2016 Keepers of the Earth Fund Grantees

In 2016, Keepers of the Earth Fund awarded 33 grants totaling $229,150. Three of these grants were awarded for the continued operations of three established Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training (SALT) Centers, an initiative begun in 2015, in three regions of the world. The centers represent the Fund's first multi-year awards. They operate in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala. First Peoples Worldwide also continued its support of community-led strategies for asserting Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and Self-Governance (SG).


Bimbia Rural Development Association (BIRUDA) (Cameroon) – The BIRUDA was organized to create awareness about the destruction of tropical rain forest in Cameroon because the Cameroon Development Corporation was destroying more than 100 hectares of rain forest land by opening palm plantations. Keepers of the Earth Fund provided the financial support BIRUDA needed to promote sustainable use of Bimbia forestlands through a comprehensive land use plan and implementation strategy.

Community Action of Aboriginal Women Congo (DRC)Despite existing laws promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Aboriginal Batsoua women still suffer multiple forms of discrimination, marginalization and their fundamental rights and freedoms are not respected. Keepers of the Earth Fund provided a small grant to ACFAC to develop its own guide to Free, Prior and Informed Consent for the Indigenous women of DRC. The guide will help women understand their individual and collective rights and make informed decisions about their rights and interests regarding natural resource exploitation in southern Chad.

County Empowerment for Marginalized Groups (CEMAG) (Kenya) – Keepers of the Earth Fund gave a small grant to CEMAG for its Ikhonga Murwe “Crying Stone” from extinction – Established in Kenya in 2015, the group’s mission is to control tourism that is destroying sacred sites and benefitting others. The CEMAG trained its community leaders on leadership, governance, and cultural rights. It held general community awareness forums to empower individuals and community groups to articulate its community values and conduct supervisory visits to the naturally formed site of the “Crying Stone,” and plant 1000 trees around the site as a way to continue protecting this community sacred site.

Maasai Women for Education and Economic Development (MAWEED) (Kenya) The organization developed a training manual for forty Maasai women to be trained in human rights as they apply to Indigenous Peoples in the 2010 Kenya Constitution, and cultural rights as they apply to Maasai women in community development. The purpose of the training for women was so that women would no longer be under the control of men’s decision-making, sometimes to the detriment of their own health, as well as so that women can become part of the decision-making structure.

Mission Shalom International (Senegal) – Working in three villages, Diola people organized into community action teams to envision its communities of the future. The groups were challenged to envision methods to enhance community self-govern capacity toward self-reliance, and learned about leadership, empowerment and improved access to resources. Community members gained confidence in their own abilities, skills to act as agents of their own development, and used and reinforced local ancestral knowledge and skills as the foundation of all their future work.

Organisation d'Accompagnement et d'Appui aux Pygmeés (OSAPY) (DRC) Indigenous Pygmeés are not recognized in land, forest, mining, and agricultural laws. Keepers of the Earth Fund assisted the OSAPY to work with its local community in understanding community rights and developing land laws that benefit Pygmeé Peoples through Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Increase framework of national directives.


North America

Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative (USA) – The SSPI is a grass roots community organization whose purpose is to promote and strengthen the Native community through advocacy, community organizing, and skill-building. The group values the principles of self-determination, cultural sustainability, justice, empowerment, and a responsibility to future generations. The SSPI was awarded a small grant in 2015 to develop itself into a not-for-profit community-based organization that would support Native Americans in need. As it began to research the activities that needed to be accomplished to gain its legal structure, the SSPI realized it needed to raise a small amount of funding in order to pull together its board of directors to approve the organizing documents and filings, so Keepers of the Earth fund increased the original award to help the group organize and take all the necessary steps to gain tax exempt status and increase the needed resources for its youth and social programs.

Penelakut Health Society (Canada)As with all First Nations in Canada, the Penelakut Nation is subject to the Indian Act of Canada. Keepers of the Earth Fund supported Penelakut Health Society’s Capacity Building through Traditional Food and Medicine project, which provides a forum and infrastructure for community capacity building and cultural revitalization. The community of 1000 members embarked on a healing process to regain control of their lands, lives, and governance structures, and this project helped to bridge community elders and knowledge-holders with tribal youth and families through traditional farming and healing practices. The project has helped to integrate marginalized community members, develop farming and aquaculture, increase traditional knowledge and its application, and create a handbook of traditional foods and medicines for the tribal community.

Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Dept. (Canada) – The Heiltsuk First Nation's reserve is in Bella Bella, British Columbia. It is the largest reserve on the coast. Its rural waterways and pristine wilderness are a large tourist attraction. Keepers of the Earth Fund supported the Heiltsuk Marine Trails Project to map the reserve boundaries, sacred sites, and sites that will be made available to tourist access. Once the initial mapping was completed, the project assessed revenue from permits to access the sites. It will also be able to establish baseline measures for a future environmental impact assessment.

