Spend Down

We are returning SAF’s assets to Indigenous communities and are pleased to announce these disbursements.

These payments help fulfill our pledge to support California Native programs as well as Native-led national and local organizations.

We’d like to thank the following individuals for their insight and input: Èlan Cadiz, Camille Dungy, Kelli Jo Ford, Jennifer Givhan, Lily Hope, Toni Jensen, Michelle Lee, Jessica Mehta, Dallin Maybee, Loretta Miranda, Christine Howard Sandoval, Tyra Jade Shackleford, and Denise Silva.

We will continue to make our final grants through early 2024.

We were honored to be invited by Grantmakers in the Arts to write about our transition: Land Acknowledgement: Sunsetting as a Gesture of Reconciliation.

April 1, 2024
At the heart of our efforts is the desire to return funds to the tribes who previously inhabited the land, in present-day Kern County, from which SAF’s assets derive. We reserved a final, significant amount for this purpose and consulted with California’s Native American Heritage Commission to identify the six tribes culturally affiliated with the area:

Kitanemuk & Yowlumne Tejon Indians
Northern Chumash Tribal Council
Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe
Tejon Indian Tribe
Tule River Tribe of California
yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini – Northern Chumash Tribe

With the payments to these tribes, we have returned SAF’s assets ($1.3 million) to Indigenous communities.

We are heartened by the fact that many California tribes are reclaiming their ancestral lands, and by the growing prevalence of Native land taxes, which offer a model for repayment as part of land acknowledgement.

This has been a humbling process: to speak with tribes and organizations, to offer our support in reclaiming sovereignty, and to confront the true history of California’s land.

Kitanemuk & Yowlumne Tejon Indians ($50,000)
Working for the benefit and support of the Indigenous Yokuts People of the Kern River and the Kitanemuk of the foothills in the Southern Mountains, this tribe works with other area nonprofits to offer public cultural and educational presentations about the Yokuts, protect the habitat of the California Condor, and restore the dry river bed of the Kern River, the Yokuts’ original home.
Northern Chumash Tribal Council ($50,000)
Established in 2006, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council represents the Chumash people of San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara County. The Council consults with local governments about development, and works to strengthen Tribal well-being through sustainable farming, beekeeping, ranching, land restoration, and ecological stewardship.
Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe ($50,000)
The Tachi Yokuts are among the original inhabitants of the San Joaquin Valley, who were removed to a reservation known as the Santa Rosa Rancheria in the 1930s. The tribe now works for the self-determination, education, and employment of their young people.
Tejon Indian Tribe ($50,000)
The Tejon Indian people are of the Kitanemuk nation, who lived in the San Joaquin Valley and the Tehachapi mountains. The tribe provides career and social services, runs a food pantry, and offers child welfare programs. They are also working to develop a Cultural Center, revive the Kitanemuk language, and establish a repository of Tejon artifacts.
Tule River Tribe of California ($50,000)
The Tule River Tribe of California strives to improve the livelihood of their members, their community and their surrounding communities. These funds will go to their health center, which for over thirty years has been providing comprehensive healthcare to Native Americans in Tulare County and throughout Central California. It offers dental and medical care, as well as counseling and a broad range of elder support services.
yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini — Northern Chumash Tribe ($50,000)
The yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash are the only documented descendant tribe of Diablo Canyon lands and the Pecho Coast. They are currently working with a community coalition to purchase about 9,000 acres which are home to their ancestors’ villages, burial sites, prayer areas and other areas of cultural significance.

March 25, 2024
Our fifth set of grants again comes at the recommendation of Native awardees, finalists, and allies of the foundation.

These organizations support and advocate for Bay Area tribes, give space to Native writers, and connect Indigenous women storytellers.

