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PEAK Grantmaking

Bringing a New Value System to Philanthropy

My first memory of philanthropy was my naming ceremony. It was a hot summer day in New Town, North Dakota. I remember arriving at my grandma Teresa’s house and being met with endless hugs and kisses. It didn’t take long for a display of gifts to appear. When I saw them, I immediately thought back to conversations my mom had with family members about what gifts to prepare. That is the Arikara way of showing respect and giving thanks during this sacred exchange. From this memory forward, my experience with philanthropy has always been partitioned. In my mind, Native philanthropy has always been different from Western philanthropy. Native philanthropy is often expressed in the forms of potlatches and giveaways. Similar to my naming ceremony, the heart of the potlatch is centered on honoring and sharing with others to benefit the community and future generations. In exchanges, undercurrents of modesty are