First Nations Announces the Inaugural Cohort for the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship

Longmont, Colorado, UNITED STATES

Longmont, CO, Jan. 22, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and The Henry Luce Foundation (Luce) are pleased to announce the selection of ten fellows for the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship.

The Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship was created in 2019 to honor and support intellectual leaders in Native communities who are actively working to generate, perpetuate and disseminate indigenous knowledge. Selected fellows will receive a monetary award of $50,000 and access to additional resources for training and professional development; they will also convene three times throughout the fellowship year to share and grow their existing knowledge, passion and drive to achieve their personal and community goals. In addition, fellows will receive a grant of $25,000 to continue their work after the fellowship.

“We are honored to partner with the Henry Luce Foundation to support this talented cohort of fellows who are working to advance Indigenous knowledge across Native communities,” said Michael E. Roberts, President and CEO of First Nations. “Historically, Indigenous knowledge systems were dismissed, devalued and attacked. This fellowship demonstrates that Indigenous people do possess valuable knowledge that can transform communities. These talented individuals demonstrate the ingenuity and genius present in Native communities.”

Sean T. Buffington, Vice President of the Luce Foundation, praised the newly-named fellows: “These knowledge makers and knowledge keepers are exemplary leaders, serving their communities by sharing their insight and understanding. The Luce Foundation is proud to support their work and to invest in the ongoing, millennia-old project of Indigenous knowledge-making.”

The inaugural class of Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows was selected by an Indigenous advisory committee from over 550 applicants, and represent 13 Indigenous nations from 7 states.

The 2020 Luce Indigenous Knowledge fellows are:

Clarence Cruz (Khaayay), Ohkay Owingeh – Tewa
Knowledge Field:
Traditional Potter/Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico
Clarence is from New Mexico and, over the next year, he will begin to document past and present potters of Tewa and Ohkay Owingeh heritage. He plans to write a book that celebrates Pueblo potters, their families, ancestors and the histories of knowledge and culture that Pueblo potters have invented, perpetuated and passed down for generations. When completed, this will be the first compilation of Pueblo potters written by a Pueblo person. Clarence hopes the book will help people appreciate the contributions of Pueblo potters and serve as source material for writing on Tewa Art and Culture.

Dorene Day
, Ojibwe Anishinabe, Nett Lake, Minnesota
Knowledge Field: Activist-Indigenous Birth Revitalization, Oondaadizike Kwe
Dorene has worked to reclaim Indigenous Birthing knowledge and is driven by her passion to provide a place for girls, young women, and grandmothers to access Traditional Lifeways and traditional women’s teachings. She hopes to create greater access to traditional knowledge on birthing and female Lifeways for Indigenous women who want and need that information. Her program would be a pilot; she would bring together a group would learn over a year and also produce recordings and other resources.

̨̀·rih Montgomery Hill, Skarù·rę (Tuscarora Indian Nation)
Knowledge Field: Speaker, Linguist, Language Activist
Montgomery is from New York and is focused on the creation, dissemination, and perpetuation of the Great Law of Peace within his community. The Great Law of Peace is essentially the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy, a governance system that existed long before Europeans stepped foot in what is today called North America. Montgomery has not been able to identify any records or mention of a Tuscarora version of the Great Law of Peace and there are no Tuscarora elders alive with this knowledge. Thus, over the next year, he will work to translate the Great Law of Peace into the Tuscarora language. He believes that having their own version will not only lift the minds of the community but demonstrate their commitment to maintaining their language and ultimately their existence as a sovereign people. It would also reaffirm their recognition of the importance of the Haudenosaunee way of life and their belonging to the Confederacy.

