About This Cause
Our Vision: A strong network of Native women and girl leaders with the skills, knowledge, commitment and resources to affect positive social change, address the violence against women, girls and earth, and build a strong citizenry with the knowledge and desire to advance sustainability –living in balance with the natural world.
Our Goals and Activities
GOAL: Build leadership of women and the capacity of women-led projects and organizations
WHY THIS GOAL: As caretakers of the land, we pledge to do our part by honoring the interdependency of all life and our responsibilities within the circle. Knowing that solutions reside in our community, people will guide their own destinies through remembering deep wisdom acquired throughout the
millennium, affecting the realities of their lives, today. We practice decolonization in our work
and build leadership based on an Indigenous model where leaders serve the people.
• Fiscal sponsorship of organizations led by Native women and girls.
• Ahdanehi Program: a community-based philanthropy model steeped in Indigenous cultural
tradition. Each year, an intergenerational (currently ages 23–85) circle of women builds
community, researches and analyzes critical issues, provides mentorship to emerging leaders,
and gathers financial resources to support Northwest Native women-led community
initiatives. In 2016 Ahdanehi engaged twelve women who organized community activities
including marching in solidarity with the Northwest Two-Spirit Society in Seattle’s Gay
Pride Parade, held a grantee-partner dialogue gathering, and hosted a film and community
discussion. The circle surpassed their fundraising goal of $25,000 and awarded 9 grants to
grassroots groups addressing violence against Native women, children and Mother Earth,
whom we continue to engage throughout the year.
• Capacity building cohort: support very small and new organizations to a place of readiness
for grant applications. 2016 graduated three new Native women-led nonprofits.
GOAL: Build the capacity of our youth to develop strong identities through Indigenous knowledge and stronger supports for their education
WHY THIS GOAL: One of the most important strategies to advance sustainable Native cultures is to provide critical tools of empowerment to Native youth and support them with fusing the traditional with the contemporary. Years of experience working in Native communities tell us that a successful
young Native person is one who carries a strong identity steeped in tribal culture—history, values,
language, and ways of knowing, as well as critical twenty-first century skills. These skills consist primarily of leadership, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, healthy communication, collaboration or teamwork, and literacy in STEAM, media, the environment, wellness, and global issues. These trainings connect our youth with their power and help fuel individual and cultural transformation.
Native Girls Code is currently enrolled in Women’s Finding Alliance’s GLOW cohort for
Girl-serving organizations, facilitated by School’s Out Washington to develop professional
methodologies. We are also training Native women to be evaluators for youth programs, creating
a professional income stream for their families.
• Native Girls Code, a STEAM club of middle and high school young Native women, ages 12–18, builds their skills and knowledge throughout the school year and during school breaks.
• Work in collaboration with educators to create community projects that develop computer
coding and other technical skills.
• With the support of our youth we design and offer workshops in cultural arts and ecological
restoration that increases their knowledge of traditional Native cultures.
• Gen7 Summer programming offers middle and high school Native youth at least 3 weeks
of programming in cultural arts and STEM.
GOAL: Advance the preservation and revitalization of traditional Indigenous knowledge through environmental justice programming that focuses on following the original teachings of Mother Earth
WHY THIS GOAL: Our goal is to remember and make whole traditional ecological knowledge, to re-connect Native people to Mother Earth, our first teacher, through the leadership of Native women.
We continue to organize to resist the impact of fossil fuel production and transport, and to create new pathways into the future that honor and include traditional knowledge, engage tribal youth and elders, and utilize modern technologies. Permaculture is one such strategy to advance climate justice in Indigenous communities. The founders of Permaculture took parts of traditional ecological knowledge from Indigenous people, and offers it to everyone, including back to Indigenous people themselves. We are taking the knowledge back, along with the infrastructure of the design process as a valuable tool for human interaction with the natural environment in an efficient yet respectful and collaborative manner. In 2017, Na’ah Illahee Fund’s Yahowt (Lushootseed Language “lift us up, together”) Circle of Native women will design and implement an ecological restoration project of the water filtration ponds
located on the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural land, improving water quality of runoff from Discovery Park that empties into Puget Sound. The 30-year old ponds will be redesigned to include silt cleanup, invasive species removal, and planting of both floating and submerged native plants. The enhanced area will create a healthy and welcoming environment for both teaching and practicing traditional Indigenous lifeways through plant harvesting for medicine and cultural arts.
We are also working to advance Native food systems as a core strategy to re-build and strengthen traditional lifeways. To increase access to healthy foods, we support building sustainable systems that improve health, strengthen food security and increase the control over Native agriculture and food
systems. Producing healthy food helps families through better health, connection to land, water and plants, and nurtures self-sufficiency. The Permaculture circle and community members are engaged,
collaborating with the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and Seattle City Parks and Recreation Department to access city-owned lands to cultivate native plants and edibles.
• Since 2012 the Yahowt program has provided community education workshops in fields of Indigenous Sustainability, cultural arts, native plant medicines and Indigenous permaculture
• Na’ah Illahee Fund is currently engaged in a partnership with Lush Cosmetics Company to provide funding and support for a cohort of eight Native women at Oregon State University (one of the region’s leading permaculture programs) to receive Professional Permaculture Design certification. Permaculture is the chosen framework to advance our work because it has been the closest to Indigenous knowledge systems that we have found. This framework focuses on thriving, interconnected, interdependent relationships in nature, where humans regain their rightful place as caretakers and protectors of Mother Earth. Throughout this program, we follow our 8 leaders who graduate with a professional certificate and support their process of finding jobs in the field of permaculture as they design and implement human built ecological projects through an Indigenous lens.
-Yahowt Program held nine community workshops in food security, cultural arts and traditional plants and medicines to strengthen traditional knowledge.
-Graduated eight Indigenous women with their professional Permaculture Design certificate from Oregon State University and planned an ecological restoration project at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center lands.
-Gen7/Native Girls Code program held forty youth workshops in STEAM (Indigenous and Western science, technology and media arts, traditional/cultural arts, and math).
-Participated in the “Paddle to Nisqually” Green Team.
-Ahdanehi Women’s Giving Circle met bi-monthly throughout the year, held convenings for our grantees and made nine grants to Native women and two-spirit led grassroots community initiatives.
-Sponsored and co-organized the Living Breath of wə əb altxw Traditional Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium. This symposium serves to foster dialogue and build collaborative networks as we, Native peoples, strive to sustain our cultural food practices and preserve our healthy relationships to the land, water, and all living things.
-Since 2009, our large network of volunteers has produced the annual “Blue Jay Brings the Back the Moon: A Celebration of Native Arts & Culture” community event where we award the Spirit of Native Leadership to a Native woman leader.
-Needing support and leadership in their formation,we graduated 3 Native women-led new nonprofit organizations with a startup strategic plan and fiscal sponsorship. These organizations are currently meeting with funders in the Seattle community. Na’ah Illahee supported them to make these
connections and prepared them for meetings with funders.
-Fifteen young Native women were a part of the Native Girls Code program in 2015–16, all ages 12–18. They presented at the UW Living Breath Traditional Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium. They visited Google, Facebook (10 girls received free laptops) and the University of WA NASA Space Grant Consortium summer science camp. They learned cultural arts, created short films, volunteered
with the Green Team at the Paddle to Nisqually Tribal Journeys, and they attended the Annual Traditional Youth and Elders Gathering at Nooksack.
Na’ah Illahee Fund collaborates with the University of Washington’s Washington NASA Space Consortium and the Information School to increase the number of Native people in STEM fields.
“An intertwining of science, spirit and story can be medicine for our broken relationship with Mother Earth, allowing us to imagine a different relationship in which people and land are good medicine for each other."
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Potawatomi, “Braiding Sweetgrass”