Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

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Four years ago, ECFC launched a deep dive into racial equity with our members, shaped around  learning, practice and collective action to recognize and address deeply rooted biases and injustices that have historically affected communities of color.   In 2021,  ECFC established a joint working group with  Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) to center Indigenous early childhood issues, explore historical forces and policies that have impacted Native families and explore how philanthropy can partner with Native and Tribal communities.  The workgroup consists of over a dozen ECFC members, including Native funders and experts.

We are grateful for our partnership with NAP. Together we have:

  • Commissioned interviews with EC funders and Native EC leaders.¬† The findings, authored by Olivia Roanhorse and Lily Irvin-Vitela, offer rich feedback on building respectful relationships to elevate and honor the importance of culture and language in early childhood development and in strengthening and healing Indigenous communities.¬† See especially the recommendations for action beginning on page 22 in each report:¬† Lessons learned with Philanthropy,¬†and Lessons learned with Community.
  • Joined in a public-private partnership with the Administration for Children and Families’¬† Tribal Early Learning Initiative, which is supporting 8 Tribal Nations working to build cross-program partnerships to support young children and their families.

ECFC’s November Member Convening Focused on¬†Partnerships with Indigenous Communities

ECFC’s Steering Committee asked the ECFC-NAP indigenous Early Childhood Workgroup to bring their work to all ECFC members at our November 2023 Member Meeting.¬† ¬†Native leaders, organizations and community members joined us for deep (and sometimes emotional) discussions of the history and laws that have inflicted harm on Indigenous peoples in this country.¬† We discussed the rich cultural and linguistic diversity among the nearly 600 Federally recognized Tribes and many other Tribes recognized by States or seeking Federal recognition.¬† We explored the role of culture and language in healing trauma and strengthening Indigenous communities, and learned from programs and organizations in Indigenous communities that are flourishing through reclaiming language and culture with children and families.¬†¬†Want to learn more about our event, including links to the fabulous organizations who joined us?¬† We’d love to connect you to the programs doing fabulous work around the country.¬† Links and more are here:¬†¬†Learn More About our November Meeting on Indigenous Early Childhood Approaches.

Learn With Us

We acknowledge we still have a lot to learn and unlearn.¬† We are committed to taking accountability in the truth and reconciliation process and working to repair harm done by philanthropy and others that have profited from the resources of Indigenous lands and peoples. We are committed to helping funders explore how culture and language are important in all communities -not only Indigenous communities- and how elevating culture and language can build a better future. All funders are invited to engage with us around our Indigenous Early Childhood Work – even if you aren’t an ECFC member!

Commit to Personal Learning

There are 574 ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse federally recognized Tribes in the United States, distinct political entities whose inherent sovereignty predates the United States.1¬† There are hundreds more Tribes not federally recognized. More than 11 states have also recognized 60 tribes (although state tribal recognition does not confer the same benefits as federally recognized tribes; it acknowledges Tribal status within the state and their historical and cultural contributions).2¬† And, nearly seven out of every 10 American Indians and Alaska Natives‚ÄĒ2.8 million‚ÄĒlive in urban areas or in cities, and that number is growing.3

Learn more about Indigenous and Tribal communities

Celebrate Native Art, Culture and Contributions

  • Explore Together, from American Indian College Fund is a guide for Native Americans to celebrate their heritage. It provides resources to celebrate and learn more about Native culture through dance, food, reading, watching, listening, acknowledging the land, and continued learning from other Native organizations.
  • The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans -This online National Gallery of Art exhibition, curated by artist‚ÄĮJaune Quick-to-See Smith (Citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation), brings together works by an intergenerational group of nearly 50 living Native artists practicing across the United States.

Commit to Organizational Learning

  • Investing in Native Communities,¬†a joint Project of Native Americans in Philanthropy and Candid, provides resources for funders on Narrative Change, Investments in Action, and and other resources including collection of reports, case studies, news stories, and media.
  • Philanthropy Self-Assessment for Working with Tribal Communities, a tool developed by Native Americans in Philanthropy was designed to help funders determine where you are in your work with tribal communities, Native organizations, and Indigenous peoples, and to identify areas that can be strengthened as you move towards equity and effectiveness.¬† This assessment is meant to spark internal discussion and aid in your organization‚Äôs planning and visioning.

Photo credit: Photo by Jonas Geschke on Unsplash

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