Honoring Native American Veterans


Not so long ago in Native culture, being a warrior was an integral responsibility of tribal life. Defending the tribe’s land and family, and acquiring the necessary resources, such as through hunting, was simply expected. Today, Native Americans are still defending land and family through their service in the U.S. military.

Next month, on Nov. 11, we observe the 97th anniversary of Veterans Day, Armistice Day prior to the official name change in 1954. As an ally to the tribes, and leading into American Indian Heritage Month – also in November –  PWNA is taking a look at honoring Veterans in the Native way.

Maybe it’s our history of strength and determination that leads Natives to the highest per capita rate of military service, or perhaps it’s the value we place on our homeland. In any case, while all veterans are recognized for their service, most tribes hold their veterans in especially high regard, praising them and honoring them through ceremonies and awards.

Most commonly, Native American veterans are given eagle feathers for their service, a sign of highest respect in many tribes. In other cases, veterans are asked to lead honoring ceremonies, such as opening grand entry at powwows, ushering in the flags of the tribe and country, or even giving an opening prayer. Some of these honorings even focus on resources for veterans, providing workshops, talking circles, health information and cultural activities. The Gathering of Warriors Native Veterans Summit focuses specifically on these topics, as well as providing financial stability and better access to health care.

The service of these veterans does not go unnoticed. Quite recently, the National Museum of the American Indian undertook the responsibility of creating a National Native American Veterans Memorial. This is the first memorial dedicated to Native veterans, and Congress hopes it will invite more Americans to learn about the proud military service of our indigenous people.

Honoring Native warriors and veterans has always been a part of indigenous culture. It keeps the importance of those who protect our homeland close to our hearts, and ever reminds us of the valor and bravery these men and women exhibit to ensure our safety. Equally important, it gives veterans their due for their many sacrifices. It’s important to support our veterans by helping them gain access to important resources that may be needed after the injuries and traumas they endure.

We thank the men and women at arms who defend our nation. Here’s to you for all you do!

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Help us eradicate poverty on the reservations

Each year, on Oct. 17, the United Nations recognizes International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, whichpresents an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty and a chance for them to make their concerns heard.” While poverty touches lives around the world, in urban centers and in impoverished countries, it’s also affecting Native Americans living on many reservations in the U.S.

There are number of misconceptions regarding the financial standing of Native Americans, including presumptions that Native Americans are “casino rich,” attend college for free and get seemingly endless amounts of funding from the federal government.

The reality is that 35 percent of Native American children live in poverty, 40 percent of Native Americans live in sub-standard, overcrowded housing and 23 percent of Native families live with food insecurity. Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) works toward minimizing those challenges every day, by addressing immediate needs like access to healthy food, water and school supplies, and emergency relief during disasters. While supporting these immediate needs, PWNA also works toward increasing reservation self-sufficiency through long-term solutions like scholarships, community gardening projects and training and development for emerging leaders.

8-09-16-international-day-of-indigenous-peoples-img_5195-sm-logoIn close consultation with reservation partners, PWNA listens to the needs of the communities it serves. Instead of swooping in with one-size-fits-all stop-gap measures, PWNA is committed to the long-term well-being of each community, respecting their self-determined goals for their tribes, honoring the reservation programs and initiatives underway.

If you believe in this mission as strongly as we do, we encourage you to honor International Day for the Eradication of Poverty by joining our efforts. Donate today!


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Recently in Native News

News listicle icon - blogIf you follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you know we like to stay apprised of Native news and relevant articles. We’re excited to further share what we discover by providing links to this news on a regular basis on our blog. Take a look at information that piqued our interest this month:

Phoenix considers celebrating Native American culture on Columbus Day via AZCentral

  • “Phoenix could soon join a collection of cities that hold alternative celebrations on Columbus Day to commemorate the history and contributions of Native American cultures. City leaders are considering whether to establish Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October. Supporters say the event would promote a more accurate understanding of history and celebrate the city’s large, vibrant Native American population.”

Asked and Answered: A President for Indian Country via WhiteHouse.gov

  • “As a candidate visiting the Crow Nation in Montana in May 2008, President Obama pledged to host an annual summit with tribal leaders to ensure that tribal nations have a seat at the table when facing important decisions about their communities. Today, the President hosts the eighth and final Tribal Nations Conference of his Presidency.”

