40% of Native Americans live in sub-standard, overcrowded housing.
Who is PWNA?
PWNA is a nonprofit with eight programs for poverty-stricken reservations: American Indian Education Fund, Northern Plains Reservation Aid, Southwest Reservation Aid, Navajo Relief Fund, Southwest Indian Relief Council, Sioux Nation Relief Fund, Native American Aid, and Reservation Animal Rescue. PWNA provides the administration, accounting, and fundraising for these programs, over and above the actual material aid, education, and relief services. PWNA is not a third party, and you may restrict your contribution to your program of choice simply by writing "Restricted" on your check or return form. This way, 100% of your donation goes to your program of choice.
Are you a nonprofit organization? Is my contribution tax deductible?
Yes, PWNA is a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt charity. Our Federal Tax ID is 47-3730147. An independent, certified public accountant firm, as described by the IRS, prepares our Financial Statement and Audit. Your contribution to PWNA is tax deductible.
Who do you help?
We work with reservation programs located in our priority states when they request our services, provided their programs fit with our offerings and guidelines. We emphasize services for the most vulnerable — the Elderly and the children. Many of PWNA’s services can benefit these populations, providing food and healthcare items to practical holiday gifts and school supplies. What we provide depends on what will meet the specific needs of each Program Partner and their community. In other words, we strive to get the right goods to the right people.
What percentage of what you collect goes to Native Americans?
What happens to the money the government allocates for Native Americans?
Although the BIA has a large budget to serve the 573 federally recognized tribes, it has been cited as the least effective government agency and the most mismanaged. About 68% of BIA funding is directly used in behalf of the tribes, mostly in the form of contracts, grants or compacts for social services, job training, school facilities, some housing improvement, and land or management concerns. About 32% of BIA funding is used for disaster relief; education and child welfare; tribal governments, courts and law enforcement; reservation roads and management of reservation trust lands, assets and resources; and general assistance. The 32% also covers the Office of Field Operations with 12 regional offices and over 80 agencies that carry out the BIA’s mission at the tribal level. At least 80% of BIA employees (nearly 7,000 employees) are Native or Alaskan Native.
Don’t all Native Americans receive a monthly check from the government?
No. Government benefits received by Native Americans depend on many factors. Many Native Americans are veterans or disabled. Others receive social security income from years of working on the railroad, washing dishes, or waitressing. In the areas where we work, the main source of governmental aid is energy assistance and food commodities, although many Elders say it is hard for them to wade through the line to receive the commodities. There is also TANF assistance for unemployed mothers, which often requires the recipients to volunteer for 40 hours a week in a supervised program.
Simply put, budget cutbacks and governmental policies have made it hard for many Native Americans to feed their families. With housing in disrepair and overcrowded, many Native Americans on the reservations lack any permanent address. This makes them ineligible to receive food stamps or public assistance. In remote communities, those who are able to receive food stamps frequently lack the transportation to go off the reservation and shop at a regular grocery store where they could stretch their food stamp value. In many reservation communities, there is only a convenience store where food options are limited and pricey. In these stores, the food stamps don't go very far.
What about the money made from casino and other gaming operations?
Contrary to popular belief, among the 573 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., only about 15% operate prosperous casinos (fewer than 100, according to the National Indian Gaming Association). PWNA serves reservations with the highest need in the U.S. In fact, the research shows that casinos need to be within 50 miles of a metro area (with 10,000 or more residents) to be highly profitable. In our experience, the rural casinos do not have enough traffic to generate large profits — the casinos do create a few tribal jobs. Some of the tribes with profitable casinos do help other tribes, but even that is regulated by the government.
How can I trace my Native American ancestry?
Can I visit a reservation?
Please visit the official tribal website of the tribe or reservation that you would like to visit. You can also learn more on the PWNA Blog by searching for "can I visit a reservation."
Can I donate items?
Because we serve entire groups, such as every Elder at a Senior Center, we need items donated in bulk quantities and in like kind. For more information on donating bulk items such as new toys, clothing, school supplies, or other needed items, please call our Donor Relations Department at (800) 416-8102.
Do you employ Native Americans?
PWNA is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, or gender. Every position is filled with the most skilled candidate for the job. We have a diverse staff, including Native Americans and we encourage Native Americans to apply for any opening for which they qualify.
Do Native Americans have to stay on the reservations?
One-third of Native Americans live on the reservations. They are free to leave the reservations, but leaving family behind is difficult for many. Family is very important to Native Americans and, for most, their reservation is "home."
Leaving the reservation also means a loss of community support. Families on the reservation sometimes combine their resources in an effort to stay together. Some willing candidates are unable to leave, due to a lack of transportation. Many do leave, however, to find work or complete a college education. In turn, they help support the ones they left behind.
How can I adopt a Native American child?
Most tribes do not allow their children to be adopted outside of the tribe. The Indian Child Welfare Act expressly discourages this. Adoption is not an acceptable plan unless the child's tribe concurs with a permanent termination of parental rights and adoption. In the case of a permanent adoption, the social worker typically looks for: 1) a member of the child's extended family, 2) other members of the child's tribe, 3) other Indian families of similar Indian heritage, or 4) other Indian families.
Children placed outside of the tribe, even in foster care, lose a sense of belonging unless they maintain their connection with their extended family, their tribe, and their caretakers. The extended family holds great importance within the Indian culture, and Indian children usually remain with one of their many grandmas.
How can I talk to a Chairperson?
All of our Chairpersons are primarily Native American Program Partners who share the needs of people living on the reservations, as do the hundreds of Native community partners we work with year-round. They advise us on the changing needs of the people and help us portray conditions accurately and respectfully in our messaging to donors.