Edgar Villanueva · November 20, 2018

Decolonizing Wealth

A New Book on Healing Funding Relationships and Philanthropy to Native America

 Sourced from www.decolonizingwealth.com on October 31, 2018

Blaming banksters and capitalism for the awful mess that is 21st Century America has become a popular pastime among academics, activists and economists, whose bestsellers propose their signature solutions. Yet one place where solutions are never sought is Native America. With Decolonizing Wealth, a provocative analysis of the dysfunctional colonial dynamics at play in philanthropy and finance, the award-winning Native funder Edgar Villanueva steps into that space, with a prescription for restoring balance and healing our divides.

With 2016’s Standing Rock protests, the largest Native American action in at least a century, the world was reminded of Indigenous power and resilience. Now Decolonizing Wealth proposes that Native ways and worldviews offer not just valuable but essential guidance in transforming the institutions that control access to money.

“We are all connected. All our suffering is mutual. All our healing is mutual. All our thriving is mutual.”

Decolonizing funding processes, argues Villanueva, is key to healing. After 14 years in philanthropy, Edgar Villanueva has seen past the field’s glamorous, altruistic façade, into its shadows: the old boy networks, the savior complexes, and the internalized oppression among the “house slaves,” those select few people of color who gain access. He widens the analysis to address all the institutions along what he terms the loans-to-gifts spectrum, including banks, investment funds, and aid organizations. All these funders reflect and perpetuate the same underlying dynamics that divide Us from Them and Haves from Have-Nots.

With great compassion—because the Native way is to bring the oppressor into the circle of healing, understanding that healing cannot occur unless everyone is part of the process— Villanueva diagnoses the fatal flaws in funders, unflinchingly drilling down to the core of colonialism and White supremacy. In the third and final section of Decolonizing Wealth, he offers radical provocations to funders and outlines his Seven Steps for Healing.

A short and engaging read of approximately 200 pages, Decolonizing Wealth weaves together Villanueva’s heartfelt and wry Southern-style storytelling with excerpts from his interviews with dozens of funders, citing only as much data as necessary to back up his personal experiences. Although driven by the moral convictions of a defender of human rights and justice, there is nothing strident here, instead a constant return to the gracious Lakota principle of Mitakuye oyasin—all my relations, meaning: We are all connected. All our suffering is mutual. All our healing is mutual. All our thriving is mutual. America has never before seen an analysis of philanthropic and financial institutions like Decolonizing Wealth. Now is most definitely the time.


Edgar Villanueva
Edgar Villanueva

Edgar Villanueva in an enrolled member of the Lumbee Nation. He is the Vice President of Programs and Advocacy at the Schott Foundation where he leads grant making and advocacy supports for education justice. Villanueva is a nationally-recognized expert on social justice philanthropy, previously holding leadership roles at Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and at the Marguerite Casey Foundation. He currently serves on the chair of the board of directors of Native Americans in Philanthropy and is a trustee of Andrus Family Fund. Villanueva is also an instructor with The Grantmaking School at the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University and is the author of Decolonizing Wealth, a new book that offers alternatives to the dynamics of colonization in the social finance sector.

November 2020 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

Posted 1 year ago Alcatraz Canoe Journey: Honoring 50 Years of Indigenous Resistance and Persistence

Jade Begay

"If we work to reframe Alcatraz as a symbol for Indigenous sovereignty and reposition it in people’s psyche that way, it could be a very powerful thing, especially for people who are so often forgotten overlooked and marginalized like Natives in America."
Posted 1 day ago What to Expect When You're Expecting #DEBFORINTERIOR

Holly Cook Macarro

Haaland’s nomination has inspired Native and non-Native people across the nation and beyond. While her candidacy looks stronger than ever, it’s important for all of her supporters to not let up until she’s been sworn in.
Posted 3 weeks ago Bridging the Divide Between Impact Investing and Native America

Nikki Pieratos , Chrystel Cornelius

Indigenous intermediaries are crucial to overcoming asymmetries between impact investors and Native America through the building of relationships of trust, creation of an ecosystem for impact investing in Indigenous communities, and performance of the due diligence investors need to manage risk.
Posted 3 weeks ago NDN Collective Launches Resilience Loan Fund for Tribes, Tribal Enterprises, and Native-Owned Businesses to Help Move Past Economic Impacts of COVID-19
As part of NDN Collective’s larger response to the pandemic, NDN Fund has created special emergency debt capital, bridge loans, and capacity building services to help businesses remain solvent and to identify opportunities for some to expand if they are in advantaged industries.
Posted 4 weeks ago Building Indigenous Power and Investing in Indigenous Self-Determination

Nick Tilsen

To solve the most pressing issues for Indigenous communities—and for the world at large—power and autonomy must be given to Indigenous people themselves.
Posted 4 weeks ago NDN Collective In-Depth Series with Stanford Social Innovation Review
"Decolonization and Radical Indigenous Futures" is a series published at the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) in partnership with NDN Collective.
Posted 1 month ago NDN Collective Speaks Out Against Line 3 Project
Indigenous group raises awareness on effects of oil sand pipeline on Native Minnesota region.
Posted 1 month ago NDN Collective Responds to Inauguration of President Joe Biden
Today, we celebrate the collective work of our people and movements who have organized, built power and helped deliver one of the most important elections in history.
Posted 1 month ago NDN Collective Responds to President Biden Rescinding Keystone XL Pipeline Permit and Vow to Rejoin the Paris Agreement
The KXL pipeline was set to go through the heart of the Oceti Sakowin Territory. The people came together, resisted the fossil fuel industry and stood up for our lands, water and rights. We will continue to resist and fight.
Posted 1 month ago Indigenizing Education Equity: SD Ed Equity Coalition and NDN Collective ramp up efforts in 2021
As the South Dakota Education Equity coalition (SDEEC) prepares for the 2021 legislative session, they are asking individuals in support of their efforts to call their legislators, voice support for their bill and the concept of Oceti Sakowin Community Based Schools.
Posted 2 months ago NDN Collective Responds to DC Violence: "Dismantle white supremacy, Radically imagine a new future."
“NDN Collective vehemently supports the calls for impeachment of President Trump, but more importantly, and beyond this presidency, this moment illuminates the urgent need to dismantle white supremacy and radically imagine a new future.”
NDN Collective
317 Main St #1
Rapid City, SD 57701
P: +1 (605) 791-3999
E: info@ndncollective.org
© 2021 NDN Collective. All rights reserved.