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We the Resilient

We the Resilient challenges the narrative that California is the most progressive state in its pursuit of equity.

We the Resilient

This report highlights the strengths and challenges experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIANs) in California, with an important focus on our existence being an act of resilience.

Fighting Erasure

Despite California being home to the largest population of AIANs in the United States, reports often do not provide adequate data for AIANs. When AIANs are not accurately represented in data, we are institutionally erased.

Contributing Perspectives

While gaps in information remain, We the Resilient provides a discussion point for many socio-economic factors that impact the health and wellness of AIANs in California.

More than Just Data

Quantitative data is only one aspect of understanding AIANs in California; another critical piece is understanding AIAN communities themselves, how we define power and what is most important for us to build strong futures. This report carefully weaves together quantitative and qualitative data to create a more robust snapshot of AIANs in California.

What We The Resilient Examines

Outcomes were analyzed across eight societal domains, assessing performance of American Indians & Alaska Natives compared to the ‘best’ performing ethnic group for the following indicators.

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AIAN Population Distribution

The distribution of AIAN communities generally follows the population density patterns of California, with most AIAN people living near big cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento. Majority (or high-percentage) AIAN communities are in Northern and Eastern California, like the Woodfords Community in Alpine County, Furnace Creek in Inyo County, Yurok Reservation in Del Norte County and the Willow-Creek Hoopa Valley in Humboldt County.

Philanthropic Recommendations

Over the past two decades, U.S. foundation support explicitly targeting Native Americans has been dismal, hovering between .03% to .05% of foundation giving. As a result, Native communities are chronically underfunded, and worse are invisibilized.

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Commit the long-term process of decolonization, racial justice and healing

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…to increased diversity in philanthropic boards, decision-making spaces and senior leadership of Native peoples.

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…Indigenous communities determining their own systems of community learning and evaluation consistent with Indigenous epistemologies and worldviews.

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Support And Directly Fund

…power building and Indigenous peoples’ self determination.

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…sustained funding to appropriately respond to the long-term roots of systemic oppression.

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…dollars to community controlled solutions. Native peoples and communities know their communities and are in the best position to decide what will work best for them.

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…cultural humility when working with Native peoples. There are close to 1,000 federally recognized and non-recognized tribes in the United States. Each tribe has its own history, traditions and culture. Rather than trying to achieve cultural competency in the face of such diversity, it is better to adopt an attitude of cultural humility—a process of careful and ongoing self-reflection, self-awareness and critical consciousness about one’s own embedded beliefs, values and worldview.

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Be Mindful

…of capacity constraints. Philanthropy needs to understand that there is a spectrum of capacity when it comes to tribes and Native organizations. Funding must take into account the continuum of capacity support, including making funding mechanisms streamlined and direct.

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…your philanthropic peers. Achieving the dramatic shift that is needed in philanthropy will require Native Americans and allies to educate, inform and inspire deeper and more critically and culturally informed philanthropic investment. Talk about Native issues within your organizations and networks.

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We the Resilient Report