Dawnland Fund

The Dawnland Fund

Background: The Dawnland Fund is a Native American community re-granting program to support small-scale community-led projects benefiting children, women, and their families from rural, reservation, and inter-tribal urban Indigenous communities across the northeast. The geographic footprint for the Dawnland Fund is based upon longstanding historical and inter-tribal relations among Wabanaki, Mohawk, and southern New England tribal peoples across the Native northeast.

Rationale:  For Native American nonprofits or tribal organizations, obtaining adequate funding for activities, events, and programs can be equated to a salmon swimming upstream against colonial dams, having to repeatedly overcome a variety of seemingly insurmountable obstacles impeding the journey. As we know, few salmon can complete their journey under those conditions. Furthermore, Indigenous organizations and communities are forced to compete with each other over a small pool. Less than 0.03% of all foundation funding in the United States is directed towards Native American organizations and programs. Nearly all of the decisions regarding funding in our region are made by non-Indigenous people. It is rare even for a foundation to have one Indigenous board member or program officer. In the Northeast, there are no Native American/Indigenous-led re-granting organizations. However, research and experience have demonstrated that culturally specific approaches rooted in Indigenous epistemology are the best and most effective routes to intervention, prevention, and healing. Often, Indigenous organizers and leaders are encouraged to use models based on more familiar approaches to funders, which we know are not actually successful in confronting the complex challenges Indigenous people face. Moreover, some community members, including artists, elders, and youth, who have the greatest vision and ability may not have the capacity or familiarity with foundation-specific idiom necessary to developing a grant proposal. Even when communities devise innovative solutions, the obstacles to funding can appear insurmountable. The Dawnland Fund will provide an ideal solution. We seek to ameliorate the void in available funding resources and support for Native American organizations and endeavors across the northeast by providing seed funding, technical support, and mentorship to indigenous people, organizations, and community-led projects.

Program: Dawnland Fund will provide seed grants ranging from $100 to $10,000 for newly created community-led projects. Existing and ongoing programs/projects will not be funded. Funding will support a variety of new endeavors, including Indigenous artistry; health & wellness; violence prevention, intervention, and healing; cultural activities & traditional cultural revitalization, professional and economic development, education, and literacy. The process will involve working directly with community members, including verbal and in-person conversation, and site visits, to create a process for developing a concept into a workable proposal. Gedakina will provide mentorship on concept-mapping, writing grant proposals, effectively incorporating culturally-specific models, and developing clear goals, work plans, and budgets. This process will extend beyond the seed grant to mentoring on related grant proposals. Please send inquiries to DawnlandFund@gedakina.org.

Click here to access the Dawnland Fund Application