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Earlier this month, Social Justice Fund and Potlatch Fund released a joint newsletter announcing the Native Led Organizing Grant, a grantmaking collaboration that supports Native-led community organizing throughout our overlapping five-state region. Our goal is to continue to work together collaboratively for greater impact, supporting the social justice efforts such as MMIWP, LGBTQIA2S+, Environmental Justice, Indian Child Welfare, Boarding School Healing, Mental Health and Wellness, and Voting Rights. We hope to continue on our path of trust-based, community-based, and collaborative grantmaking and are excited to announce our awardees. SJF and Potlatch Fund granted $300,000 to the following projects and organizations:

2022-2023 Native Led Organizing Grant Awardees
Carrying The Message’ MMIP Group
Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force
Enshxengiɢnan Wímałba: We are Teaching at the River
Blackhawk Singers
Nimiipuu Ecosystems Restoration, Inc

Potlatch Fund and Social Justice Fund began interviewing awardees at the beginning of the month about how they build community power, what they are proud of in their work and want to lift up, their vision for liberation and where they need support. Here are a few of their responses to date: 

Naknuwithlama Tichamna – Caretakers of the Land on their vision for liberation:

“My vision for liberation includes a transition away from dependence on food and economic systems that are harmful to Us, to the Lands, and to the Waters, and towards a balance of regenerative methods of localized food production along with the revitalization of the Seasonal Round, First Foods Lifeways of the Columbia River Basin. Our families were once well organized in our food, medicine, and materials procurement season to season, and we were intentionally separated to weaken us and make us more dependent. Our organization prioritizes working together to strengthen our knowledge and skills.”

Unspoken Words on how they build community power:

“By sharing our Experience, Strength and Hope on our platform we seek to empower others to feel comfortable expressing themselves in a healthy way. We promote healthy coping skills weekly and share our own struggles in implementing them. We have received numerous feedback from listeners on that fact that just by listening to our weekly episodes, that it keeps them sober.”

Salt Fire on what they are proud of and want to lift up:

“As a young nonprofit (one year old), SaltFire is proud to have developed in a colonized system, while maintaining a re-indigenized mindset and practices. This is a feat accomplished by many years of healing and reframing within ourselves, yet we find ourselves falling back on bureaucratic systems as a way to feel safety and ease.”

North Central Montana HT & MMIP Task Force on where they need support:

“We need support in multiple ways. We will be the first to share, that we have been running on a vision of what we could be, but struggling to take action, and work our plan. It will start small, with a dedicated amount of time a week, but we are working towards the bigger goal, of representing and supporting our Relatives in need of support and advocacy. In all honesty, we are starting from scratch, learning about more resources, taking in as much knowledge as possible, and networking across the state and beyond. Our vision includes having healing and growing opportunities for those we support, but also offer opportunities for employment with this organization.

We believe through empowerment and support, and a sense of community, there is hope. We recognize, the best voices and true experts, are those who are on their healing journey and survived similar situations, are the examples we need to hear from. Through reconnecting to traditional knowledge, having a “tribe” of resources of support, advocacy, and mentorship, survivors are our leaders in the making. So, we want to build opportunities for them to volunteer, have educational opportunities, and work their way into a position within this organization. Historically our people are survivors, overcomers, and healers, so we believe with the right representation and honoring the journey of our people, there is hope. We take great pride to strive collectively and work together to offer support, knowledge, and opportunities to empower and lift up our Relatives up that are in need. So then they can become the voice and representation of this organization themselves, someday.”

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