Celebrating Year Two of the Indigenous Women’s Flow Fund

Jul 07, 2022

Welcome to the second year of a special participatory grantmaking journey, the Indigenous Women’s Flow Fund (IWFF). Through a process of deep trust and collective sharing, five multi-generational Indigenous women—representing Ho-Chunk, Diné/Tsétsêhéstâhese, Santeé Sioux, Raramuri, and Northern Arapaho—shaped this program throughout another year and moved $455,000 to 39 Indigenous grantees!

The Women’s Cohort made Flow Funding decisions by drawing upon their wisdom, depth of connection, and understanding of community change-makers who are often unseen by traditional philanthropy. During this second cycle, two significant themes emerged:

  • Activating rematriation – Honoring women’s traditional roles as gifters, caregivers and ceremony keepers
  • Pushing beyond colonial constructs – “Unlearning” modern philanthropic processes while uplifting ancestral giving practices to honor Indigenous values and wisdom

To learn more about their decision-making processes, and to read reflections about their experiences, check out our Year Two Storytelling Report.

The IWFF Donors and Donor Cohort represent a transformational approach to moving resources. The Donor Cohort, which runs in parallel to the Women’s Cohort, is an integral part of the ecosystem, forming their own learning community. If you are a donor interested in resourcing this program or joining the cohort, please be in touch.

Recipients of the funds are Indigenous groups and individuals cultivating their communities through work in food and land sovereignty, language revitalization, nourishment for women, girls, and two-spirit relatives, arts and culture, decolonization, and rematriation.

Each of the cohort members who make up the expanding IWFF ecosystem are deeply committed to discovering what is possible by shifting power to Indigenous women decision-makers, and moving resources to Indigenous groups and individuals who are often unseen by mainstream philanthropy.

Join us in celebrating the grantees and individuals the Women’s Cohort have chosen to honor in IWFF’s second year!

Brave Heart Society is a Native revived traditional Society that preserves and enhances the cultural identity of the Ihanktonwan Dakota of the Oceti Sakowin, or 7 Council Fires through community organizing skills with youth and other Indigenous groups, sharing culturally grounded best practices, collaborating across communities and advancing our impact towards cultural preservation, food sovereignty, health, environmental and racial justice.

Breath of My Heart Birthplace is a midwifery clinic and licensed birth center that works to improve access to quality prenatal care, and improve maternal and infant health outcomes in rural and frontier communities of northern New Mexico, serving families through a culturally-appropriate midwifery model of care.

The BMH midwifery clinic provides direct services in the Espanola valley, serving approximately 200 individual clients and approximately 400 people are served indirectly through family involvement. BMH centers Native American, Hispanic/Chicano, immigrant, LGBTQ and Young Parents in direct service. 65-80% of our clientele identify as women-of-color and 70-90% of our clients qualify as low-income in a given year.

We believe that by restoring the time-honored presence of Indigenous birthkeepers throughout life journeys, we can heal generations.  At the heart of health and wellness is a reclaiming that the ceremony of birth is about far more than a physical experience.  The growing and welcoming of a child is an opportunity to heal generations, to reclaim our languages, to introduce our first foods, and to connect to the gifts of our Indigenous healers.  Through educational programs, skill sharing, and more- we are committed to supporting Indigenous families and the Birthkeepers who serve them.  Mission: “Strengthening Indigenous communities by honoring & reclaiming Indigenous midwifery care & family support.” 

Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakičhiye (DIO) was created out of an international need for language materials to be implemented for language learning in the home, community and classroom. There are currently more second language learners than first speakers of Dakhóta. The coming generations need the Dakhóta language. DIO creates language materials and events that are designed to serve the existing seventeen Dakhóta nations located within five states, two Canadian provinces, the substantial urban community, as well as a growing amount of individual interest in learning to speak and revitalize the Dakhóta language.

