Access to opportunity, resources, leadership, networks, healing and support for American Indian people to live culturally centered, economically independent, and healthy lives — grounded in sovereignty and indigenous worldview.


The Tiwahe Foundation is a place for giving — and giving back — that benefits the well-being of American Indian people and communities in Minnesota. We are a community foundation of friends and supporters — Indian and non-Indian — who have resources, time, and talents to share. Together, we all work to unleash more philanthropy and generosity that are not only held within every person but also embodied collectively.

We think of this as the Circle of Giving — a continuous cycle of success grounded in indigenous culture that recognizes that giving benefits both giver and receiver. The Tiwahe Foundation is a trusted community partner, connector and resource.



We acknowledge that families, tribal nations and communities are interconnected.


Respect is central to our cultural identity and the guiding principle to all our relationships.


We are committed to partnerships based on trust, mutual respect, transparency, and collaboration.


We believe that a culture of generosity, both offering and accepting, should be sustained across multiple generations

Circle of Giving

The Tiwahe Foundation cherishes the timeless American Indian value of communal generosity and reciprocity, embodied in the honor and humility of both giving and receiving, and seeks to instill these values in future generations.

Indigenous World View

The Tiwahe Foundation understands, honors and practices American Indian sovereignty that leads to a vibrant and self-sustaining community through valued traditions, spirituality, language and connection to the earth.

OUR Story

The Foundation evolved from origins as a culturally responsive grantmaking initiative of three Minnesota family foundations known as the American Indian Family Empowerment Program. Launched in 1993 initially by the Marbrook Foundation, American Indian Family Empowerment Program was the inspiration of Markell Brooks. It operated as a donor-designated fund with monies from a collaborative of the Marbrook, Westcliff and Grotto Foundations. In 2009, American Indian Family Empowerment Program transformed into a new entity, the Tiwahe Foundation. While Tiwahe Foundation is an independent community foundation with its own board of directors, the original American Indian Family Empowerment Program remains part of the ongoing work.



Chad A. Poitra, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, has worked in philanthropy for over 10 years and joined Tiwahe Foundation in January 2021. Poitra will lead the conversations and effort to operationalize the Indigenous worldview, values, and approaches to build Tiwahe’s organizational fundraising, grantmaking and programmatic capacity.


Nicole MartinRogers (White Earth Band of Ojibwe), Board Chair – Senior Research Manager, Wilder Research

Mary Kunesh ( Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), Vice Chair, – Minnesota Senate

Nikki Pieratos (Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe)Treasurer – NDN Fund Managing Director, NDN Collective

Wakinyan LaPointe (Rosebud Sioux Tribe), Secretary – Cultural Consultant

Amber Annis (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe) – Program Specialist, Minnesota Historical Society

Patrick Rock, (Leech Band of Ojibwe) Indian Health Board of Minneapolis, Inc. CEO/Physician

Alyssa Terleski (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa)  American Indian Cancer Foundation, Operations Director

Marisa Cummings (Umonhon/Omaha) – President/CEO of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center


The LinkingLeaders Partnership is a cross-racial, cross cultural partnership that brings together four networks of leaders in the Indigenous, Black, Asian, and Latinx communities. A shared effort of the African American Leadership Forum, Coalition of Asian American Leaders, Latino LEAD, and Tiwahe Foundation, LinkingLeaders focuses on strengthening connections across our networks in order to increase our shared leadership and solidarity practices so that we can advance powerful systems change work that aims to achieve racial justice and equity.

Please contact Consuelo Gutierrez Crosby to learn more about LinkingLeaders.