Issue #07 / 2020

A New Normal:
Building Indigenous Power in Pandemic Times

Indigenous women gather in Ȟesápa, the Black Hills, in the lead up to President Donald Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore. July 3, 2020. Photo by Arlo Iron Cloud.

Just a few short months ago, the world was talking about “a new normal,” and now, we’re living it. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to slow the world down, Indigenous people have not slowed down in our demands for justice. The past month has been a busy one as Indigenous people across the country mobilize for multiple causes, wearing face masks, ribbon skirts, and movement tees while holding protest signs high.

Last month, and on the heels of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, our relatives in the Movement for Black Lives and Black Lives Matter set America on a fervent course of uprooting white supremacy while illuminating the many ways it manifests in our world today. We remain grateful for the courage of those movement leaders and everyday people who continue to actively organize, demanding the creation of new systems that are built for justice and equity for all people.

There is no better time to lean deeply into this work, and we are honored you are all here to join us.
Donate and Support NDN Collective’s Racial Equity Work

#LandBack: Taking a Stand in Ȟesápa, the Black Hills

NDN Collective Calls for Closure of Mount Rushmore as a National Monument and for the Black Hills to be Returned to the Lakota and Oceti Sakowin

As U.S. President Donald Trump made his way to Mount Rushmore for the Fourth of July weekend, NDN Collective called for the closure of the national monument indefinitely, and for the sacred Paha Sapa (Black Hills) to be returned to the Lakota people.   

“Mount Rushmore is on stolen Lakota land and its very existence is a symbol of white supremacy” said Nick TilsenNDN Collective President and CEO.  “In opposing the ongoing desecration of our sacred land and asking for return of Lakota lands where Mount Rushmore is situated, we’re not saying anything that our parents, grandparents and great grandparents haven’t already said– The Lakota have opposed Mount Rushmore since the very beginning.”

Read NDN’s Full Press Statement
NDN Collective Announces Black Hills Legal Defense Fund Following Arrests at Mount Rushmore

In the hours before President Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday, July 3, Indigenous land defenders took action in the Black Hills, protesting white supremacy and taking a stand on Lakota lands.

The acts of courage and civil disobedience by Indigenous people and our allies defending sacred lands in the Black Hills resulted in arrests and criminal charges. These men and women were standing against the continued desecration of sacred lands that were stolen by the United States federal government from the Lakota Oyate to satisfy the greed of capitalism in this country.

Learn More about the Black Hills Legal Defense Fund

“We Must Continue to Act in Courage and Bravery”

Statement from NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen

On Monday, July 6, NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen was released from Pennington County Jail in Rapid City after being arrested during the protest on July 3 in the Black Hills and detained over the Fourth of July weekend. This, after protesting President Donald Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore in Ȟesápa, the sacred Black Hills, along with nearly 200 other Land Defenders. Twenty of them were arrested and now face criminal charges. 


“Everything that took place that day was a powerful experience and it instilled pride and hope and courage in myself. I got to see that same thing in all of my people’s eyes that were there. And all of you that were listening and following on social media, I want to thank you because we felt that strength and we felt that courage and that felt that each and everyone of you was there to support us.”

Read Nick’s Full Statement and Watch the Video

Washington Football Team Announces Mascot Change

A crowd of Indigenous people round dance after a successful demonstration at US Bank Stadium when the Minnesota Vikings hosted the Washington football team in October 2019. Photo Courtesy of NDN Collective.

After almost a century of calls from Indigenous people, communities, and human rights activists, the Washington National Football League (NFL) Team has announced that they will be retiring their racist team name and beginning the process of adopting a new name, mascot, and logo. As far back as the civil rights era, Indigenous people have been vocal about their opposition to Indian mascots. In 1968, the National Congress of American Indians launched a campaign to address stereotypes of Native people in popular culture and media, and also in sports.  

“There’s still so much more work to be done when it comes to eliminating stereotypical and diminishing depictions of Indigenous people,” says Willi White, Oglala Lakota filmmaker, photographer, and NDN Collective Creative Producer. “But it’s a powerful time to be Indigenous. These tired misrepresentations and caricatures of us have never been right. They have led to the continued erasure of our stories and voices, whether in film and entertainment or public education. But we’re here to change all that. Today, we’re telling our own stories and creating our own images on our terms.”

The Time Is Now

National Native Town Hall: Mascots, Native Rights, and Justice

One of three panels for the National Native Town Hall.

