This Week at First Nations: October 27, 2023

Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows Convene in California

Members of Cohort 4 of First Nations’ Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship met in Oakland this month at the Intertribal Friendship House to share information, update each other on their projects, and discuss ways to continue learning as a group now that their fellowship term is coming to a close. Thank you, fellows, for a great meeting!

Learn more about the 2023 Cohort, and look for regular fellow profiles in This Week at First Nations and First Nations’ quarterly newsletter.

Registration Info Now Available for Application Support for USFS Landscape Scale Restoration and Community Forest Programs 

As highlighted last week, First Nations is providing technical assistance webinars for the Landscape Scale Restoration and Community Forest Programs. Presented in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, these webinars will offer application tips and address questions.

The webinar on the Landscape Scale Restoration Program will be November 2, 2023, 12 to 1:30 pm Mountain Time. Register here.

The webinar on the Community Forest Program will be November 7, 2023, 12 to 1:30 pm Mountain Time. Register here.

For more information contact Brett Treadway at btreadway@first​

Lynda Teller Pete Blanket Feature by Eighth Generation

The artistry of First Nations 2022 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Lynda Teller Pete is being featured by Eighth Generation with the release of the Spider Woman Throw Blanket. The design of the Spider Woman Throw Blanket is based on a manta, a wool textile that Navajo women commonly wove and wore as a draped blanket or wrap dress in the 1800s. Lynda is a celebrated Navajo weaver, textile artist, teacher, and author, and her blanket pays tribute to “Spider Woman,” whose teachings founded the Navajo/Diné weaving tradition. Read more.

California Tribes Celebrate Return of Land to the People

First Nations Community Partner Three Creeks Collective is celebrating the return of their land to Indigenous hands. A gathering on September 17 marked the official transition of Three Creeks to the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission. Tribal leaders and royalty, community members, the Three Creeks Collective core members and advisory committee, neighbors, and friends joined in singing, praying, feasting, and welcoming the people to the land again. Owen Valley Indian Water Commission is a community partner through First Nations’ Nourishing Native Foods & Health program, Native Fundraisers Community of Practice, and California Tribal Fund. This short video captures the event.

In Case You Missed It: New First Nations Guest Blog Post Published Last Week

“While Westerners have seen the ocean as a barrier to other land, we are an ocean people, as we found ways to connect our people across vast distances in ways that had not been developed before,” writes First Nations’ colleague and owner of Honua Consulting, Dr. Trisha Kehaulani Watson. In this First Nations Guest Blog Post, Dr. Watson talks of the goodness and connection of the ocean and how we never turn our back to its power. Read the blog post here.

Examining Native Justice: Next Installment of First Nations Essay Series 

First Nations convened 16 Native thought leaders to explore the question of “What is Native justice?” and share frameworks for achieving Native justice through the knowledge and traditions that have guided Indigenous people since time immemorial.

Continuing our Native Justice Essay Series are insights from Dr. Timothy Bowers Vasko, who discusses the Doctrine of Discovery, a legal and religious concept used to justify settler colonialism and the theft of Indigenous land. Also this week, Matthew L.M. Fletcher examines how the Michigan Anishinaabek have adapted and modified the American court system to reflect the Anishinaabe philosophy of Mino-Bimaadiziwin.

Read the next two essays here.

Meet Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Jessica Denny

First Nations’ 2022 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Jessica Denny grew up immersed in traditional Alaskan culture, including dog-mushing, salmon-cutting, and moosehide tanning. Now the 40-year-old mother of three is focused on “building up the fire” of the Ahtna language. With support through the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship, Denny aims to become an advanced Ahtna language speaker, scholar, and culture expert.

“I have a really strong desire in my heart to create something where we can use language to tie our people back to the land, to strengthen our connection to the land with the youth and younger generations, and at the same time, strengthen our focus on the Ahtna language,” she says.

Read more about her plans to help preserve her people’s official language.

USDA Funding Available to Expand Local Food Access – Applications Due January 12

The USDA seeks to award up to $12 million to expand access to local food in eligible schools. Applications are now being accepted for the Fiscal Year 2024 USDA Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant. Schools and school districts, CACFP and summer sponsors, Indian tribal organizations, state agencies, local agencies, non-profit organizations, and agricultural producers are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $100,000 in one of the five grant tracks.

State agencies, Indian tribal organizations, or other eligible organizations proposing projects that are multi-state or national in scope may apply for up to $500,000.

Applications are due January 12, 2024. Learn more in these two USDA-hosted webinars:

Wednesday, November 1, 2023, 3 pm Eastern: “Getting Familiar with the Fiscal Year 2024 Patrick Leahy Farm to School Request for Applications”

Thursday, November 2, 2023, 2 pm Eastern: “Getting your Grant Package Together”

Native Alaskans Fight for Subsistence Rights

As part of the three-day annual Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) convention held last week, delegates gathered to discuss critical issues of public policy and government, including Alaska Native rights to subsistence uses of fish and game, reports the Alaska Beacon. Recent population declines of salmon in the Kuskokwim River initiated state-wide action to advocate for the prioritization of Native Alaskans’ access to this primary subsistence harvest. Delegates introduced an Indigenous-focused resolution that demands congress strengthen federal law to “permanently protect the right of Alaska Native people to engage in subsistence fishing.” Current federal law protects subsistence harvests for rural Alaskan residents, but not Native Alaskan people specifically. Read more.