This Week at First Nations: December 24, 2021

New Support from Blue Meridian Partners to Advance Investments in Native Youth

First Nations is honored to receive a $1 million investment from Blue Meridian Partners to support Native organizations that serve Native youth through education, mental health services, and strengthening Native identity. The funding will go toward the perpetuation of Native languages, cultural practices, and knowledge systems that are the heart and soul of Native communities and the vehicle through which ancestral traditions are passed, and values – such as respect for elders, community, and the Earth – are taught. Thank you, Blue Meridian Partners!

Native Leadership on COVID-19 Vaccinations Brings Key Lessons into Focus

In this perspective at The New England Journal of Medicine, First Nations’ Raymond Foxworth, Ph.D., joins fellow authors in highlighting the high rates of COVID-19 vaccinations in Native communities. The authors detail how – as the COVID-19 risk landscape continuously transforms – lessons from culturally informed vaccination responses in Native communities could be extended to other populations.

SPECIAL SNEAK PREVIEW: December Indian Giver

The December 2021 issue of First Nations’ newsletter is coming out next week, sharing highlights of our Stewarding Native Lands program, a latest financial education offering, and a lookback at the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship – How it began and the difference it’s making throughout Indian Country. Get to know one of our 2020 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows, and meet an amazing First Nations supporter in our new Donor Spotlight. Access the early issue here.

Congratulations to First Nations’ Leiloni and Sarayl

We’re happy to share that Leiloni Begaye, program officer, and Sarayl Shunkamolah, grants development officer, both “walked” last week at the University of New Mexico, in a graduation ceremony that had been postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Leiloni earned a Master’s in Native American studies, and Sarayl earned a Master’s of Public Administration with a focus on nonprofit management. Congratulations, Leiloni and Sarayl on this remarkable achievement!

Help Still Needed: Protect Buffalo from Mycoplasma Bovis

As we shared last week, 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.

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. Get more information here, or email Michelle DuBray at

DEADLINE EXTENSION: Apply by January 14, 2022

First Nations’ new Apprenticeship Network will provide training, technical assistance, and networking opportunities to two groups of Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arizona and New Mexico. The network will help Native American beginning farmers and ranchers expand business capacity, improve agricultural operations, and strengthen the local and regional food supply chain in Indian Country. Take advantage of the deadline extension: Learn more and apply here.

What We’re Reading: New Native Kitchen

New Native Kitchen is a “celebration of Indigenous Cuisine” that showcases a flavor and culinary history from coast to coast, providing “modern interpretations of 100 recipes that have long fed this country,” writes The new book is by Freddie Bitsoie (Navajo), former executive chef at Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and James Beard Award-winning author James O. Fraioli.

In an interview on Salon Talks, Bitsoie shares how his curiosity for the kitchen thrusted him into a formal culinary education and how his ancestral recipes pulled him back into wanting to educate and share modern takes on the cuisine he grew up with.

Canada Pledges $40 Billion to Address Rampant Abuses of Indigenous Children

NPR reports the Canadian government is pledging $40 billion (more than $30 billion in U.S. currency) to compensate Indigenous people who faced abuses as children in Canada’s residential schools. The funds will also be used to reform the country’s child welfare system. According to the article, the pledge comes amid ongoing negotiations between Canadian authorities and First Nations groups over how to make amends for the historical mistreatment of Indigenous children. Read more.

Photo credit Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous-Led Conservation Can Help Modern Conservation Catch Up

A December Nature blog at PBS highlights how the growing biodiversity and climate crises is illuminating how critical Indigenous voices and ways of knowing are to the survival of the planet. The author writes, “Not only is most of what remains of the wild found on Indigenous lands, but our intact homelands are also key to averting a climate catastrophe the effects of which are already felt in triple-digit temperatures, mass species extinctions, cataclysmic fires and hurricanes, devastating droughts, and catastrophic floods.” Read more about the opportunity to map a “very different future for humanity.”

Photo credit PBS, Christopher Carter/WCS

Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Announces PRIME Initiative

The federally recognized tribal Aleut communities of St. Paul and St. George are directly experiencing a rapidly transforming marine ecosystem, with real costs to wildlife, human and ecosystem health, local economies, and culture. In response, the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island (ACSPI) has launched the Pribilof Islands Marine Ecosystem (PRIME) Initiative, a new approach providing flexibility to build and diversify local and regional economies and advance conservation. This is an opportunity for Aleut communities to “steward our home waters and to ensure the proper management of the PRIME rather than having an ecosystem that is solely managed, species by species, by the federal government.” Read more here.

Tribes Prevail as Redistricting Plans Advance in New Mexico

The New Mexico state Senate has endorsed a new map for its own political boundaries that embraces recommendations from Native American communities for shoring up Indigenous voting blocs in the northwest of the state, reports AP News. Democratic state Sen. Shannon Pinto, a Navajo Nation member from Tohatchi, is cited in the article, describing her vote for the bill as a gesture of appreciation for sovereign tribal nations and the state Legislature: ‘‘With this vote, I believe there is a table out there where we can sit and nobody is higher than one another.’” Read the full article here.

Photo credit AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio

New Job Opening at The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land, a national organization committed to working with communities on Land Conservation, Parks and Schoolyard projects providing health, equity, and climate benefits, and improved access to nature, is seeking a leader with demonstrated excellence in project management skills. This position reports to the Oregon Program Director with preference to be based in central Oregon. The Project Manager position will play a leading role working with the Oregon and NW team, and be responsible for overseeing all project management activities associated with implementing the strategic new Oregon Rural Schoolyards Program. Learn more here.