A close up of a Native artists hands holding weaving a basket.
A closeup of a Native artists their art that features a collage of an ancestor.
Three Native American women singing on stage at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Our Mission

We honor and support the Collective Spirit of First Peoples artists and culture bearers. By supporting artists and culture bearers, First Peoples Fund helps Native communities heal and thrive. Collectively, we approach our work with rootedness, intuition, listening, humility and deep relationships.

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OUR WORK INCLUDES

Grants and Awards

We invest in the success and development of our FPF family of artists and culture bearers. Through financial grants and awards directly to artists and organizations, FPF supports the sustainability of their work and deepens their impact.

Mentorship and Training Programs

FPF offers coaching, training and technical assistance opportunities to artists to help strengthen their knowledge and capacity to thrive in their practice.  It is critical that artists and culture bearers have access to tools, mentors and professional development opportunities that help them achieve their goals.

Community and Youth Development Programs

Our community and youth development programs support Indigenous Arts Ecology by supporting young people beginning to explore and learn art and cultural expressions and supporting community members in learning and carrying on their art forms.  Through our programs, we work with community partners and local community members to teach cultural and entrepreneurial practices, deepen artistic and cultural identity and increase their access to financial resources in their communities.

National Research and Initiatives

First Peoples Fund initiates and conducts critical research projects to help advance knowledge and understanding of Native artists and culture bearers within the broader field.  Indigenous methods and approaches to artistic expression and practice are extremely valuable. However, the mainstream art sector has not historically embraced much of this knowledge and practice. We aim to further advance our Indigenous artists and culture bearers as national change makers, catalyzers of positive social change and essential knowledge holders for the world.

Key definitions

Culture Bearers

Culture Bearers are artist elders in their community who restore, reclaim and hold ancestral tribal knowledge and continue to practice and carry forward cultural art forms, beliefs and traditions. Their forms of expression quietly and selflessly sustain our ancestors' wisdom, beauty, and resilience in our contemporary lives. They help us heal our people, our communities, and Grandmother Earth. Their knowledge and ways of knowing are essential to understanding how to remain in balance and in relationship with all that is around us and in us.

Collective Spirit

Collective Spirit moves each of us to stand up and make a difference, to pass on ancestral knowledge and to extend a hand of generosity. Collective Spirit is a commitment to nuture our shared humanity and honor our connection to one another, the lands around us, those who came before us and the spirit of all things.

Rooted in the 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.

OUR GUIDING BELIEFS IN PRACTICE

We believe art and culture are essential to life.

Art and cultural expression connect Indigenous Peoples to our history, our relationship to Grandmother Earth and each other. At First Peoples Fund (FPF), we know art and culture are essential to life. Art embodies Native peoples’ understanding of who we are, where we come from and where we are going. Art also provides essential income and jobs to support economic resilience, particularly where little economic generation exists.

Each year, First Peoples Fund directly supports more than 1,000 Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists, culture bearers and young people. We support their ability to thrive boldly in their art and cultural expressions and to build economic resilience in their communities.

An essential part of our work involves honoring and supporting our Indigenous culture bearers. Culture bearers help equip our communities with the knowledge and inspiration to thrive collectively while staying true to our roots.

We center the inherent rights and cultural sovereignty of Indigenous peoples.

Supporting artists and culture bearers helps revitalize our communities' spiritual and cultural well-being and economic resilience. Since 1995, FPF has proudly supported Native communities in achieving healing, building strength, and feeling joy in ways that center our identities and cultures.

We are driven by the Collective Spirit, the commitment to nurture our shared humanity and honor our connection to one another, the lands around us and the spirit of all things. The Collective Spirit moves us to acknowledge our present, honor our past and the elders who came before us and consider our future generations in all that we do collectively. It is central to our work at FPF.

Our Research

Who We Are