Sharing Good Water
Supporting Native-led organizations with small grants
for indigenous resurgence worldwide

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 In 2012 we launched the Mino-Niibi Fund for Indigenous Cultures, a new regranting program to provide small grants to indigenous-led organizations in the Americas and the Pacific that are working to revitalize their own cultures, traditions, lands and livelihoods. These funds support work to document and preserve indigenous knowledge, revitalize threatened languages, protect native foodways and seed sovereignty, conduct youth-elder cultural exchanges, and empower indigenous women.  The Mino-Niibi Fund is by invitation only. We do not accept unsolicited proposals.

Click on above markers to learn about our grantees.

Mino-Niibi means "good water" in the Ojibwe language. As a vital resource and powerful spirit, we see making small grants as an honorable and life-affirming process, like sharing good water with others.

Our grantmaking philosophy is rooted in the fact that organizations and movements that are created and led by indigenous peoples are best placed to envision, articulate and implement their own plans for the protection and revitalization of their communities and landscapes. The Cultural Conservancy holds reciprocity as central to all our partnerships; including reciprocal learning, sharing and respect. 

The Mino-Niibi Fund helps connect our grantees with one another, other like-minded organizations doing similar work, and additional sources of support and funding through our emerging Te Ha Alliance for indigenous solidarity.  Sacred Fire Foundation participates in the Mino-Niibi Fund as a co-funder.

One of our grantees, ASITURSO organization on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia,  displaying their 15 varieties of quinoa as part of their agro-biodiversity program.


2016 Grantees And Global Partners

The Cultural Conservancy (TCC) is thrilled to announce its 2016 Mino-Niibi Fund grantees. We have awarded eleven grants, serving thirteen indigenous-led groups in seven countries.  



W̱SÁNEĆ School Board
Canada, W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) Tsartlip First Nations

To continue to support “Reclaiming ȾIKEL” for the ecocultural revitalization of their ancestral place ȾIKEL, a wetland, and the traditional plant called SX̱ ELE,IȽĆ, a type of willow, along with the traditional knowledge associated with this place and plant. This project will engage with Elders, community leaders, youth, and restoration ecologists to restore the health of the site and engage in traditional gathering of their culturally important plant, including applied use of their SENĆOŦEN language through school field trips and intergenerational learning processes. This project was co-funded with the Sacred Fire Foundation.


RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs) and the Beaver Lake Cree Nation
Canada, Beaver Lake Cree Nation (BLCN)

To protect their rights and lands BCLN is taking the governments of Canada and the province of Alberta to court.  This grant will help to support the Community Video Interview Project which will play an important role in BLCN’s upcoming Tar Sands Trial. It will feature 15 video interviews with Beaver Lake Cree community members, which the legal team will use to help the Court to see, hear and understand how BLCN’s traditional way of life has been impacted by industrial development.


Inuit Tattoo Revitalization Project
Canada, Inuit communities

To promote cultural revitalization through the artistic tradition of Inuit facial and body tattooing with Inuit traditional and contemporary tattoo artists and photographers.  Each tattoo and line possess specific cultural significance, and much of this knowledge is rapidly disappearing. The northern communities are suffering with much sadness and loss of identity.  This project includes women Elders and focuses on the empowerment of young women, the whole community, and feeding their passion to bring their cultural traditions back to life.


The Tŝilhqut’in Culture Society (“Sadanx Jeni”)
Canada, Tŝilhqut’in/ Yunesit’in communities

To support Nenqayni Ch’ih Yaltig ‘We Are Speaking in Nenqayni Ch’ih.’ The Tŝilhqut’in language is on the critically endangered list with fewer than 100 fluent speakers remaining. This project will encourage adult speakers to teach children and youth how to speak the language using everyday conversations by creating a phrasebook with accompanying audio and video files. It will record live conversations in the language on as many topics as possible covering events and activities during all seasons including basic household discussions to on-the-land activities. Audio recordings will be included with basic language terms listed in the “Nenqayni Ch’ih Yaltig ‘We Are Speaking in Nenqayni Ch’ih’”new phrase book.



