November 2016 CEO Message

NAP CEO Sarah Eagle Heart

Dear Mitakuyapi (“Relatives” is a traditional greeting in the Lakota language),

Cante Waste ya Nape Ciyu zape ye (“I shake your hand with a good heart”). Native Americans in Philanthropy honors Native American Heritage Month by amplifying issues affecting Indigenous peoples and in this election month, we call attention to the fact that many of our issues are pre-election issues and post-election issues. We call upon philanthropy not to forget the most vulnerable communities. So this month, and always, we provide a platform to share our Native American cultures, traditions, and perspectives with the philanthropic sector. The ongoing struggles that Native people have faced in terms of sovereignty, sacred sites protection, and environmental rights seem to continually be a subject the general public remains largely uninformed about. And now after the recent election, fears around tribal support of sovereignty and tribal rights loom large for the tribal communities and as well as for many of our partners working around women’s and LGBTQ issues, while Standing Rock still stands in a vulnerable state and remains the catalyzer for Native youth. Already, we’re hearing about increased hate incidents affecting our people post-election.

So as we Stand with Standing Rock, we cannot ignore how the aftermath of the 2016 election has left many people within our communities afraid. We know that Natives Americans have endured a long history of racism and colonialism that has led to multi-generational, community historical trauma and this election has shown the escalation of racism and violence against our communities. We are collecting stories of these incidents so we can create supportive circles and begin to hold our elected officials accountable for all people, including the first peoples of this country. Please share this Post-Election Storytelling Circle with your networks, and especially any youth.

As many of our partners at foundations have begun to re-engage and support Standing Rock, Native Americans in Philanthropy is honored to walk with our relatives to understand how land, water, and sacred sites are an intrinsic part of our continued practices and beliefs. Last month, we held our first regional Generation Indigenous Convening in partnership with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) on October 17-21. We provided an Art of Reciprocity training, as well as highlighted the work of six tribal projects, visited Camp Oceti Sakowin, Sitting Bull College and SRST offices (see our recap). Being able to share the deep history of Standing Rock and issues surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline was a very meaningful experience that inspired ongoing Funder Strategy Calls. Funder Strategy Calls are designed for funders to share in a peer-to-peer setting to hear updates, share engagement from their foundation, as well as to utilize the expertise of NAP staff (sign up here).

Sharing the story of Standing Rock within the philanthropic sector has also been of vital importance. I was invited to attend the Executive Alliance for Boys and Men of Color in St. Louis on November 3rd to share my experience and work on the very same day that over 500 multi-faith clergies gathered at Standing Rock (over a dozen clergy were arrested). The decision to change the pipeline route is what the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. during his visit to Standing Rock noted as, “the ripest case of environmental racism seen in a long time,” Jackson continued, “Bismarck residents did not want their water threatened, so why is it OK for North Dakota to react with guns and tanks when Native Americans ask for the same right?”

I shared with Executive Alliance, this is a historic moment for Native American movement building – our Ferguson moment. It is one of the most urgent civil rights and racial justice issues of our time, not just for Indigenous peoples, but for all of us. Rooted in a legacy of broken treaties, lands stolen, desecrated sacred lands, forced relocation and subjected to the most number of racist policies designed to “kill the Indian, save the man”, such as the Indian Boarding Schools, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are standing up and saying enough is enough! The CEOs agreed and chose to stand with Standing Rock.

Executive Alliance for Boys and Men of Color Stand with Standing Rock

Executive Alliance for Boys and Men of Color Stand with Standing Rock

I am asking you to get involved for the long-term. Your actions as philanthropy can absolutely make a difference in how this plays out. We, as Native Americans in Philanthropy, call on you to stand with us in this dire moment–when you have the power to act–and for future generations. We cannot change this country’s difficult history with Native peoples, but we can do something to stand on the right side of justice today.

Lastly, thank you to those organizations who are Standing with Standing Rock. Thank you to Independent Sector who has allowed me to share the issues surrounding Standing Rock at their conference this week in Washington, DC.

Wopila,

Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO
Native Americans in Philanthropy

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