Wells Fargo Donates $13M to Native Groups in First Phase of $50M Commitment

Wells Fargo Donates $13M to Native Groups in First Phase of $50M Commitment

One grant recipient is the GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund. The organization helps tribal communities achieve clean energy goals while providing financial savings and job training opportunities. (Photo Credit: GRID Alternatives)

To support greater economic empowerment in tribal communities, the Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded nearly $13 million to nonprofits supporting American Indian and Alaska Native communities as part of its five-year, $50 million commitment to expand its focus on tribal philanthropy. The funding will help increase homeownership, energy sovereignty and workforce development on tribal lands, promote development of native owned small businesses, and help build capacity for nonprofits to better serve their clients in Indian Country.

The grants to 25 organizations range from $50,000 to $5 million and fall into four broad focus areas:

  • Helping tribal members succeed financially. Grants to organizations like Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition and Cook Inlet aim to help tribal members build financial assets that can be passed from one generation to another or leveraged for post-secondary education or starting a business. Grants to ONABEN and American Indian Chamber of Commerce Education Fund will promote entrepreneurship and development of native owned businesses.
  • Advancing tribal homeownership. Grantees First Nations Oweesta, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Minnesota Housing Partnership and the National American Indian Housing Council are among several focused on tribal housing initiatives including down payment assistance, affordable housing solutions and expanding the capacity of Native Community Development Financial Institutions.
  • Advancing energy sovereignty. A $5 million grant to GRID Alternatives provides seed funding for the organization’s Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund to catalyze the growth of solar energy and job training opportunities on tribal lands.
  • Capacity building for native nonprofits. Native nonprofits serving critical needs in Indian Country — including the National Indian Council on Aging, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society — received awards to build their organizational capacity and expand services.

“We believe it is important to support nonprofit and community organizations that empower tribal communities to determine their own way of life on their own lands — according to their time-honored cultures, traditions and beliefs — while also providing access to the tools and opportunities that can lead to financial success and well- being,” states Jon Campbell, President of the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Spearheading the initiative is veteran banker Dawson Her Many Horses. An enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, Her Many Horses brings 16 years of banking experience to the dedicated role. As senior vice president and senior relationship manager, he works closely with Cora Gaane, head of the bank’s National Tribal Philanthropy, as well as a cross-functional advisory council focused on identifying and addressing challenges within American Indian/Alaska Native communities through Wells Fargo’s business and operations, stakeholder and community engagement, policy and philanthropy. Based in Las Vegas, Her Many Horses serves customers throughout the United States.

Dawson Her Many Horses with Dr. Crazy Bull at the 25th Anniversary Gala for the American Indian College Fund. (Photo Credit: American Indian College Fund)

Wells Fargo has served tribal governments and communities for more than 50 years and currently provides capital and financial services to more than 200 tribal entities in 27 states. In 2016, the company developed and published an Indigenous Peoples Statement in consultation with tribal leaders, indigenous stakeholders and their representatives, to help guide Wells Fargo’s decision making for projects where proceeds of Wells Fargo financing may potentially impact American Indian, Alaska Native or other indigenous communities.

“We want to play a larger role in the development of tribal economies because we believe once tribes become financially successful, they also become more sovereign,” states Patty Juarez, National Diverse Segments Director. (Photo Credit: Wells Fargo)

The following organizations received funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation in 2018, the first year of Wells Fargo’s five-year commitment:

  •  Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corp.
  • Americans for Indian Opportunity
  • American Indian Chamber of Commerce Education Fund
  • American Indian College Fund
  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society
  • American Indian Graduate Center
  • American Indian Higher Education Consortium
  • Cook Inlet Lending Center
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • First Nations Oweesta
  • GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund
  • Housing Assistance Council
  • Indian Land Tenure Foundation
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Minnesota Housing Partnership
  • Native American Finance Officers Association
  • National American Indian Housing Council
  • National Congress of American Indians Fund
  • National Indian Council on Aging
  • Native Americans in Philanthropy
  • Neighborhood Reinvestment
  • Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition
  • Operation Tiny Home
  • Prosperity NOW

How to Apply:

National nonprofit organizations serving individuals, families and businesses in Indian Country who wish to be considered for a grant under the foundation’s commitment should contact AIANPhilanthropy@wellsfargo.com to determine eligibility. Community-based, local 501(c)(3) organizations serving the American Indian/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities can continue to apply for grants through Wells Fargo’s online tool.

