What We Do
Indigenous communities know their land, their people, their problems, and their solutions. First Peoples Worldwide is at the center of a global network of talented and passionate Indigenous practitioners, amplifying the voices of Indigenous Peoples by providing funding and advocacy, and helping connect communities to the resources they need to thrive.
One of the primary ways we support Indigenous communities is to provide them with funding opportunities to complete their own development projects. Our grantmaking program is called Keepers of the Earth, and provides an average of US$300,000 annually to Indigenous communities around the world. Projects are conceived and designed by the grantees—we simply provide the funds to make them happen.
Grants range from US$500 to US$20,000 and cover a wide range of projects. Our grantees are working on everything from improving agricultural practices and exploring contemporary applications for traditional knowledge to fighting eviction from their homelands. All of these projects have one thing in common— communities controlling their own assets and determining their own future.
Visit our Grants section to learn more.
With increased private-sector expansion into regions populated by Indigenous communities, the threat to Indigenous cultures and livelihoods has increased dramatically over the last decade. In order to meet these challenges, Indigenous communities have made significant progress in developing models for engaging with corporations that allow them to retain control of their assets. At the same time, there are conscientious and responsible corporations working with communities that recognize it makes good business sense to incorporate the interests of Indigenous Peoples into their policies and practices.
Corporate-Indigenous negotiations are successful when communities determine the outcome, and when the proposed development goes hand in hand with tangible and culturally appropriate benefits to the community along with good environmental stewardship practices. We work directly with Indigenous communities to assure that they are able to control their assets—providing funding, leading trainings, and helping to establish industry standards that reflect Indigenous perspectives. We also support companies’ efforts to improve their social performance by providing in-depth risk analysis of Indigenous-related policies as well as detailed information on Indigenous communities.
Visit our Corporate Engagement section to learn more.
Our unique perspective on Indigenous affairs worldwide allows us to locate strategic opportunities to make a difference in the global Indigenous rights movement. When these opportunities arise, we take on a proactive role and dedicate funding and staff to achieving a specific goal in a specific location or region.
Our first field project was aimed at securing land rights for the Indigenous San people in Botswana, who were facing eviction by the Botswanan government. Sub-Saharan African governments, in general, have been slow to recognize Indigenous rights, and our goal was to help engender self-determination efforts that would make the issue more visible. We created trainings on Indigenous land rights, held them in San communities, and provided funding for people from other San communities to travel to the trainings. Out of these meetings grew a coalition of local NGOs that went on to challenge the government of Botswana for the San’s right to remain on their land, and in 2007, they won.
This victory helped set a legal precedent for Indigenous land rights in sub-Saharan Africa, and brought attention to Indigenous issues throughout the region. We are now implementing a second stage of our Botswana field work which will build the capacity of San communities to exercise their human and land rights. FPW will partner with local San organizations to identify community leaders, bolster local NGO success, and engage local and international partners.
For our next field project, we are looking at partnering with regional NGOs to create region-specific funding programs modeled after our Keepers of the Earth Fund. The goal of this initiative will be to further decentralize the funding sources available to Indigenous communities, and to place grantmaking in the capable hands of local experts.
Collaboration itself is central to Indigenous ways of life. Especially in times of limited resources, the basic Indigenous principles of sharing and cooperation strengthen the greater community. By building partnerships with organizations that share these principles, from the local level to the global, we can leverage one another’s resources to provide better, stronger support to our communities. We do this by:
● Bringing together Indigenous practitioners from all over the world so they can share traditional knowledge, lessons, models, technical skills and strategies and form alliances to strengthen the global Indigenous movement.
● Collaborating with other Indigenous-led organizations to provide funding and advocacy that is based on Indigenous values.
● Forming partnerships with non-Indigenous organizations that focus on specific issues, offering information on how those issues affect Indigenous Peoples. We also partner with non-Indigenous organizations that are interested in providing technical or political support or fiscal sponsorship for Indigenous-led projects.
Educating the public about the problems facing Indigenous Peoples and the solutions they offer is critical to our mission. Our goal is to promote traditional knowledge and Indigenous values in a way that will integrate the best of what our communities have to offer into the global society.
Through our articles, columns, blogs, newsletter, and social networking presence and our Cultural Risk Alerts and assessments, we communicate directly with over 4,000 community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, Indigenous networks, corporations, media outlets and funders, as well as thousands of individuals. These platforms provide a forum for our communities and partners to exchange ideas as well as an interactive way to learn about grantees, events, conferences and other news, read exclusive interviews with stakeholders, keep abreast of the grant and partnership opportunities we offer, and participate in fundraising.
We also create and distribute compelling, informative media. This includes print, radio, wire, television, web, emerging media and online video. We cultivate relationships with writers, documentarians and reporters on every continent and in every country where Indigenous people live, ensuring that the voices of our communities will be heard.