Building Indigenous Power in Philanthropy


Land Defenders in the Black Hills, July 3, 2020. (Photo by Willi White)

We’ve seen the research. The fraction of philanthropic assist that reaches Indian Nation and Indigenous-led organizations has remained largely unchanged for many years, whereas institutional philanthropy has come to rely closely on non-Indigenous-led organizations or intermediaries to hold out their priorities and techniques. However when priorities and techniques don’t emerge from the group and are implanted from the skin, we will discover that philanthropic establishments are advancing their very own pursuits whereas remaining comfortably distant from (and solely loosely accountable to) Indigenous Peoples and communities, forgoing any deeper understanding of or respect for tribal sovereignty. Certainly, many philanthropists think about the matter “too advanced,” an insufficient and unserious strategy, particularly when in comparison with the multitude of federal and philanthropic laws that should be navigated by Indigenous Peoples and tribes working to develop their communities.  

Through the years, I’ve labored inside and throughout the nonprofit, tribal, and philanthropic arenas. I’ve been a paid employees or marketing consultant for foundations each giant and small. I’ve served on numerous Native American advisory boards. All of this has been invaluable work. It has been essential work. But the operative phrase right here is “advisory.” These boards are the place and alternative to advise predominantly Euro-American-led establishment(s) on find out how to finest serve Indigenous Peoples. These roles sometimes fall wanting sharing precise decision-making energy, or of assuming the function of board member or senior chief.

Decolonization and Radical Indigenous Futures

Decolonization and Radical Indigenous Futures

This sequence, offered in partnership between NDN Collective and SSIR, will discover the numerous methods Indigenous individuals are working to efficiently resolve points that profit their communities and, in the end, all of us.

Most nonprofit growth, fund growth, and fundraising curricula espouse range, fairness, and inclusion (DEI) in nonprofit boards, however whereas donors typically use DEI as a lens to evaluate finest practices amongst nonprofit organizations, that doesn’t imply they flip the identical lens on their very own establishments and practices. Equally, standard nonprofit and fund growth coaching encourages the presence and inclusion of monetary experience and wealth on boards of administrators, which regularly implies the seating of a non-Indigenous ally who then shares decision-making. Non-Indigenous allies then share decision-making energy over how Indigenous communities are served, resourced, or impacted.

Nevertheless, the reverse will not be the case in institutional philanthropy, even the place Indigenous individuals with lived expertise, observe knowledge, data, related experience, and {qualifications} can and will share decision-making energy over the huge abundance of philanthropic sources. This decision-making and energy imbalance is on the core of institutional and structural racism, perpetuating a obvious double-standard.

When most philanthropic leaders ask what systemic racism is, they will look to their very own organizational buildings and the place decision-making authority is centered. After we converse of methods of white supremacy, it’s not solely the presence and proliferation of home terrorist teams such because the Ku Klux Klan and different extremists. Philanthropy and the nonprofit industrial advanced are nonetheless rooted in Andrew Carnegie’s The Gospel of Wealth, a mannequin of “charitable giving” nonetheless premised on rich white of us making selections on what advantages poor individuals and folks of shade. However the monetary wealth upon which institutional philanthropy is constructed is drawn from the exploitation and marginalization of the lands, sources, and our bodies of Indigenous individuals and different individuals of shade. Even when the sector strives to “do good” or “make a distinction,” the presence of Indigenous individuals on the employees inside institutional philanthropy is uncommon, and their presence on boards of administrators is rarer nonetheless.

Regardless of the contradictions and disparities inside this sector, many people have devoted years to funder and donor training. But actual change within the stage of philanthropic funding in Indian Nation stays elusive. Indian Nation and Indigenous-led causes and organizations stay largely under-funded, under-capitalized, under-invested, and under-estimated. To be clear, the very premise of donor and funder training itself is a assemble of white supremacy since, as Carnegie believed it ought to, decision-making lies with rich white of us. And the philanthropic sector will proceed to uphold that assemble until vigorously challenged, dismantled, and rebuilt.

Because of this, whereas allies and advisors are essential in our work, it’s extra essential to assist and develop our personal Indigenous energy, management, and decision-making. If we don’t accomplish that, the hazard is that the organizations and efforts we’ve labored exhausting to construct over time will merely turn out to be mirrors or extensions of the very methods we need to change.

After we reference the land and belongings that have been amassed by philanthropists, we’re speaking about sources stolen by coercion and unscrupulous coverage and practices, as when the Common Allotment Act of 1887 (generally referred to as the Dawes Act) removed 90 million acres from Indian ownership or control. Continued federal mismanagement of the lands that remained would turn out to be the premise of the settlement ensuing from the Cobell v. Salazar lawsuit, which was determined in 2009 after 13 years of litigation, made potential by the braveness and foresight of Blackfeet heroine Eloise Cobell. However a whole system of wealth was constructed from Indigenous belongings, whose non-Indigenous beneficiaries now make selections on what is suitable and vital for our communities’ prosperity. That’s the definition of white privilege and that too wants to alter. 

The LANDBACK movement is predicated on our relationship with land and the reclamation of the land itself. A full rematriation/repatriation of wealth is critical, a full and full return of that wealth to Indigenous fingers, below Indigenous management. Something wanting that’s merely a marginal try at justice and fairness. Justice and fairness are nonetheless ideas that institutional philanthropy and the nonprofit sector battle to understand and operationalize. Their mission and values statements, land acknowledgments, niceties, and platitudes masks any actual substantial behavioral or procedural modifications.

