Native American Empowerment, Cultural Preservation, & Tribal Sovereignty are focus areas important to the indigenous peoples, or First Americans, in the United States today. In addition to strengthening the sovereignty of Tribal Nations, native communities continue to sustain their way of life through their languages, traditions, and cultural heritage. Indigenous to the lands of North America, tribal members continue to be impacted by generations of forced removal from their homelands and the aftermath of historical trauma. Stripped of their identities through failed assimilation policies of the federal government, the collision of colonization, land exploitation, and religious conversion have led to cultural and social conflicts still felt in the present day. First Americans continue to build strength, preserve cultures, and have empowered young people to lead over 566 Tribal Nations in the Unites States today. Fellows who work in this issue area have worked to preserve Native languages, fought for LGBTQ+ rights within Native tribes, create self-empowerment spaces for Native youth, and more.
An example of a Fellow’s work in this issue area is that of 2011 Fellow Tiffany Bahnimptewa, who developed a youth council so young Natives in her community could have a space in which to express themselves and discuss civic engagement, tribal heritage and politics, and more.
Many thanks to Alray Nelson ’12 and People For the American Way Foundation staff for their help in the shaping of this issue area. Featured image from Al Jazeera article on YP4 2012 Fellow Alray Nelson.