This Week at First Nations: December 17, 2021

Reminder: Apply Now for Native Farmer and Rancher Apprenticeship Network

First Nations is launching an Apprenticeship Network to provide training, technical assistance, and networking opportunities to two groups of Native American beginning farmers and ranchers to expand business capacity, improve agricultural operations, and strengthen the local and regional food supply chain in Indian Country.

The deadline is Wednesday, December 22, 2021.

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arizona and New Mexico: Learn more and apply here.

Alert: Help Protect Buffalo from Mycoplasma Bovis

There are currently 25 active cases of mycoplasma bovis, a bacterial pathogen that is attacking buffalo throughout the country, including the family herd of First Nations’ friends and GATHER film participants, Fred, Michelle, and Elsie DuBray. With no effective remedy and very little understanding of how or why the disease is so devastating, buffalo are being left vulnerable, and their survival is threatened on a scale not seen since the mid-1800s.

The DuBrays are sounding an alarm for help, and we are happy to spread the word. Action can be taken by contacting congressional delegates and urging them to provide the support and resources necessary to develop an urgent and appropriate response to this horrific disease. For more information, email Michelle DuBray at dubraybuffalora​

Photo credit USDA Office of Tribal Relations

What We’re Reading: Findings on Foundation Support for Native American Leaders and Communities

In a new report, Overlooked, The Center for Effective Philanthropy documents the experiences of Native non-profit leaders and their interactions with philanthropy. The report describes invisibility, lack of education, and underinvestment, as it finds that Native American nonprofit leaders report having less positive experiences with foundation funders than nonprofit leaders of other races/ethnicities.

In addition, the report finds that, despite the significant challenges facing Native American people, most foundations continue to overlook nonprofits that serve Native American communities. Access the full document here.

The Importance of Emergency Cash Assistance to Native Families During a Pandemic 

According to a new report released this month by Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, the economic impacts of COVID-19 are going to affect Native families for at least the next several years, and thus easy-to-access systems of support to continue to meet their needs is more important now than ever. The report features insights and lessons learned regarding the coalition’s direct distribution of emergency funds during the pandemic, and how they worked in partnership with 23 tribes and Native-led nonprofit partners to provide emergency cash assistance to American Indian and Alaska Native families in 28 states and raised funds to support 1,070 families.

Read the report here.

Applications Open for Seven Full-Time Lakota Language Learners

First Nations’ Community Partner Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) announced it is seeking applicants for a new language preservation initiative designed to eliminate barriers for citizens to become fluent Lakota speakers. Lakolya Waoniya — “Breathing Life into the Lakota Language” — is a three-year, paid holistic development experience centered on developing Lakota language fluency and strengthening Lakota lifeways for future generations.

The program is initially open to enrolled citizens of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe age 18 and over. Learn more and apply by January 21, 2022.

Powering Tribal Sovereignty through Solar

The Hill reports that a group of Midwestern Native American “solar warriors” is working to increase locally controlled, low-cost renewable power for tribes. The Indigenized Energy Initiative (IEI) is serving as a “kind of utility incubator” that assists with the creation of new solar installations, including offering education on construction and how to secure federal funds. Co-founder of IEI, Cody Two Bears, said in the article, “We’re giving our people access to sovereignty, to create their own energy — but it’s also protecting our language, our food source, our water.” Read the full article here.

Colorado Peak Renamed Mestaa’ehehe Mountain

During a December 9, 2021, meeting in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved the petition to rename the Clear Creek County peak in Colorado, Squaw Mountain, as Mestaa’ehehe Mountain, reports Colorado Community Media. The new name honors Owl Woman, a notable Cheyenne figure who helped maintain peaceful relations between local tribes and new settlers, and who was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 1985. Read more here.

Photo credit Corinne Westeman, Clear Creak Courant

Native Americans’ Farming Practices May Help Feed a Warming World

In the Southwest, projects are looking to plants and farming practices that have been long used by Indigenous people as potential solutions to sustain future food supplies and build energy resilience, reports the Washington Post. Featured in the article are the Tumamoc Resilience Garden, San Xavier Cooperative Farm, and Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture, which are working to sustain Native strategies for dealing with heat, drought, and water scarcity. Read more here.