2018/19 ILI Fellows Cohort at Red Shirt Overlook in Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Photo by Melisa Cardona
In September 2018, ILI Partner hosted the first of three place-based intensives for ILI Fellows in Lakota Territory/South Dakota. The five-day leadership immersion brought together the second cohort of ILI Fellows for shared learning, personal exchange and direct experience with the true history and sacred places in Lakota Territory.
“This work is so important,” said First Peoples Fund President Lori Pourier. “The partners who came together to start ILI
have long term relationships, but we need to widen the circle and provide space for other arts & cultural leaders who voices are an important part of the larger story.”
Each part of the ILI Lakota intensive followed the values of the Lakota Oyate and of the host organization. Placing emphasis on our relationship to land, ceremony and language combined with a commitment to a social justice perspective was key. “It was important that ILI fellows look at this incredible opportunity in the context and lens of movement work,” said Lori. “These arts & cultural leaders can take so much of what they learn at ILI intensives back to their own communities to put what they learned into action.” “More importantly, they leave with a better understanding of Lakota ways of being (WoLakota)” she added.
“Sharing our history is often hard for others to hear and experience, but it’s a critical part of addressing the oppression that persists in all forms today.”
“Sharing our history is often hard for people to hear and experience, but it’s a critical part of addressing the oppression that persists in all forms today. By showing our own dedication to truth and how resilient we are, we are modeling a type of leadership that is built on values.” Pourier and host facilitator/culture bearer and First Peoples Fund, Community Spirit Award recipient, Lynette Two Bulls worked with the other ILI partners and facilitators to create an experience that exposed ILI Fellows to the core values of generosity, vulnerability, humility, inter-generational wisdom, and heart – and helped them navigate those values through exposure to history, new ideas and on deeply personal levels.
First Peoples Fund President Lori Pourier introduces her relative, Sean Sherman (Oglala) “The Sioux Chef” for his live demo presentation and dinner on “Revitalizing Native American Cuisine.” See more about the dinner here.
It was essential to connect the Fellows with empowered leaders who represent those values too. Issues ranging from economic development to food sovereignty to Indigenous rights & responsibilities carried the four main topics of the ILI Curriculum: Who We Are, Where We Are, How We Work, Why We Matter. See highlights & resources from the ILI Lakota Territory intensive here.
“In the end,” said Lori. “…it was very important for us to convey our authentic experience here in Lakota Territory. Being a good host requires ones of our highest values: generosity. But we also wanted the experience to be real and from a place of truth. That type of generosity is part of our way of life.”
ILI Partners (left to right): National Association of Latino Arts & Culture, Adriana Gallego, Chief Operating Officer; Alternate ROOTS, Michelle Ramos, Executive Director & Carlton Turner, now Founding Director of Sipp Culture; First Peoples Fund, Lori Pourier, President; and PA’I Foundation, Vicky Holt Takamine, Executive Director.