MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Greetings everyone, I pray that this message finds you, your family and community in the best of health and spirits, given the current situation in which we all unfortunately find ourselves in. It has been some time since I published a newsletter for our foundation. This pandemic has introduced new areas of responsibility, which have taken priority at this time.
The summer seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye as I was focused on getting Emergency Relief support out to our Pueblo communities from several different platforms. First and foremost, here at the Chamiza Foundation we wanted to get emergency relief funding out to all our Pueblo communities urgently. On April 14th, 2020, the Chamiza Foundation Board voted unanimously to send $50,000 in Emergency Relief Funding unrelated to our usual grant process to all twenty Pueblos to assist with any issues they were encountering due to the pandemic. As time went on I learned that Pueblo artists and farmers had been struggling significantly due to the “Public Health Order” that was put in place by the New Mexico Governor and the Pueblo closures. These orders restricted these two populations from selling their art and produce at events and markets. Although artists were encouraged to make sales through an online platform, many of the older artists are incapable of using this avenue due to lack of internet access, shortage of computer, camera, or phone equipment, and/or the absence of the skills needed to create webpages to conduct online sales. Therefore, on July 2, 2020, our board voted unanimously to send a second round of Emergency Relief Funding to Pueblos to assist Pueblo artists and farmers/farms. A total of $134,000 was sent out to various Pueblos.
On October 16, 2020, we had a Chamiza Foundation board meeting to discuss funding for 2021. Our board has decided that we will move forward with our usual two rounds of funding but our funding priorities will be slightly different as we still want to support our Pueblos with emergency relief funding. We will be accepting applications that focus on our traditional priority areas such as language preservation, traditional architecture, sustainable agriculture, traditional arts and crafts, tribal and ancestral history; oral histories and storytelling, youth education and leadership, and intercultural exchange and education. We will also be accepting applications for emergency relief support. We will fund as much as possible given our limited capacity as a small family foundation. Our foundation has set the following grant making priorities for relief efforts:
- Food, medical supplies and personal items
- Community and Individual Relief and Recovery Needs
- Internet access and connectivity
- Other needs and expenses directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic
Our first deadline for 2021 will be on Friday, February 12, 2021. There are three ways that you can apply 1) You can complete your application online through our website, 2) You can email your application to firstname.lastname@example.org, or 3) You can send your completed application directly to me at email@example.com . Please remember that I am available if you want to talk about a project idea/concept. I can also review your application before the deadline to ensure that you have included all required information.
I have been asked to sit on the Native American Relief Fund Advisory Committee. In this capacity I have been able to help determine where COVID-19 funding should be allocated. This has been a somewhat cumbersome position to be in as we have to choose who gets funded when we know that all of the applications submitted are deserving of support. Due to the limited funds we have available for distribution, my committee colleagues and I are very thorough about our decisions. We make sure that each decision is discussed and evaluated for the best possible outcome. Thus far, we have completed two rounds of funding and are working on the logistics for the third round of funding. I will make sure to share of the details for this through email correspondence and on our Chamiza Foundation social media. If you have any questions about the Native American Relief Fund, please contact JoAnn Melchor at the New Mexico Foundation. Ms. Melchor’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a personal note, during this time of the pandemic, I have made a personal commitment to myself to truly take care of “myself” during this time. This commitment has forced me to prioritize my health (physical, mental and spiritual) and I encourage you all to do the same. I want to be honest when I say that this pandemic has definitely taken a toll on my mental health. I have my good days and my bad days, as I am sure all of you do too. On my bad days, I have learned not to be so hard on myself and to give myself downtime to pray, rest and reset. In closing I want you all to remember to be kind to yourselves and to take care of yourselves in all ways possible.
Dr. Amanda J. Montoya
Below you will find project updates from two Pueblo projects that received funding from the Chamiza Foundation.
