Issue #6 / 2023

Radically Imagining Indigenous Futures

July-August 2023 Newsletter

Tawny Wilson, NDN Fund Director of Lending, Stan Meader, Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, and Charles Walsh, American Unagi, pose with smoked eel products. Photo by Weldon Grover, Tactical Media Associate for NDN Collective.

At NDN Collective, we are dedicated to strategizing, mobilizing, and investing into Indigenous solutions. We build power alongside hundreds of Indigenous communities across Turtle Island and surrounding island nations as they defend their lands and people, develop sustainable solutions, and decolonize everyday practices and systems.

In our latest newsletter, we are proud to lift up some of that work. Read more to see, feel, and experience the brilliance of Indigenous-led community organizing and radical art that inspires. Take action, by supporting local Indigenous re-building and mobilizing in Maui, and by signing a petition to free our relative, the longest-held Indigenous political prisoner, Leonard Peltier.

We remain honored and humbled to this work in community with all of you.

View the Web Version of the Newsletter Here

Radical Imagination Experience: The Art of Creative Resistance and Change

NDN Collective Showcases Artists from the 2021 Cohort in Santa Fe, NM

Graphic Art by NDN Collective.

On Friday August 18, NDN Collective hosted the Radical Imagination Experience: The Art of Creative Resistance & Change in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The free and immersive event welcomed the local community and SWAIA visitors to SITE Santa Fe for a day of powerful conversation and inspiring creative activities. In anticipation to the Radical Imagination Experience we highlighted the work of 8 attending artists.

In these Q&A blogs with the artists we dive a little deeper into the things that inspire their work, connect them to their roots, and continue to bring forward Indigenous narratives.

Community Salmon, & Water: How Indigenous Illustrator Jackie Fawn Creates Art for the Movement

There is something powerful about Indigenous art today that boldly takes new forms, yet with the same reverence for culture and community that our people have always had. The  Indigenous artists behind that work chart powerful new paths with their creations, inspiring a radically imagined future where all Indigenous people thrive. One of the artists doing that work today is Jackie Fawn– a Yurok, Washoe, and Surigaonon graphic illustrator who infuses creative resistance into her illustrations for the people. 

Read the Full Q&A Blog with Jackie Fawn Here
‘We are Here!’: Indigenous Art & Expression From Opposite Ends of Turtle Island

As Indigenous Peoples, art is woven into the fabric of our communities and cultures. Much of our traditional lifestyles are passed down through creative expression or preserved through storytelling. The bearers of  traditional knowledge today share the teachings of their people and ancestors through a variety of mediums, from visual drawings or painting, beadwork, weaving and  radio broadcasts. 

Two Indigenous artists and culture-bearers doing this work today are Amadeo Cool May and Ilegvak Williams. Coming from two ends of Turtle Island, also known as North America, Ilegvak, Yu’pik from Alaska and Amadeo, Maya from southern Mexico, each have found ways to preserve and share their respective cultural knowledge alongside their communities through various mediums working to dismantle colonial structures for their people.

Read the Full Q&A Blog with Ilgevak Williams & Amadeo Cool May Here
Taking Our Ancestors With Us: Two Artists Cultivate Community Awareness through Transformative Art

Art is an invitation gifted by the artist that envisions greater community engagement and an opportunity to create through life’s greatest challenges. What emerges from these creations is both transformational and inspirational, not only to the observer, but the artist as well. Two such creatives transforming and inspiring are Nora Noranjo Morse – a Kha’P’O’ Tewa (Santa Clara Pueblo) contemporary artist, and Nivia Toro Lopez – a Borikén (Taíno) potter.

