Key Points

This article examines one philanthropic organization’s project to overcome challenges around its work in Indian Country and to build support for that work among its leadership.

ClearWay Minnesota, an independent nonprofit working to reduce commercial tobacco’s harm, embarked on a project to educate its board and staff about American Indian history and culture. The project resulted in an increase in staff expertise, valuable context for the organization’s leadership, relationships built with Native individuals and organizations, and the integration of American Indian concepts into more aspects of ClearWay’s work. The organization’s board and staff report improved ability to achieve success in philanthropic efforts among this population.

The need for philanthropy in Indian Country is great, and this project’s findings have relevance for all funding organizations seeking to conduct work among Native communities.