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The Best Nonprofits to Support International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on August 9 pays tribute to the world's indigenous communities. 

About 370 to 500 million indigenous people are estimated to live in 90 countries worldwide. This year, the United Nations is highlighting indigenous youth as agents of change in recognition of the role that indigenous youth must occupy in decision-making around climate action, the search for justice for their people, and the creation of an intergenerational connection that keeps their culture, traditions, and contributions alive. Indigenous communities are threatened worldwide due to challenges ranging from discrimination to climate change.

Indigenous peoples makeup 15% of the world's extremely poor and suffer higher rates of landlessness, malnutrition, and internal displacement than other groups.

Numerous nonprofits are working to protect and preserve indigenous communities in the United States and worldwide – please consider supporting them today.

Cultural Survival

Cultural Survival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide. 

The organization was founded in 1972 with the primary mission to defend and promote indigenous communities' cultural, political, economic, and social rights and empower them to determine their futures.

What the Cultural Survival organization does:

  • Advocates for Indigenous Rights: Cultural Survival works to raise awareness about the challenges faced by indigenous peoples, including issues like land rights, cultural preservation, and self-determination.
  • Supports Grassroots Initiatives: The organization provides support and resources to grassroots projects and initiatives led by indigenous communities. This support helps strengthen their cultural practices, language preservation, and sustainable development efforts.
  • Publishes Indigenous Media: Cultural Survival publishes various media platforms, such as a magazine, radio programs, and online content, to amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples and share their stories, struggles, and achievements with a global audience.
  • Promotes Fair Trade: Cultural Survival supports fair trade practices by assisting indigenous artisans and producers market their traditional crafts and products. This initiative helps preserve cultural heritage while generating sustainable income for the communities.
  • Conducts Research and Education: The organization researches indigenous issues, producing reports and educational materials to raise awareness among the public and policymakers about the challenges faced by indigenous peoples and the importance of protecting their rights.
  • Fosters Capacity Building: Cultural Survival empowers indigenous leaders and communities through capacity-building programs, offering training in community organizing, legal rights, and sustainable resource management.
  • Builds Networks and Alliances: The organization fosters alliances and collaborations with other NGOs, indigenous organizations, and human rights groups to strengthen collective efforts in promoting indigenous rights and welfare.

Red Eagle Soaring

Red Eagle Soaring is a nonprofit organization in Seattle, Washington, dedicated to empowering Native American and Indigenous youth through theater arts and storytelling.

Founded in 1992, the organization aims to provide a safe and culturally enriching space for young people to express themselves, explore their identities, and build confidence through creative expression.

What the Red Eagle Soaring organization does:

  • Native Youth Theater Program: Red Eagle Soaring offers a comprehensive theater arts program tailored to Native American and Indigenous youth. Through workshops, rehearsals, and performances, participants learn various aspects of theater, including acting, stagecraft, playwriting, and directing.
  • Cultural Empowerment: The organization emphasizes cultural empowerment by incorporating traditional Native storytelling, dance, and music into theatrical productions. This approach preserves cultural heritage and provides a unique and authentic platform for youth to share their stories and experiences.
  • Youth Leadership Development: Red Eagle Soaring focuses on nurturing leadership skills among its participants. The organization encourages youth to take on responsibilities both on and off the stage, fostering a sense of ownership and agency in their artistic endeavors.
  • Performances and Workshops: Red Eagle Soaring stages theatrical performances in various venues, including community centers, schools, and theaters, allowing the participants to showcase their talent and creativity to broader audiences. Additionally, the organization conducts workshops and outreach programs to reach more young people and expand its impact.
  • Life Skills and Mentorship: Alongside theater training, Red Eagle Soaring provides participants with life skills development and mentorship. These programs focus on building self-esteem, communication skills, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities, essential for personal growth and success in any field.
  • Healing and Well-being: Red Eagle Soaring recognizes the healing potential of creative expression and storytelling. The organization helps youth process trauma and emotional challenges by providing a supportive and compassionate environment, contributing to their overall well-being and resilience.

Huairou Commission

The Huairou Commission is a nonprofit organization that empowers grassroots women and community-based organizations (CBOs) worldwide. Founded in 1995, the organization is named after Huairou, a rural town in China where the Fourth World Conference on Women occurred in 1995. 

The Huairou Commission emerged from this conference to address the specific challenges women living in poverty and marginalized communities face.