U.S. to pay 17 Indian tribes $492 million to settle long-standing disputes via Washington Post

  • “The Obama administration has settled lawsuits with 17 Native American tribes who accused the federal government of long mismanaging their funds and natural resources. With these settlements, the administration will have resolved the majority of outstanding claims, some that date back a century, with more than 100 tribes and totaling more than $3.3 billion, according to the Justice and Interior departments. “This is an important achievement that will end, honorably and fairly, decades of contention that not only sapped valuable resources, but also strained relationships,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates.”

As School Starts, More States Focus on Native American Students via KTOO Public Media

  • “On the Spokane Indian Reservation, in eastern Washington, a group of about 40 public school teachers gathered last month, in a field of reeds that stretched as high as their heads. Before harvesting the reeds, or tules, to make mats, they prayed. Later, they left tobacco as a gift. By learning the rituals of the Spokane tribe, the teachers of the Wellpinit School District hope to connect the culture to their lessons to get their students – almost all of whom are indigenous – to be more engaged. In Washington and across the U.S., Native American students struggle more than any other student group to attend school consistently and graduate on time. But this year more states — especially those with large Native American populations such as South Dakota and Washington — are trying to help by training teachers, working with tribes to create policies and programs, embedding culture in lessons, and giving more money to schools with many Native American students.”
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“Accessibility for All” Holds Meaning on World Tourism Day

Today is World Tourism Day, recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.” Tourism is something many Native American tribes are familiar with, particularly in the U.S. and even more specifically tribes on Historic Route 66.

9.27.16-World-Tourism-Day---Rez-Need-Church-3-Supai-crThrough this year’s theme of “Tourism For All: Promoting Universal Accessibility,” UNWTO is inspiring everyone to “experience the incredible diversity of our planet and the beauty of the world we live in.” We encourage you to consider this and the many wonders that can be seen when you visit an Indian reservation.

We also encourage you to remember to be discerning in your purchases of Native American goods, should your travels bring you to Indian Country. “Native-inspired” does not mean Native-made and we previously posted some guidelines to follow when you’re wondering about authenticity.

The UNWTO’s broader theme of accessibility is one we wholeheartedly support. Accessibility – to nutrition, education, health care – is a challenge faced by many Native Americans living on the reservation, due to geographically remote and isolated locations. Also, many Elders have physical limitations that keep them homebound. Partnership With Native Americans addresses these needs through a number of services, at the right time, in the right way, made possible with the help of donors, collaborators and reservation partners.

Whether you’re planning a weekend road trip, or a multi-country, globe-trotting adventure, we wish you safe travels and accessibility to all the joyful experiences and perspective travel has to offer.

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Charity Evaluator Groups Recognize PWNA

Today we have good news to share: PWNA recently received our newest recognition from several well-respected groups that evaluate nonprofits, and we are excited to share these honors with you.

9.20.16-badgesPWNA is now a Platinum GuideStar Exchange Member.
The GuideStar Exchange is a network for voluntary exchange of nonprofit information. Annually, this information is used by nearly 7 million individual, corporate and foundation donors. GuideStar offers Bronze, Silver, Gold and now Platinum membership levels. In our seven years as an Exchange member, PWNA held Gold status for several years, embracing maximum financial transparency to donors. PWNA recently achieved Platinum status by adding annual results metrics to our profile, conveying our focus on measuring progress and results. This allows donors such as you a way to compare our key results year over year, and a more concrete way to understand our impact, rather than evaluating solely on financial ratios.

PWNA is a 2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit, our 7th consecutive annual award.
As a result of solid customer service and programs effectively aligned with the needs of our reservation partners, PWNA has earned a 2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit award. This rating is based on independent reviews about working with us, as posted on the Great Nonprofits (GNP) website by our partners, donors, suppliers and corporate or nonprofit collaborators. Monthly, 360,000 donors read Great Nonprofits reviews.

PWNA is a 2016 CFC-participating charity, our 6th consecutive year of approval. 
Did you know only 1 percent of the 1.5 million charities in the U.S. are approved to participate in federal workplace giving through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), and that PWNA is one of them? The CFC is the largest workplace giving campaign in the U.S., including all federal employees and the military. To participate in the CFC, PWNA undergoes an annual application process, certification of services provided to each community, and a three-stage approval by Independent Charities of America, a charity federation and the federal Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. Pledges for the 2016 CFC will begin this November. Our CFC charity code is 95225, and we are listed this year in the CFC catalog under our education program name, AIEF.

