The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe in Indigenous communities, and in the face of these significant challenges, tribal communities have mobilised and leveraged resources to mitigate hardship.
A new report from the group Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) looks how the Indigenous community responded, by analysing Indigenous-led response funds and sharing the perspectives of community leaders who organised response efforts. The report also provides key actions for the philanthropy sector to invest in a thriving and sustainable future for Indigenous communities.
The report gives several broad recommendations to the philanthropic sector:
- Invest in Indigenous-led organizations and initiatives
- Maximize general operating support.
- Diversify vehicles for investment.
- And invest in Indigenous community strengths and leadership.
Through their research, NAP identified a total of $32 million in philanthropic funding that was distributed to Native communities between March and October 2020. The funds were generated by both nonprofit organisations, and GoFundMe campaigns.
‘The over $8 million invested in response efforts through the GoFundMe platform carries with it an important lesson for the broader philanthropic sector,’ the report said. ‘Philanthropy’s traditional vehicles and structures to move money do not work for the diverse range of organizations, initiatives, and mutual aid networks that organized to meet the ongoing challenges of Covid-19. Philanthropy should identify as many flexible and responsive options as possible to invest in Indigenous-led efforts.’
The moment for Indigenous wisdom is now.
The report also includes interviews with several Indigenous community leaders about how they moved quickly to distribute financial resources and establish new innovative support networks during the pandemic.
‘The moment for Indigenous wisdom is now. Stakeholders in the sector must consult with our Indigenous relatives through informed support relationships,’ said Vanessa Roanhorse (Navajo) and Olivia Roanhorse (Navajo) of Roanhorse Consulting.
‘While the pandemic has laid bare inequities in our communities, it has also showcased the strength and resilience of our people. This has been especially true in the way that tribal communities have organized to get resources to the ground with support from the philanthropic sector,’ said Erik Stegman (Carry the Kettle Nakoda), Executive Director of Native Americans in Philanthropy. ‘We hope this report inspires philanthropy to partner in the long-term with our communities by investing in Native leadership.’
To read the full report, Indigenous Community Leadership in Response to Covid-19: A Call to Action for the Philanthropic Sector, click here.