Kindling the 8th Fire: A Return of Indigenous Knowledge for a More Abundant Future
Keynote speech delivered by Tiwahe’s Executive Director, Nikki Pieratos, on July 28, 2023 at the Nonprofit Fundraising Conference by Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
At some of our grantee honorings, James Vukelich (an early AIFEP recipient and close kin) shares the teaching of “indinawemaaganidog” and the breakdown of what it means…how it connects back generations and forward generations…how it means both ancestor and descendant at the same time. The responsibility of understanding this teaching is high.
Some of you may know James from social media where he shares teachings about our language. In his recent book, The Seven Generations and Grandfather Teachings, he talks about how deeply our worldview, lessons and values are embedded into the very language itself, Anishinaabemowin. For example, in English truth and honesty are interchangeable words. To tell the truth means to be honest. In Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwe, it is not enough to simply tell the truth, because honesty means living a life without contradiction.
This means it is not just enough to have abundance or wealth, but to live as if you have abundance and wealth. If you are hoarding and storing wealth away, you are living as if you have less. Our people are taught to only take what you need and leave the rest for others. Indigenous peoples worldwide espouse a belief that prosperity is built on relationships and the sign of wealth is what you give away. And as the slide shows…if what you give away is the sign of wealth, how would we rate philanthropy? How would we rate ourselves?
And at Tiwahe Foundation, we’re coining a new phrase, “Doing Philanthropy Indigenously.” (and that is different from Indigenizing Philanthropy). In short, that means the money going out is the least of what we do. Our people say that Tiwahe Foundation means having a relative wherever you go. This means we resource our people beyond our own means, help them make connections, and empower them to lead with our cultural values and teachings.
That is what family does, right? How can we foster closer family-like kinship with those we serve? What does that look like?