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About IllumiNative

Created and led by Native peoples, IllumiNative is a new nonprofit initiative designed to increase the visibility of – and challenge the negative narrative about – Native Nations and peoples in American society

For decades, the lack of representation and information about Native peoples has perpetuated damaging myths and stereotypes. Native peoples rank at or near the bottom of most socio-economic indicators – such as educational attainment, domestic violence, and poverty – and are often portrayed in popular entertainment, the news media, educational curricula and other influential sources as ‘noble savages’ of days gone by. But research shows that a more powerful, more accurate, and more inspiring narrative about the contemporary Native experience – one of innovation, creativity, resilience and community – is being overlooked and obscured the negative one.

IllumiNative seeks to change that.

IllumiNative was founded by Crystal Echo Hawk, President of Echo Hawk Consulting, and a group of respected Native artists, thought leaders and allies, to capitalize on the findings of Reclaiming Native Truth (RNT) – the largest public opinion research and strategy setting initiative ever conducted for, and about, Native Americans. The data presented in RNT concluded that pop culture, media and K-12 education drive and perpetuate the negative stereotypes and myths and has led to the erasure of Native peoples. By honing IllumiNative’s focus on these drivers, this initiative will provide opportunities to not only substantially increase accurate and positive representations of Native peoples, but also positively impact policy and end the continued discrimination and disparities faced by Native communities.

By supporting and illuminating contemporary Native voices, stories, issues and ideas in popular culture and influential social institutions – including the entertainment industry, media, K-12 education, philanthropy, and government – IllumiNative advances an important and powerful new narrative about Native peoples through the following:

• Messaging: Developing and sharing fact-based messaging and materials that advance a more positive, inspiring and accurate narrative about Native peoples and Native communities.
• Amplifying: Developing a national campaign in partnership with a broad coalition of tribes, Native organizations, youth and allies to amplify the new narrative and strategies to move hearts and minds within strategic demographics.
• Training: Fostering understanding and building capacity with media companies, philanthropic institutions, academic institutions, and government about contemporary Native experiences through educational workshops, meetings and trainings.
• Advocating: Advocating with – and on behalf of – Native talent for greater representation and accurate portrayals in the entertainment industry, media and K-12 education.
• Connecting: Connecting and supporting Native young people and Native talent (e.g., writers, producers, directors, actors, etc.) with specific opportunities in the entertainment industry as well as building relationships and networks with allies and influencers to create opportunities for narrative change and impact.

IllumiNative is a fiscally-sponsored project of New Venture Fund (NVF), a 501(c)(3) public charity, supports innovative and effective public interest projects. It executes a range of donor-driven public interest projects in conservation, global health, public policy, international development, education, disaster recovery, and the arts. More than half of the 50 largest US grantmaking foundations have funded projects hosted at NVF, including 8 of the top 10.

For more information, please email us at connect@illuminatives.org.

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