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Org Spotlight: United Indians of All Tribes Foundation

Written in collaboration with United Indians of All Tribes Foundation:

Founded 51 years ago, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation (UIATF) is a social service provider, community center, and cultural home for urban Indians. Their mission is to provide educational, cultural and social services that reconnect Indigenous people in the Puget Sound region to their heritage by strengthening their sense of belonging and significance as Native people. Starting with a people’s occupation of Fort Lawton in 1970 to reclaim the land base as a center for local urban Indians, it has grown into a hub of social service support that meets the shifting needs of its community and provides holistic programming for every age and stage in life.

Communities Rise (CR) was honored to have UIATF join the COO Capacity Building Cohort in 2020, represented by Jessica Juarez-Wagner (she/her), their recently hired Development Director. This is a newer role within the organization, and Jessica says that it was incredibly influential to have additional support in learning how to operate in this role. When reflecting on her time in the cohort, Jessica said “…being able to [work on] goal setting and having someone to check in with about my goals and where I was going and what I needed was really helpful.”

Across their time in the cohort, one of UIATF’s goals was to create a Development Plan that would allow the organization to diversify their funding, create a multi-year plan, and invest in the human side of what they do. Jessica wanted to build the capacity of their organization in a manner that recognized the humanity of their work, both internally for staff and externally for their broader community. UIATF is home to over 12 programs dedicated to supporting urban Indians, so finding ethical and sustainable sources of income to support their ever-growing work is essential.

In line with these goals, Jessica is excitedly planning for Indigenous People’s Day in October. This year, UIATF is hoping to be able to have a large celebration at Daybreak Star — although it is unclear at this moment what will be possible for the health and safety of their community. These festivities center around coming together for food and dance across age, families, and tribes. The focus will be particularly on children for this year, giving honor to the survivors of Residential Schools and for the children whose remains have been found and returned to their families. With growing investigations into the mass student graves created by residential boarding schools within Canada and the United States, UIATF is creating critical space for the urban Indian/First Nations population to come together to grieve and begin healing after years of systemic violence.

Organizations like United Indians are role models for what holistic community services and support can look like, and we were grateful for the chance to have them in one of our cohorts and to sit down with Jessica to talk more. If you’re interested in supporting the life-changing work at UIATF, learn about some ways to get involved here. If you want to invest in community-driven capacity building spaces, like our Capacity Building cohorts, you can support Communities Rise here.