Our mission is to support and promote the leadership of indigenous women and girls in the ongoing regeneration of indigenous communities.
We believe that Native women are at the heart of Indigenouscommunities and that the vision, the initiatives and perseverance of Indigenous women should be supported with resources. We seek transformative change at the community level by supporting Indigenous women’s traditional models of leadership and organizing. We believe that stronger Indigenous women leaders can determine their own priorities for the future and can protect our Mother Earth more effectively.
We provide funding and support to Native women-led organizations and projects, youth training and environmental justice programming that helps advance sustainable indigenous cultures and collective capacities.
We are teachers and learners, grantmakers and conveners, committed to remembering and revitalizing traditional values and practices rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing and living. Our unique values and contribution comes from the diversity within our group - our ages, tribal affiliations, and experiential knowledge.
Na'ah Illahee Fund (Mother Earth in the Chinook jargon language), was established in 2005 with funding from an individual philanthropic leader who shared the vision of powerful Native female-centered activitsm and leadership.
Na'ah Illahee Fund's scope of impact includes both urban and reservation-based Indigenous communities throughout the Pacific Northwest region - over 50 tribal nations. The majority of our direct organizing work currently takes place in the Puget Sound/Salish Sea region with Native people who are from many tribal nations, but living in urban communities and may not have ties to their homelands and families.
We define women and girls inclusively as all female identified people in our work and programming, including two spirit Native peoples and trans women.
A strong network of Native women and girl leaders with the skills, knowledge, commitment and resources to affect positive social change, address the violence against women, children and earth, and build a strong citizenry with the knowledge and desire to advance sustainability—living in balance with the natural world.
Why Native Women and Girls?
"Native women and girls are not safe. Violence against them has reached epidemic levels in Indian country and Alaska Native villages ─ rates 2 1 ⁄ 2 times higher than violence against any other group of women in the United States. One in three Native women will be raped in her lifetime, and six in ten will be physically assaulted. The murder rate for Native women is ten times the national average on some reservations."
A history of exploitation, discrimination, and genocide has rendered Native communities a part of the most excluded, marginalized, and vulnerable in the world. And centuries of destructive government policies have impoverished and broken apart Native families and communities. The intersection of sexism and inadequate policies have also allowed the systematic eradication of gender equality from all of our cultures as well as in Native communities, leaving many Native women and girls at heightened risk of exploitation and attack. The impact of this has been that many Native women and girls are pushed into situations— ranging from inadequate housing to sex work—where there is a heightened risk of violence.
Native women are now reclaiming their power and voice by continuing a tradition of leadership that existed before colonization. These traditional leadership models are valuing relationships and moving us from domination towards more collaboration.
We at Na'ah Illahee Fund believe that it is critical to strengthen Native communities and cultures through women’s leadership because an investment in Native women leads to stronger Native communities and resilient cultures.