Amah Mutsun Land Trust ($5,000)
The Amah Mutsun Land Trust was established in 2013 to help the Indigenous peoples of south San Francisco and the north Monterey Bay area regain access to their ancestral lands for stewardship, ceremony, and learning.
Coast Miwok Tribal Council ($5,000)
The Coast Miwok work to preserve their traditional cultural and spiritual practices, offer educational workshops for children and adults, and share Indigenous best practices of land restoration and soil resiliency with the larger Marin community.
Elk River Writers Workshop ($5,000)
The Elk River Writers Workshop takes place on the traditional homelands of Apsáalooke (Crow), Salish, Tsetho’e (Cheyenne), Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla people in Montana. Every summer, it offers a 5-day session of classes and craft presentations; in 2025, the workshop will host an all-Native faculty.
Rematriation ($1,000)
Originally founded in 2016 as a magazine for Indigenous women, Rematriation— a Native women-led organization— operates across the United States, hosting multigenerational women’s gatherings as well as connecting them virtually via a storytelling podcast. Their next gathering is in alignment with the total eclipse on April 8th, 2024.
Sogorea Te’ Land Trust ($10,000)
The Sogorea Te’ Land Trust facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people including, most recently, the West Berkeley Shellmound to the Lisjan Ohlone.

March 4, 2024
Our fourth set of grants again comes at the recommendation of Native awardees, finalists, and allies of the foundation.

These organizations support California tribal interests, promote Indigenous arts, and work to build economic power.

Association of Ramaytush Ohlone ($5,000)
The Association of Ramaytush Ohlone represents the interests of the original peoples of the San Francisco Peninsula. Its projects include rematriation; cultural revitalization; consultation and education to ensure accuracy in public culture and history; ecological restoration; and community service.
California Truth and Healing Council Documentary Film ($10,000)
Since 2021, the California Truth and Healing Council has been hosting a series of meetings and listening sessions regarding the historical relationship between the State of California and California Native Americans in order to clarify the historical record. A documentary film project is in progress to share and amplify the experience of these sessions.
History and Future of Yeil Koowu, Ravenstail Weaving ($5,000)
History and Future of Yeil Koowu, Ravenstail Weaving, will be the first gathering of all known Ravenstail Robes since 1985. This historic event, on April 30th in Juneau, will include a photography session for the weavers to record their process, educational demonstrations, and multimedia storytelling. The celebration will culminate with a dance of the Ravenstail Robes, live streamed at KTOO.
Justice Funders ($5,000)
Founded in 2009, Justice Funders is reimagining philanthropic practices to redistribute wealth, democratize power, and shift economic control to communities.
Seeding Sovereignty ($5,000)
Seeding Sovereignty emerged in 2016 out of the Standing Rock occupation. Based in Los Angeles, they offer workshops and organize actions to work for food sovereignty, community building, and cultural preservation.
Sogorea Te’ Land Trust ($5,000)
The Sogorea Te’ Land Trust grew out of a campaign to protect Sogorea Te’, a 3,500 year old Karkin Ohlone village and burial site in California. Urban, Indigenous, and women-led, it facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people.
Weaving Our Pride ($5,000)
Weaving Our Pride is a community project that brings together Native, non-Native, queer, straight, cis-gender, transgender, and allied youth to weave Ravenstail and Chilkat robes. The robes will live at the local youth center as permanent wearable art pieces, to be worn during graduations, new-name and coming out parties, and other significant Pride events.
Wukchumni Yokuts ($5,000)
The Wukchumni Yokuts are a tribe in Central California. Through their nonprofit organization, they run vibrant youth programs; a community food pantry; and a farm which is a model for sustainable agriculture in the Central Valley.

February 12, 2024
Our third round of grants again comes at the recommendation of Native awardees, finalists, and allies of the foundation; they have introduced us to a diverse group of organizations supporting Native interests. In a world that has tried hard to erase Native culture, they are doing essential work.

