This Week at First Nations: November 19, 2021

Creating Space for Sharing Stories and Changing the Narrative

During Native American Heritage Month and as part of our ongoing “Lunch and Learn” series, First Nations was honored to have Kevin Gover, Under Secretary for Museums and Culture for the Smithsonian Institute, speak to our staff and supporters about the impact of problematic narratives of Native Americans in U.S. society. Kevin shared highlights from TEDx Talks – (Re)Making History: The Real Story is Bigger and Better and what he is doing now to help change false narratives surrounding the first thanksgiving and other myths Americans have been taught.

The perpetuation of myths, such as the vanishing Indian and the creation of the Pocahontas princess, make way for our true history to be erased and rewritten. Providing a platform for speakers such as Kevin creates an opportunity to talk about those hard truths. Thank you to Kevin for sparking these important conversations. Read more here!


Equality, Identity & Hope: America’s Indigenous People

Much of what Americans know about Indigenous Peoples is based on a romanticized past and invisible present. In a conversation about this finding featured at Comcast Newsmakers this week, First Nations’ Raymond Foxworth, PhD, joined Lycia Ortega Maddocks and Fawn Sharp to explore how Native Americans are represented in culture, education, and the media. Together, they discussed the need to create more accurate narratives and celebrate the inherent genius of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous knowledge. Watch the presentation here.


GATHER Film Spotlight on Elsie DuBray

As we continue to celebrate the recent availability of GATHER on Netflix, we shine a light on the First Nations’ Community Partners featured in the film, including Nephi Craig, Sammy Gensaw, Twila Cassadore, and Elsie DuBray, who was a high school senior at the time of filming. Her analysis of lipid structure in the meat of buffalo, which her family raises and harvests, took her to the Intel World Science Fair. Read more about Elsie here. 


Recognizing 23 Indigenous American Food Activists

To acknowledge and celebrate Native cultures, Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center compiled a list of Indigenous American food activists, including chefs, writers, and farmers, who are working to revitalize and promote Indigenous food and agricultural practices. Twila Cassadore, featured in the GATHER film, and First Nations’ A-dae Romero-Briones were both included. We join Hunter College in celebrating these food justice leaders!


First Nations Announces 31st Round of Funding for COVID-19 Response

Support from First Nations goes on to help Native communities in their COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Last week, we awarded another $165,000 in grants to 12 Native nations and organizations, bringing the total of funds awarded through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to $4,979,608.28. Native organizations that continue to experience the impact of COVID-19 are encouraged to contact First Nations at grantmaking@fir​​stnations.org.


Next Training for Financial Skills for Families

The next Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families Virtual Train-the-Trainer Workshop will be held December 7 and 8, 2021. This free two-day financial education certification workshop features in-depth instruction on the 5th Edition Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum with an emphasis on strategies and solutions for both virtual and in-person settings. Topics include spending plans and goal setting, credit reports, fraud awareness, and negotiating big-ticket purchases. Space is limited — Register here!


What We’re Reading: An Interview with Indigenous Chef Elena Terry

With Thanksgiving approaching, Indigenous Chef and founding board member of First Nations Community Partner Little Eagle Arts Foundation Elena Terry shares how she instead celebrates “Ho-Chunk Day,” a time for reclamation of Indigenous history, heritage, and space. Here she talks to HuffPost about Indigenous food and its role in creating, acquiring and building relationships for health and healing. Read the interview here.

Photo credit HuffPost/WildBearies/Isabella Carpella


Addressing the Trauma of Native American Boarding Schools

The Trust and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act is taking a much-needed step in addressing the harm done to Native American children and their legacies when they were forcibly taken from their families and placed in government-funded or church-run boarding and residential schools. At Independent Sector this week, Sarah Kastelic (Alutiiq), Executive Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, who served on the Advisory Committee for First Nations’ Reclaiming Native Truth project, weighs in on the importance of this act and the health and well-being of Native American families.


Researchers Identify 102 Students Who Died

In related news, this week The Guardian reports that researchers have identified more than 100 students who died at Genoa US Indian School in Nebraska, which was operated by the federal government between 1884 and 1934. According to the article, the search for the cemetery where many of the students are believed to be buried continues. Read the full article here.

Photo credit The Guardian, National Archives and Records Administration


Multi-Agency Initiative to Protect and Preserve Native Languages

Indianz.com reports the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Education, and Health and Human Services launched a new interagency initiative this week to “preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native languages.” The three agencies joined five others in signing a memorandum of agreement to further the Native American Languages Act of 1990 by establishing new goals and programs that support the protection and preservation of Native languages. Read the full article here.