Sarah Eagle Heart (Oglala Lakota) grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, raised by her grandmother and extended family. Her experiences range from teen activist and journalist to advocacy organization leader, including working for several years internationally as program officer for Indigenous Peoples and team leader for diversity, social justice, and environmental justice within the Episcopal Church. Currently she is the CEO of Los Angeles and Minneapolis-based Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP), which “educates and empowers a sacred circle of Indigenous Peoples and philanthropies to create healthy and sustainable communities for all.” Cultural Survival recently spoke with Eagle Heart about her journey and leadership in philanthropy.
CULTURAL SURVIVAL: What role does philanthropy play for Indigenous communities?
SARAH EAGLE HEART: Philanthropy can and should play a big role righting the injustices Indigenous communities face. Most of philanthropy lacks awareness and knowledge of Native issues across the board; most philanthropic efforts to improve the lives of men and women of color often overlook the distinctive needs of Native Americans, and funding to our community still remains disproportionately low. It’s imperative that we are there to build those relationships and educate …
CS: A lot of the work of Native Americans in Philanthropy concerns Indigenous youth. What are those initiatives?
SEH: Following the Standing Rock protest we launched the #GenIndigenous Fund, focused on supporting Native youth organizing, in partnership with the Minneapolis Foundation. We have another fund called Native Voices Rising in partnership with the Common Counsel Foundation. Native Voices Rising is specifically around civic engagement, voter registration, and advocacy.
Read the full interview with Sarah Eagle Heart about philanthropy and Indigenous people at Cultural Survival.
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