 Our staff, board members and volunteers are passionate about supporting our Native American partners’ community-led initiatives to achieve a better quality of life. We are proud to have achieved these ratings, along with our continuing BBB-accreditation, to help share our story with the world. We will be displaying these acknowledgements on our website at www.nativepartnership.org and hope to see you there.

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September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is the start of many things: a new school year, football season, the official kick-off of fall. And with this new season comes an important focus for the month of September: Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

This issue is particularly profound to Native Americans who have seen an increase of youth suicides on reservations in recent years. The Indian Health Service (IHS) reports suicide rates for Native American youth aged 15 to 24 are more than 3 times than the national average. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) shares, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people and is often the result of mental health conditions that affect people when they are most vulnerable.”

9.13.16 Suicide Prevention Awareness Month - TedxRapid CityWhile a number of insightful and helpful resources are available through IHS and NAMI, we are also encouraged by the work being done within local communities themselves. Last month, Taylor Schad, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, spoke at TEDxRapidCity, where she described death and suicide as “somehow normal in her high school experience,” and shared meaningful discussion on the benefits of peer-to-peer mentoring and its impact on suicide prevention.

Taylor was involved in Cobbler 2 Cobbler peer mentoring program. (The Cobbler is the mascot of Central High School, which Taylor attended.) This peer program showed students they had the capacity and potential to be as strong, resilient and durable as a mountain. Throughout the TEDx talk, Taylor describes how peer mentoring helped cut down the forest of trees that blocked the views of the mountains the students could become.

PWNA applauds the sincere and vital work of our reservation partners who are addressing suicide prevention and awareness. And we encourage you to view Taylor’s TEDx talk, and to consider how you can help those in your life who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts. Taylor and her classmates knew something had to be done, took action, and saved lives.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, or think a loved one or someone you know may be at risk, check out the Suicide Prevention Resource Center or call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) for more information.

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International Literacy Day and the Literacy-Poverty Link

“Reading the Past, Writing the Future.” This is the theme for International Literacy Day on Sept. 8, marking the 50th anniversary of the World Congress of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy. Their aim is raising literacy rates across the globe and addressing issues that challenge illiteracy, which is most prevalent in impoverished communities.

The population most affected by illiteracy are students from low-income families.

Studies show there is a significant amount of cognitive brain development while students are in their earlier grades of school, and events such as missing many days of school is a hindrance to this development. Even greater detriments to early development include inadequate nutrition, health issues and the stress of dealing with personal issues, and the literacy-poverty link has its own impact. Many Native American students come from this exact environment.

9.06.16 International Literacy Day copyright - AIRC-Literacy 11-Tayson Williams and mom StephanieA report by UNICEF shows world poverty has spiked in recent years, touching 1 in 10 people. This is an alarming statistic by itself, but poverty rates tend to show a strong connection to literacy rates, as do family abilities to afford higher education. While literacy programs cannot directly address the base issue, they can at least give these students the skills that will help them continue their education, and in the long run, possibly improve economic conditions through broader choices in livelihood. Literacy programs have been shown to improve interest and retention of students, improve workplace production in adults, and improve recidivism rates of inmates, bringing overall benefit across many groups.

Today, literacy programs across the U.S. assist some 200,000 people from ages 8 to 65+.

Although a significant number of people are being reached, some 40 million Americans are hindered by inadequate reading skills. PWNA is doing its part to help alleviate illiteracy, by providing books and incentives to encourage adult-child reading time and literacy development of youth in reservation communities. In 2015, alone, PWNA and its American Indian Education Fund program provided literacy supplies for more than 25,000 Native American students.

I heard a phrase from a friend once, “Education is the new Buffalo.” His meaning? That the ways we can live our lives improves drastically when we are able to improve our skills through education, and these are skills important to every aspect of our lives – the issue being that the opportunity to develop reading and retention skills are sometimes in short supply. In keeping with this year’s theme of International Literacy Day, I’d like to end saying: read the past, and support literacy programs, so that our youth and our society can learn to write their own future.

