Since 1990, the month of November has been observed as Native American Heritage Month by communities across the country. It is both a recognition of our nation’s complicated past with indigenous communities, and a celebration of their rich legacy that nevertheless persists. As a longtime partner of Native communities and as a foundation working in and serving a region that was once entirely inhabited by Native tribes, the Murdock Trust joins in this month of observation and celebration.
From years of talking with indigenous communities, we have heard that the needs of each Native tribe are different so the responses must vary too. For this reason, we partner with organizations who are closest to the issues, know the needs of their communities best, and will ultimately have a greater impact.
Here are a few such groups:
- Native American tribes supporting their tribal communities, such as the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, Native Village of Tazlina, The Klamath Tribes, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Su’naq Tribe of Kodiak, and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.
- Organizations offering educational opportunities for indigenous groups, such as Native Forward Scholars Fund (previously American Indian Graduate Center) and Northwest Indian College.
- Organizations piloting new programs and hiring new staff to increase inclusivity of local indigenous populations, such as Leadership Montana, Innovia Foundation, and North Cascades Institute.
- Organizations preserving and elevating Native American art and culture, such as Alaska Native Heritage Center, Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, International Traditional Games Society, Chief Joseph Foundation, and Sealaska Heritage.
- Organizations offering health and human services to indigenous groups in culturally relevant ways, such as Native American Youth and Family Center, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, New Hope Counseling Center, National Indian Child Welfare Association, and Mending Wings.
Recognizing these grantees and partnering with Native communities was important to our benefactor, Jack Murdock, and it remains an important part of the Trust’s work today. As a small example, one way we seek to make our commitment to indigenous groups visible is through the design of our office space. In collaboration with tribes native to these regions, we named our conference rooms after the highest peak in each regional state, using the name that local tribes would use. This is a small reminder to our staff and the nonprofits who use our office space of both the history and rich cultural legacy of our region.
It is in this spirit of recognition and celebration that we observe this Native American Heritage Month. To every organization and individual uplifting indigenous groups, and most of all to our Native American partners and neighbors, we honor you and say thank you / mahalo nui loa / Kw’ałanúushanatash Tłáaxw Inmí Xitwayma!