‘Aha Punana Leo, Hilo, HI

children preparing to sing and dance in honoluluʻAha Pūnana Leo was formed in 1983 to reestablish and develop the Hawaiian language. During the 1920’s the Hawaiian language ceased to be spoken by children when schools began mandating that the curriculum be taught only in English. Since its formation, ʻAha Pūnana Leo has been a key force in changing legislation in the state of Hawaii, and also at the federal level, to lift the bans that formerly existed regarding the use of Hawaiian in schools.

ʻAha Pūnana Leo grew out of a discussion between a small group of language teachers and families who wanted their children to be educated in the Hawaiian language. They went to the most progressive preschool programs to find out what made them successful. A few of the families made a commitment to use only Hawaiian in the home. They decided to model their program after the Maoris of New Zealand, teaching the curriculum in Hawaiian and using no English in the classroom.

At present there are eleven preschools statewide in which the Hawaiian language is spoken, and it is the Pūnana Leo families that are the key factors in the 14 public schools into which the preschoolers matriculate. In addition, there are two model schools, Nawahiokalani’opu’u on the island of Hawaii, and Ke Kula Ni’ihau o Kekaha in Kekaha on the island of Kauai. Over the past 15 years, the number of Hawaiian-speaking children has increased from 30 to nearly 2,000.

Listen to a children’s performance (duration 27:57):

Visit their YouTube Channel:


Traditional Culture and Education

A movement to protect and perpetuate traditional Native culture is underway throughout the country. Lannan Foundation supports organizations that exist to revive or perpetuate traditional Native belief systems, traditional cultural practices, and traditional knowledge.

Language Preservation

You may review a few of our funded projects below.

Environmental Protection

Lannan Foundation has made it a priority to support efforts made by local Native communities to protect their lands and water from degredation and destruction. The foundation has also supported efforts by groups that implement and advocate for alternative, renewable energy systems.

Legal Rights

Lannan Foundation recognizes that the U.S. legal system can be an important means to advance the rights of indigenous peoples who are fighting to protect their traditional ways of life. The foundation supports legal efforts that benefit Native issues and causes, particularly in the area of environmental protection.

Special Projects

Lannan Foundation recognizes the need to occasionally step out of the regular grant program guidelines and invest in unique and critical projects. These special projects are developed through an invitation process, and are awarded funds outside of the regular Indigenous Communities Program grant budget.

Funding in Indigenous Communities

Cover of Lannan ICP Funding ReportBecause the foundation’s staff and board believe that indigenous peoples have important cultural traditions that should be shared with people around the world, it is pursuing creative ways to promote the values and visions of indigenous communities and projects from which it has learned over the years. Lannan believes that supporting indigenous communities has profound implications for the future of all cultures and ecosystems.

Traditional Native American Farmers Association, Santa Fe, NM

TNAFA director Clayton BrascoupeNative farmers are deeply concerned about the erosion of community support for agriculture. TNAFA, which now includes 50 families from 18 tribes, seeks to reverse the recent decline in farming by re-invigorating agricultural traditions and increasing economic opportunities for farmers.

Read more.

Environmental Justice for Maya Leaders Alliance

Maya leaders in the courtroomThe Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (IPLP) Program at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law secured a major victory for people in the Maya communities of southern Belize when, on June 28, 2010, the Supreme Court of Belize ruled in their favor.

Read more.

O’odham Rights Cultural and Environmental Justice Coalition

protest in sonoytaO’odham Rights was founded by ceremonial and traditional leaders of the O’odham peoples in Mexico and the United States in direct response to a proposal by a Mexican company to build a giant commercial hazardous waste landfill near villages on both sides of the border.

Read more.

Mattaponi Heritage Foundation, West Point, VA

mattaponi reservation in virginiaMattaponi River Saved - Lannan Foundation expresses its solidarity with the Mattaponi Tribe of Virginia in its courageous struggle to protect its ecological, historical and cultural resources for future generations.

Read more.

Ponca Tribe, Oklahoma, launches legal case against the Continental Carbon Company

ponca tribe child in oklahomaUPDATE: The Ponca Tribe recently celebrated a $10.5 million dollar settlement it reached with the Continental Carbon Company, which the tribe and individual tribal members had sued for damages caused by black dust created during years of the company’s carbon black plant operations in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Read more.

Indian Law Resource Center, Helena, MT

bobbie billie, seminole indianThe Indian Law Resource Center is a non-profit law and advocacy organization established and directed by American Indians. It provides legal assistance to Indian and Alaska Native nations working to protect their land, resources, human rights, environment, and cultural integrity. The principal goal of the Center is the preservation and security of Indian and other Native nations and tribes.

Read more.

Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, Crownpoint, NM

ap photo of churchrock mining in the navajo nationEastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) is working to stop the construction and operation of three new uranium solution mines in Navajo communities in northwestern New Mexico. Individuals from this organization are concerned about the impacts of proposed uranium solution mining on the Crownpoint region’s sole source of drinking water, the Westwater Canyon Aquifer.

Read more.

Picuris Pueblo Files Aboriginal Title Claim to Protect Cultural Site

San Lorenzo de Picuris Church by Jim McKenzie on FlickrFebruary 20, 2004 — The Picuris Pueblo, which received a grant from Lannan Foundation for legal expenses, announced that it has filed an aboriginal title claim in order to stop destruction of a sensitive cultural site by industrial mica mining companies.

Read more.

Blackfeet Reservation Development Fund

eloise cobellSince 1998 Lannan Foundation has supported the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior, which has been found guilty of breaching trust obligations to at least 300,000 American Indian individuals. The trust was established when the U.S. Congress broke up and parceled out land owned by a number of American Indian tribes.

Read more.

Sinte Gleska University, Mission, SD

sinte gleska university graduationThis grant provides funds for the design and construction of a gymnasium that will function as a sports facility as well as a site for university ceremonies on the campus of Sinte Gleska University. A leader in tribally controlled higher education, Sinte Gleska University serves the population of the Rosebud (Sicangu Lakota) community in the southern part of South Dakota.

Read more.

InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, NE Mendocino County, CA

Elk at Sinkyone WildernessWith significant support from Lannan, the nation’s first intertribal wilderness has been created on a 3,845-acre parcel of redwood forestland located along the Lost Coast north of Fort Bragg. The InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness land is only a small portion of the original indigenous Sinkyone Indian territory.

Read more.

Santa Clara Pueblo, Española, NM

Santa Clara Pueblo gatheringIn July 2000, Lannan Foundation awarded a grant to Santa Clara Pueblo in the amount of $4.5 million to allow the people to purchase more than 5,000 acres of their ancestral land, known as P’o Pii Khanu. The foundation also made grants that allowed the Pueblo to work with an attorney to help best define and assert the tribe’s legal rights to the land, known as Baca Location #1.

Read more.

Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance

maine indian basketmakers allianceIn 2013 Lannan Foundation made a grant for general operating support of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) in support of preserving and extending the ancient tradition of ash and sweetgrass basketmaking within Maine’s Native American community.

Read more.

Eyak Preservation Council

eyak preservation council logoThe Eyak Preservation Council (EPC), based in Cordova, Alaska, is a grassroots environmental and social change organization that was conceived on the day of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

Read more.