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Recently in Native News

News listicle icon - blogIf you follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you know we like to stay apprised of Native news and relevant articles. We’re excited to further share what we discover by providing links to this news on a regular basis on our blog. Take a look at information that piqued our interest this month:
The real history of Native American team names via USA Today

  • “Native American team names mean honor and respect. That’s what executives of pro sports clubs often say. History tells a different story. Kevin Gover punctuates this point with a rueful smile. He is director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. The Capitol dome looms outside the windows of his fifth-floor office as he talks about the historical context of an era when Native American mascots proliferated like wildflowers.”

Helping College-bound Native Americans Beat the Odds via NPR

  • “Native American students make up only 1.1 percent of the nation’s high school population. And in college, the number is even smaller. More than any other ethnic or racial group, they’re the least likely to have access to college prep or advanced placement courses. Many get little college counseling, if any. In 1998, College Horizons, a small nonprofit based in New Mexico, set out to change that through five-day summer workshops on admissions, financial aid and the unique challenges they’ll face on campus.”

Protests over huge North Dakota pipeline via BBA News

  • “More than 100 peaceful protesters have gathered in Washington DC to express their fears about a huge oil pipeline which will cross four states in the western US. The $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline has prompted huge protests, notably in North Dakota where Native Americans have halted its construction. It will run 1,168 miles through Iowa, Illinois, and North and South Dakotas.”

Sacred Powwow Draws Native Americans to California Foothills via KQED News

  • “They came from all over the U.S. to the small foothill town of O’Neals. Members of Indian tribes as far away as South Dakota converged for a powwow to help celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Sierra Mono Museum. For the last two summers, wildfires forced cancellation of the long-standing powwow. But not this year.”

What Native news are you reading? What would you like to see us include here in the future?

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Olympics and the Spirit of Friendship and Solidarity

Oympic flags copyright Brad Caulkins: http://www.123rf.com/profile_bradcalkins

Oympic flags copyright Brad Caulkins: http://www.123rf.com/profile_bradcalkins

The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are now complete. Myriad countries won medals, records were broken and millions of people around the world united for a common cause: cheering on athletes of all different nations, cultures and backgrounds.

In support of this worldwide opportunity to find common ground, it’s encouraging to note that the International Olympic Committee created the Olympic Movement, with the goal “to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

With this in mind, PWNA is proud and excited to spotlight three Native American athletes at the 2016 Olympics.

  • Pow-wows.com spoke with gymnast Ashton Locklear, Lumbee, who is the first-ever Native American on the United States Women’s Gymnastics Olympic team. Locklear is an alternate on the team, and said during the interview,I feel a great sense of pride and am honored to represent native people.”
  • Rickie Fowler, who is Navajo (and Japanese) on his mother’s side, is a well-known professional golfer, and represented the U.S. at the Olympics.
  • Jamie Thibeau, T’Sou-ke Nation, is a member of the Canadian Women’s Volleyball Olympic team.

Who did you cheer for during this year’s Olympic Games? Which Native athletes do you want to see at the next Olympics?

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Giving Back-to-School Hope for Students

The greatest gifts are generosity and hope, and we saw plenty of both through our 2016 Student Backpack Drive, raising funds and securing gift-in-kind donations for Native American students in need.

8.23.16 Giving Back-to-School Hope - AD - Backpack Draft FB (no hashtags)Yoobi (pronounced “you-be”) means “one for you, one for me.” For every Yoobi item you purchase, a Yoobi item is donated to a classroom in need, right here in the U.S. PWNA learned this, firsthand, when Yoobi donated an extensive array of school supplies through our Student Backpack Drive. Yoobi items are available at Target.

Joining in on the event, Riteline USA also donated some awesome stylus pens for use in Native classrooms.

PWNA welcomes these newest in-kind donors and appreciates their support for the students!

More than 850 individual donors also contributed, with heartfelt donations and social shares reaching out to spread the word.

Thanks to all of you for your generosity and the gift of hope that brought more than $43,000 in backpack supplies and aid, with gifts still coming in. Up to 35 percent of Native American children live below poverty level, so this support is vital to the students and their schools.

As our CEO/President Robbi Rice Dietrich shared earlier this summer, “The first day of school is a milestone event for students, and the excitement of a new school year shouldn’t be tarnished by a lack of supplies.”

The school supplies distributed by PWNA and our AIEF program help teachers ensure more children return to school this fall, setting Native American students up for success.

You made a difference – please join us in sharing this impact through your social pages! And remember, PWNA is stocking up on school supplies year-round for future distributions.


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