Led by former Program Officer Elizabeth Theobald Richards (Cherokee), the Ford Foundation responded to the call for a Native arts fund by engaging in a deep consultative process within Indian Country.
In an extensive feasibility study, the Ford Foundation gathered information from a wide variety of leaders in the Native arts and cultures field. A leadership circle of four advisors—Walter R. Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), Jayne Fawcett (Mohegan) and Elizabeth A. Woody (Navajo/Warm Springs/Wasco/Yakama)—provided guidance as the study included observations from Ford Foundation grantees and other field gatherings, existing literature, and research on operational and financial models for philanthropies.
The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation was incorporated on Oct. 3, 2007. Echo-hawk, Harjo and Woody served as founding Board Members for the foundation. On Mar. 28, 2008, the foundation received its Federal tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In 2009, the foundation opened its national headquarters in Vancouver, Wash., and hired its first President/CEO, T. Lulani Arquette (Native Hawaiian). In 2010, the foundation began its first grantmaking cycle and awarded its first round of funding.
Click here to read the Ford Foundation’s 2010 research summary, Native Arts and Cultures: Research, Growth, and Opportunities for Philanthropic Support.