NDN Changemaker Showcase Features 14 Indigenous Leaders from Across Turtle Island, Puerto Rico, and the Pacific Islands

Brandi Douglas · July 20, 2022

NDN Changemaker Showcase Features 14 Indigenous Leaders from Across Turtle Island, Puerto Rico, and the Pacific Islands

The two-day event featured NDN Changemaker Fellows who are radically transforming Indigenous communities by defending Indigenous lands and rights, developing sustainable solutions for the future, and decolonizing their day-to-day lives, their families, communities and Nations.

On Thursday, July 7, and Friday, July 8, the NDN Changemaker Showcase premiered, featuring the 2021 cohort of NDN Changemaker Fellows who gathered virtually to engage in multi-part panel conversations, each with distinct focal points in the areas of defending, developing and decolonizing.

NDN Changemaker Fellows come from many backgrounds and Tribal Nations from across Turtle Island and surrounding island nations. They are artists, educators, cultural practitioners, historians, healers, activists, community organizers and defenders from across colonial borders.

The NDN Changemaker Fellowship is a 12-month fellowship offered to 21 Indigenous Changemakers each year across Canada, the United States, the Islands of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa, and Mexico who are working to defend, develop, and decolonize their communities and Nations.

These conversations are lessons learned, these are insights that are crucial for all of us to understand in working on behalf of our people, our lands, and all that we love as Indigenous Peoples

Gaby Strong, NDN Foundation Managing Director

NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen opened the celebratory event with woksapé – Lakota words of encouragement– for the changemakers as they continue their journey of disrupting the status quo with their work. “You’re impacting the lives of people whom you will never meet,” Nick said in his opening remarks to the NDN Changemaker Fellows. “That’s an indicator that you’re doing good work.”

Dr. PennElys Droz, NDN Foundation Program Officer moderating the Decolonize Pt. 2 Panel. Featuring Changemaker Fellows: Naaalthuk Rampanen, Majorie Kunaq Tahbone, and Roberto Múkaro Borrero.

Panels 1 and 2 were focused on conversations centered around decolonization. The conversations, moderated by Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications and Dr. PennElys Droz, NDN Foundation Program Officer, featured roundtable discussions with the following Fellows:

  • Elena Terry
  • Halay Turning Heart
  • Dustin J. Whitford
  • Roberto Múkaro Borrero
  • Naasalthuk Rampanen
  • Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone
Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications moderating the Develop Pt. 1 panel with Changemaker Fellows Nicole Sue Francis and Donna Ashamock.

Panels 3 and 4 conversations centered on the development of Indigenous communities. Nicole Yanes, NDN Foundation Program Officer, joined Sarah Sunshine Manning in moderating these empowering conversations featuring:

  • Nicole Sue Francis
  • Donna Ashamock
  • Amie Charlie
  • Isabel Cristina Murrieta López
  • Tsanavi Spoonhunter
Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications with Changemaker Fellows Edith Ñuu Savi, Herber Uc, and Andre Perez in the Defend panel.

Closing out the virtual event was Panel 5 centering conversation on work defending Indigenous Peoples and communities. This last panel featured the following fellows:

  • Herber Uc
  • Edith Ñuu Savi
  • Andre Perez

Included within each panel were live musical performances by Mato Wayuhi, Oglala Lakota multidisciplinary artists and composer of the award-winning FX/Hulu series Reservation Dogs, Lyla June, Diné & Tsétsêhéstâhese artist whose internationally acclaimed presentations are conveyed through the medium of poetry, and Mic Jordan, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe musician.

Overall, the intent of the showcase was to uplift the work, insight, and visions of the NDN Changemakers, and to leave viewers inspired to take action related to the defense, development, and decolonization of Indigenous communities.

Mic Jordan performs an acoustic version of ‘Dear Native Youth’ following the Decolonize Pt. 2 Panel discussion.

NDN Foundation Managing Director Gaby Strong emphasized that it was individuals like the NDN Changemaker fellows– who remained steadfast to their commitments, within their communities and oftentimes behind the scenes– that were the real changemakers.

“We are so honored and deeply appreciative of being able to support a small part of these journeys through the Changemaker Fellowship, ”said Gaby Strong, NDN Foundation Managing Director.  “Recognizing the strategies and the principles that go into defending our communities, our lands, and people; developing our communities in a way that is regenerative and sustainable; and decolonizing in a way that revitalizes, reclaims, and renews all of our beautiful languages, lifeways, and ways of governing.”

“These conversations are lessons learned,” Strong continued. “These are insights that are crucial for all of us to understand in working on behalf of our people, our lands, and all that we love as Indigenous Peoples.”

The 2022 NDN Changemaker Fellowship application window will open again in September 2022. More information can be found on the NDN Changemaker Fellowship page.

Watch the entire 2022 Changemaker Showcase on our Youtube Channel

Related Stories:

NDN Blog | MEET THE 2021 COHORT OF NDN CHANGEMAKER FELLOWS

NDN Press Release | ANNOUNCING THE 2021 COHORT OF NDN CHANGEMAKER FELLOWS

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.

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