Read the Full Q&A Blog with Nora Naranjo Morse & Nivia Toro Lopez Here
Performers as Medicine: How Marx Cassity, Dakota Camacho, and Mic Jordan Perform to Incite Healing & Connection

Often we envision performing artists as those whose sole aspiration is to entertain us, but there is a medicine living and breathing in the movements, words, prayers and intentions set forth in this artform. Medicine that validates our experiences, provides comfort, invites celebration and incites joy. Three performing artists providing this medicine are Marx Cassity – Osage Musician, Dakota Camacho – Matao/CHamoru Multi-Disciplinary artist and Jordan Brien aka Mic Jordan – Turtle Mountain Ojibwe Musician and Creative Designer.

Read the Full Q&A Blog with Marx, Dakota, and Mic Jordan Here
Related Article | NDN Collective to Hold Free Event Focused on Resistance & Art

“Having completed their artistic journeys as Radical Imagination artists, these ten creative Natives will be sharing the gifts of their talents and the medicine of their arts with the world — through song, live art creation, and presentation,” said Tina Kuckkahn (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe), NDN Foundation’s Associate Director. “We believe in the power of Indigenous artists to envision a new and better world for all living beings, and now we have the honor of witnessing their gifts unfold.”

Read the Full Press Release Here
Watch the Entire Livestream of the Radical Imagination Experience + Concert Available on our YouTube Channel

Watch the Full Livestream of the Radical Imagination Experience & Concert Here
📱Follow Us on Social Media & Stay Tuned for More Highlights from the Radical Imagination Experience

Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | LinkedIn | YouTube

NDN Collective Releases Statement on Maui

Wildfire Tragedy Urges Native Hawaiian-led Solutions

Graphic Art by NDN Collective.

As the death toll from the Maui wildfires continues to rise and communities come together to offer support, the Native Hawaiian community is already grappling with the threat of a new wave of colonialism on their ancestral homelands. Thousands of acres, and hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed, displacing thousands and leaving many separated from and still searching for their loved ones. 

During a time when people are confused, scared, hurt, and displaced, there is already a fear and real danger that corporations and wealthy outsiders will swoop in to grab land from local residents. 

“Right now, we are on the verge of being erased. My fear is what happened after Hurricane ‘Iniki on Kauaʻi will happen here. Hundreds of outsiders arrived and reaped the benefits of the relief, and the population exploded and local people were displaced. We are doing everything we can to ensure that does not happen in Lāhaina” – Keʻeaumoku Kapu, Community Leader, Director, Na ʻAikane o Maui 

Read the Full Press Release Here

What’s the Big Eel?

How this Passamaquoddy Tribe built a sustainable infrastructure for traditional eel harvesting

(L-R) Charles Walsh, American Unagi; Tawny Wilson (Sicangu Lakota), NDN Fund Director of Lending; and Stan Meader, Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, pose with smoked eel products. Photo by Weldon Grover (Dine, Hopi) Tactical Media Associate for NDN Collective.

On March 22nd, the NDN Fund and NDN Tactical Media team journeyed to so-called Maine to learn about the impact of the NDN Fund’s CDFI loan of $1.57 M into a project known to us as the “eel deal.” The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township applied for the loan to revitalize traditional eel harvesting practices and to invest in a sustainable eel aquaculture farm called American Unagi

In addition to securing loan capital, NDN Fund, the investing and lending arm of the NDN Collective, utilizes a braided capital approach. “For us, it’s about relationship management and we will do everything we can to make sure our loan relatives are successful. We do not do this type of work for the revenue or interest repayments, we do this type of work because it’s so vital and needed in Indian Country,” said Tawny Wilson, Sicangu Lakota, Director of Lending at NDN Fund.

Read the Full Blog Here

NDN Collective Meets with President Biden

The President Visits Belen, NM on International Day of Indigenous Peoples

Jade Begay, NDN Collective Director of Policy and Advocacy, pictured with President Biden during his visit to Belen, New Mexico. Photo Courtesy of Jade Begay.

Belen, NM – On August 9, the White House Office of Public Engagement hosted an event discussing the impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) on the economy and the shift towards clean energy. 