What the Huairou Commission organization does:

  • Women's Leadership and Capacity Building: The organization strengthens women's leadership capacities in grassroots and community-based organizations. They provide training, mentorship, and resources to enhance the skills of women leaders and enable them to become effective agents of change in their communities.
  • Networking and Partnerships: The organization facilitates networking and collaboration among grassroots women's organizations, CBOs, and other civil society groups. By fostering partnerships, they create a global network of support for women's empowerment initiatives and share best practices for community development.
  • Knowledge Sharing and Research: The Huairou Commission researches and documents women's issues, community-led development, and gender-based challenges marginalized communities face. They share this knowledge through publications, conferences, and online platforms to inform policymakers and practitioners.
  • Community-Led Development: The organization promotes community-led development approaches, emphasizing the importance of local knowledge, culture, and traditional practices. They support initiatives designed and implemented within the communities, ensuring sustainable development that meets the specific needs of women and their families.
  • Disaster Resilience and Climate Justice: The Huairou Commission addresses the unique vulnerabilities of women in disaster-prone regions and advocates for climate justice. They work to incorporate gender-responsive strategies in disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation efforts, recognizing that women often play a critical role in disaster preparedness and recovery.
  • Urban Development and Land Rights: The organization advocates for secure land tenure and housing rights for women in urban and peri-urban areas. They support community-driven initiatives for affordable housing, access to land, and basic services to improve the living conditions of women and their families in cities.
  • Economic Empowerment: The Huairou Commission promotes economic empowerment among women by supporting income-generating activities and entrepreneurship opportunities. They facilitate access to financial services, skills training, and market linkages to enhance women's economic independence.

Nia Tero

Nia Tero is a nonprofit organization committed to partnering with and supporting Indigenous peoples and communities worldwide. The organization's name, "Nia Tero," is derived from two words from different indigenous languages: "Nia" means "purpose" in Swahili, and "Tero" means "life" in Hmong. 

This reflects the organization's mission to work harmoniously with Indigenous peoples to protect their lands, cultures, and rights, recognizing the intrinsic connection between Indigenous communities and the planet's health.

What the Nia Tero organization does:

  • Indigenous-Led Conservation: Nia Tero collaborates with Indigenous communities to advance conservation efforts that are led and guided by the communities. The organization recognizes Indigenous peoples' profound knowledge of their lands and ecosystems and empowers them to be the primary stewards of their territories.
  • Land Rights and Tenure Security: The organization works to secure and defend the land rights of Indigenous communities. They advocate for legal recognition of customary land tenure systems and support efforts to protect Indigenous lands from illegal encroachments and land grabs.
  • Cultural Heritage Preservation: Nia Tero is dedicated to preserving and revitalizing Indigenous cultures, languages, and traditional practices. The organization recognizes the importance of cultural heritage in maintaining the resilience and identity of Indigenous communities.
  • Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation: Nia Tero addresses the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on Indigenous communities and territories. They support community-led climate adaptation and mitigation strategies that integrate traditional knowledge with modern science.
  • Sustainable Livelihoods and Economic Empowerment: The organization promotes sustainable livelihoods for Indigenous communities, supporting economic activities that align with their cultural values and ecological knowledge. This includes promoting sustainable agriculture, artisanal crafts, and eco-friendly enterprises.
  • Collaborative Partnerships: Nia Tero actively builds partnerships with other conservation organizations, governments, and corporations to leverage resources and amplify the voices of Indigenous communities in decision-making processes that affect their lands and resources.
  • Indigenous Leadership Development: The organization invests in the leadership development of Indigenous youth and women, recognizing their crucial role in shaping the future of their communities and advocating for their rights on local and global platforms.

Amazon Watch

Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization that focuses on protecting the Amazon rainforest and advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. 

Founded in 1996, the organization operates at the intersection of environmental and human rights advocacy, working with Indigenous communities to defend their lands, cultures, and livelihoods from threats like deforestation, oil and gas extraction, and other destructive activities.

What the Amazon Watch organization does:

  • Environmental Advocacy: The organization campaigns against deforestation, illegal logging, and environmental degradation in the Amazon rainforest. They work to raise awareness about the importance of the Amazon ecosystem in mitigating climate change and conserving biodiversity.
  • Indigenous Rights and Land Defense: Amazon Watch partners with Indigenous communities to protect their ancestral territories from land grabs and encroachments by mining, oil drilling, and agriculture industries. They support Indigenous land titling initiatives and advocate for recognizing Indigenous land rights.
  • Corporate Accountability: The organization monitors and challenges the actions of corporations operating in the Amazon region. They hold companies accountable for environmental and social impacts, aiming to promote responsible business practices that respect the rights of Indigenous communities.
  • Campaigns against Oil and Gas Extraction: Amazon Watch opposes destructive oil and gas extraction projects in the Amazon. They work with local communities to resist harmful extractive activities threatening the environment and Indigenous peoples' livelihoods.
  • Support for Community-led Initiatives: Amazon Watch provides support and resources to strengthen the capacity of Indigenous communities to defend their rights and territories. This includes legal assistance, training, and funding for sustainable development projects.
  • Indigenous Rights Documentation: Amazon Watch conducts research and documentation to expose human rights violations and environmental abuses faced by Indigenous communities in the Amazon. They share these findings with the international community to promote accountability and justice.
  • Climate Justice: The organization advocates for climate justice, emphasizing the role of the Amazon rainforest as a critical carbon sink and the impact of climate change on vulnerable Indigenous communities. They highlight the importance of Indigenous knowledge and traditional practices in climate resilience.

