This Week at First Nations: July 29, 2022

First Nations Discusses Importance of Native Food Sovereignty

On Nebraska Public Media this week, First Nations’ A-dae Romero-Briones and other Native food systems advocates addressed progress being made throughout the country to support Indigenous communities in reconnecting with traditional foods. “I think what we see now in food sovereignty is this attempt to pierce some of the colonial structures, whether that be government regulations or economic disparities that prevent Indigenous people from really building models of a food system or participating in traditional models of food growing,” says A-dae. Read and listen to the full story here.

Photo credit Nebraska Public Media, Carlos Moreno, KCUR

Meskwaki Nation Teens Learn Financial Smarts Through $pending Frenzy

Meskwaki Nation teens learned about making, saving, investing, and spending money through First Nations’ $pending Frenzy. The financial skills program was presented in Iowa July 21, 2022, by First Nations’ financial education consultant Shawn Spruce, who co-facilitated the workshop. The young attendees were also participants in the Meskwaki Tribe’s Workforce Development Summer Employment Program, which offers unique teachable moments for financial empowerment. “First Nations and Meskwaki have a long history of working together to expand financial education in the Meskwaki community,” Shawn said. “It’s great to be back!”

New Grant Opportunity for Enhancing Nutrition Security for Native Youth

First Nations is happy to share news of Newman’s Own Foundation’s first-ever request for proposals for Nutrition Security for Indigenous Youth. The foundation will award grants of $20,000 to $50,000 to support organizations that build on the strengths of Native communities to enhance nutrition security for Native youth. Learn more here, and join Newman’s Own Foundation for a live information session next Thursday, August 4, 2022. Register here.

What We’re Reading: Radical Economics, Centering Indigenous Knowledge

A new series published by Nonprofit Quarterly in partnership with Common Future, explores economic justice, challenging conventional narratives and exploring new ways to think about the economy and who owns it. In the last article in the series, Vanessa Roanhorse underscores the need to articulate new economic models that depict the wisdom and creativity of Indigenous people “on our terms.”

“We want the connectedness that comes from leaning on—and being able to provide for—your community. We desire the wealth that comes from health and wholeness and a sense of commonality and collective mindsets. But the ultimate goal is not endless growth—it is to be free and unapologetically Indigenous,” she writes. Read the full article here.


Meet Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Jennifer Malone

Jennifer Malone (Wukchumni, part of the broader Yokut Tribe of California) is a 2021 Luce Indigenous Knowledge fellow and a self-described “language weaver.” An active board member of the California Indian Basketweavers’ Association, Malone is using the traditional art of basketweaving to help save the endangered Wukchumni language in a tribe with fewer than 250 members.

Malone helped her mother, Marie Wilcox, compile the first Wukchumni dictionary. Wilcox is considered the last fluent Wukchumni speaker. The mother and daughter team worked on this project for more than 20 years. Their language revitalization efforts are documented in the New York Times short documentary, Who Speaks Wukchumni?

Through the Luce Fellowship, Malone continued her work creating a series of videos about the Wukchumni language, culture, and history to share with future generations. She is also working on a project to increase the number of Wukchumni teachers. Read her uplifting story here.

Challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act and Tribal Sovereignty

Child and family advocates are invited to join a conversational webinar August 11, 2022, with Dr. Sarah Kastelic (Alutiiq), executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. Dr. Kastelic will review how the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) keeps Native children connected to the people and places they come from, why opponents of ICWA are seeking to dismantle tribal rights, and what we can all do today to stand up for the rights of Native children and families and protect tribal sovereignty. Learn more and register here.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Awarded $1.1M Grant to Revive Aquaculture Business

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will use $1.1 million in federal funding to restore its aquaculture business, First Light Farms, which was negatively impacted by COVID-19, according to Tribal Business News. The tribe launched the shellfish farm in 2009 to improve water quality through oyster propagation, but had to lay off workers during the pandemic and large populations of shellfish died.

“It is a great blessing to rejuvenate and give the tribe some economic resources to get this off of the ground,” said Carlton Hendricks, tribal vice chairman.

Photo credit Tribal Business News

The Right-Wing Supreme Court Has Another Target: Native American Rights

In an opinion piece in The Guardian, Native writer Nick Estes (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe) discusses how the recent SCOTUS ruling in Oklahoma v Castro-Huerta could set a dangerous precedent in Indian Country. In a 5-4 decision, the high court ruled that state governments have the right to prosecute non-Natives for crimes committed against Natives on tribal lands. Estes takes readers through previous SCOTUS rulings siding with Natives, such as United States v Kagama in 1886, which warned that states are the “deadliest enemies” of Native nations. Read more.

Photo credit Samuel Corum/AFP/Getty Images

Indigenous Representation Lacking on U.S. Corporate Boards

Corporate boardrooms in this country could use more Native executives, according to U.S. News & World Report. American Indians and Alaska Natives represent far less than one-tenth of 1% on the boards of 4,000 companies traded on Wall Street, but several companies have acknowledged the lack of board diversity and have updated hiring practices. Mary Smith (Cherokee Nation), who sits on the PTC Therapeutics board, says, “I would love to see more Native Americans on boards. I hope that some people would start to say, ‘Yeah, I could do that.’”