Before the event, Jade Begay (Director of Policy and Advocacy at NDN Collective) was able to speak with President Biden, where she expressed gratitude for these historic climate investments into Tribes and Indigenous communities. She encouraged him to ensure these investments are made available to Indigenous organizations in addition to Tribal governments, in order to reach as many Native people and communities as possible. Finally, she brought up the President’s designation of the Grand Canyon as a national monument yesterday, and underscored the ongoing fight to return the Black Hills to the Lakota Tribes, asking for his administration’s support in this effort.

Read the Full Press Release Here
Related Article | On Int’l Day of Indigenous Peoples, NDN Collective Video Recenters Need for Indigenous led Climate Solutions

Rapid City, SD – Today, on the International Day of Indigenous PeoplesNDN Collective released a video uplifting the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus of COP27 to remind the world that addressing climate change effectively and equitably requires centering solutions by Indigenous people across the globe. 

“The contribution of Indigenous Peoples within global climate discussions has never been more important. Increasing presence of fires, floods, and extreme weather facing our Lands, Waters, Ice, and Territories shows us that dominant approaches are not working,” said Graeme Reed, Strategic Advisor, Assembly of First Nations.

Read the Full Press Release Here

Why We March Toward Justice

11 Police Killings in 2 Years in Rapid City, Majority Indigenous Victims

Protesters at the front of the March Toward Justice come together in dance, song, and prayer. Photo by Richard Blue Cloud Castaneda for NDN Action Network.

During the March Toward Justice, relatives of all ages held signs that read “No Killer Cops On Stolen Land,” which unequivocally speaks to the police murders and systemic racism perpetrated by Rapid City Police and the US government, who have consistently and illegally broken treaties. 

Other community members held handmade signs and banners that identified family members who were harmed by the Rapid City Police Department– the reason they were marching. Youth participants led a puppet school bus representing the school-to-prison pipeline. The bus puppeteers pranced around the march, with messaging on the bus outlining facts about youth incarceration, followed by a young relative chained to the end of the bus.

The bus puppet points to a glaring statistic: The 3,000 Indigenous students currently enrolled in Rapid City Area Schools make up only 17% of the school population; Yet, they are the most heavily disciplined, and represent 100% of school expulsions. 

Read the Full Recap Blog Here
Press Release | NDN Action Network Holds March Toward Justice, Calls for Overhaul of Policing

Hundreds of community members gathered on July 4th in Rapid City, SD as part of the March Toward Justice, a collective effort to hold the police state accountable. Photo by Angel White Eyes for NDN Action Network.

“Today is the continuation of our expression of our love for the people, for our community. We marched to give power to our voices but what we do now, is where the power of our collectiveness is going to become a catalyst for systemic change,” said Sunny Red Bear, NDN Action Network Local Organizer, “We have a plan, we have numbers & we have a prayerful path forward. We encourage our entire community to plug in, to not remain complacent but to put our vision for a just reality into actions. You’re reading this, so you heard us, now we’re asking our community to continue standing with us.”

Read the Full Press Release Here
Press Release | NDN Action Network Releases Statement on Planned July 4th March

On July 4, NDN Action Network will mobilize along with the Indigenous community and allies in Rapid City for a March Toward Justice against targeted police violence against the Indigenous community, and in remembrance of those who are no longer with us.

In response to news of the upcoming family-friendly march, Mayor Steve Allender issued a “public safety warning” and held a press conference urging the public to report so-called “suspicious activity” over the next few days. 

In response, NDN Action Network issued the following statement: 

“The March Toward Justice is being planned by a diverse coalition of organizations and grassroots people who call Rapid City home, and are collaborating to publicly call out the continued violence of police against Indigenous people. We are planning a peaceful, family-friendly march, gathering, and ceremony on a day when many people choose to uplift a false notion of American freedom.

Read the Full Statement Here
Blog | NDN Action Network to March Towards Justice for so-called Independence

NDN Action Network collaborates with Indigenous organizations, allies, and local businesses to partake in a non-violent direct action calling out systemic racism, police violence, and high rates of incarceration of Indigenous Peoples in South Dakota. 

