The NUIFC has made substantial impact on the current Indian Country landscape. Since our inception, we have been very effective at educating and providing advocacy towards the goal of building awareness of urban Indian needs and the organizations that serve American Indians residing off reservation. While not exhaustive, some of our more notable achievements to date consist of:
Research & Publications
2008: With our partners created “Urban Indian America; the Status of American Indian Children and Families Today”– distributed over 3,000 copes nationally including university libraries and conferences.
2008, 2010, 2012, 2015: Created the baseline Census data sheets for 16 large American cities.
2011 ACF Research: As a direct result of our dialogue, the Administration for Children and Families launched a multi-year research project to determine the usage and resource distribution of ACF services to urban Indian children and families.
2012: Created a comprehensive state by state list of all known urban Indian organizations in the country.
2015: Completed work on a ground breaking policy project titled “Making the Invisible Visible: Urban Indian Policy Roundtables”. The final project included the creation of a national policy publication for Urban Indians.
2017: Published “Resurgence; Restructuring Urban American Indian Education”
2018: Will publish “Weaving our Web: Bridging the Digital Divide in Urban Indian America”
The primary accomplishment of the NUIFC is very simple: Since our inception in 2003, dialogue about urban Indians has taken a prominent place in the dialogue about Indian Country. Prior to that, issues facing this population and these organizations remained invisible. We have made remarkable inroads in overarching policy discussion and resource distribution for urban Indians. With specific regard to the last three years, we have made some notable accomplishments which include:
Resurgence Schools: Between 2016-2018, we planned and executed an exciting new initiative aimed at the provision of culturally and socially relevant summer educational programming for urban Native youth. A result of input from youth, educators, cultural specialists, scholars and elders, the Resurgence Schools will expose our urban youth to meaningful summer education that includes social justice, inter-racial solidarities, sovereignty, ecology and social action. Our first two schools will launch in the summer of 2018. The Resurgence Schools, in partnership with Northwestern University in Chicago, will also become a longitudinal research project.
Resurgence; Restructuring Urban American Indian Education: In 2017, the NUIFC, in keeping with our plan to methodically address the community identified issues articulated in Making the Invisible Visible policy roundtables, tackled the issue of urban Indian education. In the paper, we explore the history of Indian Education, highlight best practice sites and provide recommendations to improve urban Native student outcomes. Of particular excitement is that this paper is now a required reading at the University of Washington School of Education and will be highlighted in an upcoming international textbook by renowned Indigenous scholar Linda Smith and will be taught in universities all over the globe. As a result of our work with this paper, we will also be bringing together a cohort of urban Native educators to exchange best practices, discuss strategies on impacting local school district policy and conducting professional development modules.
Solidarity Summit: In 2017-2018, the NUIFC was invited to participate in the Open Society Foundation’s “Solidarity Summits”. This was of particular excitement for us as it involved community organizers and social justice organizations representing all facets of social justice work including the Black vote in the South, immigration reform, Muslim American advocacy, LGBTQ of color, Latino and Asian American grassroots engagement groups. The inclusion of the American Indian voice is a critically important step in recognizing that we are still here.
Charter Communications External Diversity and Inclusion Council: In 2017, NUIFC Executive Director Janeen Comenote was chosen to sit on the Charter Communication External Diversity and Inclusion Council. Charter has recently become a Fortune 60 company when it merged with Time Warner. As an EDIC member representing the NUIFC, urban American Indian communities have a voice in the strategic direction of the company as well as influence on how Charter will work with vulnerable communities in its corporate footprint.
Public Service Announcements: In 2017 and 2018, we expanded on our PSA project with Comcast to include the Twin Cities in Minnesota. In 2019 we will expand to include Detroit.
Funder Presentations: We have and will be presenting to funders about urban Indian issues throughout the last two years including the Funders Committee for Civic Participation and Native Americans in Philanthropy.
Bridging the Digital Divide: Throughout 2017 and 2018, the NUIFC has been engaged in a partnership with Comcast Internet Essentials to explore how the digital divide impacts urban Native communities. To that end we brought together 12 urban organizations from 12 cities to craft a national survey and are producing two papers on the topic which will be distributed nationally and to policy makers and other telcom companies throughout the country.
Resurgence Schools: Launched in the summer of 2018, the Resurgence School project, a community driven social, cultural and educational program for urban Native youth ages 5-18 will introduce summer curriculum around these 7 domains, identified by stakeholder community members involved in the planning process:
Social Justice, Sovereignty and Change-Making
Identity, Belonging and Leadership
Arts & Communication
Health and Wellness
Life Skills and Career Pathways
Inter-racial Solidarities for Change
Resurgence Schools are community driven and community hosted. The NUIFC will also concurrently launch the Resurgence Schools as a longitudinal research project in partnership with Megan Bang, PhD and Northwestern University. We will continue to launch Resurgence Schools in up to 9 cities nationally over the course of the next 5-6yrs. In 2018 we launched the pilot sites in Portland, OR at the NAYA Early College Academy and at the American Indian OIC Takoda Prep high school in Minneapolis, MN.
Urban Indian Voter & Civic Engagement Project: In the wake of the election in 2016 and measurably harmful policies that will adversely impact urban Native communities, the need to engage our urban Native communities in the electoral process is becoming more critical. In 2018 we will launch this initiative and are currently working with the Movement Voter Project to develop a list of urban Indian human services organizations to work with and provide mini-grants to. The NUIFC will provide grants, technical assistance and create a peer-to-peer network of urban Indian organizations to develop or enhance existing voter and civic engagement work in select urban communities.
Urban Indian Education Reform: In 2017 we published “Resurgence; Restructuring Urban Indian Education” – a first of its kind paper examining the history and effective programs currently providing education to urban Native communities. We studied programs and schools in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Denver and Minneapolis. As a result of this work it became apparent that there is a real need and hunger for urban Indian educators to come together to create a learning cohort. In 2018 we will bring these educators together to begin the process of power building, learning from one another and family/community engagement to influence harmful educational policy.
Bridging the Digital Divide: From 2017-2018 the NUIFC partnered with Comcast Internet Essentials to do a project examining the urban Indian digital divide. We worked with 14 urban Indian organizations representing Seattle, Portland, Bay Area, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, NYC, Boston and Nashville and did a survey to determine how our communities utilize the internet and what platforms they use. In the summer of 2018 we will publish our first of two papers on the digital divide with the second paper articulating the results of the survey work and a set of policy recommendations.