A family sits together on the floor in a classroom. The two parents are holding open picture books to the same page, while their young child smiles and crawls nearby.

First Nations Development (First Nations) has announced the 10 outstanding Indigenous leaders selected for the 2023 Cohort of the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship.

Conceived and facilitated by First Nations and The Henry Luce Foundation (Luce), the fellowship – now in its fourth year – is designed to identify, support, and convene Native American knowledge holders and knowledge makers who embody exceptional creativity and progressive and critical thinking, and who have the potential to significantly move forward their fields in ways that will ultimately lead to broad, transformative impacts for Native communities and beyond.

Over the last four years, 43 Indigenous leaders have been selected for the prestigious fellowship, which has become a key component of First Nations’ overall work to strengthen Native communities, including advancing Native food sovereignty, protecting Native resources and assets, promoting Native language learning, and investing in Native youth, said First Nations President and CEO Michael Roberts.

“We are honored and inspired to see this population grow. Every fellow is a testament to the skills, talent, and knowledge found throughout Indian Country, and we are fortunate to be able to continue investing in these leaders and the value they bring to their communities and the future,” Roberts said.

Sean T. Buffington, Vice President of the Henry Luce Foundation, concurred, saying “I’ve seen firsthand with every cohort the fantastic work of these individuals, and we are excited to support them and their contributions to Native communities and beyond.”

Selected fellows receive a monetary award of $75,000 and access to additional resources for training and professional development. They also commit to convening three times during the first year of the two-year Fellowship to share and grow their knowledge, projects, and drive to achieve their personal and community goals.

The 2023 cohort of Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellows was selected by an Indigenous advisory committee. Ten candidates were selected from over 250 applicants in a competitive, two-phase application, peer-reviewed process.

About Sara Chase Merrick

Sara L. Chase Merrick, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Shinnecock Nation

Knowledge Field: Language activist and educator
Merrick will pilot a Hupa language nest, which will include recruiting families to participate; providing daily immersion instruction for students; creating, using, and expanding current Hupa language immersion curriculum; training teachers; and providing support for families to continue language use at home. Merrick will also disseminate knowledge gained through this process via social media, conference presentations, and possibly a publication with a learner-teacher cohort.