Lisa Yellow Luger, Standing Rock Sioux
Knowledge Field: Tribal Justice Specialist
Lisa is from North Dakota and will undertake research on traditional justice systems. She will assess the potential of a traditional justice program for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, conducting interviews with elders and historians, researching landmark cases, meeting with other Tribal Nations to review traditional court programs, and seeking guidance from Native-based legal organizations, universities and Native American Law programs. In collaboration with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court officials, she plans to outline and design a quality, culturally-appropriate model of what a traditional justice system could look like for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, rooted in the values, customs, and traditions of the Standing Rock people.

Trisha L. Moquino, Cochiti/Kewa/Ohkay Ohwingeh 
Knowledge Field: Indigenous Educator/Guide and the Co-Founder of Keres Children's Learning Center
Trisha is from New Mexico and is seeking to further develop and contribute to the Philosophy of Indigenous Education, a program of the Indigenous Montessori Institute (IMI), by researching and writing on Indigenous Early Childhood Development through an anti-bias/anti-racism lens. She will work on curriculum development for future Native language teachers, Montessori as a tool in service to Indigenous Education, and the history of the IMI. She will also begin writing a children’s book so that Indigenous children can see themselves and their experiences reflected in contemporary times.

Corine Pearce, Redwood Valley Little River Band of Pomo Indians
Knowledge Field: Basket Weaver, Artist, Environmental Steward
Corine is from California and is one of five remaining basket weavers in her area. Over the next year, she wants to grow the number of traditional basket makers by teaching, revising and expanding her book and creating a video series on instructional basket weaving. She has spent the last three years harvesting and processing a large quantity of natural, native materials to teach larger classes and to mentor new weavers. Her weaving heals the land and the people, connecting future generations to a living cultural identity.

Hanna Sholl, (Sun'aq Tribe of Kodiak, Alaska)
Knowledge Field: Contemporary Sugpiaq (Alutiiq) Artist and Culture Bearer
Hanna is from Alaska and plans to develop 4 separate collections of Alutiiq cultural objects for the purpose of expanding, sharing and celebrating Ancestral Alutiiq knowledge and stories. The first collection will consist of recreations of ancestral Alutiiq objects, made with the intention of illustrating and sharing traditional techniques. The second will highlight how traditional techniques can be used and celebrated today. The third will be a collection of miniatures designed to explain daily life and stories to young people. Lastly, the fourth will be a large-scale mural collection with pieces designed to celebrate Alutiiq history and tradition. The goal of collections is to preserve and share knowledge of Alutiiq history and stories, as well as inspire her people.

Lloyd Harold Kumulāʻau Sing Jr., Native Hawaiian
Knowledge Field: Traditional mixed-media artist and cultural practitioner
Lloyd is from Hawaiʻi and will work to create a community of ʻieʻie basketry weavers who will revitalize this practice and teach the greater Hawaiian community. Traditional weavers gather and prepare the ʻieʻie (a native woody climbing vine) rootlets for the purpose of creating sturdy baskets to sort and protect their food and personal valuables, as well as serve as the repository for their bones. For the fellowship, Lloyd will teach a cohort of students how to weave six different traditional helmets (mahiole) worn by the ruling chiefs of old Hawai’i using ʻieʻie weaving. He will also mentor and guide students to teach and demonstrate these techniques in public in order to share knowledge with Native Hawaiian and Pacific communities, raising awareness and generating interest in this unique form.

X’unei Lance Twitchell, Tlingit, Haida, Yupʼik, Sami
Knowledge Field: Indigenous Language Teacher
Lance is from Alaska and plans to create a Native language revitalization kit to be used by other Indigenous peoples that summarizes how to replicate best practices in their own communities. He will formalize a partnership with all entities producing Tlingit materials, create websites and blogs for the Tlingit language so that curricula can be shared and easily downloaded, and develop his own collecting, organizational and distribution abilities. He will also set up and field test at least three language access centers in Tlingit communities. “Tell me what you want your grandchildren to know and I will teach it to them,” Twitchell told his Tlingit elders.

