By Morning Star Gali, Northern California Regional Weaver, Native Americans in Philanthropy
On Tuesday April 18th, 2017, Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) hosted a regional #GenIndigenous event, held at Northern California Grantmakers in San Francisco. It was an honor to coordinate an event that highlighted innovative Native youth organizing. An initiative launched by President Obama in 2014, Generation Indigenous has transformed into a Native youth-focused movement and NAP continues on this work through Generation Indigenous webinars and regional convenings. These convenings are an opportunity to gather both Native youth organizers and funders. The Northern California Regional event accomplished its goal in supporting the cultivation of the next generation of Native leaders and to create a dialogue around increasing opportunities that will overall increase the betterment in the lives of Native youth.
Highlights of the event included a welcome blessing provided by Ras K’Dee of SNAG Magazine. Ras, of Pomo and African Descent, welcomed us in with traditional songs of his Pomo Heritage, that welcomed the renewed spring life and energy of the local land and peoples. A closing honor song was provided by Manny Lieras of the American Indian Child Resource Center.
Opening remarks were led by Lateefah Simon, President of Akonadi Foundation. Lateefah spoke to the theme of holding philanthropy accountable. In her 9 months as the Akonadi Foundation President, Lateefah found that only 9% of Akonadi’s funding went to Native programs in Oakland over a 15 year period. Lateefah recently commissioned artist Tom Greyeyes to design the 2017 racial justice poster design, “Let solidarity fall on everyone like rain”. Posters were distributed to event participants and can be ordered through Akonadi Foundation’s website here.
Partner presentations were also provided by George Galvis, Executive Director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice and Rosa Aqueel and Jordan Thierry of PolicyLink who provided an update on the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, along with Seth Henderson presenting on the National work with My Brothers Keeper Alliance.
CEO Sarah Eagle Heart presented NAP’s research report, The Indigenous Lifecourse: Strengthening the health and well-being of Native youth. This research highlights and reinforces the strengths of the indigenous worldview, as well as the risks and drawbacks for Native youth today. She also spoke to barriers for funding include inaccurate history in educational systems in the United States and need for funders to invest time in learning the cultural context of the communities they are serving. You can download the full report here.
Lightning Presentations included:
- Dahlton Brown presented on the successes that Native Education Raising Dedicated Students (NERDS) has accomplished in getting California Tribal students college ready with their mission statement, “For the youth, by the Youth”. NERDS has also been instrumental in the passage of AB30, which as of 2017 will ban the R word from being used in California public schools sports teams and mascots.
- Bioneers Indigeneity Program Director Alexis Bunten presented on the partnership created with the San Francisco Title VII Indian Education Program and the launch of the social media page, BioWarriors.
- United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY), Inc./Today’s Native Leaders presentation was given by Lynnann Yazzie, Project Coordinator. Lynnann presented on the Earth Ambassadors, Wellness Warriors, Unity FIRE, and Today’s Native Leaders that UNITY has been cultivating over the past 40 years.
- The Warrior Institute Director and Founder Joseph Marshall highlighted the healthy community initiatives which included a river rafting school program, and igniting a warrior spirit within Tribal Youth.
- Jayden Lim of the Tribal Youth Ambassadors Program with the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center presented on the success of the Tribal Youth Ambassador Program advancing skills for culture and community. Jayden spoke of her experiences centering her rich Pomo culture which has caused her to be able to combat the racism and stereotypes within public schools she and so many other Native youth have faced. The Tribal Youth Ambassadors has a cohort of 20 Youth Ambassadors and provides skills development for Native youth in a wide range of topics: Pomo language revitalization, multi media, leadership, public speaking, storytelling, Geographic Information Systems, business, microenterprise development and more.
- American Indian Child Resource Center presented on youth community gardening through the Preparing Oakland Native Youth (PONY) Program – Sovereign Seeds & Starts with Huichin Gardens. The youth of the program are learning about decolonization of diet through the Feast of Nations project.
Thank you to all the participants, partners, Storytellers who were able to join us for this convening and for helping to strengthen the relationships between traditional philanthropy and Native communities. It is our hope that in highlighting the work of these organizations that long standing relationships will be created and an increase investment in the Northern California and communities across the country. Our next regional convening will be held Friday, April 28th in Seattle, Washington for the Northwest Region.
Morning Star Gali Ajumawi band of Pit River is the Network Weaver for Northern California. She is also featured in a Native inspired design in Strong Families/Forward Together’s 2017 Mama’s Day Poster and E-Card series, “Mamahood is not one size fits all. All mamas deserve to be seen and honored in cards that reflect all the ways our families look” found at https://mamasday.org. Morning Star Gali can be reached at [email protected].