The March Toward Justice is a collective effort led by the community that will occur on July 4th, or so-called Independence Day, to disrupt business as usual. Over 60+ community organizations and allies will gather at the corner of Kansas City St. and East Blvd in Rapid City, South Dakota at 4:00 pm (MT) to raise awareness of the ongoing police violence targeting the Indigenous community and demand police accountability.

“There are a lot of people here in Rapid City that want to take a stand against racism and we wanted to create an opportunity for everyone in our community to do that,” said Sunny Red Bear, NDN Collective Local Organizer. “We cannot fight racism alone, as Indigenous People, and as the ones who are experiencing it, we need everyone to be a part of the solution. That is why we broadened the campaign and called it Rapid City vs. Racism because it is going to take all of us. It is going to take the whole community to end racism and discrimination.”

Read the Full Blog Here
Watch the March Toward Justice Live Coverage & More on our YouTube Channel

Access the NDN Live Streams on our YouTube Channel Here

H.R. 4374 Threatens to Nullify Recent Chaco Canyon Win

Great Chaco Coalition Calls for Stronger Protection Efforts

Greater Chaco Coalition Calls for Stronger Protection Efforts for the Greater Chaco Landscape in Response to Congressional Hearing

Addressing the controversy surrounding H.R. 4374, the Greater Chaco Coalition has issued a compelling open letter, signed by 111 organizations, urging Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to reinforce her commitment to the Honoring Chaco Initiative. The Coalition recognizes the immense promise of this initiative in preserving the sacred landscape and addressing the legacy impacts of sacrifice zones, all while prioritizing critical principles of health, justice, equity, and sustainability in the management of the region.

Read the Full Press Release Here

NDN Collective Breathes Sigh of Relief Re: ICWA Decision

Supporters gather outside the Supreme Court in prayer as oral arguments are delivered on October 9, 2022. Photo by Steph Viera for NDN Collective.

On June 15, 2023 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled to uphold the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in the Haaland vs Brackeen case. This decision is in line with the views of at least 486 tribal nations, 59 national and regional Tribal Organizations, countless Indigenous people, and many people who work within the social services system who recognize the importance of raising children within their own cultural backgrounds and communities. This ruling not only protects the cultural health of Indigenous youth and families – it reaffirms the rights of tribal nations to be involved in decisions concerning the wellbeing of their own citizens.

“ICWA is one tool to prevent the continued cultural genocide of Indigenous people in the so-called United States, and is critical to the wellbeing of our youth and people as a whole,” said Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of NDN Collective. “Ensuring Native children can be held and raised by their own communities is an important way to heal our people from the colonization and brutalization waged by the US government for hundreds of years. We must go further, by continuing to address the root causes of Indigenous children still being taken from their families — deeply entrenched trauma and poverty fueled by systemic racism, lack of Indigenous sovereignty, and governmental neglect.”

Read the Full Press Release Here

NDN Collective Joins Celebration of Chaco Canyon Decision

Dine and Pueblo citizens gather in solidarity at DOI event to acknowledge the Honoring Chaco Decision. Photo by Richard Castaneda.

NDN Collective joined Diné and Pueblo community partners at an event hosted by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to celebrate the Biden Administration’s decision to withdraw public lands from new mineral development and establish a 10-mile buffer zone surrounding the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

“The protections provided to Chaco Canyon in the decision by President Biden and Secretary Haaland are the result of tireless efforts by grassroots organizers who fought to protect this landscape, held sacred by Diné and Pueblo peoples, from the devastating impacts of oil and gas development. Though our Nations may have different relationships to the Greater Chaco Region, we stand united in our responsibility to protect and preserve our shared cultural heritage for current and future generations. We continue calling on all nations, including tribal governments, to sever their ties with oil and gas and instead uplift and implement sustainable solutions rooted in traditional ecological knowledge,” said Janene Yazzie, NDN Collective Southwest Regional Director.

