NAP’s 2018 Philanthropy Institute

Save the Date!

12th Biennial Philanthropy Institute to take place June 13-15, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.

Moya-Smith: CNN’s ‘United Shades of America’ Passes the Mic to Natives, Which is Always the Right Thing to Do!

Tune in Sunday, May 14 (9 p.m. CST) to view Comedian W. Kamau Bell, the host of the “United Shades of America” on CNN discuss racism in the U.S. with a  focus on Native Americans in this episode.  Bell said it’s imperative that ‘we don’t forget to center Native Americans’ in discussions on racism in the U.S. 

I was sitting to coffee on May 10, in the middle of reading a nasty story, when I got a call from W. Kamau Bell, comedian and host of the piercing and poignant “United Shades of America” on CNN. Kamau and I have run into each other several times, once at the Democratic National Convention in Philly, and he towers over me like a sweet, chuckling oak tree. This time, though, I wanted to chat with him about his Native-focused episode, slated to air May 14 (10 p.m. ET/PT), and also just to shoot the shit because Kamau shoots shit, and he shoots shit well.

In this episode, Kamau visits Standing Rock, the now-gone Oceti Sakowin camp, with water protectors like Ojibwe attorney Tara Houska, actor Adam Beach, families on nearby Pine Ridge reservation, including one whose son had recently been a victim of gang violence.

I told Kamau that I’d been given a preview of the episode:

“I think it’s fuckin’ fantastic,” I said.

“Thank you, man,” he responded gleefully. “You don’t know how much that means to me.”

“The first question I wanted to ask is – Natives are typically overlooked in the mainstream and mainstream programs, especially when it comes to race – so, how did this episode come to be? Was somebody sitting around the table saying, ‘we should really talk about Natives’?”

“To me,” Kamau said, “when we started with the first season of ‘United Shades of America,’ you start to go, ‘well, this is a show where we talk to groups who aren’t being talked to enough or covered enough. And so from the first moments of the show, we were like, ‘we should do something with Native people,’ but even the fact that we approached it that way shows how little we knew. We were like, ‘something!’ So it revealed our ignorance … It’s the thing where it’s like if you talk about Muslims, it’s like, oh, yeah, Islamophobia (or) the Muslim ban. All those things are so covered you sort of know where the tension points are, and that’s where the show comes out of – the tension points. You can’t really pitch to CNN ‘something with Native people.’ They want a specific thing. So the second season comes around, and again we said, ‘we should do something.’ Then suddenly Standing Rock happens, and you’re just like ‘holy shit.’ And it sucks that it takes that, but nobody (at CNN) could deny that there was something to talk about.”

By this point in our chat I was seriously high on caffeine, vibrating like a cheap bed in a seedy middle America motel. I wasted no time in blurting the next question:

“What do you hope people will take away from this episode?” I asked.

“I know that for probably most people watching, an overwhelming majority – probably more than any other episode we’ll ever do – this is all new information,” he said. The Native episode isn’t meant to galvanize the closed-minded, stuck-in-their-way folks into action, prompting them to finally come to terms with what REALLY happened to Natives in this country, on this continent, Kamau added. Instead, he said, “I’m sort of going to the people who are already having these conversations. We need to make sure when we have conversations about America, America’s racism and white supremacy, that we don’t forget to center Native Americans in that conversation.”

We went on to talk about faux feather headdresses, playing Indian, people playing Indian in faux feather headdresses, and about the time musician Pharrell wore that mawkish headdress for the cover of Elle Magazine. (Pharrell quickly – and publicly – apologized after Natives took to Twitter and Facebook and hounded him with facts regarding the reality of cultural theft and misappropriation; he claimed he didn’t know he was participating in something so rotten and wrong.) So I asked Kamau:

“Was there anything (during filming) where you went, ‘holy shit, I did not know that?’”

“I really give Tara (Houska) a lot of credit for this. The conversation we had was probably one that I think about the most.” Kamau said Tara told him about police brutality in Indian country. That Natives are the demographic most likely to be killed by police. “That’s when I was like, ‘wait, wait, wait, what!? I believe you, but can you show me the statistics’? The fact that Natives, per capita, are affected by (police brutality) more and are not even in the conversation …” Kamau paused for a brief second. When he spoke again he admitted that this episode is the one he’s most nervous about in the second season. “It’s not like people can go, ‘OK, I’ll just watch the next hour-long program on Native Americans on mainstream cable television.” He said he wanted to do right by Natives, give them the mic as it were, “because it’s not my story,” he said. Kamau, in his booming, baritone voice, told me he knows full well that after this show airs, there won’t be another like it anytime soon … at least until the third season of ‘United Shades of America’ he hinted, adding that he knows there’s more to cover, more to film, more to learn.

“I know that the 43 minutes plus commercials is not the whole story,” he said, “that there was a lot of stuff that we got that we had to cut out because there’s only 43 minutes. We got great interviews on the Standing Rock reservation we had to cut out, and I also know that these are not the only two tribes in the country. I was trying to make sure that this (isn’t perceived) as thee Native American story. I just want to let people know that if the series continues past this season we will certainly go to other places and find more stories.”

I got off the phone with Kamau buzzing and rattling all over from the joe, feeling a little better about the state of Natives and the mainstream media, but still pretty damned depressed that Trump is president and that the Dakota Access Pipeline has already leaked oil into the soil in South Dakota. Hold on, I thought. Don’t stray into bad news. Not just yet. Ask Tara what she thought of the episode:

“Natives in mainstream media are a rarity. It’s refreshing and empowering to see indigenous voices featured, tearing down stereotypes and speaking from the heart on where we are today,” she said. “Kamau does not exploit, he provides space to speak for ourselves. In a single episode, his show breaks apart myths, educates, and inspires.”

