Collective Abundance Fund Survey Succeeds in Engaging Community and Redefining Wealth on Indigenous Terms

Brandi Douglas · August 9, 2022

Collective Abundance Fund Survey Succeeds in Engaging Community and Redefining Wealth on Indigenous Terms

“It's a big part of how we exercise our sovereignty. One of the cornerstones of sovereign nations is economy and coming to a consensus in defining wealth is a major factor in how we reestablish our economic sovereignty.”

When NDN Collective was awarded the opportunity to redistribute $50 million from the Bush Foundation to Indigenous individuals in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, we knew we had our work cut out for us. Initially referred to as the Bush community trust fund in December 2021, the goal was to distribute the funding to individuals in 2023 as a means of building “wealth” on Indigenous terms, engaging communities in all three states as the starting point.

The projected timeline for the development and administration of the Collective Abundance Fund.

The fund was later officially named the Collective Abundance Fund, and a Regional Advisory Committee comprised of Indigenous leaders and culture-bearers from across the three states joined the effort. In partnership with the NDN Foundation Team, and Kaufman & Associates– an Indigenous-led consulting firm– the Regional Advisory Committee worked to ensure that community engagement efforts and feedback methods were continuously woven into the planning and development of the funding effort.

A map view of in-person community engagement events and focus groups that NDN Collective and KAI participated in across the tri-state region.

On April 30th, the Collective Abundance Fund survey was deployed as a mechanism to redefine wealth on Indigenous terms and help redistribute funding to Indigenous families in the tri-state region. The survey was immediately available on the NDN Collective website and also administered in-person at a series of events. Understanding the need to be in community to effectively and respectfully engage with community members, NDN Collective, and Kauffman & Associates (KAI), embarked on a series of in-person community event visits in addition to holding interviews and several focus groups. 

On July 15th, after nearly 3 months of deep engagement with community members, the Collective Abundance Fund survey closed, yielding 5,325 survey results. NDN Collective and KAI were thrilled that the final total of completed surveys successfully crossed and far surpassed the threshold of being considered statistically valid as a measure of the Indigenous population in the tri-state region. The survey needed to reach a minimum of 2,339 to reach this milestone.  

An attendee of the Four Bears powwow in New Town, North Dakota takes the Collective Abundance Fund survey. Photo by Sarah Manning for NDN Collective.

“Being out in community and listening to the people these past few months was intentional, enlightening, and is at the heart of community self-determination,” said Terri Peterson, Program Manager for the Collective Abundance Fund. “It is important that those impacted by the racial wealth gap are included in the planning and designing of the solutions.” 

Sarah Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications and Lorenzo Serna, NDN Collective Director of Tactical Media, were present at several of the Collective Abundance Fund survey in-person tabled events, engaging with survey takers and providing the greater community with a glimpse of engagement efforts via livestream.

L-R: Lorenzo Serna, NDN Collective Director of Tactical Media, prepares to go live at the Four Bears Celebration Pow Wow. Sarah Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications, interviews Julie Cahoon, KAI Project Manager, as Lorenzo captures the discussion via livestream. Photos powered by NDN.

Community engagement site visits included the Four Bears Celebration Pow Wow in New Town, North Dakota on May 27th-28th, the Lower Sioux Wacipi in Morton, Minnesota on June 10th-12th, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Wacipi at the Agency Village Ceremonial Grounds in Sisseton, South Dakota on the July 4th weekend, and the Native POP Arts event in Rapid City, SD on July 9th and 10th.

Watch LIVE coverage from the Four Bears Celebration Pow Wow in New Town, North Dakota

Watch LIVE coverage from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Wacipi in Sisseton, South Dakota

“The response to the survey has been phenomenal,” said Julie Cahoon Project Manager at Kaufmann & Associates. “This speaks to the importance of the content – defining wealth on Indigenous terms and strengthening our future generations. It speaks to the core of our cultural beliefs and folks were responsive to that.” 