Read the Full Press Release Here
Watch the Chaco Canyon Debrief Discussion Here

LANDBACK For the People Podcast

LANDBACK For the People is dedicated to lifting up the revolutionary strides within the liberation movement for Indigenous Peoples and our homelands.

LANDBACK For the People provides an up-close-and-personal experience that is bold, action-oriented, and solution-focused. Photo by Willi White for NDN Collective.

Ep. 4 | Legal Warriors and the fight for Land Liberation

When Indigenous people say that we are fighting for LandBack by any means necessary, we aim to address the multi-pronged approach we take within the movement. We know that not one tactic alone will liberate the people and our land. In episode 4 of the LANDBACK For the People podcast, NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen and guests speak to how the legal system, although colonial, is still a viable avenue to fight for LandBack.

Listen to Episode 4 on Spotify Here
Ep. 3 | ‘Āina Back: For the Hawaiian Kingdom

NDN Collective President + CEO Nick Tilsen opens the circle to our ohana from Hawaii Unity and Liberation Institute, connecting the fight to liberate the lands across the ocean.

Listen to Episode 3 on Spotify Here
Ep. 2 | Fighting Racism in the Hesapa

On this episode we hear from Sunny Red Bear, Hermus Bettelyoun, and Anissa Martin from the NDN Collective Organizing Team.

The conversation is focused on the intersections of racism and LANDBACK and connect the theft of Indigenous lands to our struggles today collectively for everyone across NDN Country.

Listen to Episode 2 on Spotify Here
Ep. 1 | Madonna Thunder Hawk: A Matriarch of the Movement

In this first episode of LANDBACK FOR THE PEOPLE, Nick Tilsen sits at the table with matriarch Madonna Thunder Hawk (Oohenumpa Lakota). Madonna jokingly calls herself the Forest Gump of Indigenous resistance, since, over the last 55 years, she’s been at almost every focal point in the fight for Indigenous liberation.

Listen to Episode 1 on Spotify Here
All LANDBACK For the People Podcasts episode recordings are also available on YouTube for viewing

Be sure to like and subscribe to get alerts for when new episodes drop!

Also Available on: Apple Podcasts | Amazon Music | Audible

NDN Live On-the-Ground

Join our Tactical Media Team as they engage in LIVE discussions & provide LIVE coverage of events happening across Turtle Island

Lorenzo Serna, NDN Collective Director of Tactical Media. Photo By Steph Viera for NDN Collective.

Radical Imagination Experience | Santa Fe, NM

On Friday August 18th we were LIVE at the Radical Imagination Experience – the Art of Creative Resistance and Change at SITE Santa Fe in Santa Fe, NM, a FREE immersive event leading us into SWAIA Indian Market weekend.

The event, occurred between 11am MT – 9pm MT (with intermittent breaks),showcasing the empowering creativity of the 2021 Cohort of Radical Imagination artists through never-heard-before panel discussions, visual art-making, live music performances, photo booths, food, drinks and more!

Watch the Full Livestream of the Radical Imagination Experience Here
March Toward Justice | Rapid City, SD

On July 4th NDN Action Network mobilized hundreds of Rapid City community members for the March Towards Justice, calling for an overhaul of the policing system that continues skirting accountability and transparency, allowing for the disproportionate targeting and killing of Indigenous people to go unchecked and unaddressed. Lorenzo Serna, NDN Collective Director of Tactical Media, and their team were live on the ground to interview march attendees and capture the march as it unfolded.

Watch the Full Livestream of the March Here
March Toward Justice Press Conference | Rapid City, SD

On July 3rd, NDN Action Network held a press conference outside the Pennington County Courthouse in Rapid City, South Dakota. Surrounded by an intergenerational group of community members and allies, Indigenous local organizers and advocates Sunny Red Bear, Jeremiah Moreno, Norma Rendon, Caylee Martinez, Anissa Martin along with ally and housing advocate Mary Haan spoke up against systemic racism, police violence, and outlined their demands.