River Source received support from the Chamiza Foundation in the Spring of 2019 for a project entitled “Connecting Youth with Traditional Knowledge and Ecological Science at Kewa Pueblo and Cochiti School”. With support from theChamiza Foundation, River Source led experiences in hands-on science in the field and classroom experiences to connectCochiti Pueblo and Santo Domingo Pueblo students to their land and water through the 2019-2020 school year. River Source staff engaged students and teachers in making connections between their daily lives and their local rivers, traditional usesof plants and water, and potential impacts, manmade and natural, on land and water quality. Students have been introduced toecological concepts, traditional ecological knowledge, and have explored their own relationship and responsibility to local waters and lands. Students were encouraged to define what watershed health means to them and how they want to see the natural landscapes in their own backyard be protected, preserved, and enjoyed. Through several conversations with the Santo Domingo Pueblo Governor’s office in February 2020, they secured permission to utilize tribal lands to run the program through 2020.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, they had to pivot their method of teaching. River Source asked teachers in early April what kind of support would be useful for them and their students during school closures that started in mid-March. One consistent message they heard was students had unequal access to the internet. This meant that, at least until the school and Pueblos were able to improve internet access, printed hand-outs would be the best option. They worked closely with the principals and teachers to get 3 activities out to the students. River Source has started using Facebook as a means to interact with students. They created their first Facebook Live event on how to build a water cycle at home. This activity enables youth to explore how the water cycle cleans dirt from water and to learn what a watershed is using a spray bottle and a tarp. To see the video go to: https://www.facebook.com/RiverSourceSF/videos/823745051484488/.Furthermore, they have also created other online education resources on the value of riparian areas and how to measure the health of riparian areas.
The Chamiza Foundation was thrilled to hear that River Source was willing to change their methods of teaching to fit the circumstances and to ensure that they achieved their project goals and successfully accomplished their learning outcomes. For more information on River Source, please visit https://riversource.net.
ZUNI YOUTH ENRICHMENT PROJECT
This year marked the 12th annual ZYEP Summer Camp. The summer camp was founded on the belief that Zuni youth deserve fun, engaging, and healthy activities to do over their summer break. The camp has grown from serving 20 youth to nearly 200 youth by providing a 4-week structured camp that focuses on physical activity, nutrition, agriculture, traditional art, Zuni culture, and resiliency. Older youth (Ages 15-24) are hired as camp counselors and act as positive role models and mentors for the younger campers. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, summer camp took a new form. ZYEP launched a history making “At Home” Summer Camp that still encompassed the core values and components of traditional summer camp but initiated it through weekly kits that were delivered to campers. These kits were based on weekly themes (sport/physical activity, nutrition/agriculture, resiliency, and art) and included all the materials and instructions needed to complete activities. Camp counselors were also hired, and they were provided training on how to be a “virtual” counselor. Counselors received training in technology use, communication skills, mental health and suicide prevention, mandated reporting procedures, and how to conduct weekly check-in’s and reflection calls with their campers. They even asked families to be closely involved with their campers’ activities through camp as best as they could in order to promote whole family engagement and wellness. Though they missed seeing campers and counselors in person, they were happy to still provide a new form of summer engagement during this challenging time.
ZYEP received beautiful pictures of campers and their families engaged with the weekly kits. They also received thank you cards that expressed their appreciation for providing fun, healthy activities for youth to do during this challenging time. Many families said “Summer camp brought joy into their home and brought them closer together.” One family in particular appreciated the structure that the summer camp provided for their camper who has autism. The weekly kits and instructions provided organization for this camper. The feedback motivated ZYEP to keep working through the challenges and aim to do better in their future programming. Ms. Tahlia Natachu, ZYEP Program Contact stated, “Our ZYEP families need us more than ever and we are ready to adapt to these new ways.” The Chamiza Foundation was overjoyed to hear of the success of this summer program given the unprecedented conditions we all find ourselves in. This story of program resilience is absolutely inspiring and uplifting to hear about.