Things That Matter

Here Are Ten Indigenous Organizations To Give Back To This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can feel like a rather loaded holiday, particularly if you are a part of (or are empathetic to) the Native American community. The revisionist retelling of what went on between American Indians and the Pilgrims who contributed to the ongoing occupation and genocide of the former can just leave a nasty taste in your mouth. Instead of accepting the American jingoist version of the holiday, many people have chosen to simply adopt the idea of expressing gratitude and convening with loved ones over food. Here are some native American charities to contribute to.

It may be all the tryptophan from the turkey or being around friends and family, but the holiday seems to trigger a need to give to more vulnerable groups and there are fewer more vulnerable groups than indigenous people around the world. It’s not just in the United States, indigenous lives are globally marginalized and with that comes a great cost to humanity: their lives and our own. 

Indigenous communities are essential to combating climate change and when we allow those communities to be destroyed, we allow our planet to be destroyed. This Thanksgiving, let’s give back.

Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women USA

MMIW USA has a narrow scope, “to bring our missing home and help the families of the murdered cope and support them through the process of grief.” The organization provides guidance and resources to family members, who lack the support of the system, to deal with the impossible situation of having a missing loved one. The larger goal of MMIW USA is to eradicate the issue of Native American women encountering disproportionate levels of violence in the U.S. 

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Partnership With Native Americans 

According to PWNA, 90,000 American Indian families are homeless or under-housed. By serving 60 reservations across 12 states, PWNA centers “underserved and geographically isolated” communities in the Northern Plains and Southwest. The organization provides support by using programs and resources to address short-term and long-term community concerns like unemployment and housing. 

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Adopt a Native Elder Program

Don’t worry, they know the name sounds weird and they need to explain it. In the 1980s, during the Hopi-Navajo land dispute that displaced 10,000 Navajas, elders faced particularly severe hardships including a lack of food. Linda Myers and Grace Smith Yellowhammer started this organization by doing food runs for those elders. 

“When you adopt, you commit to providing your Elder with two sets of Rainbow Food Boxes annually. A.N.E. provides and delivers the food,” according to the Website. 

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The Native American Heritage Association 

NAHA serves two of the poorest counties in the country, the Crow Creek and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota, where eight out of 10 Native Americans living on the reservations are employed. Like many organizations, NAHA is committed to combating the pervasive hunger that has riddled indigenous communities for decades, along with basic necessities. 

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The American Indian College Fund 

The college fund provides Native Americans with the resources necessary to take up space in higher education and is the largest of its kind in the U.S. 

“For 30 years, the College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native student access to higher education. We provide scholarships, programming to improve Native American student access to higher education, and the support and tools for them to succeed once they are there,” according to the mission statement. 

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Native American Rights Fund 

NARF provides legal resources to tribes and American Indians who cannot afford adequate representation. Since 1971, the organization has defended and won major cases to support tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, natural resource protection, education, and more on behalf of American Indians.

Donate now. 

Inuit Tapirit Kanatami 

ITK provides research, advocacy and public outreach to protect and advance the rights of Inuit in Canada. This includes a comprehensive program including plans to combat climate change, an Inuit language journal, a National Inuit Youth Counsel, food-based initiatives, and suicide prevention efforts. 

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Indigenous Literacy Foundation 

“Only 36% of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 96% for non-Indigenous students in major cities,” according to the ILF website. 

The organization addresses illiteracy in 280 remote indigenous communities in Australia by providing books, literacy programs, and community literacy projects.

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Amazon Watch

Amazon Watch not only seeks to preserve the rainforest but it also serves to advance the rights and interests of indigenous communities in the Amazon Basin. Amazon Watch argues there is no protecting the Amazon without protecting the people who have called it home for centuries. 

“Amazon Watch promotes these indigenous-led solutions, such as green development and autonomous solar power, and expands capacity for indigenous leaders, especially women, to maintain their autonomy and sovereignty for the stewardship of their ancestral territories,” according to their mission statement. 

The project partners with these communities, along with environmental organizations to continue to fight for human rights, corporate accountability, and to reduce the harmful effects of climate change. 

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Amazon Frontlines

Much like Amazon Watch, Amazon Frontlines believes that the destruction of the Amazon is intrinsically linked to the destruction of indigenous communities. AF provides indigenous families with access to clean water and renewable energy, particularly the Kofan, Siona, Secoya, and Waorani who live downriver from Ecuador’s largest oil fields. However, a renewed interest in climate change and preventing the Amazon fires has allowed the organization to extend support to communities in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil. 

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