2022 Indigenous Communities Fellowship

Selected

Rematriation Public Awareness Campaign

Indigenous Knowledge Keepers sharing their insight on customs, ceremonies, and languages to educate others about their traditional ways of knowing.

Team Lead

Michelle Schenandoah

Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Rematriation

What is the name of your solution?

Rematriation Public Awareness Campaign

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Indigenous Knowledge Keepers share their insight with others to educate others about their traditional ways of knowing (customs/ceremonies/languages)

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

As social media platforms like Facebook are unbundled and web3 emerges, Indigenous peoples again face a choice, if and how to engage with technologies that were not designed by or for us. Our traditional ways of being “social” and sharing information are reliant on intimate, in-person gatherings that happen around kitchen tables, at community gatherings, or in ceremony. As we engage the digital world, our conversations are often siloed into ones that we can have publicly and the private, off-line community discussions that are shaping the future of our Nations. Haudenosaunee women in particular are in need of a place that is just for us. Four years ago, we created an exclusive Facebook group to share our dreams and ideas with each other, but data security concerns made this an imperfect solution.  A history of exploitation makes it vital that our women feel safe when discussing matters paramount to survival and well-being. COVID-19 further challenged us to find new, data sovereign ways to connect. In response, Rematriation is expanding our platforms and launching a login portal on our website and a custom app. This will serve our growing community of 1,400+ Haudenosaunee and Indigenous women and provide an additional trustlayer.

What is your solution?

Our solution is to improve on data sovereign, Indigenous women only digital platforms that serve as an extension of the trustlayer created in our sacred, annual, in-person gatherings. We serve a Sisterhood of 1,400 women organically Returning the Sacred to the Mother. Our aim is to grow our relationships and shared healing with one another in a virtual space. Our app and members only login-in section of our website are designed exclusively and especially for Haudenosaunee and Indigenous women. Our platforms are a space where our women can access security, Sisterhood, community and culture 24/7/365. Our website customizes Wordpress to highlight culturally relevant imagery, design and a personalized experience on the login side. We developed a customized app that features interactive elements such as personalized meditations, live morning discussion style podcast shows, and topic specific groups. We even held our annual gathering and livestreamed to our app. We are making existing technologies work for us, by only engaging applications that mirror and are complimentary to our cultural norms, values and traditions. Where there is a gap, we are piecing and creating elements together in creative ways to ensure that our community is served in the most meaningful, representative and relevant ways possible. 

Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit? In what ways will your solution benefit this community?

Rematriation headquarters are nestled in the heart of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy on Onondaga lands. (Now known as Central New York state) This matters because our work purposefully reaches outward from our central fire and core values to the furthest boundaries of our nations including our Western and Eastern doorkeepers. We serve six distinct nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora) which have been bound together by the Great Law of Peace for 1,000 years. Our communities are located across Turtle Island, now known as North America. Guided directly by Clan Mothers, Faithkeepers and a Sisterhood of spiritually and traditionally grounded women, our team creates solutions that amplify and compliment the brave healing work that so many of our women are choosing for themselves. Our digital work is innovative because we do not exclusively rely on social networking to learn about the needs and interests of our community. Annual in person gatherings and outreach provide a window into the hearts and minds of our women. 

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Rematriation is a 100% Indigenous women-led, intergenerational team of 6 with a 100% Indigenous women-led board. Among our team, we carry the wisdom of an Oneida Faithkeeper, a formerly elected Oneida Chief, a mid-life Oneida mother, a filmmaker Diné Gen Z, Seneca traditional university student and a young energetic Oneida woman. Our team are avid volunteers in each of their communities and beyond. They find ways to give back and practice a philanthropic way of living. These women are leaders among their peers and beyond. Recently, our Executive and Creative Director traveled with the Indigenous delegation to the Vatican. We are holders of our ancestral history as well as making history today!  

Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Syracuse, NY, USA

Our solution's stage of development:

Growth

How many people does your solution currently serve?

1400+

Why are you applying to Solve?

