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IllumiNative, Native Organizers Alliance, and Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth Announce “Indigenous Futures Survey” Research Project

TULSA, OK (June 23, 2020) – IllumiNative, Native Organizers Alliance, and Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth are partnering with acclaimed researchers Dr. Stephanie Fryberg (Tulalip) of the University of Michigan and Dr. Arianne Eason of the University of California, Berkeley, to conduct the Indigenous Futures Survey – a groundbreaking research project for Native peoples by Native peoples.

“This year has been difficult for many reasons. We’ve had to change and adapt to a new way of living, being in community, healing, learning, operating, and caring for our communities,” said IllumiNative Executive Director Crystal Echo Hawk. “As we prepare for the 2020 election, an election that will have far-reaching consequences for our nations and peoples, we want to empower and uplift the voice of Native peoples and move towards better understanding through data driven by Native people from our own perspectives.”

Building on the learnings of the Reclaiming Native Truth (RNT) body of research, co-led by IllumiNative Executive Director Crystal Echo Hawk, the Indigenous Futures Survey (IFS) is the first survey in Indian Country that provides an opportunity for all Native peoples to be a part of shaping our future, offering a platform for understanding critical issues impacting Indian Country that can be used to motivate change. The survey will raise the collective voices of Native people in the critical policy debates which will unfold in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections.

“We bring the past and the future together by how we walk today,” said Native Organizers Alliance Director Judith Le Blanc. “Let Native people reshape our world and establish a ‘new, better normal’ that includes Native peoples’ voices in shaping the next steps for our communities and for humanity.”

The 15-20 minute survey launches today, Tuesday, June 23, 2020 and will close on August 1, 2020. To learn more about the survey, or to take the survey, please visit the Indigenous Futures Survey page. IFS researchers are looking to reach as many Native relatives as possible and are seeking to partner with organizations and tribal leaders to help disseminate the survey to at least 2,000 participants 18 years of age and older. IFS disseminating organizations and tribes can request access to data collected from the survey to be helpful to their future work.

The goals of the 2020 Indigenous Futures Survey are to:

  1. Identify Native people and tribal communities’ priorities for changing narratives about Natives and building a more equitable future, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  2. Explore the experiences and attitudes toward federal, local and tribal governance and engagement in democratic processes.
  3. Demonstrate how to engage tribal and Native communities to promote shifts in the public discourse and point the way to collective actions and democratic engagement.

“This survey allows us to learn the priorities and hopes of Indian Country that can influence the experiences of future generations,” said Center for Native American Youth Acting Director Nikki Pitre. “By having access to data from our people, this will help support our programming at the Center for Native American Youth and identify what the priorities are for our people.”

To participate in the IFP survey dissemination, or have questions regarding the survey, please email indigenousfuture@aspeninstitute.org or call (202) 736-2905.

For press inquiries, please email press@nunaconsultgroup.com to schedule interviews with the principals of IllumiNative, Native Organizers Alliance, and/or Center for Native American Youth as well as the lead researchers Dr. Stephanie Fryberg and Dr. Arianne Eason.



IllumiNative is a Native-led nonprofit, launched to increase the visibility of Native peoples in
American society by changing the national narrative. IllumiNative challenges negative narratives, stories, and stereotypes about Native peoples. We provide tools for Native advocates and allies including youth, community and tribal leaders, activists, and professionals across critical sectors — to develop and advocate for accurate and contemporary representations and voices of Native peoples. www.illuminatives.org


The Native Organizers Alliance (NOA) is dedicated to building the organizing capacity of tribes, organizers and community groups for transformational policy change. It also provides a forum for Native leaders, organizers and organizations to work in collaboration with each other and promote their work with non-Native national allies. http://nativeorganizing.org/


The Center for Native American Youth is a national advocacy organization working to improve the health, safety, and overall well-being of Native American youth ages 24 and under. Founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan, CNAY is a policy program within the Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, DC. While a part of the Aspen Institute, CNAY is also overseen by a Board of Advisors. We strive to bring greater national attention to the issues facing Native American youth while fostering community-driven solutions, with special emphasis on youth suicide prevention. https://www.cnay.org/

IllumiNative Launches Rapid Response Art Fund to Support Native Artists as a Vehicle to Call for the End of Systemic Racism

Tulsa, OK. June 16, 2020 – Today, Native-led nonprofit organization IllumiNative announced the launch of a Rapid Response Art Fund to support Native artists’ creation of work that calls for racial justice. In the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others that have sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism across the United States. The new fund will provide immediate funding and resources to support Native artists to participate in national discussions related to racial equity and justice.

Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan Remarks | May 30, 2020

Good afternoon, everyone:

[Ojibwe Greeting]

My name is Peggy Flanagan and I am the Lt. Governor of the State of Minnesota and I am a member of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe and my family is the Wolf Clan and the role of our Wolf Clan is to ensure that we’re not leaving anyone behind.

And that work could not be more important than this moment when we find ourselves in right now.

As we’ve come together as community it was become tremendously difficult to not reach out and to embrace each other, because as we were watching our communities fall apart the moment to connect, the moment to physically touch and care for one another is one of the things that we are prevented from doing right now. But because of the importance of this moment, as the Governor mentioned, this is the first time that we have been in the room together because it matters THAT much.

Now, before I became Lt. Governor, I was an organizer and I was an organizer for 20 years. And when there are protests in the street, I was there.

