HONORING AND SUPPORTING THE COLLECTIVE SPIRIT OF FIRST PEOPLES ARTISTS AND CULTURE BEARERS FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS.

 

Our Mission

Founded in 1995, First Peoples Fund's mission is to honor and support the Collective Spirit® of First Peoples artists and culture bearers.

Collective Spirit® is that which moves each of us to stand up and make a difference, to pass on ancestral knowledge and simply extend a hand of generosity. First Peoples Fund recognizes the power of art and culture to bring about positive change in Native communities, beginning with individual artists and their families. 

Collective Spirit® Video

We strive to provide support and voice to creative Indigenous artists who share their inspiration, wisdom, knowledge and gifts with their communities. First Peoples Fund's grantmaking initiatives include the annual Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards, Artists in Business Leadership, Cultural Capital Fellowship, Our Nations’ Spaces, and Native Artist Economic Building Grants.

 

OUR VALUES

 Lauren Good Day (Arikara/Hidatsa/Blackfeet/Plains Cree)

Lauren Good Day (Arikara/Hidatsa/Blackfeet/Plains Cree)

Rooted in our traditional values of generosity, wisdom, respect, integrity, strength, fortitude and humility, First Peoples Fund sustains culture and cultivates entrepreneurial initiatives and community development programs for—and alongside—Native artists so that together we all celebrate a full, self-sustaining, artistic life.

My auntie taught me what she had learned from her grandmother. She gave me her songs, the rules about how to make things and the prayers that go along with them. These are things I hold really dear to me, they were handed down from my ancestors. First Peoples Fund helped me connect the dots from there. They let me see that artwork is something you can do as a career, something you can do to support your family. First Peoples Fund helped me make my dreams a reality.
— Lauren Good Day (Arikara/Hidatsa/Blackfeet/Plains Cree)

OUR research

2013 MARKET STUDY

Establishing a Creative Economy: Art as an Economic Engine in Native Communities reveals facts, insights and possibilities about Native arts and culture that have been overlooked for far too long. Based on market research conducted in Washington, Oregon, Montana and South Dakota, this report makes the case of Native arts as a strong and available economic force in Indian Country.

2018 REPORT                           

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Investing in the Indigenous Arts Ecology describes the results of First Peoples Fund’s strategic effort to work with artists and organizations in tribal communities to develop greater access to the critical resources artists need to succeed –– credit and capital, new markets, knowledge and training, informal networks, creative space and supplies. This report provides insight into how we, and others, can contribute to growing and thriving Indigenous arts ecosystems in communities across Indian country.


OUR FOUNDER

Jennifer Easton (1947-2017) founded First Peoples Fund in 1995 as a donor advised fund of the Tides Foundation to support Native artist-entrepreneurs and culture bearers. In 2003, the organization was established as a separate nonprofit headquartered in Rapid City, South Dakota. Since then, First Peoples Fund has leveraged Jennifer's initial investment to grow and thrive. We continue to build from her vision. 

Our way soothes and calms the senses and opens the path to the heart and soul, allowing love to flow out. I think our way is better. And that’s all I have to say about that.  :-) Jefi”
— Jennifer Easton following the 2010 Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards