The Potlatch Fund awarded $305,042 in grants this year to support
community building, Native arts, language preservation and education,
and participation in the Canoe Journey.
Grants ranged in size from $1,300 to $5,000. No matter the size,
each made a big difference to the recipient.
Among this years recipients, the Yakama Nation Economic
Development Department is using its grant to help support a foster
and relative care program that provides cultural classes and Native
food-gathering workshops. The Cowlitz Tribe Youth Boards grant
is supporting leadership training for 60-80 youth.
Suquamish artist Betty Pascos grant is helping to support
her cedar weaving project, which will result in a traditional cedar-fiber
sail for a canoe. Tsimshian artist David Robert Boxleys grant
is supporting the carving of a red-cedar totem pole, which will
also serve as a teaching tool for youth and community members interested
in Northwest Native carving and culture.
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Culture and Heritage
Department is using its grant to support a program that translates
materials into its Ichishkiin language, for its full-immersion language
pre-school. The Salish School of Spokane is creating illustrated
children's books and training Native youth to act as literacy mentors
for Native children.
There are more 93 recipients in total, in fact. The total
amount awarded is a record for the organization, Potlatch Fund executive
director Dana Arviso, Dine, said.
Samish Nation general manager Leslie Eastwood said of the Samish
Canoe Familys grant, We used it to cover travel costs
on Canoe Journey, such as food for [pullers] and ground-crew breakfasts
and lunches that were not supplied by host tribes and the days we
were on our own for dinners.
This helped us travel without worry about how we were
going to be able to take care of our needs, and allowed us to also
care [of] those on special diets, which typically costs a bit more.
These success stories and more will be celebrated November 2
at the annual Potlatch Fund Gala, at the Tulalip Resort Hotel. The
event is sold out.
The gala will include a celebration of Native art, cultural
performances, and awards for leadership, philanthropy, and social
Its as much a celebration of great work being done in
Northwest Native American communities.
We hear examples of what people are doing in our communities,
and we see our role as raising the visibility of that work,
The Potlatch Fund was developed in the spirit of the Northwest
Coast potlatch system of wealth distribution a way to build
social relationships, celebrate culture, and meet community needs
through gifting. The system of wealth distribution depends on reciprocity,
and the Potlatch Fund enables people to participate in that tradition
Proceeds from the gala and silent auction are used to fund the
next years grants. More than 50 items were donated for the
silent auction, many by Native artists who are past or present grant
recipients. Fifty-one indigenous nations, companies and organizations
are gala sponsors or table hosts, including Indian Country Today
Ten years ago, we made our first gala film for the Potlatch
Fund as volunteers, because we recognized the importance of supporting
such an amazing concept, said Tracy Rector, Choctaw/Seminole,
of Longhouse Media, a gala sponsor.
Today, we are grantees. We benefit from [the Potlatch
Funds] deep knowledge in how to sustain an organization and
we are continuing to produce the gala videos each year as contractors.
The circle of life and the sharing of traditional wealth is incredibly
apparent in our relationship with the Potlatch Fund over the years."
According to www.potlatchfund.org, the Potlatch Fund was founded
in 2002 by Tribal organizations and funders in response to a disparity
in philanthropic funding for Native America, and to develop Native
leadership and make the best use of Tribal resources. The Potlatch
Fund serves Native communities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and
The most exciting part of Potlatch Fund is the regional
reach, said Susan Balbas, Cherokee/Yaqui, executive director
of the Tierra Madre Fund. It is inspiring to feel a part of
how other Native artists, organizations and tribes are improving
lives in their part of Indian country. Social change work can be
challenging, and it feeds our spirit to hear of people's commitments
and positive impacts.
Arviso said the Potlatch Fund has awarded more than copy.5 million
in grants, conducted more than 225 training workshops, graduated
42 emerging leaders from a nonprofit-management and leadership training
program, and honored numerous individuals and organizations for
leadership and philanthropy.
Funding for the 2013 grants was provided by the following:
- Community Building grants: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
two anonymous foundations, and donations from the 2012 gala.
- Native Arts grants: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
two anonymous foundations, and proceeds from the 2012 gala silent
- Language Preservation and Education grants: Provided anonymously.
- Canoe Journey grants: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
an anonymous foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the OneFamily
Foundation, and donations made to the Potlatch Fund and at the