Design Lab

The Design Lab is the research, strategy and convening hub of IllumiNative. Working in partnership with leading Native artists, thought leaders, tribes and non-Native organizations in the field, the Design Lab team will conduct convenings and utilize research to inform the development of transformative strategies, content and high-impact culture change campaigns. The Design Lab action items include:

  • Translating and Disseminating Existing Research: Repackage RNT’s academic research to create easy-to-read toolkits for pop culture/entertainment and media industry leaders; Native nonprofit organizations; tribes; philanthropy; and K-12 schools.Disseminate research across different pop culture genres, institutions, grassroots Native organizations and communities, and among allies.
  • Conducting New Research: Augment the original RNT data in order to fill existing gaps in research and deepen the depth and breadth of our strategies. Research will focus on gathering media and entertainment consumption data via a representative national survey among targeted audiences of potential allies.
  • Building a Coalition for Narrative Change: Bring together a coalition of Native organizations and tribes working across diverse issues and geographies to develop a shared approach, capacity building and a national, coordinated narrative change campaign. The coalition will also include influential allies to amplify the new narrative and support social justice, accurate and contemporary representations of Native peoples, and equity.
  • Convening Allies and Stakeholders:By convening Native artists, activists, partners, industry executives, pop culture and media influencers and potential donors, we can build out narrative and culture change strategies and leverage resources and support.

Connect + Activate

The Connect + Activate pillar will serve as a training and networking hub to connect opinion-shaping institutions with Native storytellers and advocates. The network will create pipelines and infrastructure to amplify Native voices and talent within entertainment, media and pop culture industries. It will also focus on training different Native and non-Native organizations on new narrative change approaches and strategies. Action items for this pillar include:

  • Hosting a Speakers’ Bureau: Develop a Native speakers’ bureau comprised of Native artists, leaders and content experts who can serve as resources to media, entertainment, philanthropy and other institutions.
  • Developing Narrative Change Training: Develop training that will convert the research into usable skills, tools and strategies for Native nonprofit organizations, tribes, institutions and allies.
  • Developing an Asset Map: Create an asset map of Native creative talent and organizations to connect non-Natives with Native leaders. The asset map will foster opportunities to promote the inclusion of Native peoples in pop culture industries and connect these industries with Native artists, storytellers, leaders and organizations.

IllumiNative Digital Hub

The IllumiNative Digital Hubwill create a website that will serve as a collaborative digital platform and catalyst for Native voices, art, stories, activism and cultural expression. A founding artists’ collective will play a key role in developing and amplifying new and dynamic content. The Digital Hub will also host a Rapid Response Team for cohesive action on pressing current issues. Action items for this pillar include:

  • Creating a Digital Platform: Build an interactive platform that serves as a digital destination for stories on Native pop culture, social justice and issues–– the first of its kind for Native peoples. The platform will curate existing and original Native content; highlight bright spots, stories of excellence, innovative grassroots thought leaders and the work of Native artists;as well as host research findings in formats designed to inspire and engage change agents.
  • Creating Rapid Response and Long-Term Capacity: The Hub team will build the capacity to monitor pop culture to amplify Native news, analysis and opinion and create rapid response commentary on pressing issues impacting Native peoples and allies.

Create Impact

The Create Impact pillar of our work will focus on investing the development of new creative original Native content, high-level social impact campaigns and the next generation of Native storytellers. Action items for this pillar include:

  • Create a National Narrative Change Campaign: IllumiNative will work with a national coalition of tribes, Native organizations, youth, grassroots communities and allies to develop a national multi-media campaign that will raise awareness, educate and engage diverse and strategic sectors of the American public identified by the RNT research as allies and “moveables.” The national campaign will seek to amplify Native voices and issues of critical importance to a new level and create a variety of multi-media content, toolkits and content that can support narrative change efforts in local communities, states and nationwide.
  • Supporting New Content Creation: IllumiNative will initiate planning to fund and support the creation of original Native content for multiple platforms across pop culture spaces and work with foundations, philanthropists, tribes and social impact investors to develop the resources to support re-granting and project financing.
  • Investing in the Next Generation of Native Storytellers: Develop programs to build the professional skills of young and emerging Native writers, filmmakers, artists, actors and storytellers, grounded in the new narrative approach, and prepare them to pursue opportunities in pop culture, media and entertainment.