Haskell Indian Nations University Announces Students of the Year

By Hank Muchnic, Kansas Contributing Writer

Haskell Indian Nations University, located in Lawrence, KS, is regarded as the premiere tribal university offering quality education to Native American students. It is proud to announce its 2019 Student of the Year Award recipients.

Ms. RaeLynn King

Ms. King hails from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and is currently a senior pursuing her bachelor's degree in Business Administration. RaeLynn has demonstrated academic excellence by consistently making the President's List. Last October, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development presented her with the Lockheed Martin Native American Business Scholarship for academic achievement and commitment to the community. During the summer of 2018, her internships were with Travois and Tepa, which provided the opportunity to work directly with tribal communities and gain a deeper understanding of her school major. In addition to being a full-time student, Ms. King works in the school’s Bursar's Office.

Ms. Lena MacDonald 

Haskell’s American Indian College Fund Student of the Year is Lena MacDonald from Wasilla, Alaska, a member of the Healy Lake tribe. Ms. MacDonald is currently a junior enrolled in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management. For the last four semesters, Ms. MacDonald has made the President's Honor Roll and works at the campus library. She is involved with Haskell's Thunderbird Theater and has served as a volunteer for Snowshoe Elementary School as a teacher's helper, the Cystic Fibrosis Craft Fair and Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue.


Twenty-two American Indian children entered the doors of a new school in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1884 to begin an educational program that focused on agricultural education in grades one through five. Today, Haskell continues to serve the educational needs of American Indian and Alaska Native people from across the United States. For more than 117 years, American Indians and Alaska Natives have been sending their children to Haskell, and Haskell has responded by offering innovative curricula oriented toward American Indian/Alaska Native cultures.

The doors to Haskell officially opened under the name of the United States Indian Industrial Training School. Enrollment quickly increased from its original 22 to over 400 students within one semester’s time. The early trades for boys included tailoring, wagon making, blacksmithing, harness making, painting, shoe making, and farming. Girls studied cooking, sewing and homemaking. Most of the students’ food was produced on the Haskell farm, and students were expected to participate in various industrial duties.

Ten years passed before the school expanded its academic training beyond the elementary grades. A “normal school” was added because teachers were needed in the students’ home communities. The commercial department (the predecessor of the business department) opened in 1895 with five typewriters. It is believed that the first touch-typing class in Kansas was taught at Haskell.

By 1927, high school classes were accredited by the state of Kansas, and Haskell began offering post high school courses in a variety of areas. Part of Haskell’s attraction was not only its post high school curriculum but also its success in athletics. Haskell football teams in the early 1900’s to the 1930’s are legendary. And even after the 1930’s, when the emphasis on football began to decrease, athletics remained a high priority to Haskell students and alumni. Today, Haskell continues to pay tribute to great athletes by serving as the home of the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.

Industrial training became an important part of the curriculum in the early 1930’s, and by 1935 Haskell began to evolve into a post high school, vocational-technical institution. Gradually, the secondary program was phased out, and the last high school class graduated in 1965.

In 1970, Haskell began offering a junior college curriculum and became Haskell Indian Junior College. In 1992, after a period of planning for the 21st century, the National Haskell Board of Regents recommended a new name to reflect its vision for Haskell as a national center for Indian education, research, and cultural preservation. In 1993, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs (U. S. Department of the Interior) approved the change, and Haskell became “Haskell Indian Nations University.”

