Profiles of GIA Members

Seventh Generation Fund

Published in: GIA Newsletter, Vol 9, No 1 (Spring 1998)

Karen Masaki

The Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development, Inc. (SGF) was founded in 1977 "as an intermediary Native American foundation and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting and maintaining the uniqueness of Native Peoples and our nations." More than a regranting organization, SGF provides not only grants but also advocacy, leadership training, management support, training, and technical assistance to Native community-based projects in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawai'i, Canada, and South and Central America. SGF is a new member of GIA.

As is often the case with Native cultures, the arts cannot be separated from religious tradition, the life of the community, or outside forces impinging on the community. A basket weavers project supported by SGF, for example, encompasses religious freedom, environmental and health issues, and cultural revitalization. Grasses for the baskets, which are gathered by the women of the community, are sprayed with pesticides by the U.S. Forest Service and Caltrans. So in order to support the survival of basket weaving traditions, environmental and health issues must also be addressed.

In its work with Native communities Seventh Generation Fund views an artistic event not as an isolated activity but as an integral part of a whole array of community activities that must also be supported in order for the revitalization of Indigenous communities to occur.

One of Seventh Generation Fund's programs, Native Sustainable Communities, supports "traditional/cultural revitalization, language recovery, elder and youth exchanges, community organizing, revitalizing traditional Indigenous economies, and holistic renewal of traditional communities — urban and rural reservations.” Projects receiving support include the Tradition Bearers Project in Zuni, New Mexico; the Regalia Project in Northwestern California; and Buffalo Nations in Yellowstone, Montana. SGF's other programs are American Indian Religious Freedom Campaign, Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, and Native Environmental Initiative.

SGF's grants range in size from $100 to $10,000 with an average size of $2,500 to $4,500. Support for Seventh Generation comes from individual donors and from such foundations as the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Humboldt Area Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the C.S. Mott Foundation.