Peter Williams, Yup'ik 
Knowledge Field: Artist and Activist
Peter is an artist and activist from Alaska who works in the medium of Native marine mammal craftwork. He will continue his work to build a dialogue with allies in the world of environmental science to broaden the market for and to perpetuate traditional arts, such as his handmade “fur paintings.” He will also advocate for the Alaska Native lifestyle by traveling to his birthplace to interview elders on the Yup’ik creation story, marine mammal hunting, and past and present perspectives on 1971’s Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. He hopes to learn how the elders anticipate subsistence will evolve in the future, particularly in light of climate change.

Additional information about the 2020 Fellows is available on First Nations’ website under the 2020 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows section.

With support from the Henry Luce Foundation, First Nations awarded honorable mentions to 25 other applicants who also demonstrated a strong commitment to generate, perpetuate and disseminate indigenous knowledge. These individuals receive a small monetary award in recognition of their impressive work in their fields of knowledge.

2020 Fellowship Honorable Mentions and Knowledge Fields:

  • Angelo Baca, Navajo (Diné) – Indigenous Media, Anthropology, Sacred Lands Protection

  • Amanda Blackhorse, Diné – Social Advocacy

  • Joanie Buckley, Oneida – Business and Food Systems

  • Charlotte E. Davidson, Diné/Three Affiliated Tribes – Philosophy, Student Affairs, Higher Education

  • Jessi L. Falcon, Ho-Chunk Nation – Language

  • Helen Fillmore, Washoe – Ecological, Geological and Women’s Ways

  • Kiana Laieikawai Frank, Native Hawaiian – Na kilo ao maiki (Indigenous Microbiology)

  • Malynn Foster, Squaxin Island – Skokomish – Master Artist, Food Sovereignty, Environmental Stewardship, Culture Keeper

  • Jefferson Greene, Member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs: Táxshpash, Wasq’ú, Paiute, ku Niimíipuu – Ichishkín Snwit Tananmamí – Language of the Mid-Columbia River Indians

  • Dr. Toni M. House, Oneida – Language Revitalization and Leadership

  • Selina Jesus, Tohono O’odham Nation – Certified O’odham Teacher

  • Kū Kahakalau, Ph.D, Native Hawaiian – Hawaiian Language, Culture, History and Traditions, Indigenous Education and Research

  • C. Malina Kaulukukui, Native Hawaiian – Hula, Ho’oponopono, and Lua

  • Jacob Manatowa-Bailey, Sac and Fox Nation – Indigenous Language Revitalization

  • Traci McClellan-Sorell, Cherokee Nation – Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction Literature for Children and Teens

  • Tachini Pete, Salish/Navajo – Language Transfer Capacity Building, Salish Language Revitalization

  • Heidi Aklaseaq Senungetuk, Nome Eskimo Community – Ethnomusicology

  • Jessie Shepherd, Sisseton-Wahpeton – Ecology and Traditional Plant Usage

  • Wendi Sierra, Oneida – Game Studies

  • Noenoe K. Silva, Kanaka ‘Ōiwi (Native Hawaiian) – Native Hawaiian Intellectual History, Native Hawaiian Political History, ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i (Hawaiian Language)

  • Sam Slater, Navajo – Navajo Moccasin Making and Cultural Arts Pedagogy

  • Endawnis Spears, Diné/Ojibwe/Chickasaw/Choctaw – Equity and Decolonization in Educational Spaces including Museums and Schools

  • Leona Swamp, Akwesasne Mohawk Nation – Grief and Intergenerational Trauma

  • Daniel R. Wildcat, Yuchi Member of Muscogee Nation – Philosophy, Environmental Science and Ethics

About First Nations Development Institute

For 39 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities.  First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit

About The Henry Luce Foundation

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding.

The Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art and public policy.

Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., the Foundation’s earliest work honored his parents, missionary educators in China. The Foundation’s programs today reflect the value Mr. Luce placed on learning, leadership, and long-term commitment in philanthropy.

The Henry Luce Foundation is a private independent foundation based in New York City.


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