“To say the least, this was groundbreaking work to engage so intentionally with community first, and also life altering by reminding us how much we have to be thankful for and how rich our communities are with culture, family, and our traditional ways of life,” said Dr. Aislinn Rioux, Vice President for Research and Evaluation at Kaufmann & Associates. “To close the tour, I want to express my gratitude to each person we met, we worked with, and connected to move this important work forward and to remind our colleagues we don’t do this work alone – Kitakitamahtsin.” 

Lower Sioux survey participants filling out Collective Abundance Fund paper surveys during Lower Sioux Wacipi. The survey was available in digital and paper form to accommodate accessibility needs. Photo powered by NDN.

At each of the in-person events, attendees were invited to take the Collective Abundance Fund survey electronically or by paper, receiving guidance from NDN Collective staff, KAI staff and community liaisons. An array of free, Collective Abundance Fund themed gifts were also available to those who visited the table. All who completed the survey could choose to be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift card.

Elizabeth, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and resident of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, won a gift card and shared the following sentiments regarding completing the survey around what wealth means to her as an Indigenous person, as well as the importance of what the survey seeks to accomplish: “It felt like ‘it’s about damn time!’ It’s a big part of how we exercise our sovereignty. One of the cornerstones of sovereign nations is economy and coming to a consensus in defining wealth is a major factor in how we reestablish our economic sovereignty,” said Elizabeth.

Wacipi attendee visits the Collective Abundance Fund table to complete surveys during the Lower Sioux Wacipi. The Wacipi spanned June 10th through June 12th. Photo powered by NDN.

Another survey participant and drawing winner, Samuel, who is a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and resides in Minnesota, shared that the process of taking the survey felt “alien” to him, but that he knew it was important. When sharing remarks on why he felt it was necessary for Indigenous Peoples to shape their own ideas around wealth he said, “I think it opens our minds to think bigger.”

Over the next few weeks, NDN Collective, alongside partner Kauffman & Associates, Inc., will be preparing a comprehensive report that captures the thoughts and perspectives of the over 5,000 people that participated in the surveys, interviews, and community events.

The final community engagement opportunity occurred at the Native POP art event in Rapid City from July 9th through 10th. Each event provided an opportunity for survey participants to take home swag such as totes, coffee mugs and pens. Photo powered by NDN.

“I am looking forward to learning from the collective wisdom of our people on how wealth is defined and what activities ought to be supported,” said Terri Peterson, Program Manager for the Collective Abundance Fund. “Our people’s wisdom will be reflected in the design of the Collective Abundance Fund.”

The report is expected to be completed in September, and will highlight responses to key questions such as: How do we as Indigenous people define wealth? What wealth building activities should the Collective Abundance Fund support that are generational, sustainable, and regenerative? How much funding would be needed to support those activities? What criteria and requirements should applicants and those awarded possess?

Gaby Strong, NDN Foundation Managing Director, pins Collective Abundance Fund flyer to her regalia in an effort to further promote the survey. Photo powered by NDN.

“Thank you to all the Tribal communities who welcomed us in, to the pow-wow committees who supported our outreach efforts, and to all the Native-led programs who provided space and forums,” said Gaby Strong, NDN Foundation Managing Director. “All of this provided our People with the chance to share their voice, their truths, and their thoughts – not only on their struggles, but also their dreams and aspirations.”

NDN Collective will continue to share updates on the Collective Abundance Fund in the coming months. Learn more about the Collective Abundance Fund by visiting the website here.

More photos from community engagement efforts:

Click on photos to expand

Related Stories:

Brandi Douglas
by   Brandi Douglas

Brandi Douglas (she/her/they/them), Senior Communications Associate, is a Puyallup Tribal member as well as Black and Mexican. In their role, they provide support to the Communications and Narratives Team as well as all aspects of content production, targeted outreach and internal communications. Brandi is an avid wordsmith, having uplifted various narratives that speak to the experience of being an Indigenous entrepreneur, multi-racial and queer. 

They have served as a Civil Court Clerk for the Puyallup Tribe, Paralegal for the Puyallup Tribal Prosecutor and Unemployment Benefits Navigator/Paralegal for the Native American division of Northwest Justice Project.