We recognize that when our women heal, our men, children and non-binary peoples have a greater chance to heal as well. Our women shape the trajectory of our nations. When we have space to heal and nourish ourselves we are able to have direct impact on our peoples health and wellness, education, food sovereignty and future financial security. Our work is deeply aligned with all aspects of this challenge because these are precisely the topics that our women are discussing in our closed platforms. Our solution provides space and support for our women to create and grow their own solutions. 

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development, etc.)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Michelle Schenandoah

Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your Team Lead.

Oneida Nation, NY

Is the Team Lead a resident of the United States?

Yes

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Promote holistic and culturally informed mental or physical health programming for Native youth, elders, or families including but not limited to foster youth, veterans, and families with members who are disabled.

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Our work at Rematriation has been formally emerging for about four years and has grown exponentially in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We are currently at the prototype stage because although we are a formally registered 501(c)(3), we are currently primarily serving Haudenosaunee women. While we are inclusive of other Indigenous women, men and Two Spirit folks who may want to join us, our current cultural orientation, original content and audience is Haudenosaunee women focused. We have 1,400 Haudenosaunee and Indigenous women actively engaging our platforms. We have been struggling to sign up Indigenous Sisters since we launched last fall 2021. Financially, we are also still in the prototype stage and are actively seeking partners interested in helping us grow our work. 

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

There is currently no similar networking or community app that connects Haudenosaunee women and even more broadly Indigenous women across Turtle Island. By making it easier, more accessible and faster for Indigenous women to communicate with each other we are combatting feelings of isolation and loneliness while simultaneously charting futures for our nations. The ways in which we are applying traditional knowledge and technologies to the digital space is especially innovative. For example, the ability for our women to listen to the Thanksgiving Address in 6 Haudenosaunee women, then pop over to a group discussing how to make a butternut squash or drug addiction and recovery and then tune into a live video stream interview with an Indigenous woman entrepreneur beaming in from Squamish land is unprecedented. Unlimited possibilities emerge when our women feel connected, supported and are provided with a platform where they can pitch ideas just as easily as they can consume content. 

Year One: 

1) Sign up more than 1000 Indigenous women to our digital safe space app. Create and implement a public awareness and outreach campaign. 

2) Hire a Storytelling Associate to assist with promotion, public awareness and community engagement of Indigenous women across Turtle Island (North America). This person will assist in reaching goals of this solution. 

3) Establish regular engagement session on our digital safe space app with Indigenous women. i.e. traditional customs, crafting, artistic practices, languages and gatherings. This will be accomplished with assistance of Rematriation staff, volunteers and Indigenous women that are part of and using the app. 

Year Two through Year Five:

4) Continue to sign up Indigenous women to our digital safe space app. We will used new and innovative ways to reach out and attract more Indigenous women to the spaces.

5) Hire additional staff as needs grow. Specifically we will need website and app designers/developers to build on what we have now. Community Engagement Manager, Artists In Residence, Auntie Wellness Manager, Knowledge Keepers and Administrative staff like finance, fundraising, human resources and executive leadership.

6) Have an organic digital safe space for Indigenous women to share openly, honestly and lovingly among one another. This space will be monitored by our staff to ensure women feel safe and can share vulnerability. Additional in-person and digital spaces will be created based on needs, requests and viability. 

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Rematriation is proud to live and breathe our traditional ways of knowing. As we all commit to return the sacred to The Mother, we live by rematriating principles such as embodying blue and green sustainable spaces. We support our ways of being by living on the land and supporting sustainable communities. We support local food sovereignty initiatives and volunteer in community events that increase wellness in family circles. We can provide the number of community members served, supports that are given and where we are able to offer those supports. To date, we have supported in New York state, province of Ontario and we hope to increase our tangible outreach. As for digital connection, we have reached across the United States of America, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. Once we return to in-person events, we hope that Indigenous women will continue to gather with us, from all over the world. We also gather feedback and listen to the Indigenous Women on their wants and needs. 

What is your theory of change?

