Highlights

IMMERSED IN LAKOTA TERRITORY

IMMERSED IN LAKOTA TERRITORY

A strong wind blew across the grasslands as we huddled together, sheltering between vehicles. It was a quiet moment for a group of 50, a time of silence as all gathered close and waited. We stood at the top of a hill near the Wounded Knee Cemetery and the site where a band of Lakota people were massacred in 1890.

We prepared for this time at the Lakota College Historical Center in Kyle where we viewed photos and heard the story of Wounded Knee. The time came to experience the place and feel the emotions.

FIRST PEOPLES FUND BOARD MEMBER Q&A SERIES — CARLTON TURNER

FIRST PEOPLES FUND BOARD MEMBER Q&A SERIES — CARLTON TURNER

Through this series, we highlight the extraordinary people who serve as First Peoples Fund’s board of directors. They are the culture bearers and leaders from national nonprofits within and beyond Indian Country who graciously guide First Peoples Fund and strengthen the Collective Spirit®.

Carlton Turner works across the country as a performing artist, arts advocate, policy shaper, lecturer, consultant, and facilitator. He is the Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS, a regional arts organization based in the South supporting artists working at the intersection of arts and social justice.

STORIES MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND

STORIES MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND

Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer and her mother Lynda Kay Sawyer, both tribal members of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, opened their filmmaking and creative writing class for young students at this summer’s Chickasaw Arts Academy with what seems like a simple question: “What’s the first thing you need to make a film?”

Actors, cameras, lights the students guessed.

“The answer,” Sarah explained, “is a good story.”

MEET THE NEW STORY TRACKER

MEET THE NEW STORY TRACKER

Becky Monnens, previously a program officer at The McKnight Foundation, returned to her home state of South Dakota a few years ago and worked with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation before recently filling the Story Tracker/Data Analyst role at First Peoples Fund. Becky brings an understanding of the value of data and stories to nonprofits, foundations and the field.

#KEEPPUSHING

#KEEPPUSHING

Going to ceremony, John Isaiah Pepion sits and watches the movements, the designs. Ideas turn over in his mind, coming up with the images he will use in his art.

A descendant of Mountain Chief, a Blackfeet leader, John does pictographic Plains art, incorporating traditional design elements into contemporary illustrations. 

ANCIENT TRADITIONS IN THE 21ST CENTURY

ANCIENT TRADITIONS IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Never forgetting the rights and rituals of intricate quillwork, Deborah Magee carries ancient traditions of her ancestors forward to the 21st century. She conducts every phase with respect and gratitude for those who perfected these techniques. “It was like I rediscovered my sense of tribal identity when I started doing traditional work,” Deborah said.

Bring the Noise

Bring the Noise

At the at the 20th Annual Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Festival in San Francisco earlier this month, there were three-minute poetry performances by 600 young poets from around the world that were all at once heart-breaking, angry, angst-ful, joyful, and hopeful. There was loud music, dancing, high fives and other expressions of love and support across the room before the bouts began. There were chants of  “You fly,” “Art not ego,” “Don’t be nice, be nasty,” and “Go poet,” along with finger snaps, “mmmmm’s” of approval and lots more loud music before, during and after the bouts.

THE MESSENGER

THE MESSENGER

Apartment cleared out and belongings packed into her “war pony,” Matika Wilbur (Swinomish/Tulalip) set out on an epic adventure to capture the tenacity, richness, and contemporary beauty of every tribe in the United States. “Matika” means “messenger” in her tribal language, and she is living up to her name through Project 562. Her goal is to photograph positive indigenous role models and shift the narrative in mass media from stereotypical to true representations of Native people today.

REFLECTING LIFE

REFLECTING LIFE

Some call it Native Americana. A master storyteller in music, Cary Morin (Crow/Assiniboine) weaves a tapestry of words, styles, and soul into an experience that brings life full circle. His sound is a product of every musician he’s worked with or listened to. He’s a musician with something to say, and he knows how to sing it with his gritty, lived-in voice and nimble yet soulful finger style acoustic guitar picking.

FIRST PEOPLES FUND BOARD MEMBERS Q&A SERIES — RON MARTINEZ LOOKING ELK

FIRST PEOPLES FUND BOARD MEMBERS Q&A SERIES — RON MARTINEZ LOOKING ELK

Through this series, we highlight the extraordinary people who serve as First Peoples Fund’s board of directors. They are the culture bearers and leaders from national nonprofits within and beyond Indian Country who graciously guide First Peoples Fund and strengthen the Collective Spirit®.

An international award winning artist, Ron Martinez Looking Elk is a traditional potter from Isleta and Taos Pueblos in New Mexico. A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, his expertise includes 20 years of community and leadership development, specializing in building sustainable economic development in Indigenous communities globally. Ron has worked and trained with Indigenous artists, leaders, and organizers from many countries including New Zealand, Japan, Greece, South Korea, Africa, Bolivia, Peru and with tribes throughout the U.S.