This Week at First Nations: April 30, 2021

Reminder: The Native Youth Business Plan Competition is Open!

Native high school and college students: Have you started a business or do you have an idea for a business? Now you can pitch your plan to a panel of Native leaders. Gain skills in presenting, get your idea heard, and compete for cash prizes. The second annual Native Youth Business Plan Competition is a collaboration among First Nations, American Indigenous Business Leaders, and The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. Students in high school or college are encouraged to apply by May 20, 2021. We want to hear from you! Learn more!

Need for Philanthropic Commitment to Indian Country Never Greater

Attention grantmakers, lenders, and investors: A reminder that the application period for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) Community of Practice is open. Through this opportunity, over the course of a year, a group of 14 funders will gather to build awareness of and respond to the historic, structural, and philanthropic barriers that Native communities and tribal governments face in obtaining funding. Learn more and apply by May 19, 2021.

One Planet. One Health.

“When we look at hundreds of Indigenous models, we find their foods are the accumulation of direct connections with the land, with each other, and with ancestry. Food is the art, the symbols, and the stories of how a people has a conversation with the Earth.” Learn more from First Nations’ Director of Native Agriculture and Food Systems, A-dae Romero-Briones, who will be one of the speakers for the virtual event, One Planet. One Health: Building Solutions for More Sustainable Local Food Systems, presented by FoodTank and Danone Institute. Hear the discussion Thursday, May 6, 2021. Register here.

Take Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

April 29th marked the beginning of the 2021 National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). First Nations joins this grassroots call for justice to draw attention and urgency to the MMIWG crisis and to raise awareness of the systemic barriers that allow perpetrators to prey on Native women and girls. See a list of virtual events and resources at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center to take action during this important week.

Reminder: Open Positions at First Nations!

First Nations is building capacity to invest in and create more innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities. We are hiring for multiple positions: Grants Development Officer, Resource Development Coordinator, and Project Coordinator. Learn more and apply here!

What We’re Watching: Native Narrative Change

The Native Governance Center has released a new video on Native Narrative Change, describing how the incorrect history lessons in K-12 education results in negative biases, and how modern-day exclusion of Native Americans in media leads to invisibility and false stereotypes. The video, which cites First Nations’ Reclaiming Native Truth research, underscores how the Narrative Change Movement is creating change across sectors through accurate representation of Indigenous People. Watch the video.

Meet Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Hanna Sholl

As a member of the first cohort of First Nations’ Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship, Hanna Sholl (Sugpiaq/Alutiiq) is an artist, educator, and culture bearer who merges traditional and modern-day Alutiiq art. Sholl works with tribal youth and adults, using art to preserve and share knowledge of Alutiiq history and legends.

“Through art, I want to remind our people that our ancestors were strong and independent.” says Sholl.

It is timely to highlight Sholl this week, as she recently used the traditional Alutiiq practice of hand weaving to spotlight the ongoing epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women across the country.

For the piece featured here, she hand-wove a traditional Sugpiaq bird in red and black to honor Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Alaska. The red bird includes a black handprint on its back, symbolizing a call to action. She notes that Alutiiq people traditionally believe that Sugpiaq birds carry messages to their ancestors. Sholl poignantly writes: “Each bead is a prayer for a missing sister, each portrait a memory of a daughter who was taken from this world too soon.”

Learn more about Hanna.

Building Financial Resilience in Native Communities

New research at Urban Wire, the blog of the Urban Institute, shows that “during the 2020 pandemic, people living in majority-Native communities faced persistently high rates and levels of delinquent debt, nearly half had subprime credit, and some turned to high-cost predatory lenders to meet their financial needs.” The report finds that policymakers have the power to help address these inequities by strengthening and funding Native-owned financial institutions, providing opportunities for wealth building, and improving broadband access to tribal nations.

Steps Taken to Restore Tribal Homelands

The US Department of the Interior reports it took “several steps to honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes and uphold our trust and treaty responsibilities to them.” In the release, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said, “At Interior, we have an obligation to work with Tribes to protect their lands and ensure that each Tribe has a homeland where its citizens can live together and lead safe and fulfilling lives. Our actions today will help us meet that obligation and will help empower Tribes to determine how their lands are used — from conservation to economic development projects.” Read more.

More Funding, More Time Available for Environmental Justice

The EPA released amendments to the 2021 Environmental Justice Small Grants and Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving funding opportunities, highlighting approximately $10.5 million of additional funding available for Environmental Justice grants through the American Rescue Plan. These potential funds can be used for COVID-19 projects specifically to address clean air issues and/or training for a safe drinking water workforce. In addition, the deadline for both opportunities has been extended to June 1, 2021.

Women of Bears Ears Reach Out

In this New York Times piece, the Women of Bears Ears urge readers to join them in answering the call of the land: “Restoring Bears Ears National Monument would restore balance, harmony and beauty among all life. Bears Ears is not something to govern in a linear way of thinking, but a relative to be protected and taken care of in a circular way of thinking, just as our mothers taught us. We want to tell our true narratives of the lands we are made up of to ensure our voices are included in public policy.”

Photo credit New York Times, Rachael Cassells