Brandi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies as well as a Paralegal Certification from the University of Washington. They hold a Master’s degree in Indigenous Peoples Law from the University of Oklahoma. 

In 2019, Brandi was instrumental in helping to establish the first ever Puyallup Tribal Pride event and is currently working towards assembling a 2SLGBT+ Committee at the Puyallup Tribe while continuing to aid in planning Puyallup’s yearly Pride celebration.

They are currently a Native Women Lead Board member and they were a 2020 South Sound Magazine 40 Under 40 recipient.

March 2023 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

NDN Collective Responds to Forest Services Commitment to Study Mining Impacts in the Black Hills Posted 11 months ago
“This is a victory for Tribal Sovereignty. The fight to protect ALL of the water of the sacred Black Hills continues and we remain vigilant and committed to this duty. We stand in solidarity with communities that have been defending Ȟešapa for generations, when our treaties are honored it protects the water for everyone.”
NDN Collective Slams Biden Greenlighting Willow Oil Project Posted 12 months ago
“The Biden administration’s decision to greenlight the Willow project is a climate disaster in the making. Today’s decision completely contradicts not only the administration’s climate goals, but also its commitment to consider Traditional Ecological Knowledge in federal policy making."
Willow Project Threatens Traditional Caribou Hunting: Naqsragmiut Tribal President Writes Letter to the DOI Requesting Consultation Posted 12 months ago
"Residents of our community described concerns about potential impacts to our primary diet, Caribou, to global warming, and to our way of life. BLM has not come back to our community this time and we feel our people and their concerns have been overlooked."
Consultation Process Inadequate: New Letter from Nuiqsut Community Leaders to Department of Interior Posted 12 months ago
It seems that despite its nod to traditional ecological knowledge, BLM does not consider relevant the extensive knowledge and expertise we have gained over millennia, living in a way that is so deeply connected to our environment.
Paying Respects to the American Indian Movement, 50 Years since the Occupation of Wounded Knee

Brandy Calabaza

Posted 12 months ago
NDN Collective joins hundreds at the American Indian Movement 4 Directions March commemorating the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee, and members of the team share reflections on the power and purpose of the day.
NDN Collective Joins Tribes, Organizers, and Activists Across Turtle Island in Mobilization to #StopCopCity

Sherrie Anne Hart , Angelica (Angie) Solloa

Posted 1 year ago
"Building Cop City on stolen Indigenous Lands, to inflict violence in a Black neighborhood, on a piece of land that is essential for air quality and much needed biodiversity to combat climate change is racist, unjust and the opposite direction that we need to be heading in."
NDN Collective Announces the 2023 Radical Imagination Grant Open Application Period Posted 1 year ago
Ten Indigenous artists, artist collectives or small nonprofits of all artistic traditions, mediums and genres will be awarded $100,000 grants over two years.
Police Assault Indigenous Youth with Disabilities at Central High School Posted 1 year ago
"We must prioritize resources and solutions that promote restorative justice, mental health services, and other interventions that address the root causes of conflict, rather than relying on punitive measures that perpetuate the cycle of violence and harm."
“Medicine in a world of violence”: Shining Light on Community-led Efforts to fight the MMIR Epidemic

Janene Yazzie

Posted 1 year ago
Challenging the commercialization of February 14, NDN Collective’s Southwest Regional Director Janene Yazzie calls attention to the MMIR (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives) Day of Awareness, National Day of Action, and grassroots efforts to fight the MMIR epidemic. Yazzie also shares future MMIR programming from NDN Collective coming soon.
10 Books by Black and & Afro-Indigenous Authors on Black History, Liberation and Futurism Posted 1 year ago
A list curated by Afro-Indigenous Staff at NDN Collective in honor of Black History Month.

United like never before, we rise together—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future. Through a holistic approach to infrastructure, funding, advocacy, movement building, and philanthropy we are fostering a world of justice and equity for all people and the planet.