On Thursday, July 7, and Friday, July 8, the NDN Changemaker Showcase premiered, featuring the 2021 cohort of NDN Changemaker Fellows who gathered virtually to engage in multi-part panel conversations, each with distinct focal points in the areas of defending, developing and decolonizing.
NDN Changemaker Fellows come from many backgrounds and Tribal Nations from across Turtle Island and surrounding island nations. They are artists, educators, cultural practitioners, historians, healers, activists, community organizers and defenders from across colonial borders.
The NDN Changemaker Fellowship is a 12-month fellowship offered to 21 Indigenous Changemakers each year across Canada, the United States, the Islands of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa, and Mexico who are working to defend, develop, and decolonize their communities and Nations.
NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen opened the celebratory event with woksapé – Lakota words of encouragement– for the changemakers as they continue their journey of disrupting the status quo with their work. “You’re impacting the lives of people whom you will never meet,” Nick said in his opening remarks to the NDN Changemaker Fellows. “That’s an indicator that you’re doing good work.”
Panels 1 and 2 were focused on conversations centered around decolonization. The conversations, moderated by Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications and Dr. PennElys Droz, NDN Foundation Program Officer, featured roundtable discussions with the following Fellows:
- Elena Terry
- Halay Turning Heart
- Dustin J. Whitford
- Roberto Múkaro Borrero
- Naasalthuk Rampanen
- Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone
Panels 3 and 4 conversations centered on the development of Indigenous communities. Nicole Yanes, NDN Foundation Program Officer, joined Sarah Sunshine Manning in moderating these empowering conversations featuring:
- Nicole Sue Francis
- Donna Ashamock
- Amie Charlie
- Isabel Cristina Murrieta López
- Tsanavi Spoonhunter
Closing out the virtual event was Panel 5 centering conversation on work defending Indigenous Peoples and communities. This last panel featured the following fellows:
- Herber Uc
- Edith Ñuu Savi
- Andre Perez
Included within each panel were live musical performances by Mato Wayuhi, Oglala Lakota multidisciplinary artists and composer of the award-winning FX/Hulu series Reservation Dogs, Lyla June, Diné & Tsétsêhéstâhese artist whose internationally acclaimed presentations are conveyed through the medium of poetry, and Mic Jordan, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe musician.
Overall, the intent of the showcase was to uplift the work, insight, and visions of the NDN Changemakers, and to leave viewers inspired to take action related to the defense, development, and decolonization of Indigenous communities.
NDN Foundation Managing Director Gaby Strong emphasized that it was individuals like the NDN Changemaker fellows– who remained steadfast to their commitments, within their communities and oftentimes behind the scenes– that were the real changemakers.
“We are so honored and deeply appreciative of being able to support a small part of these journeys through the Changemaker Fellowship, ”said Gaby Strong, NDN Foundation Managing Director. “Recognizing the strategies and the principles that go into defending our communities, our lands, and people; developing our communities in a way that is regenerative and sustainable; and decolonizing in a way that revitalizes, reclaims, and renews all of our beautiful languages, lifeways, and ways of governing.”
“These conversations are lessons learned,” Strong continued. “These are insights that are crucial for all of us to understand in working on behalf of our people, our lands, and all that we love as Indigenous Peoples.”
The 2022 NDN Changemaker Fellowship application window will open again in September 2022. More information can be found on the NDN Changemaker Fellowship page.