Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities "Philanthropy Is... Indigenous Ways of Knowing"

Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities
Sun, October 11, 2015, 6:00pm to Wed, October 14, 2015, 9:00pm AKDT
Anchorage, Alaska

Registration is now closed but a few spots remain. Please contact Lyn Hunter at lhunter@philanthropynw.org to register.

Alaska's vibrant indigenous cultures have much to share with the rest of the country.

Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities is an invitation to be welcomed into an indigenous-led space to engage with Alaska Native peoples and communities in order to more deeply understand what it means for philanthropy to build authentic partnerships with self-determined peoples, cultures and communities.

In partnership with First Alaskans Institute (FAI), Casey Family Programs, Center for Native American Youth, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the local Alaskan philanthropic network, we are honored to offer this unprecedented opportunity for experiential learning grounded in community, reflection and co-learning, where we will learn from the ways Native communities are actively creating the political, social and economic solutions of our time.

Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities will wrap around and welcome you into two gatherings that demonstrate sovereignty in action. Each has evolved to meet the changing needs of Alaska Natives. The first gathering, First Alaskans Institute's 32nd Annual Elders & Youth Conference, empowers the intergenerational transfer of knowledge, grows grassroots leaders and amplifies the voices of Native communities. The second, the NCAI Tribal Conference, unifies the voice of fully sovereign nations to engage with the U.S. government.

Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities is an opportunity for you to join these gatherings through a unique cohort-based reflective learning experience. Learning from community experts, local philanthropic peers and each other, we will explore:

  • Why is connection to culture imperative?
  • What does it mean to work with and alongside self-determined peoples, cultures and community?
  • How can we better appreciate and incorporate Native perspectives and solutions, embrace asset-based frameworks and reframe what success looks like?

More about the vision and inspiration for Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities


Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities - Draft Agenda

First Alaskans Institute Elders & Youth Conference - Draft Agenda

4th Annual AFN-NCAI Tribal Conference - Draft Agenda

Detailed logistics information - Local Matters

Interactive map of meeting locations and restaurants


Event Design

Sunday, October 11: Welcome & Orientation

We’ll begin on Sunday, October 11, with a Warming of the Hands reception hosted by FAI to welcome you into the community and set the stage for the week ahead. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet the people of FAI, including trustees, staff, special guests, the local philanthropic community and your fellow Local Matters participants. Because funders and visitors are sometimes unaware of how much communities have to adapt in order to make them feel welcome, we'll discuss cultural protocols, the responsibility of being a good guest and what meaningful participation looks like so you will feel informed, welcomed and comfortable as a participant. We ask all Local Matters attendees to participate in this important orientation.

Monday & Tuesday, October 12-13: First Alaskans Institute's Elders and Youth Conference

If you really want an honest perspective about what's going on in our community, ask our young people and elders.
Elizabeth Medicine Crow (Haida/Tlingit)
President/CEO, First Alaskans Institute

Monday and Tuesday will begin with a facilitated cohort reflection over breakfast. This is a chance to connect with fellow Local Matters participants to share insights and observations. Not only will you build new relationships with leaders in the Native community, you’ll also forge and deepen relationships with local and other funders who are also interested in working with indigenous communities in Alaska and across the country.

Immediately following breakfast, you'll spend the day as a participant in "Not in Our Smokehouse!" FAI’s 32nd Annual Elders & Youth Conference. This theme speaks to cherishing, protecting, reclaiming and strengthening the Alaska Native Ways of Life, standing together as advocates for the wellbeing of cultures, languages, lands, and the entire statewide community. As the largest conference of Alaska Native elders and youth, the annual event offers an unfiltered, raw and powerful experience.

Using their vision of "progress for the next 10,000 years…" as a core value, this conference experience deeply connects elders and young people in ways that seek to operationalize and honor Native knowledge and worldviews in a conference environment – this causes an exciting and dynamic fusion of energy. It encourages the use of ancestral practices to make way for deep conversations that develop a sense of self, connection to place and voice, agency, control over decisions – with oneself as well as one's community – using different processes to build consensus and to talk about different issues in a fun, warm and supportive atmosphere. Most of all, it seeks to ignite the inherent leadership of the participants to step into their power and be actively engaged in decisions that affect their lives.

Wednesday, October 14: Elders & Youth, NCAI, Closing and Reception

On Wednesday, we'll begin again with a cohort reflection over breakfast. Then, you'll have a choice to attend either the:

1) Elders & Youth Conference Men's House & Women's House: In Alaska Native cultures, gender-based roles and perspectives are an important part of helping our communities remain strong and connected. The Men's and Women's Houses (often cited as participants' favorite part of the conference) honor this tradition by separating the groups into Houses.  Participants are invited to go to the house they are most comfortable in to honor this space of reciprocity and wisdom sharing from generation to generation.

2) Fourth Annual National Congress on American Indians Tribal Conference. You will have the opportunity to join Alaska Native tribal representatives and Alaska Native Regional Corporations at the NCAI Tribal Conference for a panel on Alaska state and tribal issues.

In the afternoon, we'll all come back together for a federal issues panel at the NCAI conference, where we'll be joined by representatives of the White House’s Generation Indigenous (“Gen-I”) initiative, which focuses on improving the lives of Native youth through new investments and increased engagement.

