We build women’s collective power in the U.S.

October 10, 2022

Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day

by Ms. Foundation

Today and always, we strive to honor and uplift the heritage and experiences of Indigenous people – and in particular Indigenous women and girls – as they fight against the lingering effects of colonization, white supremacy and erasure that their communities continue to face. 

Since its early days, the Ms. Foundation has understood the importance of following the leadership and thinking of Indigenous women such as Wilma Mankiller, revolutionary Cherokee Nation chief and former Ms. Foundation board member (1986-1991), who said, “We must trust our own thinking. Trust where we’re going. And get the job done.”

We’re proud to support a number of Indigenous movement leaders and grantee partners, such as Native Action Network, Native American Community Board, Indigenous Women Rising, Tewa Women United, Dine Breastfeeding Coalition, Women’s Health Specialist clinics, and more, who are building community and fighting for justice. 

We continue to assess and change the role that philanthropy plays in supporting Indigenous communities. Our groundbreaking report, Pocket Change, found that of the funding available to women and girls of color, only 2.6% benefits Indigenous women and girls. In early 2021, the Ms. Foundation and the Collaborative for Gender and Reproductive Equity convened an Indigenous Women’s Council to identify vital funding needs for Indigenous women, and what emerged was the lack of quality health care and the limits placed on Native women’s reproductive choices. 

Cover of Tired Of Dancing To Their Song: An Assessment of the Indigenous Women’s Reproductive Justice Funding Landscape

Digging deeper, we released a new report, Tired Of Dancing To Their Song, which analyzes the Indigenous women’s reproductive justice funding landscape. This report’s findings and work of the Indigenous Women’s Council served as the basis for the launch of the Building the Fire Fund. This fund aims to contribute to the next level of organizing and provide ongoing infrastructure to build and recognize reproductive justice in Indian Country and uphold and uplift the leadership of Indigenous women and birthing people within the larger reproductive justice movement. 

Native women have long seen a connection between their tribal sovereignty and their body sovereignty – the right to make choices about their bodies is deeply rooted in their cultural understanding. Restricting their reproductive freedom is a direct byproduct of colonization and institutional systems that resulted from loss of land promised to them and poor quality of health care. 

The voices of Native women have always been critical to the conversation around reproductive justice because Native women understand what true sovereignty means to them, and their ability to share that history can only augment movements across the country. 

Photo: Courtesy of Wilma Mankiller Foundation