Today, Haskell has an average enrollment of over 1000 students each semester. Students represent federally recognized tribes from across the United States and are as culturally diverse as imaginable. Students select programs that will prepare them to enter baccalaureate programs in elementary teacher education, American Indian studies, business administration, and environmental science; to transfer to another baccalaureate degree-granting institution; or to enter directly into employment. Haskell continues to integrate American Indian/Alaska Native culture into all its curricula. This focus of the curriculum, besides its intertribal constituency and federal support through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, makes Haskell unique and provides exciting challenges as Haskell moves into the 21st century.

The Power of Names

By Doug George-Kanentiio
News From Indian Country

Fundamental to the well being of all humans is the need to identify oneself with a specific name and to have that name acknowledged within the family, the clan and the community. To assume a name is to assert individuality, to express uniqueness, to affirm continuity.  What we are becomes who we are.

Communal names are equally important as they are an essential element within any specific culture. Names may be extracted from geography, events or individuals but they are a vital part of the collective sense of awareness and form a bond by which individuals within that community have their own place and meaning. We must all belong and names help us make a distinction between the “we” and the “them”.

Communal names have economic, social, historical and political power. New York City has deep meaning and resonates well in contrast to places like Beaverlick, Kentucky or Toad Suck, Arkansas. Selecting a name like Washington to become the capital of a new American nation was a wise choice unlike Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (formerly Saigon). Names lend themselves to harmony: cities such as Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (versus Ashgabat or Tecgucigalpa) which goes a long way in deterring the character of life of its residents.

Our ancestors knew this and were poetic in their application of names: Oswegatchie, Niagara, Kawenoke, Gananoque, Toronto.

When we abandon our aboriginal names we lose much of our power. Our connection with place is disrupted, our knowledge as to place is breached, our sense of connectedness severed. One of the tactics used by the colonial powers across the planet was to replace our names with nonsensical British Columbia or Pennsylvania versus Saskatchewan, Minnesota, Kentucky or Manitoba.

Here at Akwesasne we have struggled with names. We have been more fortunate than other Native communities in that our ancestors kept the language alive and vibrant across the generations. They also worked with the record keepers to insure that a comprehensive written form of Mohawk was used and the Native names and clan affiliations preserved.

Still, there were serious problems with names. For many decades the name of our community-Akwesasne-was obscured and suppressed Not until the arrival of Ray Fadden-Tehanetorens in the 1930’s was Akwesasne as a definer applied to us all. We were, until the 1960’s, something odd, the St. Regis Indians, both names of which are incorrect, deceptive and lies.

We shouldn’t cover our selves with lies.

There is no such thing, no people, who can truthfully say they are St. Regis Indians or St. Regis Mohawks. We don’t belong to St. Regis. We are not Indians. We are the far more powerful Onkweh, the Kanienkeha, the Rotinosionni. Of this earth, by this earth, with this earth.

Who exactly is Regis and why is he a saint? We know the flesh and blood man was born in 1597 in a town called Fontcouverte in the French province of Languedoc north of the Pyrenees mountains to a “noble class” family.

His true name was Jean Francois Regis, nor John Francis.

He elected to become a priest at the age of 19 because he had, according to www.catholic.org, a “holy hatred of himself” which was reflected in his vows of poverty and chastity. He became a Jesuit priest at the age of 31 and desperately wanted to become a missionary to the Iroquois (we were then considered the most cruel and yet the most intellectual of all Natives). When his application to come to our country was delayed he devoted himself to converting to Protestants, administering to prostitutes and caring for orphans.  He punished his body so badly that he caught pneumonia and died at the age of 43.

Regis was made a saint in 1737 and assigned June 16. His life of denial, his feeling that he was sinful and this earth was a cursed place was in such contrast with the traditional values of the Onkwe that we have nothing in common with him other than our humanity.

What does Regis have to do with Akwesasne? Nothing except that his “feast day” may have been when the Jesuits Gourdon and Billiard arrived at Akwesasne in 1754 and decided that June 16 would be the official beginning of the mission then used Regis’ interest in the Iroquois to give their efforts more authority.

