This Week at First Nations: November 10, 2023

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month with a Focus on Native Artists

As part of First Nations’ intensive examination of Native truth and justice, this week we again highlight artwork and artistic productions featured in our “Justice Through the Eyes of Native Artists” virtual gallery.

This week, we showcase Zoe Urness (Tlingit Alaskan Native and Cherokee) whose photo represents the endurance and power of people coming together for one common goal ― justice to the people and the land. 

Also featured is the artwork of feminist, painter, writer, organizer, and leader in environmental justice Jihan Gearon (Diné), which encourages viewers to see beauty and feel hope, rather than uncertainty and fear in the face of destruction and demolition.

Step into the gallery and watch for more highlights during Native American Heritage Month.

First Nations’ Board Chair Accepts CU Boulder Position for Native American Affairs

First Nations is proud to announce that Chairman of the Board of Directors Benny Shendo, Jr. (Jemez Pueblo) has been appointed as the first-ever Associate Vice Chancellor for Native American Affairs for the University of Colorado at Boulder. In a press release issued by the school, Shendo says, “I cannot wait to get started in this new role at CU Boulder to strengthen our relationships with the tribes of Colorado and those historically connected to Colorado and to build a strong, supportive Native American community on campus for our students, faculty and staff,” said Shendo. Read the release here.

First Nations congratulates Benny on this new role and is honored to have this esteemed colleague leading our board and continuing to inspire our staff and partners.

Investing in Climate Solutions by Amplifying Native Voices

In an interview for Comcast Newsmakers released this week, First Nations President and CEO Michael Roberts reflects on the need for tribal-led and tribal community-led approaches to the climate crises, including those supported through First Nations’ Tribal Lands Conservation Fund (TLC Fund). Mike asserts, “What we bring (to climate conversations), as Indigenous peoples, as Native people in the United States, is very old technology, very old practice, that we have shown to be effective in stewarding the natural environment in which we live.” Access the full interview here.

In Case You Missed It: Download First Nations’ Annual Report

First Nations’ 2022 Annual Report was released last week. In addition to messages from First Nations’ President and CEO Michael Roberts and Board Chair Benny Shendo, Jr., the report features artwork by Christopher Sweet, a Ho-Chunk/White Earth Ojibwe artist and muralist, which was inspired by Indigenous ceremonial practices of cleansing, reflection, song, dance, and community. The report also includes highlights of the year, descriptions of grant projects achieved by our 2022 grantees, and updates and stories on First Nations’ programs and community partners.

Download the 2022 Annual Report here.

Building Economic Justice for the Future by Learning from the Past

Reflecting on the article she wrote as part of The Nonprofit Quarterly’s series on Remaking the Economy: Movement Economies, First Nations’ A-dae Romero-Briones describes how addressing economic justice must begin with a common thread that brings people together. In a webinar excerpt shared this week by NPQ, A-dae says, “When we get to the point where we feel like our economy is enough of a threat to all our communities, I feel like there’ll be a massive response.” Watch the full video clip here.

A Look at Native Justice at the Local and National Levels: Week 4

In our ongoing exploration of how 16 Native thought leaders define Native justice, this week’s essay installment examines Native justice at the local and national levels. 

Jennifer Denetdale reminds us that “we are on Indigenous lands wherever we go in the Americas,” and we must develop methods and strategies to respond to Indigenous injustice regardless of where it occurs. Sheryl Lightfoot focuses on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world. And in “Economic Justice in Indian Country,” Andrew Curley discusses the various strategies tribes have employed over the years to sustain their governments and economies.

Read the next installment and all the essays here.

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Webinar Next Week

In a webinar Thursday, November 16, 2023, at 10:30 am Mountain Time, members from the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) will discuss Aanji bimaadiziimagak o’ow aki, the second version of the GLIFWC Vulnerability Assessment. Presented by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEMP) and GLIFWC, the webinar will provide information on the assessment, including an explanation of treaty rights and the origins and goals of the GLIFWC Climate Change Program and the projected climate change impacts to the Ceded Territories on cultural practices. Learn more and register here.

The webinar is presented with support through First Nations’ Advancing Native Ecological Stewardship project.

U.S. Patent Office Launches Formal Tribal Consultation to Safeguard Indigenous Resources

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has announced a formal tribal consultation to protect tribal cultural resources, including genetic resources, cultural expressions, and traditional knowledge, writes Tribal Business News. Both the National Congress for American Indians (NCAI) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) applauded the decision to open a formal consultation, with NARF staff attorney noting that now the concern will be to ensure the consultation is meaningful and impactful. Webinars for federally recognized tribal nations and their proxies to provide input will be held in January 2024. Learn more.