On October 12th, the Seventh Generation Fund will host “Reflections from our Past, Envisioning our Future,” a fund-raising event at the Bear River Nation’s Tish-Non Village in Loleta, California, for the New Mexico-based Traditional Native American Farmers Association (TNAFA). Seventh Generation, or SGF, was founded in 1977 by Daniel Bomberry (Cayuga) and others to assist traditional and grassroots Native American organizations and projects. TNAFA became a SGF affiliate in 1996 after forming in 1992 under the sponsorship of Native Seed Search. Funding politics (NSS was not an actual Native operated organization) spurred TNAFA to seek new sponsorship and that’s when SGF approached TNAFA to become an affiliate. TNAFA’s mission statement fit well with SGF, who are able to match funders and private foundations with Native owned or operated grassroots community and cultural projects.
Other projects assisted by SGF are those based in Native culture, language, economic, education, and even political activities like protecting sacred sites. SGF does the research, groundwork and travel so that awarded funds can be used by affiliates solely on their projects and missions. Clayton Brascoupe of TNAFA estimates there are 24 affiliates mostly in the US, also Canada and some in Central and South America. He suggests that Native and Indigenous grassroots organizations apply to see if they can come on board as affiliates. SGF picks one or two affiliate programs every year to highlight at their fund-raisers. People can donate directly or participate in the silent auction. (For more details, see the event’s Facebook page.) SGF takes a small percentage to cover their administrative work, they have a long track record, are respected and accountable and can open big doors for small Indigenous projects. Clayton says that TNAFA has numbers in many farmers and a great local infrastructure (traditional mutual aid societies or clan based networks) but it has many small projects that all require hard work and commitments.
Clayton says funds that are raised this way are “unencumbered” by policies, politics or protocol and can be used at the discretion of the affiliate for whatever program or project they feel is important at that time of organizational development. As we saw two months ago, TNAFA’s Indigenous Sustainable Communities Design Course is a 2 week intensive in agriculture, self-sufficiency and some marketing. TNAFA will be meeting with its growers, supporters and outside contacts to evaluate if they could make the ISCDC into a 6 month long program. After 20 years, this unique, living, permaculture-style hands-on workshop could last a half year and create a living grassroots “university” where actual universities might be able to partner with Native peoples to develop agricultural practices, self-sufficient communities and marketing skills. While that structure may be some time away, Native farmers and students could get a tremendous head start to demonstrate what can be done right now and to see what the future might hold.
Part 2 of this story will be the 8th Annual Traditional Agriculture and Sustainable Conference (once known as the Seed Sovereignty Conference) will be held in Espanola NM, October 25-26. Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute is the host, TNAFA participates; Dr. Vandana Shiva (world renowned environmentalist, physicist, philosopher) and Dr. Gregory Cajete of Native American Education-UNM will be a feature speakers. Guest Speakers are native activist (IdleNoMore) Clayton Thomas-Muller, and Public Radio personality David Barsamian; members of the International Council of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers will attend, Roberto Sahanero and Los Masis will perform.