Native Communities, Policing, and Mass Criminalization

Hosted by NFG's Funders for Justice. Co-sponsored by Common Counsel Foundation, Criminal Justice Initiative, Native Americans in Philanthropy, and Native Voices Rising

Native Americans and Black communities are the two populations most impacted by mass criminalization and incarceration in the US. The criminalization of indigenous people on this continent began with genocide and slavery on the Spanish missions in California and the forced removal of Native people onto reservations. Today, Native people have the highest percentage of people shot by the police annually. For Native people who are in prison and separated from their families and communities, their faith practices are ignored or punished as chaplains often have no knowledge or cultural context for Native spiritual practices. This has created deep historical and intergenerational trauma.

Yet there is historical intergenerational wisdom that guides not only Native communities and nations, but also models for social change across the US. For example, restorative justice is rooted in indigenous traditions.

Despite this history, current conditions, and strengths, only a tiny amount of funding goes to Native communities. An even tinier amount to grassroots native organizations addressing these issues. Government funding is the primary source of funding for Native communities, which serves to maintain the status quo and does not support building any capacity for resisting US government state violence.

On September 25, 2017, Neighborhood Funders Group brought together four speakers from philanthropy and the field who spoke on policing and mass criminalization of Native communities; organizing and resistance struggles; and funding entry points to support this work.

The webinar slides are available below. Notes from the webinar are also available upon request. To learn more, please contact us at


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