On Wednesday, July 8, NDN Collected co-hosted, “The Time is Now: National Native Town Hall,” alongside our partners at IllumiNative and Native Organizers Alliance. Three panels were organized, consisting of movement leaders from many issue areas, all speaking to this pivotal time we are in wherein movements for social and racial justice rise and thrive.

NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen joined a panel on Mt Rushmore, “Fight for Indigenous Rights and Against White Supremacy,” hosted by Tiffany Cross, news analyst and author, alongside panelists Faith Spotted Eagle and Rosebud Sioux Tribal Chairman Rodney Bordeaux.

Watch the Full Recording of the Town Hall

NDN Collective Launches Radical Imagination Grant

On June 23, NDN Collective launched the Radical Imagination Grant, which is designed to support Indigenous artists to radically imagine a new future, a better normal, and a just world for all people and the planet. The application window has since closed, and we are happy to announce that we have received many applicants from across Turtle Island.

The Radical Imagination Grant advisory board will be reviewing applications in the next several weeks, and an announcement of grantees will be forthcoming.

Learn More about the Radical Imagination Grant

NDN Collective in the News

New York Times, MSNBC, Democracy Now

“Mount Rushmore is a Symbol of White Supremacy”

In the lead up to President Donald Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore, NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen was interviewed by an array of journalists, from local South Dakota media, to national media publications and news networks.

Check out a selection of articles and news clips where Nick weighs in on the conversation of removing symbols of white supremacy during the current movement to dismantle white supremacy:

In The New York Times: “How Mount Rushmore Became Mount Rushmore”

For NBC Opinion: “Nick Tilsen: Trump’s Mount Rushmore fireworks show is a Fourth of July attack on Indigenous people”

On Democracy Now: “The Untold History of Mount Rushmore: A KKKSympathizer Built Monument on Sacred Lakota Land”

On MSNBC: “Trump ‘Disrespectful’ For Coming To Sacred Lands Without Tribal Leaders’ Consent” 

And standing in for Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective Director of Communications, Sarah Sunshine Manning, appeared on television interviews with MSNBC and Indian Country Today:

MSNBC: “Trump trip to Mount Rushmore protested by Native Americans”

Indian Country Today: “America ‘called out’ to re-examine white supremacy at Mount Rushmore”


Take the Indigenous Futures Survey

The 15-20 minute survey will close on August 1, 2020. 

IllumiNative, Native Organizers Alliance, and Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth are partnering with acclaimed researchers Dr. Stephanie Fryberg (Tulalip) of the University of Michigan and Dr. Arianne Eason of the University of California, Berkeley, to conduct the Indigenous Futures Survey – a groundbreaking research project for Native peoples by Native peoples.

“This year has been difficult for many reasons. We’ve had to change and adapt to a new way of living, being in community, healing, learning, operating, and caring for our communities,” said IllumiNative Executive Director Crystal Echo Hawk. “As we prepare for the 2020 election, an election that will have far-reaching consequences for our nations and peoples, we want to empower and uplift the voice of Native peoples and move towards better understanding through data driven by Native people from our own perspectives.”

Join Our Team!

Eight Positions Open at NDN Collective

Advancement Coordinator

The Advancement Coordinator will be part of a team of NDN staff and consultants to ensure we reach our fundraising goals each year, ensuring the organization is financially resourced to carry out our mission and goals.

Learn More about the Advance Coordinator Position

Advancement Officer

The Advancement Officer will also support the Director of Advancement on all donor management and donor-related projects, and develop grants management tools and processes that will be deployed across the organization.

Learn More about the Advance Officer Position

Program Associate

The Program Associate provides administrative and programmatic support to the NDN Fund and assists the Managing Director in planning, organizing and implementing activities and duties of the Fund.

Learn More about the Program Associate Position

Fiscal Sponsorship Coordinator

The Fiscal Sponsor Coordinator provides administrative and programmatic support to NDN’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program in planning, organizing and implementing activities and duties of the Fiscal Sponsorship Program internally and externally.

Learn More about the Fiscal Sponsorship Coordinator Position

Digital Organizer

The Digital Organizer is responsible for building relationships with important community stakeholders including non-traditional partners through targeted outreach efforts.

Learn More about the Digital Organizer Position

Climate Justice Campaign Director

The Climate Justice Campaign Director will spearhead Climate Justice Campaigns to defeat fossil fuel and other extractive industries and promote transformative, renewable, sustainable and equitable climate policies for Indigenous Peoples and communities. 

Learn More about the Climate Justice Campaign Director Position
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 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