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This Week at First Nations: May 21, 2021

May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust Supports COVID-19 Relief for Native Communities

First Nations is honored to announce the receipt of a $300,000 grant from the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. The grant will be used over a two-year period to support the long-term sustainability and resiliency of Native American nonprofits, organizations, and tribes that have been serving their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with the priorities of the trust, funding will be targeted to Native American applicants who are or who serve adults and transitioning youth with disabilities, elders, foster youth, and veterans and military families, who are located in the western United States. Thank you, May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust – We value your support! Read the full press release here.


Are You Hesitant about Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine?

First Nations Community Partners and Grantees: We want to hear from you! First Nations is joining the African American Research Collaborative, National Association of Latino Elected Officials, and others in facilitating a survey to learn more about Native folks who may be hesitant to get vaccinated. Results are confidential and anonymous, and data will be used only for public health information. Please take the survey here.

Photo credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Peter Williams (Rasmuson Foundation)

Check in with Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Peter Williams

We’re happy to share news from artist and 2020 Fellow Peter Williams, who has had a busy spring.

Through June 26, Peter’s “Inherent Right” is the solo exhibition at the All My Relations Arts gallery, located along the American Indian Cultural Corridor in Minneapolis. Peter is also speaking on a panel today titled “Cultural Appreciation vs. Cultural Appropriation: A Conversation with Alaska Native Artists.” Look for the video here after May 21, 2021. Finally, his first-ever article, Furs & Futures, was published in the spring issue of First Alaskans magazine.

Thank you, Peter, for sharing your amazing knowledge!


Hear More About GATHER!

First Nations’ film GATHER continues to draw audiences with its message of reclaiming and restoring Native food systems and growing the Native food sovereignty movement. To learn more about the film, tune in to this recorded  panel discussion hosted by the Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition. Hear from First Nations’ A-dae Romero-Briones (Cochiti/Kiowa) and film director Sanjay Rawal, as well as Elsie Dubray (Cheyenne River Sioux), who was featured in the film. Watch the event here.


In Case You Missed It: Updates for Native Youth Business Plan Competition

For the second year, the Native Youth Business Plan Competition is making it possible for Native youth to develop skills, cultivate new ideas, and connect with Native leaders for support in turning those ideas into businesses. Now, there is even more good news about this innovative competition:

* Extended deadline – Apply by June 1, 2021
* Travel scholarships – There will be $3,000 travel scholarships available for each of the 10 semifinalist teams
* Cash prizes – Cash awards will be given in each division: 1st place – $2,500, 2nd place – $1,250, 3rd place – $750

Learn more and apply!


Now Hiring in Resource Development, Programs, and Communications

Join the team at First Nations and help strengthen Native communities and economies. We are currently seeking talented professionals for multiple positions, including – new this week – a Communications Manager. Help write and edit a wide range of communications in line with First Nations’ vision and values, plus optimize our social and digital media strategies. Check out all the job postings here.


Meet Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Clarence Cruz

An elder, former elected tribal war chief, and traditional potter and educator from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo in New Mexico, Clarence Cruz (Ohkay Owingeh and Tewa) is among the first cohort of Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows.

Clarence is also an award-winning artist and tenure-track professor at the University of New Mexico.

One of Cruz’s more contemporary pieces: a raw unfired Tewa clay pot

Clarence has devoted his life to learning and understanding the past and present significance of Pueblo pottery. As an artist, he says he marries both traditional and western techniques, and enjoys sharing his knowledge worldwide.

Clarence says, “It is our duty to pass along our knowledge to future generations [similar to our] ancestors before us.” He observes: “Our ancestors fought so hard to have what we have, and gave so much. Now it’s our generation’s time to step up to the plate.”

In describing the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship, he adds, “It holds us to high standards – the same high standards our ancestors set for us. I believe it will help sustain our cultures and languages, and help us better understand who we are as Native people.” Read the full spotlight story here


First Nations’ Community Partner Named a Regional Cultural Treasure

American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) Arts Program is one of 10 arts organizations in Minnesota to be designated as a Regional Culture Treasure by the McKnight Foundation. The award honors organizations that have made a significant impact on the cultural landscape over decades and comes with a $500,000 unrestricted grant to be used over five years. AICHO reports, “We are thankful for the hard work that we collectively do to bring Indigenous arts – the first art of this land – into the forefront, into the light, and into the eyes, minds, and hearts of our communities.” Congratulations!


Protecting Native American Rights in Montana

The New York Times reports, “The American Civil Liberties Union and the Native American Rights Fund filed a lawsuit on Monday challenging two new election laws in Montana as unconstitutional infringements on Native Americans’ right to vote. … The lawsuit argues that the measures in Montana, where an estimated 6.5 percent of the population is Native American and district courts struck down another ballot collection restriction last year, are ‘part of a broader scheme’ to disenfranchise Native voters.” Read more.

Photo credit Victor J. Blue for The New York Times


Fresh Journeys Leadership Training Program: Call for Participants

The Center for Applied Human Ecology is offering an innovative training program for young leaders (under 45) in the New Mexico food system. The Fresh Journeys training program consists of a series of five workshops from June to August offering a select cohort of leaders the opportunity to enhance their communication skills and bridge organizational barriers that limit networking. Apply online here by Monday, May 31.