Our Origin Story

In this section

While Indigenous peoples are the original philanthropists, the Native Americans in Philanthropy creation story began at the 1989 Council of Foundations conference.


At this national philanthropy convening of over 2,000 attendees, a small delegation representing Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander philanthropic professionals came together over a meal.

When they saw they could not fill a table of 10, they decided to follow the example set down by ABFE, Hispanics in Philanthropy, and other identity and community-focused groups who worked for greater visibility and representation within the philanthropic sector.

Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) were born.

This meeting came to be known as the “original table” and is a key historical reference point in the development of both Native Americans in Philanthropy and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) over 30 years ago.

Today, we are a vibrant network of Native leaders and Tribal Nations who are growing a movement that centers Indigenous values and our traditions of sharing knowledge, medicine, and resources.


Building Solidarity

As an organization, we are intentionally curating spaces of belonging so all people—especially Black, Indigenous and Brown people—feel seen, heard and appreciated. People communicate in the Indigenous languages they are most comfortable in, and they see their culture represented and uplifted. NAP intentionally listens and responds in the PSO space to be in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives, Gender Equity and in uplifting Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. We have extended networks and actively leverage relationships and resources to support movement building grassroots organizations.

Equity Statement

We acknowledge and uplift complex community stories that connect with and build trust among our Peoples.

Native Americans in Philanthropy proudly embodies the richly diverse cultures that make up Native American Peoples of what is now known as the United States, including peoples of North American Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian identities and descent.

Our Relatives and Relations

Native Americans in Philanthropy is made up of diverse Indigenous communities, Tribal Nations, and Native-led nonprofits across Indian Country. We intentionally engage with Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and provide platforms for communities to exercise leadership in driving the narratives of who they are and the strategy for how to achieve change. As the original philanthropists of this land, Indigenous Peoples view giving and reciprocity as moral responsibilities to support and sustain communities and ultimately maintain sovereignty and self-determination among Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities.

We are grateful to have a national platform to engage mainstream philanthropic funders with shared interests and to build relationships between funders and Native communities that transcend the current moment to change the landscape for good. 

There is no undoing of many of the traumas our communities have experienced due to colonization, but we can come together to understand, address, and take the journey of healing together. Philanthropy has a significant role to play:

  • First, as thoughtful citizens who are willing to learn about and reckon with painful histories.  

  • Second, as strategic change makers who recognize the connection between historical trauma and today’s funding priorities.

  • And third, as allies with resources who can generate meaningful action that restores power to Native communities.

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