Chickasaw Foundation ($10,000)
Established in 1971, the mission of the Chickasaw Foundation is to promote the general welfare and culture of the Chickasaw people by supporting educational, health, historical, and community activities.
Forge Project ($5,000)
Launched in 2021, Forge Project is a Native-led organization whose mandate is to cultivate and advance Indigenous leadership in arts and culture. Forge offers workshops and fellowships on their campus within the ancestral homelands of the Moh-He-Con-Nuck. They also maintain an art collection, for research and exhibition purposes, with an emphasis on the work of living Indigenous artists.
Indigenous Nations Poets (In-Na-Po) ($10,000)
Founded in 2020, In-Na-Po is a national Indigenous poetry community committed to mentoring emerging writers, nurturing the growth of Indigenous poetic practices, and raising the visibility of all Native Writers.
Lightning Boy Foundation ($5,000)
The Lightning Boy Foundation, founded in memory of a young Native dancer, teaches traditional hoop dance to young people, work that builds community and extends into every aspect of these children’s lives.
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center ($10,000)
The NIWRC is dedicated to ending violence against Native women and children. They offer a breadth of critical programs including individual support, community building, and safe housing, while engaging in long term policy change and advocacy work.
Poetry Northwest: James Welch Prize ($5,000)
The James Welch Prize is awarded for outstanding poetry written by Indigenous U.S. poets. The prize is named for Blackfeet and Gros Ventre writer James Welch, whose early poems were featured in Poetry Northwest and who went on to become one of the region’s most important writers.
Protect the Sacred ($5,000)
Protect the Sacred harnesses the energy of Native youth via Ride to the Polls events and leadership summits; they aim to educate and empower the next generation in order to strengthen Indigenous sovereignty.
Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) ($5,000)
Founded in 1922, SWAIA hosts the Santa Fe Indian Market, the largest juried Native American art show in the world. The Market offers support and visibility to Native artists, some of whom are the third or fourth generation in their families to participate.

January 29, 2024
Our second round of grants comes at the recommendation of Native awardees, finalists, and allies of the foundation; they have introduced us to a diverse group of organizations supporting Native interests. In a world that has tried hard to erase Native culture, they are doing essential work.

The Chalon Indian Council of Bakersfield ($10,000)
The Chalon Indian Council maintains a scholarship fund for college-bound tribal members, as well as offering workshops to educate their youth council on cultural practices such as regalia making, botanical identification and harvesting, and Chalon language.
Dream Warriors ($10,000)
Dream Warriors is an artists collective based in Minneapolis, MN, focused on providing programming in arts, culture, generational wealth building, and power building for both urban and reservation-based Indigenous communities across the country.
First Nations Development Institute ($10,000)
The mission of the First Nations Development Institute is to strengthen American Indian economies; they offer technical assistance and training, and engage in advocacy and policy work.
First Peoples Fund ($10,000)
First Peoples Fund offers performances and workshops for the broader community, as well as award opportunities, research initiatives, and mentorship programs designed to help Native artists thrive in their practice.
Garcia Center for the Arts ($10,000)
Established in 1932, the Garcia Center for the Arts, on Cahuilla, Serrano, Tongva and Luiseno land in Southern California, provides a performance space, classes, and workshops so people of all ages in the community can gather, create, and inspire.
Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio ($10,000)
Founded in honor of Loretta A. Silva, a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio offers a residency and exhibition space created by and serving BIPOC artists.
Red Cloud Heritage Center | Maȟpíya Lúta ($5,000)
Founded in 1888, Red Cloud Heritage Center hosts an annual art show open to any tribally enrolled member in the Americas and houses a significant permanent collection of work by Native artists.
Underdog Animal Rescue and Rehab ($10,000)
Underdog Animal Rescue and Rehab rescues and rehabilitates companion animals from the Four Corners reservations of the American Southwest, through veterinary care, spay/neuter, and adoption services, while supporting Native Americans in the care of their animals.

December 18, 2023
Our first spend down grants went to large organizations representing Native interests at the federal and state level.

California Truth and Healing Fund ($500,000)
The fund was established in connection to the state’s official apology to its Indigenous population and formation of the California Truth and Healing Council. Guided by an advisory board of California Native Americans, the fund works independently to build capacity, offer technical assistance, provide advocacy, and support tribal or intra-tribal Truth and Healing processes.

This initiative is part of Liberated Capital, a project of Decolonizing Wealth, which collects and distributes funds to Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color for liberation and racial healing.

Association on American Indian Affairs ($150,000)
The Association on American Indian Affairs, founded in 1922, is the oldest non-profit serving Native Country.

Throughout its 100-year history, the Association has provided national advocacy on watershed issues that support sovereignty and culture, while working at a grassroots level with Tribes to support the implementation of programs that affect daily lives.

The Association is governed by an all-Native American Board of Directors from across Native Country.

Native American Rights Fund ($150,000)
Since 1970, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has provided legal assistance to Native American tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide who might otherwise have gone without adequate representation. NARF has successfully asserted and defended the most important rights of Indians and tribes in hundreds of major cases, and has achieved significant results in such critical areas as tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, natural resource protection, voting rights, and Indian education.

NARF is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, with offices in Washington, DC, and Anchorage, Alaska.