by Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
Funding American Indian programs can be difficult, especially since non-Indians think we are all rich as the result of Indian gaming. This is nothing more than a modern day misconception about American Indians.
These are words of a realist. These words are bore out in the “Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples,“ a report that was compiled and released last month by The Foundation Center in cooperation with Native Americans in Philanthropy.
The “Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples” report indicates that of all monies allocated by philanthropic foundations in the United States, only .03 percent was given to American Indians or to American Indian programming in 2009.
The Native Americans in Philanthropy was founded in January 1990 when a group of Native people affiliated with philanthropic institutions convened at a national meeting in Chicago to discuss the socio-economic status of Native people and the limited role philanthropy had played in helping American Indians.
One of the original members of the organization is Louis Delgado (Oneida). Delgado is a gentle man who has remained involved with the Native Americans in Philanthropy since day-one. Though the organization has labored diligently since its inception, Delgado realizes that seemingly little progress has been achieved since 1990. Delgado released the following statement to Native News Network:
“The research shows that foundations in general give at a very low level to Native peoples and issues. However, there are ample opportunities to support activities that match the stated interests of foundations. Foundations should be held accountable for this lack of support. Further, the disproportionate decline in funding to Native concerns is cause for alarm.”
The “Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples” report’s second section was written by Delgado. It is called “A Call to Action: The Need for More Funding Benefiting Native Americans.” In this section, Delgado writes:
“To reach the level of equity, funding would have to grow to more than five times the 2009 level, the rate of growth recommended in 1990.”
“It is clear that we need mainstream foundations to bring many more Native Americans onto boards of trustees and staff. I fear that until that happens, we will continue to remain figments of others’ historical imagination,” comments Ron Rowell (Choctaw/Kaskaskia), president of the board of directors of the Native Americans in Philanthropy.
It is not even three-percent; it is one-third of one percent. The number is shameful given all this country has taken from the indigenous people of America.
Arguably the needs among American Indians are greater than any racial or ethnic group in the United States. One only needs to visit certain reservations where conditions are comparable to those of third-world countries. High rates of suicide among American Indians still top the list among all racial/ethnic groups in America. High rates of Type II diabetes-related amputations among American Indians top the list in America.
Foundations need to back off the notion of matching funds for American Indians when there are no matching funds. It should be known all American Indians are not wealthy because of Indian gaming.
Rowell is correct. American Indians are not relics of the past. American Indians need to get to know the staff of philanthropic foundations and vice-versa. Foundations must be encouraged to figure out how allocate more funds to American Indians and their programming. The onus cannot be one either American Indians or foundations.
If foundations need to get to know American Indians, they can begin by becoming acquainted with the Native Americans in Philanthropy.
We need to get past the shameful lack of money going to improve the socio-economic living conditions of all American Indians.
posted May 17 3:17 pm et
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