Issue #01 / 2021

Reclamation is a Spiritual Act

Reclaiming Land, Queerness and Healing

Participants of the MMIW 5k Run and Walk in Rapid City. Photo by Angel White Eyes for NDN Collective.

Reclamation for Indigenous Peoples has and will always be a spiritual endeavor.

As we stand toe-to-toe with colonial systems of power, we activate Ancestral energies that we’ve carried since time immemorial. And as enlivening as these energies are, they often also carry elements of grief and healing as we seek justice and liberation. That being said, we take a moment to honor the running total of Indigenous children whose concealed bodies were recovered from Indian residential schools since the first 215 babies were found first on the grounds of Kamloops Indian Residential School. We carry their memories with us, and remain committed to justice in their honor.

In this month’s NDN Collective newsletter, we’re highlighting growing Indigenous efforts to reclaim Land, Self-Determination, Two-Spirit identity and Queerness, and while carving out the necessary space to honor and remember those who we continue to demand justice for. We also lift up Changemakers from throughout Turtle Island who are actively building power in their respective homelands, and for our third year, we are excited to announce the open LOI submission phase for the 2022 NDN Changemaker Fellowship.

The future of Indigenous power is bright, it is bold, and at NDN Collective, we are committed to building a world devoted to justice and liberation for all people and the planet.

View the Web Version of This Newsletter

Meet the 2021 Cohort of NDN Changemaker Fellows

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things and Amidst Some of the Most Challenging Circumstances

NDN Collective’s 2021 Cohort of NDN Changemaker Fellows

Earlier this year we announced the 2021 NDN Changemaker Fellows, and now, we want you to meet all 21 of these Indigenous leaders from diverse nations throughout Turtle Island and surrounding island nations.  This second cohort of Changemakers consists of 21 fellows who range from artists, educators, cultural practitioners, historians, healers, activists, community organizers and defenders from 21 distinct communities and regions across Turtle Island and surrounding island nations.

The NDN Changemaker Fellowship is a 12-month opportunity for Indigenous leaders to articulate their vision for social change, to identify the support they will need to get there and to invest in their own development, health, healing and wellbeing. NDN Collective is honored to support visionary Indigenous leaders from across Turtle Island and beyond who are working towards sustainable solutions for their people and homelands.

NDN Collective is now taking LOI submissions for the 2022 NDN Changemaker Fellowship. LOI submissions due Friday, July 30 at 5 pm MST. Learn more here.

Apply for the 2022 Changemaker Fellowship

Honoring Our Queer Relatives

During Pride Month and Beyond

Adrian Stevens (Ute | ShoshoneBannock | San Carlos Apache) Sean Snyder (Diné | Ute) Photo By @ceylongrey

As June arrived and Pride month ensued, NDN Collective celebrated and centered our 2SLGBTQ+ Relatives. This meant challenging how long we celebrate Pride. From the blog, “The Sacredness of our 2SLGBTQ+ Relatives” by Brandi Douglas, NDN Collective Senior Communications Associate: “With gratitude we receive June as a month of celebration– a small corner of respite after years of degradation, shaming, violence and death. But the sacredness of our 2SLGBTQ+ Relatives must be timeless. It must have no bounds and be permanent in this landscape, not subjected to colonial standards of time and space.”

Read the Complete Blog Here

Coyote Park discusses Queer Liberation through Identity + Expression – Watch HERE

Pride Month at NDN also meant engaging with Queer changemakers who are continually working towards Queer Liberation as it relates to Indigeneity, such as Two-Spirit Photographer, Media Maker, Writer and Teacher, Coyote Park. “It isn’t in our nature to be homophobic or queerphobic or transphobic. It isn’t in our nature. If anything, it’s something way beyond these gender and sexuality labels. Especially Eurocentric ones,” said Coyote Park during NDN’s June 15th Instragram Live conversation, “Liberation through Identity and Expression.”

And finally, NDN urged our community to disrupt rainbow capitalism, excepting our Queer Relatives to come as they are. From the blog, “Disrupting Rainbow Capitalism,” by Steph Viera, NDN Collective Social Media Manager and Brandi Douglas, NDN Collective Senior Communications Associate: “As is the case with the appropriation of Indigenous cultures, this commodification of the rainbow flag and Queer culture does little to nothing to benefit those within the 2SLGBTQ+ community itself, nor does it address the violence continually directed towards these relatives. More often than not, these corporations completely fail to shed light on the origins of Pride as an act of resistance, led by Black and Brown Queers, whose efforts were centered on liberation. Meanwhile, these same corporations profit off of the Queer struggle.”