Time’s up. We’re in transformative, revolutionary instances, each socially and environmentally. We’re not asking anymore. We’re not simply calling out, we’re calling in. Calling for a fuller understanding and reckoning of Indigenous energy and group self-determination. 

(Photo courtesy of NDN Collective)

The NDN Collective mission is to construct the collective energy of Indigenous Peoples, communities, and Nations to train our inherent proper to self-determination whereas fostering a world that’s constructed on a basis of justice and fairness for all individuals and the planet. As changemakers, we’re dedicated to dramatically growing philanthropic funding into Indigenous-led organizations and modeling a mindset of abundance. We combine tradition and ceremony into our work and acknowledge and pay respects to our elders and previous whereas taking management of our future. We imagine in, spend money on, and assist Indigenous self-determination, genius, and ingenuity, working towards sustainable options and the interconnectedness of all issues. Our grantmaking helps and advances these values and the next three core rules and techniques:

Defend | We should proceed to defend our individuals, communities, and nations in opposition to damaging useful resource extraction that toxins our individuals, pollutes our water, destroys our land, contributes to local weather change, and violates our human rights. Doing this by organizing our communities, making our voice heard, and using all kinds of ways is crucial in shifting the political and monetary methods which might be impacting our communities.

Develop | We should proceed to develop Indigenous communities in a regenerative and sustainable method primarily based on our values and connection to land, tradition, and identification. We have to meet the wants of the current technology with out compromising the power of future generations to fulfill their very own wants. We’re doing this by regenerative group growth, renewable power investments, and social enterprise growth.

Decolonize | We should proceed to decolonize our minds, communities, and sovereign nations. The decolonization of our communities and folks is immediately associated to our capability to prosper: By means of the revitalization of our Indigenous ceremonies, tradition, languages, and life methods, we’ll proceed to strengthen our identification and break away from the oppressive methods that disconnect us from attaining the therapeutic progress and connection to spirit that’s integral for us as Indigenous individuals.

In 2021, NDN Collective will provide Neighborhood Self-Dedication grant alternatives, meant to strengthen and leverage long-term monetary sustainability of Indigenous-led organizations, together with capital assist and investments. The sort of funding is not going to solely give Indigenous organizations the type of runway that has been lengthy understood as wholesome for startups and private-sector firms however might be transformative for community-based and grassroots organizations, together with those that are closest to the problems and the impression.

NDN’s grantmaking strategy is predicated on reciprocity and mutual support, which can embody thought partnership and capacity-building sources. Relationship is on the core of this strategy, encouraging systemic change by which the individuals most affected take duty for each other. It’s as much as the group to find out the steps for true self-determination, an strategy that encourages revolutionary, artistic, and free-thinking for long-term change. NDN additionally stays steadfast in its dedication to uphold and advance regenerative and earth-centered rules of group and financial growth. As a result of NDN’s dedication to a new and higher regular can be a part of group self-determination, resilience, and sustainability, NDN seeks to assist tribes, Indigenous Nations, communities, and organizations who’re additionally dedicated to extra revolutionary, sustainable options. NDN is deeply dedicated to supporting Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination that helps justice and fairness for individuals and the planet. These rules and the precept methods of Defend, Develop, Decolonize kind the lens by which relationships are developed.

Sizable grants and multi-year assist might be accessible to Indigenous-led organizations working within the protection, growth, and/or decolonization of Indigenous Peoples and the planet. This consists of tribes, First Nations, and Indigenous-led nonprofit organizations throughout Turtle Island and past, spanning North America and the post-colonial borders of the USA, Mexico, and Canada. NDN defines Indigenous-led as organizations or entities whose board or decision-making physique composition is one hundred pc Indigenous and whose employees composition is a minimum of 70 % Indigenous. (Initially, organizations with lower than that composition should still select to use, however it will likely be anticipated that plans for creating and empowering one hundred pc Indigenous management and decision-making are shared.)

Neighborhood Targeted

It’s essential to be aware of the overseas, colonial lens being utilized to group growth. We’re extraordinarily cautious about tutorial or philanthropic jargon associated to “scale” and “replication.” Neighborhood work is advanced. It’s nuanced. It’s homegrown. An efficient effort, initiative, or group in a single group might not be efficient in one other. To really honor group self-determination, every group’s efforts should be supported in their very own context, and in their very own distinctive means. This isn’t to say that invaluable insights and classes realized can’t be shared. However any software of these insights and classes realized should happen with considerate consideration of particular group situations, strengths, challenges, and relationships. Most significantly, the group tells us what finest aligns and matches with their intentions and priorities.

That is required of us as a result of we’re in revolutionary, transformative instances. We’ve already been known as to radically reimagine the long run. And our NDN Collective imaginative and prescient consists of all of us: 

United like by no means earlier than, we rise collectively—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the instruments wanted to turn out to be architects of our future. By means of a holistic strategy to infrastructure, funding, advocacy, motion constructing, and philanthropy, we’re fostering a world of justice and fairness for all individuals and the planet.

Mitakuye Owasin. We Are All Associated.

(Photo courtesy of NDN Collective)



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