This Week at First Nations: September 8, 2023

Advancing Native Food Sovereignty in New Mexico Through Water Conservation

Several New Mexico organizations, including First Nations’ community partner Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, are partnering to promote rain harvesting and other traditional practices to tackle food security and advance Native food sovereignty. A feature story by First Nations’ supporter Pew Charitable Trust highlights how ZYEP engages youth in gardening and water conservation activities, passing down traditional knowledge. It also shares how their projects and insights have contributed to three First Nations’ publications on food security and sovereignty from the perspective of Indigenous people. Read more.

How to Protect Elders in Native Communities From Financial Exploitation

First Nations’ Financial Consultant Shawn Spruce will join fellow webinar panelists to discuss ways to protect elders from financial exploitation through crimes such as grandparent scams, as well as share tips on financial caregiving and elder protection resources specifically created for Native communities. The webinar is presented by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Native American Elder Justice Initiative, and will be held September 18, 2023, from 1 to 2:30 pm Mountain Time. Learn more and register here.

Reminder: 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.

Green 2.0 Launches Environmental Experts of Color Database

In a webinar on September 14, 2023, at 11 am Mountain Time, Green 2.0 will launch the Environmental Experts of Color Database, designed to address the lack of diversity in experts providing testimony in the policymaking process nationally and locally. The webinar will feature key experts and policymakers on practices and policies that build a more inclusive set of experts in the environmental sector. Learn more and register here.

Native American Children Have Been Sent to More Indigenous Boarding Schools Than Previously Reported

Last year, the Department of Interior reported that the federal government ran or supported 408 boarding schools that forced Native American children to assimilate into white society. Now, the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition has released a new list of Indigenous boarding schools that brings this number to 523. The additional 115 schools were identified after widening the criteria for dates of operation and not just limiting the list to schools supported by the US federal government. Read more.

Photo credit CNN National Archives via AP

Upper Sioux Agency State Park to be Returned to Minnesota Tribe

The state of Minnesota is returning the Upper Sioux Agency State Park to the Dakota people. While the transfer is not set to be completed until 2033, it will be the first time the state transfers a state park to a Native American community, reports KARE11. The park spans more than 2 square acres and contains ruins of a federal complex where supplies for Dakota people were withheld, resulting in starvation and deaths. Read more.

Photo credit AP/Trisha Ahmed

Free Financial Coaching Available to Tribal Citizens

The Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition (ONAC), with support from the Wells Fargo Foundation, continues to offer three types of free financial coaching to tribal citizens, including credit counseling, homebuyer education, and financial management, as well as confidential sessions for one-on-one counseling. This financial coaching is now open to not only ONAC program participants, but also all American Indian or Alaska Native citizens throughout the United States. To learn more and get started, fill out the form here.