Stay tuned for more content centering our Indigiqueer Relatives beyond Pride month!

Read more on Disrupting Rainbow Capitalism Here

Announcing LANDBACK U

A Curriculum on How to Join The Fight to Return Land to Indigenous Hands

On June 15th, 2021 NDN Collective’s LANDBACK Campaign announced the launch of LANDBACK U, or LANDBACK University– a free, comprehensive, online learning platform to engage in political education and discussions on topics critical to the Indigenous movement to reclaim land and relationship to land.

“Since time immemorial, the passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next has been instrumental to our survival,” said Krystal Two Bulls, NDN Collective’s LANDBACK Campaign Director. “We have maintained our languages, ceremonies, songs, spirituality and way of life through atrocities no Peoples should have to endure. LANDBACK U will not only offer avenues to reclaim land, but insight into what is possible when we reclaim our relationship with the land.”

Read more about LANDBACK U and Register Here

KXL is Dead

After Years of Arduous Indigenous-led Advocacy and Frontline Efforts

NDN responds to the termination of KXL

On June 10, 2021, after a long sought after victory, the Keystone XL project was terminated— a feat resulting from years of pressure from Indigenous organizers and frontliners and proof that persistence and continued action by the original stewards of these lands yields impactful results.

“Indigenous people, Tribal Nations and our allies shut down the KXL pipeline permanently! The power of the people has the ability to shut down some of the richest and most powerful corporations in the world. TC Energy has thrown in the towel and taken a knee to the first peoples of these lands. We must now turn our energy in this moment towards supporting the indigenous led movement to shut down the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline project in northern Minnesota,” said Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective President and CEO.

“The end of KXL is an affirmation that persistence works, that intersectional organizing works, and that when we center our efforts in our Indigenous values and in our respect for water, land, and our people, we win…”said Jade Begay, Climate Justice Campaign Director for the NDN Collective.

Read More at the NDN Collective Blog

More Than A Number

Discovering and Grieving Our Lost Children

NDN Collective joins the call for continued searches for mass and unmarked graves on all properties of former Indian residential schools across Canada and the United States. NDN Powered Image.

A little more than a month ago, a mass grave of 215 Indigenous children was identified at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. This news sent shockwaves throughout Indigenous communities. Collectively we mourn, grieve, and demand justice for the systematic genocide that occurred within Indian Residential Schools. 

“Erasure is when your life, your experience and even your death is covered up– buried– when the narrative is controlled by people other than your own people,” said Gaby Strong, NDN Foundation Managing Director.  “But spirits don’t die. Our stories don’t either.  We call for justice and accountability for the deaths of 215 Indigenous children in Kamloops and all children who never made it home from the boarding school brutalities. Healing requires justice.”

Read More on NDN’s Call for Justice Here

We hold space for the pain in remembrance of all of the babies who were deprived of so much more than a proper burial– they were deprived of love, of justice, of basic human dignity, and their families, deprived of ever knowing the fate of their beloved children. Those 215 babies and countless others were all of our babies, and at the same time, they were our grandmothers and grandfathers. They were our ancestors.

 Read NDN’s Memoriam to Our Lost Children Here

NDN Collective Applauds Sec. Haaland’s Commitment to Investigation into Indian Boarding Schools in the U.S.

“We applaud Sec. Haaland’s leadership in creating a concentrated effort to continue uncovering the dark history of Native boarding schools in this country. Secretary Haaland knows that the United States government cannot treat these horrifying discoveries as a Canadian problem, when the same practices took place here for decades. We as Indigenous people know this history well; it affects our everyday lives, and has for generations. The reality is these schools were created to colonize our people and our lands…”

Read NDNs Full Press Release Here

NDN Hosts 1st MMIW+ 5K Event in Rapid City

Moving Forward Together for Our Relatives

NDN Collective, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe co-organize the first Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives+ 5k Walk Run in Rapid City, South Dakota.

On May 23, NDN hosted a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives+ 5k Walk/Run at the Memorial Park Band Shell in Rapid City, South Dakota. An event created as an opportunity for families, advocates, and community members to gather in support of the global epidemic of MMIW+ felt nationwide. This year’s theme was “Moving Forward Together for Our Relatives”.