We are proud to be part of an emerging movement of Indigenous narrative changemakers. Organizations such as NDN Collective are doing powerful resistance work deeply tied to frontline activism. Others such as Illuminative are launching massive campaigns such as #NotYourMascot and leading innovative research studies on Indigenous representation in media. Our work is complimentary, but distinct. We distinguish ourselves from peer organizations by creating spaces exclusively for Indigenous women to grow and heal. Our public work is also unique. Our engagement with the public follows our teachings of the Two Row Wampum belt which underscores a relationship of coexistence and mutual respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island. As Haudenosaunee women, we are the carriers of the world's oldest living democracy. We bring forth a narrative that predates the influence of colonialism and one in which Indigenous women are inherently respected. Our narrative is contemporary, but it is also over 1,000 years old. Grounding our work in our Haudenosaunee perspective, can only be done by us. 

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The core technology that powers our solution is the traditional ways our people have gathered, communicated and shared knowledge for millennia. We use contemporary technologies to enhance, replicate where possible and expand our traditional ways of gathering and apply them to digital settings. As a small team, we currently use widely available and where possible free technologies to produce and disseminate our original articles, podcasts and films. Our platforms are hosted by Wordpress (website) and Honeycommb (app). We also integrate with platforms such as Vimeo, Soundcloud and Mailchimp to engage as wide an audience as possible. We are a small open-minded team eager to grow and experiment with new technologies with the intent of benefiting our communities. In the future, we anticipate our multi-media content to include innovations such as 360 degree videos, holographics, AR/VR and AI. We have recently started playlists in Spotify to eventually share out with our network. 

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 15. Life on Land
  • 16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

In which states do you currently operate?

  • New York

In which states will you be operating within the next year?

  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Nonprofit

How many people work on your solution team?

FT staff-2, Contractors-3, Intern-1

How long have you been working on your solution?

Two years

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Rematriation is a 100% Indigenous women-led, intergenerational team of 6 with a 100% Indigenous women-led board. Among our team, we carry the wisdom of an Oneida Faithkeeper, a formerly elected Oneida Chief, a mid-life Oneida mother, a filmmaker Diné Gen Z, Seneca traditional university student and a young energetic Oneida woman. We plan on growing our organization and are inclusive of all peoples and support diversity, inclusion and equity. We are considered a marginalized group and uplift all those we come into contact with. 

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

As Haudenosaunee women, we lead following the direction of our Clan Mothers, Faithkeepers and a Sisterhood of over 1,400 Indigenous women with whom we dream, grow and heal alongside. Additionally, we draw on our collective experience and training in traditional leadership, public service, law, digital media, journalism and international diplomacy to actualize our vision.

All of our original content is inspired by closed conversations that happen in community spaces we create solely for Indigenous women. This means that our work represents the heart of a group of Indigenous women committed to embracing and asserting our full matrilineal authority. We consider this to be a unique and values-driven approach to narrative change. 

Our decision-making process also includes the voices of our children, our Elders and the lessons of Mother Earth. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is bound together by the Great Law of Peace and it is this specific legacy of peace — which keeps us united to this day — that makes us uniquely capable to envision a new future for this land based in balance, equity, fairness, honesty, and integrity. Our platform gives voice to women of the oldest continuous democracy on earth, one that has existed in peace for more than 1,000 years.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

We are currently a registered 501(c)(3) charity and plans for sustainable funding include:

·       Multi-year funding agreements from funders/donors

·       Researching social enterprise businesses

·       Researching charging for services that are aligned with our principles

·       Creating partnerships that align with our principles and support our work financially and with other resources

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

We have other proposals in with potential donors and funders. Here is a list of who we have been working with and amounts received for this fiscal year:

NoVo                        $50,000.00

Native Voices Rising  $18,000.00

Decolonizing Wealth  $125,000.00

Thriving Women        $30,000.00

Seven Generation Fund $20,000.00

NY State Dept of Health $10,000.00

Return to the Heart Microgrant $1,500.00

Solution Team

  • Michelle Schenandoah Founder & Director , Rematriation / Kanenhi:io Ionkwaienthos
 
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