About Us

First Peoples Worldwide was first developed in 1997 by Cherokee social entrepreneur Rebecca Adamson, as a program of her non-profit First Nations Development Institute. In 2005, Rebecca and her daughter, Neva, founded First Peoples Worldwide as a full-fledged organization in its own right. We focus on funding local development projects in Indigenous communities all over the world while creating bridges between our communities and corporations, governments, academics, NGOs and investors in their regions. We facilitate the use of traditional Indigenous knowledge in solving today’s challenges, including climate change, food security, medicine, governance and sustainable development.

We are unique among grant makers because we are an Indigenous-led organization providing funding directly to Indigenous communities. Not only do our head staff come from Indigenous backgrounds, but our global network of board members, grantees and other Indigenous practitioners represent the diversity and solidarity of the Indigenous way of life. We are funded by a wide range of dedicated supporters, including foundations, corporations, individuals, and multilaterals.

To learn more about our grants, click here.

OUR DEVELOPMENT PHILOSOPHY
Everything we do is geared toward helping our communities achieve control over their own assets, including land, cultural rights and intellectual property. We recognize that our communities have their own unique needs, worldviews and problem-solving strategies, and must be allowed to determine their own definitions of success. We believe that a sea change in which communities are empowered on the local level will make a drastic improvement to the success of development efforts worldwide.

LOCAL
Everything we have learned about development shows that growing and supporting projects from the bottom up, beginning at the local grassroots level, is the best way to achieve sustainable development. The initiatives of First Peoples Worldwide empower communities through the simple belief that Indigenous Peoples know what to do and how to do it. Our role is to support them with the crucial elements they are lacking—funding and culturally relevant technical assistance.

RESPECTFUL
We specialize in culturally appropriate development and progress without assimilation. While it is important to increase income, put more children in school or grow more food, not everything is about numbers. Development is also about building community, strengthening identity, preserving culture, and building on inherent entrepreneurialism.

HOLISTIC
Development efforts too often focus on a single symptom of a larger problem. The Indigenous approach to problem solving considers the effect each part of a system has on the whole, whether it is economic, environmental, or social. Everything is connected, related, and interdependent. All of our work at First Peoples is grounded in this understanding of wholeness and balance.

COOPERATIVE
Indigenous Peoples have survived and thrived for thousands of years by building strong societies—tight-knit communities in which each

individual is equally invested and the benefits are shared by all. Our goal is to offer this time-tested model to the global community as we face challenges on a global scale. Together we can create solutions that combine the best of Indigenous and contemporary practices. We believe that this collaboration begins at the local level, community by community, and can be spread virally all over the world.

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From Our Blog

  • The Cost of Carelessness

    In July 2014, a pipeline owned by Arrow Pipeline (a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Partners) spilled one million gallons of saltwater on the Fort Berthold Reservation. The saltwater, which is up to thirty times saltier than saltwater in the ocean, is killing vegetation and might have leaked into Lake Sakakawea, a source of drinking water […]

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  • Grantee Highlight: Cultural Survival’s Community Radio Project

    First Peoples Worldwide recently funded a grant to Cultural Survival to support a community radio initiative in Guatemala. Along with their sister organization, Sobrevivencia Cultural, Cultural Survival has been working to establish a network of 80+ community radio stations across Guatemala. Community radio has proven to be an important tool in promoting Indigenous language use, […]

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  • Cumulative Impacts are Global

    Rising sea levels are threatening the disappearance of Kiribati, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and other small island nations where Indigenous Peoples “currently have their own, sovereign states.” Residents of these nations are being told to “prepare to flee at some point” and questions surrounding the potential influx of “climate refugees” are being debated […]

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