March 2023 Newsletter

Highlights from First Nations, Gratitude for You

Dear Friends,

We are happy to bring you the first Indian Giver quarterly newsletter of the new year. We have so many stories to tell and people to acknowledge, like you.

We hope you will enjoy reading about one of our 2022 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows, and in honor of Women’s History Month, we present all the other amazing women of this prestigious fellowship who have come before and after her. This issue also features an update on two community partners, the Stronghold Society and the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island.

Thank you for your interest in First Nations. Enjoy the warmer weather, and happy spring!


Keeping Native Youth Moving in a Positive Direction

The Stronghold Society was founded by renowned artist and designer Walt Pourier (Oglala Lakota) to inspire creativity, confidence, hope, and ambition in Native youth. How? Through skateboarding. “Rather than feel defeated by the narrative that suicide is the second leading cause of death among Native youth, ages 15-24, we created a movement that uses the Lakota concept of ‘skan skan,’ or ‘moving forward together,’ to give youth reasons to live,” he says. To date, Stronghold Society has built two state-of-the-art skate parks on the Pine Ridge Reservation, with plans for many more across Indian Country. Read the full story.

Regional Dialogues: On the Path to Climate Justice

Through First Nations’ Climate Change and Environmental Justice work, this past fall we began supporting the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) to host a series of climate summits and convenings, including a National Tribal Leaders’ Climate Change Summit. This video captures the stories and perspectives of a few of the 500 participants representing 118 tribal nations and Alaska Native communities who came together to share knowledge, best practices, and resources. First Nations joins with these Native communities as they navigate the impacts of climate change and amplify climate solutions and models rooted in Indigenous knowledge. Together, it is our hope that these solutions and models can be integrated into policy, strategy, and adaptation plans. Watch the video.

The Aleut Community Restores Health to the Bering Sea

The Aleut Community of St. Paul Island (ACSPI) has been a steward of the Bering Sea for many generations. The tribe and its fishermen depend on halibut for their sustenance and livelihood. But competition with large-scale industrial fishing has created troubled waters for the community. With funding from First Nations, ACSPI aims to provide more equitable access for its fishermen to Bering Sea resources by bringing more Indigenous voices and knowledge to the fishery management process. “We need a seat at the table, where conversations are being had, decisions are being made, and quotas are being set,” says Dr. Lauren Divine, director of the tribe’s Ecosystem Conservation Office. Read more.



Meet 2022 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Jessa Rae Growing Thunder

When she was 22, Jessa Rae Growing Thunder (Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation) had a dream about a porcupine that led her to traditional porcupine quillwork ─ a rare Indigenous art form using dyed porcupine quills to embellish clothing, bags, and other items. The Luce fellow’s “heart-work” involves promoting and preserving natural materials associated with this traditional quillwork. “We need to teach younger generations, like my daughter, who are drawn to quillwork to respect those knowledge systems and uplift them.”

Read more about the woman inspired by a porcupine and check out her website,

Meet ALL the Amazing Women of the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship!

In honor of Women’s History Month, First Nations proudly presents a list of all the strong, inspiring women who were awarded Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowships since the program first launched in collaboration with the Henry Luce Foundation in 2019:

2020 Women Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows:

Dorene Day (Ojibwe Anishinabe, Nett Lake, Minnesota)
Lisa Yellow Luger (Standing Rock Sioux)
Trisha L. Moquino (Cochiti/Kewa/Ohkay Owingeh)
Corine Pearce (Redwood Valley Little River Band of Pomo Indians)
Hanna Sholl (Sugpiaq/Alutiiq)

2021 Women Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows:

Brooke Mosay Ammann (St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin)
Evelyn Lance Blanchard, Ph.D. (Laguna/Yaqui)
Delores Churchill (Ketchikan Indian Community/Haida)
Jennifer Malone (Wukchumni)
Theresa Secord (Penobscot Nation)
Charlene Stern (Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government)
Reba Jo Teran (Eastern Shoshone)
Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Native Hawaiian)

2022 Women Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows:

Bernadette Demientieff (Tribal Member of Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribal Government)
Jessica Denny (Cheesh’na Tribe)
Mariah Gladstone (Blackfeet, Cherokee)
Jessa Rae Growing Thunder (Fort Peck Assiniboine/Sioux)
Tessie Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo)
Melody Windsong Redbird-Post, Ph.D. (Kiowa Tribe)
Lynda Teller Pete (Diné/Navajo)

2023 Women Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows:

Martha A. Austin (Navajo)
Michon R. Eben (Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone)
Anna Brown Ehlers (Chilkat Tlingit)
Sara L. Chase Merrick (Hoopa Valley Tribe, Shinnecock Nation)
Kathleen Sanchez (Tewa-San Ildefonso Pueblo)
LaRae Wiley (Sinixt Colville Tribal Member)



Our Good Relatives Who Stepped Up Throughout COVID-19

COVID-19 brought devastating loss throughout the world, and especially in Indian Country. In March 2020, First Nations provided grant funding and support through a fund that continued into early 2023. This response was possible thanks to more than 5,560 friends and allies of First Nations. Through thousands of gifts and contributions, over $7 million was raised, allowing First Nations to direct support immediately and effectively to Native communities.

This Donor Spotlight shines on all who gave to this fund, helping Native communities respond and rebuild. Read more!

Latest News

In Case You Missed It: Our 2022 Impact Report is Out!

Our latest Impact Report illustrates successes made possible with your support. Highlights: over $12.5 million invested in grassroots initiatives, 410 grants distributed to community partners, and over 140,000 changemakers reached throughout Indian Country. It wouldn't be possible without support from our friends and allies! Thank you!… Download the complete report.

2023 Cohort of Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows Announced

First Nations selected the 10 outstanding Indigenous leaders for the 2023 Cohort of the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship. 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 have potential to significantly move forward their fields in transformative ways.… Meet the new fellows here.

Transitions and Growth at First Nations

With Raymond Foxworth's departure from First Nations, we announce new roles and positions. Jackie Francke (Navajo) will take on the role of Chief Operating Officer, A-dae Romero-Briones (Cochiti/Kiowa) has been promoted to Vice President of Policy and Research and the California Tribal Fund, and Catherine Bryan (Navajo) has been promoted to Vice President of Grantmaking, Communications, and Administration. Plus, several First Nations staff are being promoted to new roles.… Read more.

Helping Native Farmers and Ranchers

First Nations has chosen 30 Native farmers and ranchers to participate in its Native Farmer and Rancher Apprenticeship Network. This network will help new farmers and ranchers build capacity and strengthen land management strategies. Participants will receive technical assistance and networking opportunities through trainings, webinars, coaching support, and fieldwork over two years. … Read more.

Tell Your Friends and Family!

Every week in "This Week at First Nations," we share news about First Nations' programs and outreach, as well as highlights from happenings throughout Indian Country. Invite friends and family to our mailing list, and stay tuned every week for ongoing news and information. … Send this link!