Issue #04 / 2020

A Time for Change, Solidarity, and Renewal

Readying Ourselves for Spring and Collective Solutions

Rising Together in Pandemic Times

For the first time in all of our lifetimes, our global family is deeply connected through a unique shared struggle: the global pandemic of COVID-19. What we draw from this unprecedented time as a mission-driven Indigenous organization, is that not only are we faced with the challenges of adapting to this indefinite moment, but we must also lean in to this moment as innovators and changemakers who seek to co-create a world that is more just and equitable for all people and the planet.

At NDN Collective, our mission is to transform systems, shift power, and generate sustainable solutions. In these uncertain times, our work is cut out for us, and we are leaning in. To respond to this unique pandemic moment, which in many ways exacerbates inequity within already disenfranchised communities, we have created a comprehensive COVID-19 response project to drive resources to Indigenous communities. We are excited to roll out this project, and will be sharing more information on this in the coming days. Follow us on social media (@NDNCollective on FB, IG, and Twitter) or subscribe for updates to catch that announcement.

In the meantime, we encourage you all to stay grounded and to invest time in what strengthens and nourishes you and your families most. Keep your bodies, minds and spirits strong. Spring is upon us, and new life is coming.


An International Women’s Day Tribute

In order to build holistic solutions, wisdom and values carried by women and matriarchs must be front and center. NDN Collective is proud to have a staff and board that consist primarily of women.

A Special International Women’s Day Tribute

On International Women’s Day last month, we honored the women at NDN Collective who are behind the scenes doing incredible work. NDN Collective is proud to say that both our staff and board consists of a majority of women. This is no coincidence. We firmly believe that in order to build holistic solutions, wisdom and values carried by women and matriarchs must be front and center.


“The names and stories of our mothers and grandmothers are even less known or visible than those of our fathers and grandfathers; purposely left out of the federal governmental, patriarchal system of recording family households or documenting significant events or historical accounts. But we know our mothers and grandmothers names and stories, and we’re bringing their strength and wisdom to light and to life in all that we do, in all that we speak, in all that we work for and stand for.  The love and hopes of our grandmothers continue to feed us as we face the struggles of today.”

Read More at the NDN Collective Blog


Decolonizing Community Care in Response to COVID-19

NEW! On the NDN Collective Blog

In one of our most popular blog posts to date, NDN Collective Creative Director Jade Begay writes about decolonizing community care in response to COVID-19. Here, she provides a grounding analysis of this moment we are in, while providing simple and practical solutions to gather strength during this time.

She writes, “Now more than ever it is imperative for us to decolonize from individualism and reconnect with ways of community care.

This blog post has resonated with so many throughout the globe, and is being translated into Spanish and French. We hope that it is also grounding for you to read, too.

Guest Blog Contributor

Becoming Adzaan: The Gift of Diné Womanhood

Jaclyn Roessel in her Diné homelands. Photo Courtesy of Warren Montoya.

Becoming Adzaan, By Jaclyn Roessel

In this guest blog, Jaclyn Roessel describes her evolution into the world of Adzaan, Diné womanhood, and how she relates the coming of age ceremony of Kinaalda to the way she moves through the world today. She writes, “Days like today are powerful. We see a vibrant fluorescence of action among womxn.”

Read More at the NDN Collective Blog

NDN Changemaker Fellow Spotlight

Changemakers On the Move

The NDN Changemaker Fellowship program supports Indigenous Changemakers throughout Turtle Island and surrounding island nations to build power within their communities and homelands. Each month we will highlight individual fellows and some of the transformative work they are doing. This month, we lift up the work of fellows who mobilized quickly in the face of COVID-19, bringing forth solutions and hope amidst challenging times.

NDN Changemaker Fellows: Waasekom George, Jesse Cardinal, and Sunny Red Bear.

Waasekom George
Ontario Region

Waasekom George, Turtle Clan from Saugeen First Nation and Kettle and Stoney Point First Nations, is a ceremonial helper and Anishinaabe language learner, Indigenous chef, and advocate/action-ist in service of his Great Lakes homelands, waters, and people.  He is currently leading Niwiijiiwok Doodemag, focused on the reemergence of traditional Indigenous clan governance.