Hear hear. I agree. Because although there is, today, a dearth of Natives represented in mainstream media, which is a sad state of affairs, for now, we must laud those who pass the mic and utter to a room full of non-Native producers and editors and writers, “we should do something with Native people.” Indeed. We should. A seat at the table. It’s coming.

Now, back to the shit show circus. The clowns. Watch yourselves. They bite.

Suicide Rates on The Rise; Native Americans Significantly Affected!

The violent crime rate in the United States may be at a historic low, but another form of violence is growing. Suicide rates have been increasing since 2000 after decades of decline, as documented in a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 1999 to 2015, approximately 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide, with 2015 being the deadliest year. And not all groups are suffering equally, as those in rural communities — especially white and Native Americans — are dealing with the highest suicide rates.

The CDC report, based on county-level mortality data between 2000 and 2015, reveals first a slow rising trend and then a noticeable spike around 2008. The researchers speculate that the financial crisis, which particularly devastated more rural communities, was a big part of the reason why, but other risks specific to rural areas include more poverty and social isolation, fewer mental health resources, and the prevalence of opioids.

Over this time, the CDC found that men are about four times likelier to commit suicide, and both Native Americans and whites are about two to three times more at risk than other groups. Children, also, are at about a third of the risk of adults. The suicide rate worsened in most categories by about 10 to 20 percent after 2008, with a lower rate of rise among black people, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Latinos.

The report suggests policies intended to counter the increased suicide risk, especially in rural communities. Building up better mental health infrastructure outside cities is one possibility, so people could get help earlier and health care professionals have a better chance of identifying who most need help. Rural, predominately white, and native communities may face a few unique factors, particularly physical isolation and increased distance from health care resources. But many of the biggest drivers of the increased risk are more or less universal, including economic hardship and the proliferation of drugs like opioids. Figuring out some way to deal with those problems would likely go a long way toward reversing this tragic trend.

Mar 18, 2017 at 10:36 AM ET

Shakopee Tribe Donates $100,000 to “Reclaiming Native Truth”!

Longmont, Colorado (February 9, 2017) – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) announced today a $100,000 donation to the Reclaiming Native Truth project that is co-managed by First Nations Development Institute and Echo Hawk Consulting, both based in Colorado. The gift is part of a package of new SMSC donations totaling more than $4 million for Native American causes in several states.

Reclaiming Native Truth is a groundbreaking project that will consolidate and build upon previous research efforts in order to create a long-term, Native-led movement that will positively transform the popular image of and narrative about Native Americans. From 2016-2018, the project team is working with an advisory committee of Native leaders, stakeholders, and racial equity experts and advocates to understand the underlying reasons for society’s negative and inaccurate perceptions of Native Americans. Based on this improved understanding, the project will have the tools necessary to build consensus around tackling this long-standing problem. It is expected that the project will lead to the creation of a national campaign to achieve greater awareness, respect and equality for Native peoples.

“Launching an unprecedented national project like Reclaiming Native Truth requires farsighted dedication from planners and funders. The SMSC’s donation shows a long-term commitment to improving the lives of Native Americans,” said Michael Roberts, co-director of Reclaiming Native Truth and president and CEO of First Nations Development Institute.

“There are so many needs across Indian Country, and this new financial support will go a long way toward improving the lives of many people, especially children and future generations,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig.

The SMSC has donated approximately $350 million to organizations and causes since 1992.

Today’s donation to the Reclaiming Native Truth project was made less than one month after making a $200,000 gift to fund living allowances for AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers working to improve Native nutrition, as part of the SMSC’s $5 million Seeds of Native Health campaign. It was the first time in VISTA’s history in which a tribe provided funding to deploy VISTA members nationally. In an editorial lauding the SMSC’s Seeds of Native Health campaign, the Star Tribune – Minnesota’s largest news outlet – called the tribe a “philanthropic force.”

Reclaiming Native Truth is co-directed by Crystal Echo Hawk, president and CEO of Echo Hawk Consulting.

Learn more about the Shakopee Tribe 

Indigenous Women Rise

Indigenous Women Rise:  

Women’s March on Washington

On Saturday, Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) joined the national Women’s March on Washington as part of the Indigenous Women Rise collective. The collective is comprised of: Advance Native Political Leadership, NAP, Native Voice Network, Native Voices Rising, National Indian Women’s Resource Center, UltraViolet, The Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas, North American Region, Indigenous Environmental Network, and other key organizations working to advance Indigenous Peoples issues and rights.

Many others joined in support online and walked in solidarity in D.C. and in 20 cities at sister marches across the country. Indigenous Women Rise even had a contingent in Peru representing at the Women’s March there!

You can read more about our involvement in the march in D.C. from the LA Times:

More Info:

Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples

The Foundation Center in cooperation with Native Americans in Philanthropy has published, “Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples”. This report covers three main areas including; Trends in Foundation Giving Benefiting Native Americans Through 2009,  A Call To Action: The Need For More Funding Benefiting Native Americans, and Native American and Foundation Priorities: Commonalities and Disconnects. To read the report, click on the link below.


Custom Training and Consulting Upon Request Bowman Performance Consulting

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