Manahatta Fund Newsletter

Welcome to the Manna-hatta Fund Quarterly Newsletter, where you’ll find invitations, news, actions, stories, and resources about Indigenous communities in NYC and our region. If you don’t want to receive these emails 4x a year, you can simply unsubscribe by clicking the link in the footer.

Thank you for honoring the Native communities who make NYC home and the good work of American Indian Community House. Together we raised $86,352 in 2019 to honor the 50th Anniversary of American Indian Community House!

Invitations and Updates  from American Indian Community House

Count Us In! Did you know NYC has the largest urban population of Native people in all of North America? This year, AICH is gearing up to make sure Native people in NYC are counted – and get the services and provisions that are their right by treaty.

In the meantime, please join American Indian Community House at these special events next month:

Monday, March 9th, 7-9pm at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 W. 64th St., New York, NY 10023
Please join American Indian Community House and the American Indian Law Alliance to hear how the traditional knowledge and leadership roles that Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women have among their own Native American people have inspired and guided women from the early suffragette organizations to present-day feminists. Purchase tickets in advance

Native/Indigenous Studies, Here and Now: Conversation with Rick Chavolla and Winona LaDuke
Monday, March 16th, 11am-12:15pm at Brooklyn College, Gold Room, Student Center, 6th floor, 2705 Campus Road, BrooklynNY 11210

Please join the American Indian Community House at this free campus talk.

Native/Indigenous Knowledge-Keepers, Dinner, and Social
Friday, March 20th, 11am-9pm at the Whitney Museum,
99 Gansevoort, New York, NY 10014 

Join us for an exciting two-part event! From 11am-4pm American Indian Community House will host speakers and workshops led by Native/Indigenous Knowledge-Keepers designed to improve understanding on Indigenous lifeways and strategies to enhance work within and in collaboration with the Native/Indigenous community in business, professional fields and the arts.  Communal Dinner of Indigenous foods will be served from 5pm-6pm.  Dinner will be followed by a Native Social 6:30-9pm, which brings together diverse people from the larger community to enjoy Native dance in traditional regalia, Native drum group and singers, cultural speakers, and good conversation among old and new friends. All are welcome, priority seating to Native Elders. Please consult the AICH calendar for updates.

Take Action to Save the Shinnecock Hills in Long Island

The Shinnecock Nation, living in what is today called the Hamptons, is facing an uphill battle to protect their sacred lands and burial grounds from illegal development. Learn more about their struggle, sign the petition, make a phone call, write a letter, or join the Shinnecock and their allies in protests at the site.

Learn more about Indigenous issues

News from NYC (called Lenapehoking by the Lenni Lenape) and across North America (called Turtle Island by Indigenous Peoples.)

“Native American ‘land taxes’: a step on the roadmap for reparations”

– In San Francisco Bay Area, local residents and businesses can pay to help restore Indigenous land to Indigenous stewardship, as reported in The Guardian

“At the Met, Cree artist Kent Monkman asks visitors to confront North America’s colonial past”
– check out the incredible works of Kent Monkman (see above image) and how art museums are beginning to reckon with their colonial legacy

“New Jersey couple donate their land to Native Americans who ancestors once called it home”

– local land rematriation as reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer

“What New York City’s Indigenous people deserve”

– op-ed in NY Daily News by American Indian Community House’s Executive Director, Iakowi:he’ne’ (Melissa) Oakes and Manna-hatta Fund co-founder Elsa Asher

“Reseeding the Food System: An Interview with Rowen White”

– in-depth podcast interview with Mohawk seed saver Rowen White (whose people traditionally lived in and around New York State) about what seeds teach us about resilience

“After 184 years, Cherokees seek House delegate seat promised in treaty”

– Kim Teehee (see above photo) was an intern combing through dusty archives when she first learned of a largely forgotten agreement between her Cherokee Nation and the federal government. More than 25 years later, Teehee is at the center of a historic reckoning of the way Congress treats Native Americans, as reported in Roll Call.

“One woman’s plan to give back: ‘The land needs to be returned to Indigenous peoples'”

– An Ontario woman wants to return her land to the Alderville First Nation as an act of reconciliation, as reported on CBC Radio

“Indigenous Land Tax: One Way that RG Strives to Create Policies That Reflect Our Values”

– NYC based national nonprofit, Resource Generation, on why they are planning to make an annual gift to the Manna-hatta Fund

“Indigenous People Are Already Working ‘Green Jobs’ – but They’re Unrecognized and Unpaid”

– article by Native leader Nick Estes in The Intercept chronicling the complexities of green transition strategies that ignore or further harm Indigenous Peoples

“‘We’re Still Here’: Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebrations Reflects Ongoing Resistance to Colonization”

– American Indian Community House’s Executive Director, Iakowi:he’ne’ (Melissa) Oakes, on Democracy Now

