This Week at First Nations: September 1, 2023

New Resources, Training, and Funding Now Available Through USDA Forest Service

Healthy forest land supports community well-being and helps protect ecological and cultural resources. With funding from the USDA Forest Service, First Nations is investing in tribal entities by providing technical assistance and Capacity Support Grants to those interested in applying for the USDA’s Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program or the Landscape Scale Restoration Program, or both. Native-led organizations seeking to create or improve opportunities for land conservation, economic pursuits, and education through community forests are encouraged to learn more and contact First Nations.

People of Red Mountain Commemorate Massacre, Continue Lithium Mine Protests

On Sept. 9, 2023, People of Red Mountain, a First Nations community partner, will host the 3rd annual commemoration of the 1865 massacres of Paiute elders, women, and children at Thacker Pass, Nevada, known as Peehee Mu’huh. This sacred site is ground zero for ongoing protests over the construction of a lithium mine, already in progress.

With support through First Nations’ Supporting Indigenous-Led Environmental Justice project, People of Red Mountain ― a grassroots group of Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribal members ― have raised awareness about the desecration of this sacred landscape, home to over 1,000 cultural sites, via billboards, yard signs, t-shirts, newsletters, and community events, such as the upcoming commemoration. Read First Nations’ impact story here.

More First Nations Trainings Take Place, Advancing Ecological Stewardship

Last month, participants from Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Dakota traveled to Albuquerque for First Nations’ Conservation Planning Train-the-Trainer Workshop at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI). During the 1.5-day workshop, attendees received training on First Nations’ Conservation Planning Guide for Native American Ranchers and corresponding curriculum. They also received tools and resources to implement conservation practices on their own land and teach community members how to develop and implement their own conservation plans. This training will help advance ecological stewardship efforts across Indian Country. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Strings Attached: Philanthropy and BIPOC Organizations

The social awakening that happened after the pandemic and the death of George Floyd sparked an uptick in revenue for racial equity causes, but questions remain about how much philanthropic support actually went to BIPOC-led organizations. In this recent article, First Nations’ President and CEO Mike Roberts explains how the spikes and bumps in revenue were more of an anomaly, rather than a changing mindset or trend, as many grants received during this period were one-time gifts. Further, structural racism continues to be a barrier faced by community organizations and nonprofits run by BIPOC leaders when they try to access funds. “People who control the money and people who need the money look different and there’s no way they naturally come into a community with one another,” he said. Read the full article here.

What We’re Watching: Supporting Ancestral Stewardship Through Pomo Basket Weaving

Redbud Resource Group, a community partner through First Nations’ California Tribal Fund’s Access to Ancestral Lands project, shared their recent roundtable discussion, “Reclaiming Sovereignty Through Cultural Revitalization.” In the video, Rose Hammock of Redbud Resource Group talks with Pomo basket weavers and esteemed knowledge bearers, Martina Morgan and Meyo Marrufo, about how land access for Pomo basket weavers in Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino Counties plays a mutually beneficial role in supporting ancestral stewardship practices while bringing awareness and improvement to the well-being of the environment. The discussion also explores how one can be an ally in supporting tribal cultural revitalization efforts within Native communities. Watch the video here.

Forest Service Announces New Funding Opportunity

The USDA Forest Service is sharing the first competitive funding opportunity through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for Forest Landowner Support programs. This funding opportunity is the first in a series of competitive funding opportunities tied to IRA Forest Landowner Support. Tribal lands held in trust are eligible to apply, and an application assistance webinar will be held September 7, 2023, at 1 pm MT. Tribal leaders, grant departments, and land program managers are encouraged to attend and ask questions. A related funding announcement that will be exclusive to Tribes and Tribal organizations will be released in the coming months. 

Smithsonian Apologizing for How It Amassed Its Vast Collection of Human Remains

CNN reports that the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Lonnie G. Bunch III, addressed how the institution amassed the remains of thousands of body parts during the first half of the 20th century — “taken largely from Black and Indigenous people, as well as other people of color, and mostly without their consent.” Bunch’s address and apology on behalf of the Smithsonian came after a Washington Post investigation that found the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is in possession of at least 30,700 human body parts, most of which were collected as part of efforts to advance racist theories. Read more.

Photo credit CNN, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images