“Seeing our community come together, the children running for the people, the prayers that were said over our families, and the space held for those lost and still missing, this was a blessing to see,” said Sunny Red Bear, NDN Collective Racial Equity Campaign Director.  “There is no movement, no change without the people, and that’s what we experienced during the event. It was all so beautiful and brought a powerful momentum into our community to move into action.”

Read more on NDNs MMIW+ 5K Event here

Honoring the Battle of Greasy Grass

Flag of the 7th Cavalry captured by Warriors at the Battle of Greasy Grass. Image by NDN Collective.

This year signified 145 years since allied bands of Lakota, Dakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and other Warriors resisted Col. George A. Custer and his regiment of soldiers. Custer and his men were on a mission to forcibly remove a large encampment of Native Peoples residing along the Little Big Horn River in an area commonly known as ‘Greasy Grass’. In a victory that transcends time this battle would become a symbol of the continued plight of Indigenous Peoples to retain traditional homelands, cultures, and lifeways. 

“Today commemorates a powerful day of victory and unity,” said Krystal Two Bulls (Oglala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne), NDN Collective’s LANDBACK Campaign Director.  “It is a day to celebrate the power of our Ancestors’ coming together to defend our ways of life and protect the land. It is also a day for us to draw from our Ancestors’ sacrifices and prayers to fight our own fights and win our own victories.”

Read More on the Battle of Greasy Grass Here

Program Updates

NDN Action Announces Team Expansion + Campaign Launches

NDN Collective’ Racial Equity campaign organized an MMIW+ Walk and Run in Rapid City. Photo by Angel White Eyes.

A message from Korina Barry, Managing Director of NDN Action:

2021 has been a busy year for NDN Action. One of our main focuses in the first half of this year has been building out the capacity of the NDN Action team. We currently have a team of 18 staff members and four active campaigns! The four campaigns include: Education Equity, LANDBACK, Racial Equity, and Climate Justice. Each campaign deploys a three-pronged approach in working to Defend, Develop, and Decolonize. These approaches include organizing and base building around key issues, utilizing legal and political strategy to create viable pathways for change, and lastly the implementation of the new models and approaches we fight for. Below you can read some quick highlights on what our campaigns are working on.


The LANDBACK campaign recently launched LANDBACK U, a free online learning platform to engage in political education and discussions on topics critical to our movement to reclaim land and our relationship to land. You can register now for the next module “Hawaiian Kingdom & Aloha ʻĀina – Contemporary Land Struggles.” Keep an eye out for registration for the August module, “Palestine & The Right of Return & LANDBACK.”

Racial Equity

The Racial Equity campaign is focused on creating long-term housing solutions alongside self determination for our people. The campaign team spent the winter focusing all of their energy offering mutual aid, safe shelter, and protection to unsheltered relatives on occupied Indigenous lands at Camp Mniluzahan. The next phase of this work will include the development of a tiny home community for our unsheltered relatives in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Education Equity

The Education Equity campaign has been working diligently to build equity for Indigenous students in the educational system in South Dakota. Part of this work has included a current partnership with the NACA Inspired Schools Network on the development of an Indigenous-led community-based school in Rapid City, South Dakota. 

Climate Justice

The NDN Climate Justice Campaign is Launching!  Join us across all our platforms from July 12th – July 16th as our Climate Justice team debuts their campaign, “Dreaming The Indigenous Dream.” Throughout the entirety of this week they will be releasing resources,  and hosting public conversations with their partners that aim to seed the Indigenous Dream in all of our hearts. The directive has never been so clear: We must listen to the land and waters and those who know how to tend them best. 

We are organizing forward– for the Earth, for justice, for our collective healing. 

In Honor of Juneteenth, NDN Passed the Mic

IG Takeover with Nangghaahlaangstangs 

On June 19th, in honor of Juneteenth and our Black and Afro-Indigenous Relatives, NDN passed the mic to Nangghaahlaangstangs (Haida, Tlingit & Black), Father and former NBA player, who took to NDN’s Instagram sharing more on his lived experience as an Afro-Indigenous person as well as how youth can continue to build Black and Indigenous solidarity.

Watch Highlights from Nangghaahlaangstangs’s IG Takeover

NDN is Hiring!