Escuela Ki’kotemal (School for Happiness/Harmony)
Guatemala, Maya communities in Queztaltenango

To continue to support the project “Q’ij Ukaj Q’ij Ulew” (Day of the Sky, Day of the Earth), where Maya youth learn about planting and harvesting seasons, traditional festivals, and the oral tradition. In this new cycle of work, the focus of Q’ij Ukaj will be a study of ancestral calendars based on Maya astronomy and informed by contemporary science, while the focus of Q’ij Ulew will encompass the creation and maintenance of a native seed bank from the region to strengthen food sovereignty of the people.


Collective Sna jk'optik (“Home or place of the word”)
Mexico, Tzeltales Maya communities in Chiapas

To document the knowledge and practices of the agricultural cycle and ritual activities to promote it among Tzeltal youth. To create a space where youth and elders can dialogue about the knowledge and wisdom of the fields and life in the fields. The final product is the creation of calendars that show the agricultural cycle and the development of audiovisual media, books and brochures to help promote this knowledge.


Peru, Quechua and mixed-raced communities

Continue to support educational workshops and community events to re-awaken and re-connect Quechua youth and families to their indigenous roots, traditions, and values. Sapichay focuses on the renewal of positive indigenous identity to improve community health and well-being.


Original Kichwa People of Sarayaku
Ecuador, Sarayaku Audiovisual Department in Collaboration with Awá Community of Guadualito and Afro-ecuadorian Community of La Chiquita in the Esmeraldas Province

To support an audio-visual intercultural collaboration between lowland rainforest Indigenous communities on the Amazonian and Coastal sides of the Ecuadorian Andes. The Selva Producciones Team (Sarayaku Community of the Kichwa People, Canelos Canton, Pastaza Province) will share their experiences of using audiovisual tools to strengthen their culture and protect their territory with the youth of the Guadualito and La Chiquita community members (Awá and Afro-descendant Peoples, San Lorenzo Canton, Esmeraldas Province). Together they will create a short documentary video that depicts the Esmeraldas ancestral communities' struggles against surrounding oil palm companies that are poisoning their waters and foods.



Nā Kālai Wa’a
Hawaii, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities

To support Lonoākea, the Communications and Documentation Project of Nā Kālai Waʻa (NKW). This project implements and strengthens the NKW vision of He waʻa he moku, He moku he waʻa, “The canoe is our island, and the island is our canoe,” and uses multimedia to document the 20 years of our deep-sea voyaging canoe, Makaliʻi, and her voyaging traditions. Many hula (dance) and oli (chant) have been written for the double-hulled canoe Makaliʻi.  The hula and oli tell her story.  They provide explanation for her existence, stories of people who built her and sailed her as well as her travels throughout the Pacific, and the link to ancient waʻa traditions.


Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development
New Zealand, Tainui Maori communities

To continue to support Te Wai Project – Marae Waterways Pilot. This project focuses on the preservation of traditional stories and information from six Waikato-Tainui Marae and their waterways including rivers, streams, wetlands, lakes and underground aquifers. This research focuses on Waikato-Tainui marae-environment relations, and the duties and responsibilities that are bound by customary obligations to people and place. The focus of the research is aligned to the protection of tribal identity and integrity as is outlined in the tribal development strategy Whakatupuranga Waikato-Tainui 2050.


Nga Mata Whanau Trust
New Zealand, Maori and Native American communities

To support the Ko te awa ko au (“I am the River, and the River is me”) Advance Delegation project, including an indigenous-led delegation and exchange of Native American leaders and Maori leaders in New Zealand to create a report and video of the historic (yet little known) 2015 Maori Whanganui River agreement recognizing the sacred water system in law. This agreement has the potential to change the way sacred sites and watersheds are protected around the world. This indigenous exchange will help Native leaders better understand the water rights process, the learnings and roadblocks encountered, and ways to strengthen indigenous communities and the entire rights of nature movement. This project was co-funded with the Sacred Fire Foundation.



The Cultural Conservancy (TCC) is thrilled to announce its 2015 Mino-Niibi Fund grantees. We have awarded eleven grants to Indigenous-led groups in eight countries.


Asociacion Integral de Turismo de Santiago de Okola (ASITURSO)
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, Aymara communities

To support “Building Foundations through the Sleeping Dragon Cultural Center” to coordinate the participatory design and initial construction of the center. When fully functioning, the center will be a shared, physical space that will serve many purposes, such as a place to exchange and demonstrate traditional knowledge, food and farming traditions and arts. It will serve as a model of a structure that fuses traditional building systems with contemporary and sustainable technologies for the surrounding communities.