The mission of Dream of Wild Health is to restore health and well-being in the Native community by recovering knowledge of and access to healthy Indigenous foods, medicines, and lifeways. We do this by: Creating culturally-based opportunities for youth employment, entrepreneurship and leadership; Increasing access to Indigenous foods through farm production, sales and distribution; and Community outreach and education around reclaiming cultural traditions, healthy indigenous food, cooking skills, and nutrition. Our programs serve over 12,500 people each year from our youngest community members to our oldest.

Located in Santa Clara Pueblo, Flowering Tree is working with health issues of native communities through the use of foods as medicine. Creating “The Pueblo Food Experience” project, we showed that eating our original pre-contact foods helped improve health in every area. From this study, we created a cookbook, presentations, short film, and helped another film called Return (centered around women leading health movements in Native country). We built a traditional women’s cooking house for traditional cooking, a place for women to gather, share, and have ceremony. Flowering Tree continues to work towards getting our original foods back into the community.

The Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation is a community-based, nonprofit organization that was created in 1990 by a group of local volunteers. Its mission is to collect and preserve the history of the Genoa U.S. Indian Industrial School and promote the heritage of the school, which was located in Genoa, Nebraska and operated from 1884 to 1934. In 1999, the Foundation purchased the school’s former manual training building from the city of Genoa and successfully advocated for it to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Foundation’s volunteers operate the building as a museum and interpretive center, which is open to the public, free of charge. The Foundation hopes to contribute to ongoing regional and national conversations about how each individual and community can contribute to public recognition of the history of U.S. federal boarding schools and move toward healing, justice, and reconciliation.

Wind River Grow Our 307 started during the wake of the pandemic in 2020. A small group of friends made a call to action in providing the Wind River Reservation community with garden supplies. To date, the organization is currently serving 225 community participants. These gardeners are provided the materials to be successful in learning how to garden. The organization’s motto is: “Learn as we go, Learn as we grow.” In helping to keep the community motivated in learning and growing, the nonprofit is documenting the process so that no one is left out in knowing how to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

Hearts Gathered is a Native-led organization serving the community near Omak, Washington, on the Colville Reservation by operating the Waterfall School. The school immerses children ages 3-12 in Okanogan Salish and utilizes the Montessori method in support of revitalizing our language and culture. We have two multi-age classrooms: the Primary Classroom serving children ages 3-6 and the Elementary Classroom serving children ages 6-12. We formed a new partnership with the Paschal Sherman Indian School and moved into their building this summer. This month, we began our 11th school year and have plans to serve infants and toddlers in the future.

Herring are sacred; all our relations celebrate and share in the bounty they bring to Lingít Aaní (Tlingit Country) and beyond. We are an Indigenous-led grassroots collective in Sheet’ká Kwáan (Sitka, Alaska) that organizes to protect the herring that sustain us all. We stand for Tribal Sovereignty and in support of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s decades-long fight for conservative management of the herring. From sharing harvests to standing in protest, to hosting elders, crafting gifts, or mobilizing public testimony, Herring Protectors are anyone and everyone who advocates for the herring.

Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE) Mission Statement: “We embrace the Pueblo teachings of love, respect and care, working together improving the life ways of our people in order to provide an enhanced and sustainable environment for generations to come.” Our work is addressing Environmental /Health issues of concern and Cultural Preservation/Reclamation Projects @ Santa Clara Pueblo and Tewa World Sacred Places. HOPE Headquarters is located at the Pueblo where we built a Women’s House to continue our women’s ceremonial practices along with traditional healing gatherings with our Spiritual Leaders. We also are co-founders of 4 coalitions that enhance our concerns.

The Indigenous Peoples Task Force strengthens the wellness of our community in a way that is based in indigenous values and ways of knowing. We were founded in 1987 to develop and implement culturally appropriate HIV education and direct services to the Native community in Minnesota. We know our community will not be completely well until all people have restored their relationships with each other and the earth. Our comprehensive approach defies categorization and includes:

  • Helping people live well with HIV and preventing further transmission of HIV
  • Using cultural arts to support our youth 
  • Returning to first medicines 
  • Healing all of life by healing the water 
  • Creating an urban sanctuary where body, mind, and spirit can become whole

All our programs are rooted in indigenous ways of knowing and the values of inclusiveness and respect for diversity. We welcome youth and adults of all backgrounds and are dedicated to being a good neighbor to our community. We are creating a vision of healing that will benefit all people and our mother earth.

Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC) continues to impact the wider world of Indigenous Education and Montessori Education. KCLC has proven that Education can be done differently. Standing on the shoulders of those who came before us, KCLC has contributed a key plank in the foundation of language revitalization and educational sovereignty. KCLC has established a curriculum and methods that have resulted in commitment and support from Cochiti Pueblo tribal leadership and the wider community. Keres language learning is always our most important goal, and we are always looking for ways to improve the ways we offer Keres.

MENDING THE SACRED HOOP works from a social change perspective to end violence against Native women and children while restoring the safety, sovereignty, and sacredness of Native women. We are committed to strengthening the voice and vision of Native peoples through grassroots efforts to restore the leadership of Native women.

For over 40 years, we have served American Indian youth in various innovative programs that are culturally grounded, participatory and fully engage youth in a self-directed path to holistic wellness and to success in education and employment. MIGIZI acts as a circle of support that nurtures the development of Native American youth in order to unleash their creativity and dreams – to benefit themselves, their families and community. In our Education, Leadership, and Culture goal areas we have programs such as Sacred Visions, Native Academy, and our Academic Support program that focuses on integrating cultural practices with academic studies that allows for a relatable and engaging time of learning. Working with our partners we provide engaging, interactive learning activities and a space to discover and develop youth secondary and post-secondary education, career pathways and a sense of belonging.

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Inc. (NIWRC) is a Native-led nonprofit organization dedicated to ending violence against Native women and children. NIWRC provides national leadership in ending gender-based violence in Tribal communities by lifting the collective voices of grassroots advocates and offering culturally grounded resources, technical assistance and training, and policy development to strengthen Tribal sovereignty. Our staff and board are Native women with extensive experience and commitment to ending violence against Native women and children. Staff bring decades of expertise in building the grassroots movement to increase tribal responses to domestic violence and increase safety for Native women.

Lissa Yellowbird-Chase is the founder of Sahnish Scouts, a citizen-led organization dedicated to finding justice for missing people and their families. The organization not only publicizes missing persons cases through social media, postering, and other creative strategies; it also works with families and communities to investigate disappearances when attention from law enforcement is lacking. Most importantly, Sahnish Scouts searches for the missing.

The organization got its start in the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota, when Yellowbird-Chase noticed that many oil workers had disappeared and their families were still struggling to find answers. As a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, whose home, the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, is at the center of the oilfields, Yellowbird-Chase provided an essential link between local communities and the families of the missing. More recently, she has focused her efforts on missing and murdered Indigenous women. She believes that citizen engagement in missing persons cases is essential, as it both encourages and compliments official search efforts and leads to better, successful investigations.

Yellowbird-Chase graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in criminal justice. She lives in White Shield with her two working dogs, Bah Doh and Gah Dah and works full-time educating others in searching for our indigenous relatives. In 2014, she was honored with the Arc of Justice Award from the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition.

We are the Lakholiyapi Wahohpi (Language Nest – full Lakota Immersion Montessori Preschool) and Wichakini Owayawa School (Lakota / English Bilingual Kindergarten-6 grade). We opened our doors in 2013 to the very first cohort of preschool students that received 100% of their education immersed in the Lakota Language and have continued to grow up to offer grades K-6 Elementary School and down to offer 3 month to 4-year-old daycare/preschool. Our classrooms are a blend of babies as young as 3 months old through elders 75 years and everything in between in our learning language environment.

Sunkawakan Ta Wounspe: Teachings from the Horse Nation is committed to preserving the teachings of our ancestors and nurturing the relationship between the horse nation and the people of Standing Rock. We come from a horse culture and are actively working on bringing horses back into the lives of our people. We often talk of the affects the Indian Wars, forced  assimilation, US federal Indian policy and boarding schools have had on our people but what we seemed to have forgotten was how traumatic the loss of the horse was to our ancestors.

We, Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, envision a liberated Lakota Nation through our language, lifeways, and spirituality. Our vision is inevitably tied to the language, lifeways, and the environment in which we raise our children. To be a liberated society means we are leaving behind those vestiges of colonization and allowing ourselves to be truly free. Our Lakota Language and Lifeways Initiative is a multigenerational effort designed to reclaim, revitalize and restore our Language and Lifeways through Indigenous Montessori Education, Adult Education, Curriculum Development, and ultimately our own authentic Lakota school design.

At our 10-acre farmstead on the Oneida Reservation, our goal is to serve as a place to host events where the community comes to learn about planting, growing, harvesting, seed keeping, food preparation, food storage, as well as making traditional tools and crafts. With these goals in mind, an Oneida faithkeeper named our property Ukwakhwa: Tsinu Niyukwayayʌthoslu (Our foods: Where we plant things). One of our current projects is building a certified kitchen to help the community have more access to indigenous foods and to build their skills and confidence to process their own foods.

Wicoi Wawokiya, Inc. was started by a grassroots group of people in 1982 and in 1985 a domestic violence shelter (Project Safe) was established for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The goal is to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation and surrounding area by implementing strategies that will increase awareness, provide safety, and assist in prevention. The objectives are (1) to provide and enhance trauma informed crisis on, counseling and advocacy; (2) to provide awareness activities for youth on the prevention of dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, sexting, trafficking, and domestic violence; (3) to expand the education of Wiconi staff and other agency service providers; (4) to promote community awareness on the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence and encourage youth and adults in establishing healthy lifestyles; (5) to integrate culturally appropriate practices in services to victims and their children from all agencies in the community; (6) to establish coordinated community response policies, protocols and procedures to enhance services; (7) to educate and train service providers on trauma, domestic violence and sexual assault, and (8) to improve organizational practices to improve services for individuals.

White Buffalo Recovery is a CARF accredited drug and alcohol prevention and recovery program operated through the Northern Arapaho Tribal health program, Wind River Family and Community Cares. White Buffalo Recovery operates a transitional house, intensive outpatient, outpatient and prevention programs, providing evidence based, culturally centered, healing and prevention resources for clients, their families and the communities within and neighboring the Wind River Reservation. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, White Buffalo Recovery has expanded its services to include working in concert with the Northern Arapaho Tribe and its tribal health program, to operate a temporary shelter and provide medical and support services for local indigent populations affected by the pandemic.

My name is Nate Etsitty, I am a Dine’ Food Sovereignty Warrior from the small community of Greasewood Springs, AZ. I teach Indigenous Permaculture from a Dine’ perspective. I have been working with my community to create a shared harvest food forest and strive to provide resources for community members who wish to develop their own backyard gardens. I also go beyond my community to further sustainability and self-reliance using indigenous permaculture techniques, healthy food demos, and other workshops. The Covid 19 Pandemic has made the need to localize healthy food and environments all the more evident and necessary. 

We are Redrum MC Isanti Dakota Prospective Chapter located on the Santee Sioux Nation. Our mission is to help communities in need, not only indigenous, but all in need. Our belief in peace, righteousness, and strength help us bring our communities together so we can address the many hardships that our people still continue to fight today. From helping with raising funds for homeless vets, bringing about awareness and raising funding for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), to bringing light to many hardships that need more awareness; these are just a few examples of what Redrum MC continues today and into the future.

My work as an artist and as an Indigenous Woman is about creating space for Native visibility and awareness of many Native issues. Specifically about the experiences of Indigenous women, girls, femmes, Trans and Two Spirits as we face violence in this settler colonial society. I work to tell the stories of who we are in our pain and also our joy, to celebrate Indigenous Women and Girls as we honor our matriarchs. My art is about changing the narrative of how Indigenous women are exploited and dehumanized, and to show that we are human beings that have many dimensions to our identities. My work is my unique lens of the world, it is self-reflection and appreciation of the beautiful individuals that have shaped my life. I seek to create safe spaces Indigenous Women, Girls, Trans, and Two Spirit kin to be fearlessly and unapologetically who they are with loving support.