International Indian Treaty Council (SALT) (Canada) - The International Indian Treaty Council has integrated First Peoples Worldwide's curriculum on Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training (SALT) into its larger Indigenous Rights resources and training tools. As a direct result of training it organized at the 2016 UNPFII, the IITC led a community-specific SALT workshop so that it could help its partners in the region develop a forecast of potential contact with and impacts of resource-extractive corporations.

Tseycum First Nation (Canada) – Keepers of the Earth Fund supported the Tseycum First nation to develop Wsanec Wi,Am (Saanich Stories), a project to help the community document its culture for preservation and for future generations. Through a series of community meetings, the First Nation recorded its traditional sites of fishing, hunting, curial sites, berry-picking, plant harvesting and any other useful traditional knowledge. The group produced maps of its traditional historic sites as learned from tribal elders, and produced a child’s storybook with illustrations and words in both English and the traditional Sencoten language.

International Indian Treaty Council (USA/California) – Keepers of the Earth Fund has as its initial development strategy to help Indigenous organizations develop their assets, whether they be cultural, economic, political, institutional, natural, human, or otherwise. The IITC has existed since 1974 and needed to update its strategic plan. The IITC used its small grant to gather its Board of Directors and update its strategic plan for the organization for the next five years, including its plan for attracting new resources. As a result, the organization can now bring about new programs and new ways of doing business in a new political atmosphere.

United Confederation of Taino People (USA/New York) - Organizational Registration – The United Confederation of Taino People promotes the self-determination of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of their human rights. Established in the Caribbean in 1998 by the Taino community leadership, the group needed to formalize its existence in order to attract resources to support its development, and in 2016 it worked to develop a formal entity in New York City. The Keepers of the Earth Fund supported this Indigenous Peoples group to develop its institutional assets that work in behalf of the Taino Peoples.

Healing and the Horse Project (USA/South Dakota) – The Healing and the Horse Project has existed since the early seventies. Organizationally, it has remained small and operated on small grants received occasionally. Its small financial base supports land lease payments that support a small herd of horses that work in a youth horsemanship and healing program. The Keepers of the Earth Fund has supported the Healing and the Horse Project in the past to seek tax exempt status. It was not until recently that the community-based Lakota group decided to continue to offer its youth project to help Indigenous youth overcome some of its cultural and spiritual challenges through communicating with and caring for horses. The project has been offered every year because the healing works and Indigenous communities have requested the project to continue. First Peoples Worldwide decided to help the group gain its formal recognition so that more resources could be donated to the keeping the project alive for Indigenous youth.

International Mayan League (SALT) (Guatemala) – The International Mayan League is an established Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training (SALT) Center as part of First Peoples Worldwide’s special initiative to build Indigenous leadership. As one of three centers, the IML held its second SALT workshop in Guatemala and used the forum as an opportunity to bring together in Guatemala the leadership of all three SALT centers. Keepers of the Earth Fund provided additional support to IML so that the workshop could serve as the convening point for the SALT Centers, and give each other the technical support necessary for all the centers to continue leadership-building.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (USA/North Dakota) Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) Project – First Peoples Worldwide began funding the DAPL project at first to help with travel dollars to enable the tribal chairman and council members to travel to DC to attend an important Supreme Court hearing about the Dakota Access Pipeline project, an oil pipeline slated to bring oil to the United States. The original route of the pipeline was planned adjacent to Bismarck, North Dakota, but was soon rerouted because of complaints that the pipeline could leak into the drinking water. The government of ND approved the rerouting of the pipeline to the other side of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation land, where it could then be routed underneath the Cannonball River on the periphery of the reservation. When the Tribe protested the new placement of the pipeline it began to demonstrate and block the project and was soon joined by other tribes, nonprofits, celebrities and individuals from all around the world. Keepers of the Earth also helped the SRST with additional grants to help provide supplies and training at the encampment, and the protest is still active as of the writing of this report at the end of 2016.

Conciencia Cultural Mam (Mexico) - Keepers of the Earth is founded on Indigenous values. It values Indigenous culture and tradition and realizes that Indigenous identity is intertwined with language and other place-based factors. Keepers of the Earth Fund awarded a small grant to help rescue and strengthen the Maya-Mam language, culture, natural and spiritual environment and values. Seventy percent of the communities in this region are engaged in agriculture and many of the community's food traditions have been recognized and restored because the Maya-Mam language has been utilized to identify and name various foods and medicines.

