Large Foundations' Grantmaking to Native America


American Indian communities are in the midst of a 30-year period of rejuvenation, economic growth, and social and cultural reconstruction termed the “Self-Determination Era,” which has been motivated in part by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the SelfDetermination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (Public Law 93-638), but more fundamentally driven by Native Americans’ desire to exercise their sovereign rights. In the early 1990s, Native Americans in Philanthropy commissioned two studies of large foundations’ philanthropy to Native American causes and concerns, the first by William Brescia and the second, covering a later period, by Roslyn LaPier (see Endnote 1). These studies identified the amounts, sources, and targets of large private foundations’ investments in Native America, as a means of both acknowledging and promoting grantmakers’ engagement with Native communities in self-determined community change.

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