A Civilization Disrupted
Centuries of colonialism and destructive federal policies and actions have hurt Native American communities and accelerated the loss of tribal cultural traditions. The legacy of thriving indigenous peoples must be restored through greater investments in Indian Country.
Native American societies are sophisticated in social and economic structures, including kin relationships, child rearing practices, continental trade and philanthropy. Centuries of colonialism and genocide disrupted our traditions and communities, and intergenerational trauma and modern-day colonial practices still threaten the wellness and survival of Native youth and future generations.
81% of Native Men experience violence in their lifetime.
84% of Native Women experience violence in their lifetime.
Native children are overrepresented in the foster care system at more than 2.6 times the expected level
Native youth commit suicide at a rate that is 2.5 times the national average.
Native youth are 5 times more likely to be placed in the criminal justice system than white youth.
Helping Philanthropy Address Gaps
Philanthropic investments in Indian Country support community resilience and restoration. However, despite Native Americans accounting for nearly 2% (5.4 million) of the U.S. population, philanthropic funding for the population remains less than 0.5 percent of annual foundation grant dollars. Most philanthropic efforts to improve the lives of men and women of color overlook the distinctive needs of Native Americans. We need to do more.
Native Americans in Philanthropy’s Indigenous Lifecourse research identified seven protective factors for the optimal development of Native youth, families and communities: cultural connection and connectedness, family connectedness, community control, spirituality and ceremonies, extended kin bonds and networks, healthy traditional food and youth self-efficacy. The protective factors are based on long-held Native beliefs and traditions — Original Instructions — and are consistent with what Western knowledge is now catching up with through advances in brain science, child development and other fields. Returning to our Original Instructions will secure a healthy future for our future generations. Investment in actions that strengthen the protective factors will restore a sense of collectivism, responsibility and purpose to our communities and society, as a whole.
The current sociopolitical environment has heightened divisions, fostered uncertainty, and shifted funds and focus away from addressing our communities’ challenges. There is no more urgent time than now for us to connect across communities and issues.
Native Americans stand at the forefront of movement building. Our leadership on climate and environment justice and other issues demonstrates our resiliency and relentless commitment for a better world. We have to amplify our power to protect the gains we have made and continue progressing towards a better, more equitable future.