services of our many community partners.

In this issue of Indian Giver we showcase just a few examples of their progress and successes. We invite you to enjoy these stories over the holidays, and to join us in 2022 as we continue to strengthen assets, support economic development, and add to the health and vibrancy of Native communities.


Land Back: How Two Tribes are Re-Acquiring and Leveraging Community Forests

There is an ongoing movement to get land back into the hands of Native communities. This movement can not only right the historical injustices that led to their land dispossession in the first place, but also further acknowledge that Tribes are the ones that have the knowledge and value systems to steward their lands exceptionally well. Recognizing the importance of returning lands to their rightful places, First Nations works with Native communities to access land-back opportunities and make the most of re-acquired land. This year, two First Nations Community Partners, Kalispel Tribe of Indians and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, were able to do both through support of First Nations and grants from the USDA’s Community Forest Program. Learn more.

Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship: A Look Back at How it Began

In summer 2021, the application window for the 2022 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship opened, and within weeks, 300 Native scholars, educators, artists, and community leaders applied, each with cultural knowledge and insights and many being among the last knowledge holders in their areas of expertise. Since 2019, the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship has nurtured and celebrated Native knowledge holders and knowledge makers. Here we look back at how this important program began and at the instrumental role the Henry Luce Foundation has played in investing in it. Read more.

Money Smarts ’21 Engages Students in the Wake of Pandemic

This year, as COVID-19 continued to shut down many outreach opportunities, First Nations’ financial education workshops were revamped to an online format. And, as doors of Native communities slowly reopened, a new curriculum was even developed: Money Smarts ’21. This latest curriculum focuses on topics such as fixed and flexible expenses, organization and recordkeeping, and savings strategies. Money Smarts ’21 debuted in October 2021, with an in-person training to over 300 students at Browning High School in Browning, Montana. Read more.



Image of X̱ʼunei Lance Twitchell.

Meet Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow X̱’unei Lance Twitchell

Over the past year, the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship has empowered Lance Twitchell, Ph.D., (Tlingit & Haida) to continue revitalizing the Tlingit language, which has already had a profound impact on his people and communities. The number of second language speakers has grown considerably due to collaborations between tribal elders and language teachers like Twitchell. This new profile highlights Twitchell’s projects throughout the Fellowship, including writing three episodes for Molly of Denali, a cartoon about 10 year-old Molly Mabray, which is  the first nationally distributed children’s series in the U.S. to feature an Alaska Native lead character. Learn more about Twitchell.




Inspiring a More Just World: Donor Spotlight on Michael Collins

For Michael Collins, the desire to support Indigenous causes started with a fascination with Native cultures as a young boy. Over the years, that fascination has transitioned from interest to dismay, as he’s reflected more and more on his childhood education. “I was taught that the pilgrims were the saviors,” he says. “What I knew was that the pilgrims came, and the Indians taught them how to grow corn, and so on. We were never taught the truth.”

Today, Collins believes that changing the erroneous narrative starts with raising awareness about the truth, and supporting organizations that bring that truth to life. One of those organizations is First Nations. Learn more in this new donor spotlight!