Native American Youth & Family Center

The Native American Youth & Family Center (NAYA) is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon, dedicated to serving the Native American community, focusing on youth and families. 

Founded in 1974, NAYA aims to provide culturally relevant services, support, and opportunities to empower Native American individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency and overall well-being.

What the Native American Youth & Family Center organization does:

  • Youth Programs: NAYA offers programs specifically designed for Native American youth, including academic support, leadership development, cultural enrichment, and mentorship opportunities. These programs aim to build confidence and foster a sense of identity and cultural pride among young Native Americans.
  • Education and Academic Support: The organization provides educational support services, such as tutoring, homework help, and college preparation assistance. NAYA strives to improve educational outcomes for Native American students and increase their access to post-secondary education.
  • Cultural Preservation and Revitalization: NAYA is committed to preserving and revitalizing Native American cultures, languages, and traditional practices. The organization hosts cultural events, workshops, and classes to pass down traditional knowledge and strengthen cultural connections within the community.
  • Family Services: NAYA offers comprehensive family services, including parenting support, counseling, and access to resources for Native American families. The organization focuses on creating a supportive and nurturing environment for families to thrive.
  • Housing Assistance: NAYA provides housing support services to help Native American individuals and families find safe and affordable housing. This includes rental assistance, housing counseling, and information on homeownership opportunities.
  • Wellness and Healthcare Services: NAYA provides wellness programs and healthcare access to support the physical and mental well-being of Native American community members. This includes health screenings, counseling services, and wellness workshops.
  • Youth and Family Empowerment: Overall, NAYA's mission is to empower Native American youth and families by providing them with the tools, resources, and support they need to thrive. The organization strives to create a strong and resilient community that celebrates and preserves Native American cultures and traditions.

First Nations Development Institute

First Nations Development Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening Native American and Indigenous communities through community-driven solutions and economic development initiatives.

Founded in 1980, the organization supports sustainable economic and social progress for Native American tribes and organizations across the United States.

What the First Nations Development Institute organization does:

  • Grantmaking and Capacity Building: The organization provides grants and capacity-building support to Native American tribes and organizations. These grants fund community-led projects, including economic development, food sovereignty, cultural preservation, education, and youth programs.
  • Indigenous Food Systems: First Nations Development Institute promotes food sovereignty and revitalizes Indigenous food systems. They support initiatives encouraging traditional agricultural practices, local food production, and access to healthy, traditional foods.
  • Economic Development and Entrepreneurship: The organization supports economic development efforts within Native American communities. This includes developing small businesses, providing entrepreneurial training, and supporting community-based enterprises.
  • Native Youth and Education: First Nations Development Institute invests in the educational and leadership development of Native American youth. They provide scholarships, mentorship programs, and support for cultural education to empower the next generation of Indigenous leaders.
  • Financial and Technical Assistance: The organization offers financial and technical assistance to Native American organizations and individuals seeking to improve their financial literacy, financial management, and asset-building skills.
  • Data and Research: The organization researches and collects data on Native American economic and social issues. This information helps inform their grantmaking and advocacy efforts and contributes to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing Native American communities.
  • Philanthropic Engagement: First Nations Development Institute collaborates with other philanthropic organizations to increase support for Native American-led initiatives and community development projects. They work to increase awareness and investment in Native American causes.

Native American Heritage Association

The Native American Heritage Association (NAHA) is a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid and support to Native American communities in need.

Founded in 1993, NAHA focuses on improving the living conditions, health, and overall well-being of Native American families, particularly those living in poverty on reservations.

What the Native American Heritage Association does:

  • Emergency Assistance: NAHA provides emergency assistance to Native American families facing immediate hardships, such as food shortages, housing crises, and natural disasters. They offer critical support to help families overcome these challenges.
  • Food and Nutrition: The organization runs food distribution programs that provide nutritious meals to Native American families, especially those who struggle with food insecurity on reservations where access to fresh and healthy food is limited.
  • Elder Care: NAHA supports Native American elders by providing essential resources, medical supplies, and home repairs. The organization recognizes the importance of honoring and caring for Native American elders in the community.
  • Medical and Dental Care: The organization offers medical and dental clinics on reservations, providing access to healthcare services often lacking in remote and underserved areas. These clinics help address health disparities and improve the overall well-being of community members.
  • Warmth for Winter: NAHA runs the Warmth for Winter program, providing winter clothing, blankets, and heating assistance to families who face cold temperatures and lack the resources to stay warm during the winter months.
  • Housing Improvements: The organization undertakes housing improvement projects, such as repairing roofs, installing insulation, and addressing critical home repairs to ensure safe and livable conditions for Native American families.
  • Partnership and Collaboration: NAHA collaborates with Native American tribes, organizations, and other nonprofit groups to maximize their impact and ensure that their programs align with the needs and priorities of their communities.

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