Issue #01 / 2020


NDN Collective Kicks off 2020 with BIG News for the NDN Changemaker Fellowship

Happy New Year From the NDN Collective
A Season of Renewal and Inspiration

As we enter into the New Year and reflect on our past year of work, the NDN Collective remains steadfast in our mission to build Indigenous power while supporting sustainable solutions for the future. In the coming year we’ll be embarking on new projects, rolling out groundbreaking new programs, and building upon new and existing partnerships within Indigenous communities. While much of our work involves supporting Indigenous-led movements and Indigenous organizations, we are also investing directly into individuals and supporting grassroots solutions on a local level.

The month of January also marks the first month of the inaugural NDN Changemaker Fellowship, comprised of 20 Indigenous Changemakers who will spend the next year refining their visions, building strong networks of other Indigenous organizers, activists, leaders and community builders, while strengthening their skills, their spirits, and their impact within their communities and homelands.

In such critical times, we are honored that you are joining us in our work to create sustainable solutions for Indigenous people, for humanity, and the planet, moreover.

Visit the NDN Collective Website to Support and Learn More About our Work

Inaugural Cohort of NDN Changemaker Fellows Announced

Introducing 20 Phenomenal Indigenous Changemakers

The 20 NDN Changemakers are Indigenous leaders from throughout Turtle Island and beyond who are radically transforming Indigenous communities by defending Indigenous lands and rights, developing sustainable solutions for the future, and decolonizing their day-to-day lives, their families, communities and Nations. They are organizers, activists, social entrepreneurs and cultural practitioners who are challenging the status quo and building a better future for all people and Mother Earth. 

“We know that within our people lies the power and potential to transform our communities, build beautiful and regenerative Nations, and to educate and heal one another,” says Dr. PennElys Droz, Director of the NDN Changemaker Fellowship. “Our final 20 candidates are model leaders of the determination, strength, and personal commitment it takes to do this difficult work.” 

Read More and Meet the Fellows!

NDN Collective Program Updates

South Dakota Education Equity Coalition Participates at Lakota Nation Education Conference
Receives Endorsement from State Tribal Relations Committee

On December 18-21, the South Dakota Education Equity Coalition participated in the Lakota Nation Education Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota. At the conference, the coalition presented their work and shared their initiatives to build and advance the work of education equity for Indigenous students in the State of South Dakota. Sarah Pierce, NDN Collective Director of Education Equity, and Cante Heart, NDN Collective Organizer, are coalition members who are participating in this important work with other coalition members, including parents, educators and tribal leaders.

Earlier in December, parents and coalition members testified before the Tribal Relations Committee (comprised of Indigenous legislators in South Dakota) at the State Capitol in Pierre, proposing a bill for charter school legislation that allows for Native people in the state to establish charter schools based on Oceti Sakowin values. At the Lakota Nation Education Conference, the Tribal Relations Committee unanimously endorsed the bill, which will now be presented during the 2020 state legislative session.

[Members of the SD Education Equity Coalition engage in activities at the 2019 Lakota Nation Education Conference. Photo Courtesy of SDEEC]

To learn more about the South Dakota Education Equity Coalition, follow the coalition on social media, visit their website, and complete the interest form below:

Complete the SD Education Equity Coalition Interest Form to Learn More

Sarah Pierce, NDN Collective Director of Education Equity –
Cante Heart, NDN Collective Organizer –

Social Venture Circle Highlights NDN Collective

Some of the NDN Collective Team: Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective President and CEO; Michael Johnson, Director of Advancement; Wahleah Johns, Native Renewables/NDN Collective Board Member; Dr. PennElys Droz, Director of NDN Fellowship and Prize; Michelle Fox, Managing Director of NDN Partners; Cassandra Begay, Climate Justice Organizer.

“NDN Collective’s Ambitious Systemic Effort to Empower Indigenous Communities”

NDN Fund Managing Director Nikki Love and Nick Tilsen, President and CEO, were interviewed by the Social Venture Circle about the pillars of NDN Collective’s work to defend, develop, and decolonize. The Social Venture Circle is a membership network that “equips entrepreneurs, impact investors, and capacity-builders with connections, money, and expertise in order to build businesses that drive the NEXT economy: one that is regenerative, equitable and prosperous for all.”

For this Q & A feature, Nick and Nikki answered questions relating to NDN Collective’s unique vision and mission, our metrics of success, and what they would like for the SVC network to understand about Indigenous people as innovators and critical players in shifting power back into the hands of those most directly impacted by inequity and injustice.

Read More at the SVC Blog


Acknowledging the Winter Solstice is a Decolonial Act

Aligning with our Power During Winter Solstice Season

The winter solstice is an event that has been observed for millenia by many of our Indigenous ancestors. While some Tribal Nations have traditionally held special ceremonies during celestial events like the winter and summer solstices, others may have simpler ways of observing these moments.  Some Tribal Nations have maintained teachings around solstice time, while others may be seeking to revive the teachings, practices and ceremonies that were forcibly taken from us.  

In its period of darkness, the winter solstice is an opportunity to go inward with deep intention, to care for our spiritual selves, our bodies and minds, our loved ones and families, and to prepare for the longer days ahead. 

Read More on the NDN Collective Blog

New Members of the NDN Collective Team

Willi White
NDN Collective Multimedia Producer

Willi White, NDN Collective Multimedia Producer, is Oglala Lakota and lives on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Willi has extensive experience as a photographer, filmmaker, multimedia creative and communications professional. In 2016, Willi was awarded a fellowship with the Sundance Institute’s Native and Indigenous program. He studied photojournalism and Theater at Creighton University, and continues to work in film and digital, exploring ways to redefine, reframe and reclaim Indigenous storytelling.

Amy Sazue
NDN Collective Advancement Coordinator

Amy Sazue, NDN Collective Advancement Coordinator, is Sicangu and Oglala Lakota, and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She currently resides in Rapid City, South Dakota with her husband and children. Amy has experience as a teacher, program coordinator, and working in development. She has associate degrees from Bay Mills Community College in Education, a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Oglala Lakota College, and is currently working on a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership through Arizona State University.

TAKE ACTION: Australia Bush Fires

As an organization that is committed to defending land, culture, and life, in all its forms, the NDN Collective expresses our deep sorrow and heartbreak for our relatives in Australia who are experiencing incredible loss and grief with the catastrophic and unprecedented #bushfires. We stand in solidarity by doubling down in our work to build and support Indigenous-led solutions to the climate crisis. We understand that our work in Turtle Island has impacts globally and we are deeply committed to protecting the climate so that all people can live safely for generations to come.

We encourage you to join us in showing solidarity by contributing to one or both of these causes: 

1. Donate to: Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities
2. Purchase a digital copy of “Compassion in Crisis” and 100% of your purchase will go to WIRES in support of their work rescuing wildlife as well as to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.