This Week at First Nations: August 26, 2022

Action Needed: Sign the Protect ICWA Petition

This November, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments for Haaland v. Brackeen — the case that could overturn the decades-old and widely supported Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Unfortunately, ICWA is not a mainstream issue. Outside of Native peoples, child welfare experts, and some policymakers, ICWA is unknown or misunderstood.

As part of our ongoing outreach with the National Indian Child Welfare Association, First Nations shares this new petition created to bring more visibility to this issue and show support for the law in the court of public opinion before the Supreme Court issues its decision. Sign the petition here.


What We’re Reading: Growing Awareness of Native American Boarding Schools

The release of the investigative report this year by the U.S. Department of the Interior is raising nationwide awareness of the systematic abuse and death that occurred at government-run Native American Boarding Schools between 1819 and 1969. Native American Boarding School survivor and aunt of First Nations Development Officer Jona Charette, Ramona Klein has testified about her experience before Congress and in interviews nationwide, including in a recent People Magazine article, where she shares her story about being taken from her tribal home.

She writes, ”My first memory was getting on a big green government bus in 1954 and looking out the window at my mother crying as she held my little brother’s hand. I was 7 years old.” Jona’s Aunt Ramona is pictured here with Jona’s Uncle Damian (back) and her dad (left).


Congratulations to First Nations’ Sarayl Shunkamolah

First Nations is honored to share that Grants Development Officer Sarayl Shunkamolah is one of 27 individuals, chosen from over 50 applicants, selected for the fall 2022 cohort of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University’s Indigenous Leadership Academy. The goal of the academy is to work with emerging Indigenous leaders to address long-term issues faced by Indigenous governments, communities, associations, and corporations. The program is designed to inspire and motivate participants in how to execute strategies and lead change, and there is no comparable program in the nation. Congratulations, Sarayl!


Reminder: California Land Access Webinar #2: Join Us September 1!

In this second webinar in our series to support access to ancestral lands for California tribes and tribally controlled nonprofit organizations, presenters explore how to identify and develop a tribe’s or tribal nonprofit organization’s vision and desired outcomes related to access to ancestral land and how to choose the best entity structure to help achieve them. Two case studies will be presented highlighting the Mendocino County-based tribally chartered nonprofit organization, Kai Poma, and the Los Angeles County-based, Tataviam Land Conservancy.

The webinar is Thursday, September 1, 2022, at 11 am PT/12 pm MT. Learn more and register here.


Reminder: Tune in for “A New Road to Funding Racial Justice and Equity”

You’re invited to join First Nations’ Mike Roberts and other leaders for a conversation on building powerful, resilient nonprofits that advance racial justice and equity in the U.S. today. Hosted by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative, this webinar discussion will explore how funders currently approach Latinx, African American, and Native American communities, and how to advance philanthropy in each one.

The webinar is September 13, 2022, at 10 am MT. Learn more and register.


Gimiwan Dustin Burnette, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Meet Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Dustin Burnette

Gimiwan Dustin Burnette (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) has been dedicated to revitalizing the Ojibwe language for more than a decade. In 2020, he launched the community-based Midwest Indigenous Immersion Network (MIIN) to promote collaboration and curriculum development among Ojibwe educators through the sharing of resources.

As a 2021 Luce Indigenous Knowledge fellow, Burnette is expanding the collaborative MIIN network into a nonprofit organization. He has used fellowship funds to apply for 501(c)3 status, train board members, and establish an online repository where educators can easily access Ojibwe language materials. Read more about Dustin here.


Applications Now Open for Castanea Fellowship

The Castanea Fellowship is designed to gather dedicated and experienced leaders from across the food system to help make food systems healthier, more sustainable, and equitable. The application process for the third cohort of the Castanea Fellowship is now open, and leaders who have a demonstrated commitment to the work, understand racial equity, believe in the power of diversity, and welcome collaboration are invited to apply by September 16, 2022. Learn more.


How a Vacation to Hawaii Can Be Relaxing for Tourists – and Harmful to Its Residents

Tourism in Hawaii is profitable for its economy, but it negatively affects the lives of Native Hawaiians. CNN reports how activists are calling for fundamental changes to the tourism industry to return rights to Native Hawaiians and let them decide how they want their culture to be shared and consumed, with an emphasis on mutual respect. They call for visitors to the state to rethink travel as entering someone else’s home, and to re-center the focus of their trip from themselves and instead to the island and its residents to lighten the footprints they leave behind. Read more.

Photo credit CNN


“Genius Engineering”: The Battle to Save Hawaii’s Historic Fish Ponds

The Kiholo fish pond on the West Coast of Hawaii has experienced a tenfold increase in its fish population since restoration work began in 2012, reports The Guardian. The pond is one of dozens of man-made, rock-wall-enclosed sites that Native Hawaiians have used to raise fish to feed their families. For over a decade, Indigenous community groups has taken the lead to restore the fish ponds, as a point of cultural pride and as a way to enhance the resilience of the coastline and address food insecurity. Read more.

Photo credit The Guardian, Cecile Walsh


Tribes are Gaining a Voice on the Colorado River

In a series of compelling stories woven together with beautiful photos, azcentral.com reporter Debra Krol highlights the struggles and progress of Native communities along the Colorado River as they seek to play a bigger role in the management of a water source that 40 million people depend upon for their lives. Last December, tribal delegations took part in the annual meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association. “Historically, tribes have not been a part of the negotiations around the management of the Colorado River,” said Maria Dadgar, executive director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. “But … that is no longer the case.” Read more.

Photo credit AZCentral, Joel Angel Juarez/The Republic


Empower Native youth by donating to our Native Youth and Culture Fund summer campaign! Deadline extended: The first $150,000 in donations made by August 31, 2022, will be matched dollar for dollar.