I marched behind Valerie Castillo as we mourned the unjust loss of her son. And my heart and my guts are being ripped out in this moment, as I also want to go to the streets. And what we’ve experienced in the loss and the murder of on camera of our community member, George Floyd, is horrific.

And that space on 38th and Chicago is sacred ground. And people should be able to come together on that sacred ground and mourn and grieve and demand change and justice in policing and every other racist system that we have that has been part of this state but in this moment we cannot, we have detractors. We have white supremacists, there are anarchists, there are people who are burning down the institutions that are core to our identity and who we are.

As a member of the Urban American Indian Community, watching the destruction of Migizi, an institution in our community that has been the foundation for organizing, for education, for opportunity, for building community together is no longer there.

We did NOT do that. We have been coming together to take care of our community, and so, this is what I ask of all of you. We need to create the space for people to grieve, to come together, to mourn the loss of George Floyd, but in order to be able to do that. We need to create the space to remove the people that are doing us harm.

We’ve watched communities step up and come together to clean the streets, to feed one another, and that is what we need to do here.

One of the ways that we can care for community is to stay home tonight. Is to stay home tonight, so that we can remove those folks who are harming us. So that we can remove those folks who are detracting from the memory of George Floyd and for the work that we have to do to ensure justice is done, and to ensure that the additional officers are held accountable.

But we cannot do that until community can gather safely. So I am grateful to be in this space with all of you, to be at home as we are together in community, and it is time for us to call on each other as organizers to stay home so that we can make sure that we have the opportunity to retain our community and to be able to rebuild and recover together. And do all the work that we can in the Capitol building behind us to undo these systems of racism and to move policies forward that are truly just.

This swell of mourning and grief has been just below the surface, and it burst out into public and we must take this moment to change it all, to change it all.

IllumiNative and Partners Launch New Native American Education for All Initiative In Response to COVID-19

IllumiNative announced the launch of their Native American Education For All (NEFA) initiative to deliver free digital lesson plans and activities for distance learning in response to COVID-19. The first phase of the initiative is being released in partnership with the National Indian Education Association (NIEA).

The Native American Education for All (NEFA) initiative aims to dismantle the invisibility of Native peoples in the K-12 public education system. IllumiNative will also be releasing art-based teaching guides with Amplifier Foundation later this month.

“This curriculum and these resources are the first steps in ensuring Native peoples are visible so that all students and educators from every walk of life learn about traditional and contemporary Native issues,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director of IllumiNative. 

IllumiNative is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to amplifying contemporary Native voices, stories and issues in pop culture, media, and K-12 education.

Echo Hawk said there is a demand for this type of educational material because research found that 78% of Americans are interested in learning more about Native cultures and 72% of Americans support significant changes to K-12 curricula. 

“This is in direct contrast with the fact that our research found that 27 states fail to mention a single Native American post-1900,” she said.

IllumiNative and NIEA are committed to providing widely accessible online resources to students from all walks of life, backgrounds, and neighborhoods while also supporting teachers and families as they work to educate our future workforce and leaders. 

“The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of providing all students access to flexible, digital curricula they can access from home. NIEA is honored to offer support in this moment of extreme uncertainty,” said Diana Cournoyer, NIEA Executive Director. “Equally important we want to ensure culturally accurate, student-centered learning resources are easily adaptable for all Native and non-Native educators and families.”

To access the full Native Education for All curriculum, activities, and resources, visit https://illuminatives.org/native-education-for-all/. For questions, please contact Director of Communications and Storytelling Jaynie Parrish via email jaynie@illuminatives.org


About IllumiNative

IllumiNative is a Native-led nonprofit, launched to increase the visibility of Native peoples in American society by changing the national narrative. IllumiNative challenges negative narratives, stories, and stereotypes about Native peoples. We provide tools for Native advocates and allies including youth, community and tribal leaders, activists, and professionals across critical sectors — to develop and advocate for accurate and contemporary representations and voices of Native peoples. For more information visit, www.illuminatives.org

About National Indian Education Association

NIEA is the Nation’s most inclusive advocacy organization advancing comprehensive culture-based educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Formed by Native educators in 1969 to encourage a national discourse on education. For more information visit www.niea.org

Report Offers “Road Map” for Native Americans to Shed Stereotypes

HELENA, Mont. – A new report explores how Native Americans are perceived in the United States, and according to one of its project leaders, it’s the largest public-opinion research project about Native Americans ever conducted.

Crystal Echo Hawk said the goal of the report “Reclaiming Native Truth” was to find out about the dominant narratives and perceptions of native people from a diverse group of Americans. It included focus groups spanning 11 states and every race. She said toxic and contradictory stereotypes about Native Americans persist, such as ideas that they’re dependent on the government, but also flush with casino money.

Research reveals media role in stereotypes about Native Americans

This month, a team of Native researchers and thought leaders, organized under the project Reclaiming Native Truth, released a groundbreaking report that reveals for the first time how the American public views Native Americans. The report includes some stunning statistics on just how distorted and inaccurate public perception really is. Central to the findings is the role of the media in creating the problem, but also the potential for news and media to be part of the solution.

The false narratives, invisibility, and the erasure of Native peoples must end

Unprecedented research chips away at decades of misconceptions
Forget what your elementary teacher taught you about Native Americans.

American students learn some of the most damaging misconceptions and biases toward Native Americans in grades K-12. In fact, 87 percent of history books in the U.S. portray Native Americans as a population existing before 1900, according to a 2014 study on academic standards. For many Americans, we no longer exist.