Waasekom recently co-organized and moderated a webinar panel on COVID-19 and Indigenous Communities with Eriel Deranger of Indigenous Climate Action. The webinar was watched by over 74k people and counting.

Overall, Waasekom has been thinking deeply in this moment and engaging with community members around how to re-vision his Nations’ way of life.  He sees this time as a critical moment to vision, plan, and practically implement strategy to shift our way of being towards connected interdependence and away from practices that harm the land and each other.

Jesse Cardinal
Plains Canada Region

Jesse Cardinal is from the Kikino Metis Settlement which is on Treaty 6 Territory and close to Treaty 8 Territory.   Jesse is a mother who lends her time to Keepers of the Water and attends Blue Quills University part-time to learn the Cree language.

Jesse also co-organized the webinar on COVID-19 and Indigenous Communities, along with Waasekom and Indigenous Climate Action. More webinars are forthcoming!

When asked how she is responding to this moment, she said: “My response has been to take the time to reflect and put as much energy as I can into the pivotal changes this slow-down is creating.  Our lands are getting time to heal. During spring there will be a quiet that hasn’t existed for a long time for the animals to have their babies and bring new life and new hope. Also, my response to this moment has been a lot of prayer”  

Sunny Red Bear
Great Plains U.S. Region

Sunny Red Bear is a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. She is a grassroots activist of missing and murdered Indigenous women, a healing and wellness advocate, a writer, and speaker whose desire is to create and reclaim space for our connection to Indigenous healing.

Sunny recently organized a project with a friend to create and deliver elder essential packages in the Black Hills in response to COVID-19. “It was important to us to do our best to show our elders they were being thought of and are essential to us,” said Sunny. Packages consisted of everything from food, cleaning supplies, basic grooming products and med-kits. So far, the packages have reached 75 homes with donations coming in from all parts of the U.S. The project has evolved into a partnership with American Indigenous Business Leaders (AIBL) as a fiscal sponsor, as funding continues to grow.

“It has been an experience for us both to realize the need our elders truly have, how we need to honor them through actions, and do what we can with what we have,” she said. “We will continue to make and deliver elder packages as long as funding comes in, and have a goal of providing packages for 150 more homes in the near future. Wopila to everyone for their support and we send prayers for protection to our brothers and sisters across Turtle Island.”

Read more about Sunny’s project here in a feature story for South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

Learn More About the Inaugural Cohort of Changemaker Fellows

Recent Events Attended by NDN Collective Staff

SKOLL World Forum Webinar
COVID-19 in Indian Country

NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen joined a panel discussion on COVID-19 and Indian Country. Hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this conversation among Indigenous Skoll Fellows and other Indigenous leaders brought to light the challenges and threats posed to U.S. Indigenous communities by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how those leaders are mobilizing in this time of need. Panelists discussed policy pressures, health equity concerns, medical resourcing, impacts for multigenerational families and cultural survival, community-driven solutions, and more.

The panel was moderated by Michael Painter (Cherokee), Senior Program Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and included panelists Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee), Executive Director of IllumiNative, Edgar Villanueva (Lumbee), Vice President of Programs and Advocacy, Schott Foundation for Public Education, Nick Tilsen (Oglala Lakota), President & CEO, NDN Collective, and Erik Brodt (Ojibwe), Physician and Assistant Professor, Oregon Health and Sciences University.

Watch a Full Recording of the Webinar Here

Upcoming Webinar

First Nations Oweesta and NDN Collective

Moving Beyond COVID19: Resources and Support for Native Businesses, Artists, and Entrepreneurs
Thursday April 9, 12:00pm PT/1:00pm MT/2:00pm CT/3:00pm ET

First Nations Oweesta and NDN Collective will host an interactive webinar for Native Nations, businesses, entrepreneurs, artisans, and Native CDFIs to address the economic needs of our Indigenous communities and institutions during COVID19. We come together with other Native-led organizations, like ONABEN and Native Women Lead, to share resources for Native entities hit hard by this recent pandemic. 

