Nihewan Foundation

Nihewan Foundation Public Awareness

The Nihewan Foundation is dedicated to furthering the education of not only Native American students but also non-Indian people who seldom have a chance at learning with us or about us. Public awareness about indigenous people beyond Indian Country – past, present, future; domestic and global - is an important issue at the Nihewan Foundation.

Native American people suffer from being misperceived all their lives. From childhood through adulthood, the absence of accuracy in books, television and movies, combined with a lack of accuracy in available teaching materials makes it difficult for non-Indian people to have accurate perceptions of their Native American peers. This results in lack of self identity and self esteem among indigenous people and contributes to ill health, school dropout, and the highest rate of suicide in the country. The suicide rate for Indian people is the highest in America, and more than twice the rate of all other non-white people.

"The Demographics of American Indians" from
The Institute for Educational Leadership, Inc.
Center for Demographic Studies

Low self-esteem and self-concept problems arose as children were taught that their own culture was inferior. Alberta Social Services Training Resources "Canada's Native People"

In 1995, the graduation rate for American Indians at a group of more than 300 colleges and universities was only 37 percent, the lowest among major ethnic minority groups. Carter and Wilson, 1997

Nihewan Foundation programs serve targeted audiences within North America, both Indian and non-Indian. Through websites, multimedia, magazine articles, workshops, networking conferences, presentations, speaking engagements, concerts, and the production of curricula for an interested public, the Nihewan Foundation shares focused, engaging information about Native American peoples.

Experience has shown that the global community too is hungry to be more accurately informed about indigenous people, their cultures and their contributions. The Foundation sponsored a Cradleboard Teaching Project networking conference in Hawaii which brought together 120 children and teachers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Norway.

In September of 2000, as Faculty in Session 382 of the prestigious Salzburg Seminar in Austria, founder Buffy Sainte-Marie brought awareness of the Nihewan Foundation's Youth Council on Race; Curriculum; and Cradleboard Teaching Project methods to 58 participating Fellows from 32 countries, eager to share information about engaging youth of the world in civic participation. Cradleboard methods are seen as a way to improve race relations between indigenous and colonial populations world wide. Several international teams serve on the Nihewan Youth Council on Race.

In 2019-2020, Buffy brought her band and members of the Regina Symphony to three Saskatchewan reserves for a concert plus a youth talent showcase and learning weekend about preparing an educational path into the professional creative arts called the Creative Native Project. In 2020, Creative Native was hosted at Ryerson University and Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, celebrating youth, community, and Indigenous creativity.