I write to you today from Mni-Sota Makoce — the homeland of the Dakota and Anishinaabe people. I acknowledge the ancestors, past, present, and emerging, of all the land we work and live on and their Ancestral Spirits with gratitude and respect.

How often have you attended a conference, a meeting, or listened to a speech lately that started with land acknowledgement? I’d bet it is growing and that is heartening. This acknowledgement is a key step to understanding the long history that has brought you to live on the land and the people to whom the land belongs. Yet, if you have moved on from acknowledgments unchanged in your actions, I challenge you to now go deeper in ways that lead to greater investments in Native communities. If philanthropy is truly about seeing the world as it could be, then we cannot sit complacent in the face of underinvestment in Indigenous communities!

At the Bush Foundation, we invest in Native Americans and the 23 Native nations across our region. This longstanding commitment is core to our mission. How and what we support changes over time as we continue to learn from and with our grantees, partners, and Native communities. We have listened deeply for decades, remaining committed and taking direction from Native folks. This doesn’t mean we have invested enough or are doing it perfectly. This investment comes in many forms — seeding the Native nations Rebuilders program to honor tribal sovereignty, supporting the Native Governance Center to carry so much important work forward. Investing in the leadership of individuals, in service of community, through the Bush Fellowship program. Supporting efforts to bring Buffalo back to tribal lands, as well as language revitalization efforts and more through the Community Innovation program. We are also contributing to COVID vaccination efforts, investing in funds to support Native businesses, ensuring Native voices are part of selection decisions, and granting $50 million in a reparative spirit to a Native organization to support generational wealth building in the Native community. Not an exhaustive list, but examples.

As a non-Native person, I write this with deep humility. I do not speak for Native people. You can and should listen directly to groups like Native Americans in Philanthropy. My hope is that you hear in this reflection that you do not have to be Native to see the strength and wisdom in Native communities. You do not need to wait any longer to move your organization toward investing in Indigenous people and efforts. It is unacceptable to leave the burden of convincing philanthropy to see and value investments in Native communities to those who are Native. Each of us, no matter our heritage, can help to solidify much needed philanthropic support.

Read the full article about abundance by Anita Patel at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.