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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

  • Fort Berthold Seeks to Raise Environmental Standards

    The Fort Berthold Reservation’s elected leaders are outlining plans to impose fees on companies for natural gas flaring on tribal lands, under the assumption that “operators will actively initiate gas capture plans when they have the motivation of paying royalties on flared gas.” This could create a “major regulatory, jurisdictional, if not legal, dispute.” The […]

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  • 10 Amazing Photos from the Peoples’ Climate March 2014

    By Britnae Purdy On September 21st, appx. 400,000 people walked together through the streets of New York City to bring attention to the alarming effects of climate change. Simultaneous walks took place around the world, bringing together celebrities, politicians, community leaders, children, grandparents, and people of every race, leaving us with hope that we can […]

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  • Selected Statements by Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change

    2009 Declaration of Women in Asia on Climate Change; Bangkok, Thailand; September 29, 2009 Nuku Alofa Declaration: Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific; July 31, 2009 The Tromso Declaration; Sixth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council; Tromso, Norway, April 29. 2009 The Anchorage Declaration; Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change; Anchorage, Alaska; April 24, 2009 […]

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