March 2024 Newsletter

Highlights from First Nations, Gratitude for You

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the March 2024 issue of Indian Giver, our first quarterly newsletter of the new year

In this issue, we introduce a new program launched by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians that has inspired its youth to start their own businesses one day. We also share how First Nations’ financial support has had a ripple effect on young Indigenous and black artists and researchers through the Soul of Nations Foundation. And you’ll learn how our California Tribal Fund is bringing people together to advocate for the protection of ancestral lands.

In our Donor Spotlight, meet Jenifer Marx, a well-traveled adventurer and author of historical books on pirates and gold. Also featured is 2023 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow LaRae Wiley, who has been on a decades-long trailblazing effort to preserve the Colville Salish language.

Thank you for your continued support of First Nations. We wish you much success with all you have planned for 2024.

A Mississippi Tribe Inspires Youth to Become Digital Entrepreneurs

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is investing time and resources to encourage youth to run their own businesses. Over the holidays, the tribe collaborated with the reservation’s Boys & Girls Clubs to teach Choctaw teens how to create hoodies, tumblers, and other items ― using newly purchased digital equipment ― that they sold for profit. “If we can get our kids in high school to start thinking about charting their own path, they’re more likely to have entrepreneurial thinking,” says John Hendrix, Director of the tribe’s Office of Economic Development. The OED is opening a makerspace next year as part of a new $7 million workforce training center. Read more.

Ripple Effect of Support Advances Arts and Culture for BIPOC Communities

The Soul of Nations Foundation is on a mission to elevate and amplify the artistic works and research of young people within Indigenous and black communities all over the world. With a ripple effect of support from First Nations, this nonprofit organization has inspired Indigenous youth to pursue business entrepreneurship, academic excellence, and engagement in the arts through Soul Centers in New York and Italy ― with a new focus on Africa and Afro Indigenous community members in the Americas. Learn more about this successful organization.

Digging Deep to Protect the Roots of Native Lands

To help strengthen connections among land advocates working to re-acquire and steward their ancestral lands, First Nations’ California Tribal Fund hosted a Stewarding Ancestral Lands Gathering at the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. This event was attended by 14 land advocates from nine tribes and tribal organizations. Participants shared success stories of land access and land return. The Owens Valley Indian Water Commission, a tribal consortium, talked about its success in acquiring a 5-acre sanctuary called Three Creeks, a healing and gathering place community members can now enjoy. Read more.


Photo Credit: Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review

Meet Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow LaRae Wiley

When she was in her mid-30s, LaRae Wiley learned at the funeral of her great-uncle that he was the last fluent speaker of n̓səl̓xčin̓ (Colville Salish) in her family. Ever since then, she has made it her mission to keep the endangered language alive with the help of beloved mentors and her husband, Christopher Parkin. In 2010, she co-founded an immersion school called the Salish School of Spokane. Last year, she was one of 14 women across Eastern Washington and North Idaho named “Inland Northwest Women of the Year” for her language-preservation efforts. Read more.


Adventurous Supporter Jenifer Marx: ‘Stay Curious About the World’

Jenifer Marx’s lifelong adventures began at 21 when she was invited by President Kennedy to join the Peace Corps as one of its first volunteers. Since then, her life has been full of exciting adventures in exotic places around the world with husband Robert F. Marx, a renowned underwater archaeologist known for discovering more than 5,000 shipwrecks. Jenifer has written historical books on pirates and gold, and co-authored books on shipwrecks with Robert. At 84, she lives in coastal Florida in an old Spanish home built in 1927, surrounded by her lush garden and a neighborhood peacock, Big Blue. Read more about Jenifer’s adventures.


INDIAN GIVER is published quarterly by First Nations to share the impact of the Native-led projects and initiatives we invest in and to celebrate the strength and future of Native communities. The phrase INDIAN GIVER entered the English language under historical circumstances that distorted its meaning within Native American culture, where it never carried the negative cargo we know it by today. The true meaning signifies a willingness to care, an expectation of sharing; and a cultural commitment to reciprocity that was not to be questioned. Indian giving was and is the future wealth of society.

Latest News

Out Now: Our 2023 Impact Report

Last year, First Nations invested over $13.5 million in grassroots initiatives, distributed 326 grants, and reached over 54,000 changemakers throughout Indian Country. First Nations also awarded an additional $873,000 through the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship and the Justice Through the Eyes of Native Artists Project. We are truly grateful to our community partners and dedicated allies for making 2023 another impactful year. Thank you! Impact Report 2023

Meet the 2024 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows

First Nations has selected 11 Native American leaders for the 2024 cohort of the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship. This collaboration between First Nations and the Henry Luce Foundation recognizes Native American knowledge holders and knowledge makers who are exceptional in their fields and have the potential to create transformative change in Native communities. This new cohort will join the 43 Indigenous leaders who have been selected for the fellowship since 2020 and are collectively advancing Indigenous knowledge. Meet the Fellows here!

Five Grant Opportunities Now Available

First Nations invests in and uplifts Native communities through financial support and technical assistance. We are currently accepting grant applications for the following projects: Native Arts Initiative; Advancing Tribal Nature-Based Solutions; Native Farm to School; Tribal Co-Management and Co-Stewardship; and the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship. Tribes and Native nonprofit organizations seeking support for programs and initiatives are encouraged to apply. Questions? Get details and links here.

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!