This Week at First Nations: August 18, 2023

Help Our Friends and Partners in Hawaii

We send ongoing prayers and support to friends, allies, and community partners in Hawaii, and we continue to encourage people to give directly to these local fundraising efforts:

To add to First Nations’ support of these organizations and help ensure we are always ready to respond whenever assistance is needed in the future, visit

Communities Mobilize on Maui, Gratitude Abounds

This week, we heard news from a First Nations’ friend at Na Aikane O Mauik, who said “Mahalo” to all the hands that have helped in the emergency response to his Lahaina community. “You guys have blessed the lahui and my ohana more than you could ever imagine,” he posted on social media, calling out the many organizations, donors, and volunteers who made “miracles happen.” From the outpouring of manpower, donations, and online support, the community rallied to provide five helicopter loads of supplies, including baby diapers and formula. As we continue to learn more about the impact of these tragic fires, we are heartened by this report of kindness and response.

Trainings, Collaboration, and Connection Strengthen First Nations’ Teams

First Nations staff gathered in Longmont, Colorado, this week for professional development and trainings to build our capacity and transfer knowledge to better serve our community partners.

The sessions concluded Thursday with a one-day experience “Acknowledge, Reconnect, Revitalize, Thrive,” with facilitator Leroy “Buster” Silver, who guided staff through activities on self-reflection and community and organization empowerment. Pictured here are Buster and our Nourishing Native Foods & Health program team. Great week, everyone!

What We’re Watching: ‘We Tell Stories’ with Gordon Coons

The work of First Nations’ artist friend Gordon Coons (Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa/Ottawa) is on exhibit through this week at the Confluence Gallery of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. The exhibit Gidibaajimomin (“We Tell Stories”), features traditional Ojibwe clan animal stories to educate people about our shared relationship with the natural world.

In this video created by the City of Bloomington, Gordon tells how the stories are pulled from his heritage.  “Some are traditional old stories, and some are new stories. We’re not stuck in history. We’re always developing, always creating things, always moving on in the world.” Watch the video here.

LAST CALL: Native Agriculture & Food Systems Scholarship

The deadline is next week to apply for a scholarship for the 2023-2024 academic year! First Nations will award 20 to 25 $1,000 to $1,500 scholarships to Native college students majoring in agriculture and agriculture-related fields so that they can better assist their communities with their food systems efforts.

Apply here! The deadline has been extended to August 24, 2023.

President Biden Designates the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument

Last week, President Biden established the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni-Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument. Native News Online reports it is the president’s fifth new national monument, and it protects nearly 1 million acres of greater Grand Canyon landscape sacred to tribal nations and Indigenous peoples. The White House said, “The designation is a step toward addressing the history of the land dispossession and exclusion of tribal nations and Indigenous peoples in the Grand Canyon area — including the establishment of the Grand Canyon National Park in 1919.” Read more.

Photo credit Native News Online

Top Indigenous Leaders Press Biden on Why He Hasn’t Freed Leonard Peltier

Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, and Suzan Shown Harjo, president of The Morning Star Institute, have both written to President Biden expressing concern that the president has not released Leonard Peltier from prison. Peltier has been in prison since 1977 despite a decades-long parole process that has continually demonstrated lack of evidence, racism, and unjust practices in his case. HuffPost explores how President Biden’s action (or inaction) on Peltier could influence Native voters in 2024. Read more.

Photo credit HuffPost, Associated Press

How Long Delays in Repatriation Let Scientists Damage Native Remains with Government Funds

In July, ProPublica explored how destructive research on ancestral Native remains housed in museums and universities is being supported by federal funding and performed without the consent of tribes. Research continues to happen, despite terms of 1990’s Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which calls for federally funded museums and universities to return tens of thousands of ancestral remains and burial items to Native tribes within the decade. By funding such research, the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies have awarded at least $15 million to universities and museums since the law’s passage, thus undermining the goals of NAGPRA. Read more.

Photo credit HuffPost, via Associated Press