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Native-Led Policy Change Making Headway with New Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaigns

First Nations Development Institute is leading new collaborative grantmaking for Native health through the new Policy Innovation Fund. Don’t miss the details!


On July 10, 2019, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the American Heart Association and First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) announced nearly $250,000 in grants through the collaborative Policy Innovation Fund. These grants are part of the Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign, a $1.6 million funding initiative to support Native American nutrition and health advocacy. Grant recipients will improve access to healthy foods, reduce consumption of sugary drinks and foods, and strengthen food sovereignty work that is rooted in tradition, culture and Indigenous knowledge.

The campaign was developed jointly by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives, and its Voices for Healthy Kids initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. First Nations, which administers the Policy Innovation Fund, conducted the first of two national solicitations for grant proposals. Grants were awarded through a competitive process to tribes and Native-led organizations to support innovative projects designed to improve nutrition and health policy systems at the tribal, local, state and national levels.

To support the success of Native grantees and advocates, the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF), a Native-governed nonprofit organization, will provide leadership development, technical assistance and movement-building activities to support the growing nutrition and health movement in Indian Country.

Grant recipients are:

  • California Indian Museum & Cultural Center (Santa Rosa, California): $81,667
    The Ma Pʰidin: Protecting Our Ground project serves Native people of all ages from 24 Pomo and Miwok tribes in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties in Northern California. These tribes have limited access to traditional food resources, so the project will focus on removing barriers to access, such as updating county park codes, which currently prohibit gathering food. The project also includes conducting a community assessment, engaging stakeholders and developing recommendations to ensure tribal and county leaders can address barriers and improve nutrition and health. 

  • Karuk Tribe (Happy Camp, California): $81,667
    The Yav Pananu'avaha: Karuk Tribe's Our Good Food project supports developing, advocating and implementing policies that promote tribal food sovereignty. Our Good Food will improve access to Native foods for community members and food-service programs; promote healthy choices for K-12 students through Native health lessons and a youth-led food sovereignty campaign; and encourage comprehensive implementation of the Karuk Tribe Food Policy in all tribal events. The project also will advocate for changes to school, summer, community and elder food-service programs and finalizing the tribe’s food sovereignty policy through research and community engagement.

  • Port Gamble S'Klallam Foundation (Kingston, Washington): $80,000
    The Port Gamble S’Klallam Shellfish Grow-Out Expansion Project will focus on ways to sustain and expand natural shellfish resources for a healthy traditional diet of the S’Klallam tribal community. The project will develop shellfish aquaculture policy, conduct community outreach focused on sustaining shellfish populations for community subsistence and later expand the shellfish population for commercial production.

The Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign is made possible through generous funding from Seeds of Native Health, a $10 million philanthropic effort of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, to improve Native nutrition, and Voices for Healthy Kids. First Nations will lead grant administration and the American Indian Cancer Foundation will provide consultation services to the policy change campaigns.