Redefining and decolonizing philanthropy in American Indian communities

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This review article critically analyzed patterns of American Indian philanthropy that persist in Montana to determine the meaning of doing with people as opposed to doing to or doing for people. We contextualized successful and innovative educational philanthropic efforts in Montana, a rural state in northwestern United States, by describing both the challenges and successes when American Indians and non-Natives collaborate. The basis of this review comes from a content analysis of information distributed by philanthropic foundations and organizations that serve American Indian communities in Montana and is framed by existing literature on philanthropy which includes writings by American Indian educators and social justice activists as well as social science research. Regarding author positionality, we are non-Native academics who have more than 50 years combined experience working with and learning from American Indian community members. The review explored how American Indian and non-Native philanthropic organizations have worked with American Indian communities to support decolonizing projects that facilitate Indigenous nation-building. Our recommendations highlight an acceptance that Westernized definitions of philanthropy are not universal and cultural humility is essential to the success of projects that enhance American Indian sovereignty.




Carjuzaa, Jioanna, Ruff, William G., & Henderson, David. (2016). Redefining and decolonizing philanthropy in American Indian communities. Journal of Global Research in Education and Social Science, 8(2), 110-122.
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