Watch the Full Livestream of the Press Conference Here
March Toward Justice Community Art Build – Day 1 | Rapid City, SD

On July 1st, ahead of the July 4th March Toward Justice, Lorenzo Serna, NDN Collective Director of Tactical Media, was live at NDN Action Network’s Community Art Build at Oaye Luta Okolakiciye. Relatives of all ages were invited to attend and learn how to create and make their own art in support of the March. Tune into 2 days of art building!

Watch Day 1 of the March Toward Justice Community Art Build Here
Watch Day 2 of the March Toward Justice Community Art Build Here

Take Action

Join the Caravan to DC for Leonard Peltier’s 79th Birthday

September 12, 2023, is Leonard Peltier’s 79th birthday! We are asking you to join NDN Collective on the ground in Washington, D.C. to take action and call for our elder’s release. 

What: Leonard Peltier’s 79th Birthday Action
When: Tuesday, September 12, 2023 | 12 PM – 2 PM ET
Where: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC

RSVP to the Action in Washington, D.C.
🚌Caravan Details | What you need to know

Leading up to the action, NDN Collective is coordinating a 4-stop caravan pick-up for Leonard Peltier supporters in the following cities: Rapid City, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. Seats on the caravan buses are limited and an RSVP is required. 

Tentative Schedule:

Thursday, September 7th –  Ceremony at Jumping Bull Compound. 
Friday, September 8th – Depart Rapid City**. Arrive in Minneapolis
Saturday, September 9th – Arrive in Chicago, Overnight in Chicago. 
Sunday, September 10th – Arrive in Pittsburgh, Depart Pittsburgh.
Monday, September 11th – Arrive in Washington D.C.
Tuesday, September 12th – Free Leonard Peltier: 79th Birthday Action. Leave Washington D.C. to travel home.

**Please note: the Rapid City bus is FULL, though all other city stops still have vacancies. Reserve your seat ASAP!

RSVP to Join the Caravan Here
Can’t Make it to Washington D.C? Here is How You Can Help:

📱Call: @whitehouse at (202) 456-1111
💻 Email: @whitehouse at
📩Write to Leonard Peltier: Leonard Peltier #89637-132 USP Coleman I P.O. Box 1033 Coleman, FL 33521
✍🏽Please sign and share this petition created by Native Organizers Alliance

Sign the Petition to #FreeLeonard
Combat Racism in Rapid City, SD!

From 2001-2023 there have been 79 police involved shootings statewide, 0 convictions of police officers. 75% of the fatal shooting victims were Indigenous People. Our collective responsibility is to ensure justice, safety, and equal treatment for all residents of Rapid City.

On July 4th NDN Action Network mobilized hundreds of Rapid City community members for the March Towards Justice, calling for an overhaul of the policing system that continues skirting accountability and transparency, allowing for the disproportionate targeting and killing of Indigenous people to go unchecked and unaddressed.

Take action now against this continued violence and racism enacted upon Indigenous Peoples in Rapid City.

Text “RapidVRacism” to 50302 to join the campaign!
Sign & Share the Petition: No Cops on Stolen Land
Donate to the NDN Action Network Legal Fund & Protect our Relatives Mobilizing in Rapid City
Become a Volunteer with NDN Action Network

NDN Collective is Hiring!

Join our Team of Indigenous Movement Builders

Director of Organizing

The Director of Organizing will be responsible for providing support to the Managing Director of NDN Action and will directly manage the local NDN organizing core made up of 8 local organizers in the Rapid City Community.

Learn more about the Dirctor of Organizing position and apply here
Media & Public Relations Officer

The Media & Public Relations Officer acts as the primary media contact for the NDN Collective ecosystem and the President & CEO, creating and managing communications and messaging that shape public opinion and increase awareness of the NDN brand.

Learn more about the Media & Public Relations Officer position and apply here