(Image: Acrylic painting on canvas of my daughter sleeping, dreaming of a Decolonized future for her and all Indigenous Children.)

This past year, I started working with other people’s horses and participating in memorial and honoring rides. On these rides, I usually rode green broke horses to put some miles on them. I had to use the owner’s gear, since I did not own a horse or have riding equipment. I was honored for participating and given a couple horses by elders.

I also attempted to start a youth riding club in Santee. We had a couple of meetings but were unable to get it off the ground. Even though I wasn’t able to accomplish this, me and a small group of younger boys decided to ride together to become better horsemen and just have fun. Then this summer, I also began riding junior bulls. I really enjoy this and was able to borrow equipment. One of the younger boys went with me to a couple of rodeos and participated in steer riding. 

But, I have not given up on the idea of starting a youth riding club, I want to share with other kids in my community what it is to be a Dakota/Lakota horseman and bull rider.

My name is Garrett Nimmo and I’m an enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho tribe located on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Central Wyoming. I’m the owner and operator of Legacy Outfitters, an approved and licensed backcountry Outfitter on the Wind River Indian Reservation. We spend our summers taking non-enrolled members into some of the most remote country Wyoming has to offer for backcountry fishing trips via horseback. Horsemanship is a dying art, and after establishing this company we quickly realized that we needed to get our younger tribal members involved. The future of our reservation lies in the hands of our younger generation and I believe that it is important to instill and keep alive our horse culture, a strong work ethic, stewardship of our sacred land and conservation for our wildlife. I’ve done this by hiring enrolled tribal members that are in high-school and college and taking them back into our wilderness areas and teaching them the importance of our heritage and our land. I’m also teaching them about business and showing them that there are opportunities for them to branch off and to have the opportunity to start their own companies using our natural resources.

I’ve also done volunteer work at some of the local school districts on the reservation for different programs like heritage week. I’ve gone in and taught kids about things like archery and the huge impact that it had for our indigenous people, and that we wouldn’t be here without it. I’ve also talked to them about being stewards of the land and the importance of wildlife conservation. I also volunteer for non-profits, like the Muley Fanatic Foundation, which raises money for wildlife habitat improvement projects. I also work closely with the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service for the conservation for our fisheries here on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Hi my name is Julie Richards, I’m from Oglala Territory in so-called South Dakota, Pine Ridge Reservation. I started my grassroots program called Mothers Against Meth Alliance 9 years ago when my oldest daughter became addicted to Crystal Meth. I started out doing education and awareness with the youth, soon the jail, the schools and other programs began to invite me to speak about meth awareness. I do my own patrols every day in my community to help make it safe. I do the search party for our missing relatives on Pine Ridge, I do sex trafficking prevention and awareness. I go into the jails to do meth awareness with the prisoners, most are in there for either selling meth or for ingestion of meth. I fight against the man camps at pipelines because a lot of the meth and sex trafficking are connected to these camps of male workers. I am here to support the addicts soon as they express wanting to sober up. I go with them to get everything that needs to be done for treatment. I make sure to be available to the addicts and their families 24/7 in case they need to vent and need somebody to just sit and listen to them and encourage them to be strong and to let them know that I believe in them and that I’m here for them. We do a Christmas gift drive every year for the grandparents that are raising their grandchildren due to meth addiction.

I was raised in an agrarian community, and have always known that the food we grow is at the center of our culture and heritage. With the modern world pulling my people away from the community, growing our own food is becoming a scarce practice. The vision I have for my community is for every individual to attain the time needed to put our commitment towards the seed relatives and the land. I have been blessed with the responsibility to steward the seeds of my family and I will continue to provide safety for them, for as long as I am in this world. By showing an appreciation for our resources, I am also working toward bringing my community together again, through the seeds, and my journey has only begun.