March 2022 Newsletter

Highlights from First Nations, Gratitude for You

Dear Friends,

Again, it is an honor for First Nations’ staff and board to share our latest Indian Giver newsletter with you. This spring, we continue making strides to increase philanthropic support for Native communities and invest in the capacity, solutions, and ingenuity of Native peoples. We are humbled by the innovation we see every day from our Community Partners, and we are excited to feature a few of their stories here.

This issue features a profile on one of our 2021 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows, as well as highlights from Community Partners, Malki Museum and the Catawba Nation. Also, this quarter, we pay tribute to our former senior communications officer, Randy Blauvelt, who passed away early this month.

Thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoy this issue.

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

Once restrictions lifted from the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses had to reassure customers that they were taking every necessary precaution to keep them safe from the virus. The historic Malki Museum in Banning, California, took that challenge head-on. With an $18,500 COVID-19 Recovery and Resiliency Grant from First Nations’ California Tribal Fund, the museum, located on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians Reservation, rolled out a multipronged print and online outreach campaign to communicate―in English and Cahuilla―that it was safe to explore Native history there again. Learn more.


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

Community gatherings are a central part of Native life. But COVID-19 lockdowns put a hold on many traditional Tribal celebrations. To help its community heal and stay connected, the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (FTBMI) created an online musical instruction program called “Ačaam (singing) Together.” Taught via Zoom using traditional musical instruments, this language-centered program was made possible by First Nations’ California COVID-19 Recovery and Resiliency Fund, administered through First Nation’s California Tribal Fund. Learn more.


From Empty Spaces to Community Places

An essential component of many communities is the educational and cultural social hub of a local library, and the Catawba Indian Nation is quick to recognize the importance of this resource. This year, with support from First Nations, they’ve worked to curate and organize a library system, create a space to facilitate the Tribe’s educational projects, and encourage literacy and lifelong learning. Importantly, they also addressed the lack of books written by and for Catawbas and Native Americans. “People want to see themselves reflected in literature,” asserts librarian Rachel Hooper, MLIS. “It’s important to be validated by the things you read and look at.” Read the full story.




Meet Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Brooke Niiyogaabawiikwe ‘Niiyo’ Gonzalez

Brooke, or “Niiyo,” as she likes to be called, grew up in an Ojibwe-speaking community. She learned the endangered language from elders and relatives so she could participate in ceremonies with her Tribe, the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. With less than 10 fluent Ojibwe speakers in some communities, Niiyo has dedicated her career to revitalizing the language. From her leadership at the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Institute (WOLI) to her doctoral studies at the University of Hawaii, this profile details Niiyo’s lifelong dedication as a “language warrior.” Read her profile.




‘Together, We Are Shifting the World’: Donor Spotlight on The Shift Network

In 2020, The Shift Network donated to First Nations’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, the largest charitable donation the organization has ever given, demonstrating its commitment to helping Indigenous communities, among many others. Since its founding, the online learning center’s transformational educational programs, media, events, and philanthropy have served more than 3.2 million people in 180 countries. Co-Founder Stephen Dinan says, “We are helping to create the planet we all want to live in―one that’s peaceful, sustainable, healthy, just, and prosperous.” Read more.