So why keep that name? Why do we refuse to relinquish the colonial embrace? It happens when we are compelled to step away from the past and redefine our identity by giving life to the old names, never a simple thing to do when one has been made to feel defensive about our heritage. It can be terrifying to some and to others it uncovers a reservoir of guilt and shame.

Should one be embarrassed using the term St. Regis? Yes, especially if that name continues to cause harm which it does since its intent was to destroy our traditional ways, our aboriginal spirituality, our sense of pride and dignity.

Many other Native people have tackled this problem and succeeded in casting off names of oppression. Witness the Tohono O’dham discarding the insulting name Papago, the Ho Chunks throwing away Winnebego, the Miami using Myaamia or the Eskimo refuting that pejorative for Inuit.

Speak the truth, use the name, empower the people.

It should be the Kaienke Nation Council, the Kanienke Council of Akwesasne, the Kanienke who reside to the south of Akwesasne and were once the “St. Regis Tribe”.

Doug George-Kanentiio is a writer, lecturer and Vice President of the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge. 

Cannabis Crop Expansion into Forests Threatens Wildlife Habitat

By Pamela Kan-Rice

This series of satellite images shows the development of a greenhouse complex in a Humboldt County forest.

Planting cannabis for commercial production in remote locations is creating forest fragmentation, stream modification, soil erosion and landslides. Without land-use policies to limit its environmental footprint, the impacts of cannabis farming could get worse, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

“Despite its small current footprint, the boom in cannabis agriculture poses a significant threat to our environment,” said co-author Van Butsic a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. “To mitigate the anticipated environmental impacts, now is the time for policymakers and land-use planners to set regulations to manage the spatial pattern of cannabis expansion before crop production becomes established.”

Earlier studies have shown that cannabis production causes environmental damage, including rodenticide poisoning of forest mammals and dewatering of streams due to improper irrigation.

Cannabis grows near a salmon stream Humboldt. Diverting water to irrigate cannabis can dewater streams during the summer and impact wildlife.

Cannabis, as either a medicinal or recreational drug, is now legal in more than 30 U.S. states and in several countries. In California, where medicinal marijuana has been legal since 1996, voters in November approved the sale and possession of one ounce of marijuana for recreational use. As a result, cannabis production is ramping up.

Effective policymaking for a new crop can be challenging without scientific data. In this study, Butsic and Ian J. Wang, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, and Jacob C. Brenner, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Ithaca College in New York, present an approach for early assessment of landscape changes resulting from new agricultural activities. 

Their approach uses per-unit-area analysis of landscape change. To study forest fragmentation in northern California, the scientists compared the effects of cannabis cultivation to those of timber harvest from 2000 to 2013 in Humboldt County.  

Based on the size, shape and placement of the cannabis grows among 62 randomly selected watersheds, they quantified the impacts relative to those of timber harvest.

Satellite image A shows a clearing with greenhouses (upper left in clearing) and rows of cannabis plants (lower right in clearing), surrounded by a buffer area. Image B shows a typical pattern of large areas of clear‐cuts for timber harvest and various stages of regrowth.

“We found that although timber has greater landscape impacts overall, cannabis causes far greater changes in key metrics on a per-unit-area basis,” Butsic said. 

On a per-unit-area basis, the cannabis grows resulted in 1.5 times more forest loss and 2.5 times greater fragmentation of the landscape, breaking up large, contiguous forest into smaller patches and reducing wildlife habitat.

“The results show how important it is to consider environmental impacts at different scales,” Brenner said.

Current California law caps the size of outdoor cannabis production to 1 acre per parcel, to prohibit the development of industrial-scale cannabis operations outdoors. An unintended consequence of this law may be small dispersed cannabis grows that edge out wildlife.

While the long-term effects of cannabis cultivation on the environment are unknown, the researchers concluded that land management and agricultural policy informed by further research may reduce these threats in California and in other states and countries where cannabis production can be regulated.

“Studies like this one have the potential to directly inform local land-use policy and state environmental regulation,” Brenner said. “It's exciting to be a part of this research because it is capturing a human-environment phenomenon at the moment of its emergence.” 

Originally published by Green Blog, Green news from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources