Issue #07 / 2019

Honoring a Legacy of Indigenous Resistance and Persistence

A canoe family paddles toward Alcatraz during the first-ever Alcatraz Canoe Journey. October 14, 2019. Photo by Joey Montoya.

October was an eventful month for Indigenous people all across Turtle Island. From the growing number of Indigenous Peoples’ Day declarations, which simultaneously subverted Columbus Day, to the countless celebrations of Indigenous resistance and persistence, to NDN Collective’s own one-year anniversary– Indigenous organizing and movement building are reaching new heights. We are here for all of it.

An especially significant moment in the past month occurred on Ohlone shores in what is known today as San Francisco, at the first-ever Alcatraz Canoe Journey on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Canoe families from several Tribal Nations gathered to honor a 50-year legacy of Indigenous movement building, paying homage to the 1969 Occupation of Alcatraz, where young and passionate Indigenous people in the Bay Area reclaimed the once prison-island in the name of Indigenous sovereignty.

So much has happened since the Occupation of Alcatraz and the rise of the greater Red Power Movement led by our foremothers and forefathers. That spirit of resistance and persistence, of surviving and thriving as Indigenous people, is still alive and well.

Read more about the Alcatraz Canoe Journey

NDN Collective Celebrates One Year of Building Indigenous Power

A message from NDN Collective President and CEO, Nick Tilsen

NDN Collective Headquarters in Downtown Rapid City, South Dakota.

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day of 2018, the NDN Collective launched  as a new organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Since that day, we have hit the ground running, setting out on a visionary journey to tear down systems of oppression, to fight for climate justice, to close the education inequality gap, to challenge white supremacy within philanthropy, and invest into Indigenous self-determination. 

As we reflect upon our first year as an organization, it’s important to also acknowledge the groundwork that supported our vision and enabled us to make it this far. While NDN Collective publicly and officially launched one year ago, the body of work taking place right now was actually years in the making. The very concept of the NDN Collective, its theory of change and its proposition for radical transformation was born out of the roots of the work taking place in my home community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Read more

Thunberg and Tokata Iron Eyes Join Forces and Elevate Climate Justice Conversation

Tokata Iron Eyes and Greta Thunberg march in the streets of downtown Rapid City. Photo by Adam Fondren, Rapid City Journal [AP].

“This crisis does not care about the imaginary political boundaries that we put up among each other,” said Iron Eyes at the Rapid City rally. “This crisis does not care whether you’re rich or poor, you’re black, you’re white or Indigenous.”

Hundreds of people gathered and marched with the two youth, from Rapid City’s Memorial Park to the Mayor’s office. Thunberg, at just 16 years old, and Iron Eyes, also 16 years old, have walked similar paths in different hemispheres of the globe, both fighting for climate justice, protection of the land, air and water. 

VICTORY! NDN Collective and Others Win Settlement Protecting Our Right to Mobilize Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

Photo Courtesy of Indigene Studios.

October 29– U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol approved the settlement that says South Dakota won’t enforce current state laws that prohibit protected speech and are aimed at suppressing protests against the Keystone XL pipeline. The settlement makes permanent an earlier federal court ruling that temporarily blocked enforcement of unconstitutional provisions of the anti-protest laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of South Dakota and the Robins Kaplan law firm filed the case on behalf of four organizations: Dakota Rural Action, Indigenous Environmental Network, NDN Collective and the Sierra Club; and two individuals: Nick Tilsen with NDN Collective and Dallas Goldtooth with Indigenous Environmental Network. All are planning to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and/or encourage others to do so.


Recent Events Attended by NDN Collective Staff 

NDN Collective Creative Director Jade Begay speaks to Indigenous attendees of the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, CA.

Bioneers Conference – San Rafael, CA

This month the NDN Collective attended the 30th annual Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California. Other than make our first appearance in this space that fosters education and conversation around solutions for people and Mother Earth, we were particularly excited about participating in the Indigenous Forum, curated by Cara Romero and Alexis Buten. This forum is host to three days of panels, dialouges, and workshops that center contemporary issues Indigenous Peoples are facing such as climate change, mis-representation, environmental and social injustice, all while honoring and amplifying Indigenous knowledge as a critical component to solving these issues. The forum also creates a platform for Indigenous leaders and visionaries to share their transformative and regenerative solutions for these urgent issues of our time.

While each conversation within the forum was rich with insight, our favorite panels and keynotes within the Indigenous Forum were: 

From Alcatraz to Standing Rock, and Beyond: On the Past 50 and the Next 50 Years of Indigenous Activism: A conversation that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the student-led occupation at Alcatraz and how this movement’s legacy is being carried on through current land, water, and now, climate justice fights. We were especially honored to hear from LaNada War Jack, who is one of the original organizers of the Alcatraz Occupation. 

Film | Life In The City of Dirty Water: Life in the City of Dirty Water offered us an intimate portrait of the remarkable life of Indigenous climate change campaigner, Clayton Thomas-Muller, who went from being an abused child and an addicted and incarcerated street hustler to becoming a father, husband and one of the nation’s most renowned activists (with the Indigenous Environmental Network, Idle No More, and

Leila Salazar-Lopez Keynote Address: The Amazon at a Tipping Point: Can We Turn It Around?: This keynote was especially important for us to hear as it reminds us that we must continue to build Indigenous solidarity globally. What happens in the Amazon affects us here in the North. Ecological collapse in the south means ecological collapse and worsened climate disasters in the north. As Indigenous Peoples of the world, we must continue to fulfill the Eagle-Condor Prophecy and come together to protect our homelands, our sacred places, and our rights. 

Change the Name Rally: Vikings v. R**skins – Minneapolis, MN 

In support of Indigenous movement-building, self-determination and narrative change work, the NDN Collective attended the Change the Name March and Rally in downtown Minneapolis in the lead-up to the Vikings versus Washington R**skins football game on October 24. Indigenous organizers, families, allies, leaders of Tribal Nations, and state and national leaders joined the march and rally, which began at Peavey Park and concluded in front of U.S. Bank Stadium.

For an up-close view of the action, watch the live-stream of the march and rally at NDN Collective’s Facebook page.

Opportunity Collaboration – Cancun, Mexico 

Members of the NDN Collective team took part in the Opportunity Collaboration (OC) in Cancun, Mexico.  The OC is a 4-day summit of a global network of leaders dedicated to building sustainable solutions to poverty and injustice, with attendees ranging from academics, to investors, to artists.  
A highlight of the OC for NDN Collective was the morning colloquium sessions, which provided opportunities for individuals to authentically share themselves in a group-oriented way, taking a deep dive into understanding personal power and difficult topics such as how race and economics contribute directly to inequality.  The morning conversations were difficult, often emotional, and different from the typical conversations at other conferences.    
The NDN Collective staff in attendance also held a concurrent session on some of the pressing issues faced by Indigenous people today.  Led by NDN Collective President and CEO, Nick Tilsen, staff discussed how issues such as climate change and access to capital relate to the work we all do at the Collective.  Other Indigenous practitioners also in attendance at the conference were brought in to the conversation to talk about their valuable work on the front lines in Indian Country.  NDN Collective staff were able to highlight projects, partnerships and investment opportunities throughout Indian Country around defending land, water, air, culture and community and some of the obstacles we have faced and continue to face in our work.  

NDN Changemaker Fellowship: Application Process Update

From Dr. PennElys Droz, Director of the NDN Fellowship:

October was a big month for the Changemaker Fellowship program.  We advanced our final candidates and have been busy assisting them in submitting their final applications. 

We have learned much from our first year’s selection process, which involved coordinating 60 board members across twenty international regions, and are incorporating that learning into next year’s strategy.   We are also very excited to be working with an Indigenous leadership development team to build out our leadership curriculum which will be offered to our first cohort in the Spring of 2020! 

We will be convening our final, 20-person selection committee in November to make the final selections, and will be announcing our candidates by December.  Our finalists, much like many of the incredible fellowship applicants, represent the beauty and power of our future. They are midwives, language revitalizers, advancers of renewable energy, Indigenous food sovereignty movement builders, entrepreneurs, and traditional tattoo artists. They are hunter and fisherpeople, healers, political representatives, parents, and educators. 

We are so excited about the work already taking place within our communities and look forward to supporting Indigenous leaders and changemakers across Turtle Island and beyond.

For more information about the NDN Changemaker Fellowship, visit the Changemaker Fellowship page on the NDN Collective website.

NDN Collective is Hiring!

Director of Grantmaking
Reporting to and in partnership with the President & CEO, the Director of Grantmaking will oversee grant programs and participate actively in shaping and refining NDN Collective’s holistic changemaking strategy. The Director of Grantmaking will also be an organizational thought leader on all philanthropic issues and develop grantmaking tools and processes that will be deployed across the organization.

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Communications Associate
The Communications Associate is a member of the NDN Collective team, working with staff to implement our strategic communications goals and monitor progress towards these goals. The successful candidate will support all of NDN Collective’s communication tools from print media to the web, and from to our podcast to our blog.

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Director of Evaluation
Reporting to and in partnership with the President & CEO, the Director of Evaluation is responsible for NDN Collective’s monitoring, evaluation, and research components. The Director of Evaluation will contribute to NDN Collective’s information management by advising on the planning, design, and strengthening of program evaluation systems throughout the organization.

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Finance Technician
The Finance Technician performs a variety of technical, and administrative financial support duties in the financial activities of the organization.

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