Caminata Espiritual por la Paz y la Union de Los Pueblos (Spiritual Walk for Peace and Unity)
Many indigenous communities throughout MesoAmerica

An organized 40-day indigenous walk from El Salvador to Chiapas, Mexico with the purpose of bringing together communities divided by political borders to share and learn from each other, build cultural and spiritual alliances and raise awareness about the current threats and destruction of sacred sites by mining and development.


The En'Owkin Centre
Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, Okanagan Syilx First peoples

To support the “Nsyilxcen Audio and Video Collections Rescue Project” to acquire reel-to-reel video playback equipment and train En’owkin staff to digitize and catalogue vulnerable audio and video tapes of Okanagan Nsyilxen language speakers to use in language programs.


Escuela Ki’kotemal (School for Happiness/Harmony)
Guatemala, Maya communities in Queztaltenango

To support the project “Q’ij Ukaj Q’ij Ulew” (Day of the Sky, Day of the Earth), where Maya youth learn about planting and harvesting seasons, traditional festivals, and the oral tradition. Students develop critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership skills while working with Madre Tierra, and applying the ancestral practices and spiritual values of Mayan Cosmology.


Halele’a Arts Foundation
Hawaii, US. Hawaiian and Pacific islander communities

To support “Lāʻieikawai,” which provides access to quality indigenous-created live Hawaiian language theatre for communities outside of the urban core of Honolulu through performances at Hawaiian immersion schools and for the general public on neighbor islands.


Nā Kālai Waʻa
Big Island, Hawai'i, Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander communities

To support Lonoākea, a Communications and Documentation Development Project, aimed to support the documentation of the retrofitting of Makali’i wa’a (traditional deep-sea voyaging canoe) to preserve the knowledge of canoe-making and maintenance and begin to develop curriculum using digital tools created from the documentation process. It will also support the strengthening of the “He wa'a he moku, He moku he wa'a” teachings (“the canoe is our island, the island is our canoe”).  


Organización Payipie Ichadie Totobiegosode (OPIT)
Gran Chaco, Paraguay, Ayoreo communities in three villages

To support the Ayoreo Women’s Weaving Bank project by training and building the capacity of Ayoreo women to market their traditionally designed hand-woven bags using rare Native plant materials and dyes. This project provides recently-contacted Ayoreo women with economic alternatives to prostitution and other dangerous work. This year two Ayoreo women presented their work and sold-out their beautiful bags at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  


Peace & Dignity Journey
North, Central, and South America (from Alaska to Argentina)
Numerous Native American communities

To support coordination and planning for the 2016 “Prayer for the Seeds” Journey and run through the Americas in honor of the prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor and to build indigenous solidarity.


Peru, Quechua and mixed-raced communities

To support educational workshops to re-awaken and re-connect Quechua youth and families to their indigenous roots, traditions, and values. Sapichay focuses on the renewal of positive indigenous identity to improve community health and well-being.


Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development
New Zealand, Waikato Tainui Maori communities

To support “Te Wai Project/Marae Waterways Pilot Program” to research marae waterways and employ Maori interns to identify, document, and protect traditional water knowledge of six local Waikato-Tainui marae on the Waikato River of New Zealand. Interns will collect water stories and populate a database and mapping software to create an interactive digital mapping resource in order to better honor and protect their ancestral river.


W̱SÁNEĆ School Board Language Revitalization Team
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum, and Pauquachin communities

To support the ‘Reclaiming TIKEL” project to enable community and school engagement with a special cultural place called “TIKEL” (a bog) to begin a process of integrated heritage restoration (eco-cultural) focused on a special native plant, SX̱ELE,IȽĆ (Pacific Willow, Salix lasiandra) used for drift-nets and other cultural items.


Thank you to our Funders

We gratefully acknowledge our generous funder, the Tamalpais Trust, who has enabled us to establish this indigenous-led global re-granting program and support its growth. We also acknowledge support from other funders that have helped expand this program: the Lush Charity Pot, Swift Foundation, and NoVo Foundation. We are deeply grateful for these philanthropic partnerships to support indigenous rights and eco-cultural revitalization.

Photo credits: Mateo Hinojosa, Melissa K. Nelson, Nícola Wagenberg