September 5, 2023
Building the Fire Fund
Solidaire is honored to announce that the Indigenous Women’s Advisory Council has selected our network to be the home for the Building the Fire Fund, the first fund dedicated to Indigenous reproductive justice. Building the Fire is a critical piece of infrastructure in the Indigenous Reproductive Justice Movement, which maintains an intersectional understanding of bodily autonomy and safe and sustainable communities for Indigenous birthing people.
Building the Fire was launched three years ago under the leadership of the Indigenous Women’s Advisory Council, made up of Indigenous women from across Turtle Island who represent many nations and organizations while holding various pieces of work across the spectrum of reproductive justice. Their vision is for Indigenous women’s health and self-determination to be front and center in philanthropic investment. They seek to develop leaders, invest in the movement and connect the ecosystem of Indigenous reproductive justice.
“It is time to trust the leadership of Indigenous women.”
– Tired of Dancing to Their Song
Coya White Hat-Artichoker, who has guided the fund with the support of the Advisory Council for the past three years, now joins the staff of Solidaire as movement partnershipspractitioner focused on the next stage of Building the Fire.
“Moving to Solidaire allows us more flexibility to move resources to the field and ongoing building and expansion in a good way. The Advisory Council is led by Indigenous values and understands the sacred role of birthing people in our communities,” said Coya.
Our network is thrilled to learn from Coya’s experience as a movement organizer, network weaverand progressive force in philanthropy. A citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, based on the Rosebud Reservation, Coya was a founding member of the First Nations Two Spirit Collective and serves on the SisterSong board, a Solidaire movement partners. She is an author and researcher, with a background in community health and health equity. Coya has worked with several philanthropic organizations, including the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Funding Exchange Out Fund, Headwaters Fund, PFund and Bush Foundation.
Most recently, Coya was a program officer at Ms. Foundation for WomenBuilding the Fire was conceived after Ms. Foundation produced Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More With Less, which revealed that women and girls of color receive only 0.5% of philanthropic funding, with less than 0.01% benefiting Indigenous women and girls. Seed funding from the Collaborative for Gender and Reproductive Equity and has since attracted new and necessary funding partnerships.
In 2021 Coya collaborated with Zachary Packineau (a community health educator, organizer and researcher) to produce Tired of Dancing to Their Song: An Assessment of the Indigenous Women’s Reproductive Justice Funding Landscape. The report puts the divestment of Indigenous communities into the context of colonization and institutional racism and provides a powerful road map for philanthropy to flank the emerging field of Indigenous reproductive justice.
Indigenous sovereignty and intersectional feminism are core values of Solidaire. Our network is dedicated to the success of the Indigenous Reproductive Justice Movement and is ready to accompany the Building the Fire Fund on its journey, guided by the Indigenous Women’s Advisory Council.