California’s tribal communities face unique challenges. The history of California colonization is wrought with extractive industry from gold to oil that outpaced any other part of the continental United States. Much of California’s Native history has been kept secret and hidden from national consciousness. This history, along with missions, enslavement, and genocide, resulted in spread of disease and rapid environmental degradation. Further, this trauma imposed on California Native communities has spanned generations and has led to long-term losses in people, health (environmental and human) land, and culture.
Adding to this, research indicates that — in keeping with national data on philanthropic gifts to Native causes — giving in California is disproportionate to Native Peoples’ needs. Only .01% of foundation giving goes to Native communities and causes in California, and yet California represents 12% of the total Native American population in the United States.
And, from 2010 to 2018, grants focused on Native Americans averaged around only $8,000, with 58% of grant dollars and 75% of total number of grants going to non-Native controlled organizations.
As part of First Nations’ overall mission to invest in and create innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and communities, the California Tribal Fund addresses these two issues – both the unique circumstances of California Native communities and the lack of philanthropic support for California Native causes.