International Indian Treaty Council (USA/California) – The IITC was formed on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 1974 to be an international voice and advocate by and for grassroots Indigenous Peoples. In 1977, IITC became the first Indigenous organization to receive Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In 2011, IITC was the first Indigenous organization to be upgraded to General Consultative Status in recognition of its long-standing participation in many areas of the United Nations system representing the rights, concerns and struggles of Indigenous Peoples. The IITC partnered with First Peoples Worldwide to deliver First Peoples’ Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training (SALT) as a side-event to the annual United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, after which it held a focus group to help with the design of a basic strategic plan implementing Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

ACTION/ Anishinaabek Clans to Invoke our Nation (Canada) - Keepers of the Earth Fund supported this grassroots tribal group to create communications infrastructure and serve as a central communication point for its community members about issues that deal with tribal rights.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (USA/North Dakota) – The SRST used a small grant from Keepers of the Earth Fund to help bolster its internal capacity to work with an extractive oil company working to construct an oil pipeline across its reservation land. In an effort to keep its communities and peoples environmentally safe, the tribe blockaded the roadway and stopped the construction project. The SRST also provided Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training to its members at the blockade campsite so that all people involved would have some sense of how to work with the extractive company. Community people participated in the SALT training and asked Keepers of the Earth Fund to provide additional financial support for the camp and for more people to receive the training.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (USA/North Dakota) - Keepers of the Earth Fund provided a small grant to SRST to support the encampment expenses of food, shelter, heat and water. It was also able to offer additional SALT training to new participants arriving daily at the site, and as winter sets in.

Native American Education Technologies fbo Trahant Reports (USA/Wisconsin) – Keepers of the Earth Fund helped to publicize the Native Vote of 2016 by producing a series of reports about the national election and Native Americans' participation.


South America

Agencia Timomachtikan fbo Colectivo Tajpianij (Mexico) – Like many Indigenous communities around the world, development has forced Indigenous youth to abandon their rural livelihoods and cultures for urban employment and social activities not offered in their villages. Those that remain in the villages suffer, too, since there is no one to care for the land, crops and elders. Pollution, deforestation, decreased water sources, forest and fuel wood decline are all indicators of the ill effects of development and Keepers of the Earth Fund joined the Colectivo Tajpianij in its efforts to rekindle a love of Indigenous identity and values in youth by training youth to recognize the spiritual, cultural and economic values inherent in their traditional livelihoods and practices.

Agua Caliente Lote 9 (Guatemala) – The community of Agua Caliente is completely cut off from the main road system and there is no access to or from the community via bridges to cross waterways with ease. There is no access in case of illness or medical need, nor is there a way for teachers to reach the village so that students can learn. The Maya Q’eqchi’ community built a road using Keepers of the Earth funds so that their children could continue their education, so that they can trade goods and services with others, make use of the emergency radio broadcast system, and regulate tourism on cultural sites and lands. The community will utilize tourism revenue to provide for community social needs programs.

Asociación de Productores de Semillas y Alimentos Nutricionales Andinos Mushuk Yuyay (APROSANAMY) – Mushuk Yuyay - Healthy Children, Healthy Future – The Mushuk Yuyay Project was supported in 2015 by a small grant from Keepers of the Earth fund. It was to help reinstate the traditional nutrition of the community members, while also teaching about the health benefits of eating and cultivating their traditional foods. The Keepers of the Earth Fund provided a second small grant so that the nutritionists who come from local communities to teach at the schools could receive a small stipend for their contributions, but also to provide the Mushuk Yuyay program in more schools and to generate enough seed and foods to generate small revenues toward program sustainability.



Zubaan (for the behalf of ARHI Social and Educational Institute (India) Tiwa is an Indigenous tribe inhabiting the states of Assam and Meghalaya in Northeast India. They are recognized as a Scheduled tribe within the State of Assam. They were known as Lalungs in the Assamese Buranjis, Colonial literature and in the Constitution of India, though members of the group prefer to call themselves Tiwa (meaning "the people who were lifted from below"). Some of their neighbors still call them Lalung. A striking peculiarity of the Tiwa is their division into two sub-groups, Hill Tiwa and Plains Tiwas, displaying contrasting cultural features. Keepers of the Earth Fund provided a small grant to help ARHI complete a documentary and publish a book about the Tiwa Indigenous Peoples Language via its Tiwa Language Revitalization Project for the Tiwa Indigenous Peoples of North East India.


Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training (SALT) Grants
The SALT initiative teaches Indigenous leaders how to work with corporations to develop Indigenous-friendly policies for working on Indigenous territories.

International Mayan League/ USA, Inc. (IML) (USA/Guatemala) – The International Mayan League convenes Mayan Peoples and promotes, preserves, and transmits their ancestral traditions and knowledge into solutions to current threats against them, the earth, and humanity. The IML builds leadership capacity through education and resources in Mexico and South American Indigenous communities. The IML gained SALT Center status and convened leadership workshops in both Mexico and Guatemala.

Matawa First Nation, Inc. (Canada) – This First Nations organization provides technical support to nine Matawa First Nation communities in the areas of health, education, environment, training, economic development, and leadership coordination. As an established technical assistance provider to its communities, the Matawa First Nation SALT Center focused on leadership development to address natural resource management on treaty lands in Canada.

Treaty 8 Tribal Association (T8TA) (Canada) – This organization provides political and technical priority to their First Nation communities. The T8TA provides advisory services for achieving economic prosperity, self-sufficiency, land management and support while preserving culture and tribal rights and interests. The T8TA SALT Center is developing tribal management teams to lead its Human Resources and Treaty and Land Resource development.