As these conclude, Local Matters participants will transition into our closing program. It will be an opportunity to reflect together on our shared experience of the past three days, integrate our insights and advance our efforts to co-create innovative approaches to investing in the potential of Native youth.  Continuing to use the principles of self-determination as our guide, we will incorporate your questions and issues to inform our closing session but some of the areas we anticipate exploring: How do we develop the stamina to remain open to “indigenous ways of knowing” while balancing your organization’s need for strategy and structure? How can we support increased resources and provide clearer understanding of community assets and gaps to support Native youth? How might we partner together to advance our work? We ask all Local Matters attendees to participate in this closing program.

To celebrate our learning together, Local Matters: Indigenous Communities will culminate in a reception at the atrium at ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. with an estimated 70 expected.

... and if you want to deepen your learning even further...

Get Paired With a Friend from FAI to Attend the Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention

Local Matters: Indigenous Communities is scheduled for the days immediately preceding the Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention and if you haven’t attended in the past, this is an opportunity not to miss. AFN is the largest representative annual gathering in the United States of any Native peoples, and it has helped shape the course of Alaska history by voting on resolutions and determining policy for its membership which includes 165 federally recognized tribes, 146 village corporations, 12 regional corporations, and 12 regional nonprofit and tribal consortiums.

As a Local Matters: Indigenous Communities participant, you’ll have the opportunity to attend this public statewide gathering with an FAI trustee or staff member who will act as an ambassador/guide for during the time you are there. While some meetings are only open to convention delegates, everyone is welcome to this “Native New Year,” renowned for its famous Alaska Native Art Fair, Alaska Marketplace and Quyana Alaska, an evening celebration of traditional dances. There are also many private and public events, art shows and receptions around the city making it an incredible opportunity to forge connections with decision makers from Alaska’s Native, governmental and corporate communities.


  • Early bird pricing for members of Philanthropy Northwest, NCAI, NAP and Tribal leaders (ends September 9): $355
  • Members of Philanthropy Northwest, NCAI, NAP and Tribal leaders (after September 9): $395
  • Non-members; impact investors; federal, state, local government officials: $595
  • Local Matters participants may invite nonprofit partners to attend. Please contact Lyn Hunter for a nonprofit discount code and early bird pricing (ends September 9).

Frequently Asked Questions

I don't fund in Alaska, should I attend?
Yes, for two reasons. 1) Alaska Native peoples have a strong political voice and are a vibrant social force in Alaska. They provide insight to the rest of the country about self-determination, community democracy and community engagement. 2) Organizations who value genuine and authentic relationships with indigenous communities — regardless of geography — will find great value in learning from this experience. Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities will give you opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, increasing your knowledge in the field and deepening the inspiration for your work.

Who is invited?
Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities is an opportunity for local, regional and national funders, tribal philanthropy, federal, state and local government officials, impact investors and other social entrepreneurs to connect in an authentic learning space and atmosphere. It is intended to connect those with financial capital who wish to invest in communities, ideas and people. Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities is a pitch-free zone and due to the size and nature of these events, we ask participants to mindfully self-manage this.

Local Matters participants may invite nonprofit partners to attend. Please contact Lyn Hunter for a nonprofit discount code.

Who are the partners?
Philanthropy Northwest is partnering directly with First Alaskans Institute around the Elders & Youth Conference and with NCAI for the 4th Annual NCAI Tribal Conference. Other partners include: Casey Family Programs, the Center for Native American Youth, the White House’s Generation Indigenous initiative and the local Alaska philanthropic network.

Our shared goal for this unprecedented partnership: improving the lives of Native youth through new investments and increased engagement. We collectively believe Local Matters will serve as a very important point of connection.

Do I have to attend from October 11-14?
Philanthropy Northwest and our partners, FAI and NCAI, respectfully request that all participants commit themselves to all four days. We understand that this a big time commitment; however, we truly believe that this unprecedented blend of experiential learning, reflection and networking is best experienced as a whole.

Thank You for Your Guidance and Partnership!

Liz Medicine Crow (Haida/Tlingit), First Alaskans Institute
Emily Tyrrell (Yup'ik/Iñupiaq), First Alaskans Institute
Dewey Hoffman (Koyukon Athabascan), First Alaskans Institute
Susan Anderson (Tlingit), The CIRI Foundation
Sammye Pokryfki, Rasmuson Foundation
Elizabeth Ripley, Mat-su Health Foundation
Kevin Walker, Northwest Area Foundation
Martin Jennings (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe), Northwest Area Foundation
Bonnie Sachatello Sawyer, Hopa Mountain
Anita Fineday (White Earth Band of Ojibwe), Casey Family Programs
Antoinette Malveaux, Casey Family Programs
Anne Rothe, Alaska Conservation Foundation
Mike Coumbe, Alaska Conservation Foundation
Michael Barber, Alaska Conservation Foundation
Jaqueline Pata (Tlingit), National Congress on American Indians
Erin Bailey, Center for Native American Youth
Shelley Means (White Earth Chippewa/Oglala Sioux), Native Americans in Philanthropy

Local Matters: Alaska + Indigenous Communities Sponsors




The Alaska Community Foundation | Alaska Conservation Foundation | Canopy | The CIRI Foundation | ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. | Mat-Su Health Foundation

Local Matters Series Sponsors



To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Anjana Pandey, donor & member relations director, at 206-673-3629 or apandey@philanthropynw.org.