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Nonprofit that supports Native artists and culture bearers receives $6M gift

MacKenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett (Photo

RAPID CITY, S.D. –  First Peoples Fund, a national nonprofit organization that helps tribal communities through supporting Native artists and culture bearers, announced that it received a $6 million donation from MacKenzie Scott. The former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wrote in a blog post that her donations announced June 15 totaled  $2.74 billion in gifts to “286 high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.”

“We are profoundly humbled and honored to be among the organizations chosen to receive such a historic gift,” First Peoples Fund President Lori Pourier, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, said in a statement. “At First Peoples Fund, we are guided by the belief that art and culture are essential to life. This investment will allow us to grow our work in helping Native communities heal and thrive by deepening our collective connection to both art and culture.”

According to First Peoples Fund, the announcement comes at a time when philanthropic giving to Native communities has steeply declined over the years, noting that since 2006 only 0.4% of all philanthropic funding by large U.S. foundations has been directed to Native communities.

“Organizations serving Native communities need more support,” Pourier said. “This major gift helps showcase the vital work being done in Native communities across the country. And as one of the six organizations behind the Cultural New Deal, which among other things calls for deep investment in arts and cultural ecosystems for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, we hope the broader philanthropic sector is inspired to invest more in all of our communities.”

First Peoples Fund said it will use the investment to support more artists and culture bearers with grants, assist community development programs that strengthen cultural practice and increase access to financial resources.