“The Klamath Rivers now has the legal rights of a person”

– A Yurok Tribe resolution allows cases to be brought on behalf of the river as a person in tribal court, likely the first to do so for a river in North America, as reported in High Country News

“100 Ways to Support—Not Appropriate From–Native People”

– good tips to follow for all non-Native folks, as featured in Vice

“The True Native New Yorkers Can Never Truly Reclaim Their Homeland”

– Nearly 400 years after the alleged “sale of Manhattan,” some Lenape strive to reawaken their cultural heritage on the islands where their ancestors thrived, as reported in Smithsonian Magazine

“The Tribe that Brought a Damaged Shoreline Back to Life”

– in the Hamptons post-Sandy, members of the Shinnecock Nation have used traditional methods to successfully restore habitats, outpacing methods used by white settlers, as reported by the Earth Institute at Columbia University
Help spread the word! Consider sharing about Manna-hatta Fund with friends through social media (here are some sample posts) or by hosting a fundraiser.

AICH Hosts a Winter Art Market

The day of the art market actually started days before hand. The hardworking staff of AICH had done a mock layout of the space at 39 Eldridge, to ensure there would be enough space for the vendors and after a good deal of sweat and grit, it turns out, yeah, there was room. For not only vendors, but a stage, and a cafe lounge area! Yay. Unfortunately, we knew it’d have to come down, and that we’d have to set it all back up again, but reaching the halfway point of actualizing an event motivated everyone to make it happen all the more.


So on the day before the Market, the staff arranged the space again, and while that was easy and quick enough from practice, we were faced with the challenge of creating a space that appeals to the winter holidays, without the overt trappings of Settler holidays. We needed to Decolonize Winter, and I’m proud to say, Mission Accomplished.


The visual experience started at the ground floor, where in the middle of Chinatown, a building known for Karaoke proudly displayed a golden banner, making it very apparent that Indigenous people occupied this space. On entering, festive garlands guided you up an elevator, which opened on a lobby displaying maps of Native American and Canadian tribes, and a mannequin wearing and elegant velvet dress which hinted at a much bigger story. Past the lobby, Sheldon Raymore and Rick Chavoya greeted community members and visitors with smiles and welcomes. To the right of the entrance stood a shrine to the collective work AICH has done on Governors Island, next to a micro-installation of the Red Dress Project.


Each vendor sat against the walls with their wares fully displayed in front of them. The cafe style seating in the main area, where people enjoyed the incredible food prepared by Letitia, Matt, and Frances, food rescuers and caterers who help Occupy Kitchen. At the furthest corner from the entrance was a brightly lit backdrop with giant gift boxes. Lights twinkled everywhere, and proud banners depicting Pacific Northwest designs proclaimed the space as Indigenous space. The people there proclaimed the space as Indigenous space.


The smell of spiced apple cider invited everyone to take off their coats and have a visit, rather than to just shop and inquire. The brightly lit stage hinted at more than commerce to come.


Tohanash Terrant had many beads, hard to come by at prices and quality not of New York City, and her own work definitely belonged in a museum. Next to her was Kayla Looking Horse, who’s clutch purse made of leather and loom beadwork had yours truly, a Sioux-boy homesick. Corner to her was the Preston, Melanie, and Joy Tonpahote’s combined work made a dazzling array of unique earrings and so many pendants and bracelets only reinforced the spirit of an Indigenous space.


Pena Bonita showed many incredible prints made from a line of work inspired by her own children. Each picture could capture you for hours. Against the AICH headquarters’ walls was the proprietor of Mohawk Coterie and the Executive Director of AICH, with a wild menagerie of beaded ropes, and incredible earring done in contemporary Mohawk style.


In the middle of the room sat a very long table displaying items donated by each vendor, which were to be auctioned off, to raise funding for AICH.


At two pm, the one and only Tony Enos was announced to the stage, and looking like Santa’s glamorous personal trainer, where he performed an emotional rendition of “White Christmas” on guitar. When he sang “Feliz Navidad” there were only a few who didn’t sing a long, and we were treated to his new single, “Urban NDN’s” which stuck in my head for hours, in a good way. Then it was announced that AICH was invited back to Governors Island to do programming, in the same Admiral’s house again, in the coming spring.


The event saw many visitors from the Community as well as the random passerby who were enticed to join the space. The evening was capped off with a second performance from Tony Enos, and the start of a new event from the Thunderbird Community dancers who would be using the space after us.


The Winter art market was an event to show-case great work done by Indigenous people, in Indigenous space, and it more than did so. It was a great chance for the community to find cohesion, catch up on gossip, and finally meet the non-natiive community in our space.


It was you the community that really made this event one to remember, as we thank you for it. From all of us here at AICH, may all your holidays be merry and bright.


– Author, Talon Ksa