If interested in learning how to gain access to capital and technical assistance, please join us virtually on Thursday April 9 at 3:00pm ET. We’ll also leave time for Q &A and for you to share other resources and ideas with us since we are all partners in this effort to come out of this crisis even more resilient and self-determined. 

The first 100 registrants will have the ability to engage directly with panelists in a Q&A session. All others can tune in on NDN Collective’s Facebook page where the webinar will be streamed live.

NDN Collective is Growing!

New Members of the NDN Collective Team

Nicole Yanes, Program Officer

Nicole Yanes, NDN Program Officer, is Opata from Nogales along the Arizona-Sonora/U.S.-Mexico border. Yanes supports NDN Grant Programs and the NDN Changemakers Fellowship and NDN Prize. Yanes brings over 10 years of experience in community organizing, Nation building and advocating for the rights of Indigenous Peoples at tribal, national and international arenas. Yanes has been working with Indigenous non-profit organizations for 10 years and has founded Indigenous-led organizations and a food cooperative to support and revitalize Indigenous food systems.

Andrew Catt-Iron Shell, Organizer

Andrew Catt-Iron Shell, NDN Collective Organizer, is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Andrew is a grassroots organizer who began his work advocating against extreme health inequity and health disparities of Tribal populations. His work has included place-based advocacy in helping build from the ground up a regenerative community development project on the Oglala Lakota Nation. In his current role, Andrew looks to focus on building strong community networks and hands-on participation for shared victories in protecting mother earth and protection of Indigenous community.

Dawn Mackety, Director of Research and Evaluation

Dawn Mackety, NDN Collective Director of Research and Evaluation, is an enrolled member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Mackety is responsible for the organization’s monitoring, evaluation and research work. She has three decades of experience conducting research, evaluation, data management, and program development work in nonprofits and tribal communities. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Earth Science and Biology Secondary Education, a Master’s in Educational Leadership, and a Ph.D. in Evaluation, Measurement and Research Design.


Halt All Keystone XL Construction Due to Coronavirus Public Health Emergency

Faith Spotted Eagle (right) and members and supporters of Brave Heart Society and the Yankton Sioux Tribe inside a solar-equipped tiny house built to take on tour of proposed KXL “man camp” locations to raise awareness about MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women). The tour has been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus public health emergency. Photographer: Jen Cohen

Sign the Petition: Cancel KXL

As the public health emergency from the novel coronavirus forces social distancing and community lockdowns, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) is about to endanger thousands of workers by sending them into rural and Tribal communities along the path of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline that are unequipped to handle the public health threat, in addition to the increased crime and sexual violence — especially targeting Indigenous women — arising from pipeline worker “man camps.”

TransCanada continues to move ahead against all good judgment, and in spite of the company not having even secured all the necessary federal, state and local permits for the Keystone XL project — which is also facing three federal court challenges to various permits, and lawsuits from landowners in Nebraska fighting eminent domain seizure of their land.

Read More and Sign the Petition

NDN Collective is Hiring!

Executive Assistant

The Executive Assistant provides executive support to the President & CEO. The Executive Assistant serves as a point of contact for internal and external constituencies on matters pertaining to the President & CEO. This positions provides the candidate with the opportunity to work in a high-energy and team atmosphere where Indigenous capacity and movement-building happen on the daily.

Learn More about the Executive Assistant Position
NDN Fund Loan Officer

The NDN Fund Loan Officer is responsible for originating, underwriting, closing, and monitoring loans that promote NDN Collective’s Theory of Change and NDN Fund’s resilient and regenerative lending principles. The position provides the candidate with the opportunity to help build the organization’s lending strategy, be at the forefront of new capital solutions, and support innovative projects led by Indigenous communities. 

Learn More about the NDN Fund Loan Officer Position
NDN Action Managing Director

The NDN Action Managing Director will provide leadership, along with other NDN Action staff, in the development and implementation of policy advocacy priorities and strategy. They will also lead in development of coalition building strategies and supporting the cultivation of key relationships.

Learn More about the NDN Action Managing Director