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Yesterday, the Return to the Heart Foundation celebrated Earth Day by honoring 44 Indigenous women leaders and their efforts to protect Mother Earth through its Traditional Helpers and Healers grant program. 

Led by Indigenous women, Return to the Heart Foundation is a 501(c)(3) that supports projects that embrace traditional ways of living. It focuses on healing through storytelling, community involvement, and environmental justice, all rooted in a deep connection to the Earth. 

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The foundation has issued more than 100 grants to Indigenous women leaders through its Traditional Helpers and Healers micro-grants program. The funding supports recipients in revitalizing traditional ways of life through their communities with projects that include farming, language, ancestral knowledge, food, medicine, ceremonies. 

This year's recipients include: 

Josie Heyano (Tanana Tribal Council)

Antoinette Halvorsen (Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in)

Cheryl Horn (Fort Belknap Assiniboine)`

Christina Castro (Taos Pueblo & Jemez Pueblo)

Dr. Carma Corcoran (Chipewa Cree)

Elise Bill-Gerrish (Muckleshoot)

Joann Horn (Yupik)

LaShon Cate (San Felipe Pueblo)

Nellie Davis (Walker River Paiute)

Sateiokwen Bucktooth (Akwesasne Mohawk)

Shayna Gurtler Rowe (Curyung Tribal Council) 

Sierra Buffalohead (Ponca & Omaha)

Susan Albright (Pyramid Lake Paiute) 

Amanda Singer (Navajo)
Healing through Hozho

Aspen Mirabal (Taos Pueblo)
Community Healing through Indigenous Childbirth Education

Casandra Stouder (Navajo)
Healing the Spirit, Empowering the Future

Chasity Salvador (Pueblo of Acoma)
Breathing Oceans in the Desert- A Gathering of Pueblo Women & Medicine Plant Relatives 

Dawn Manuelito (Navajo)
Understanding Fuel for the Body from the Inside Out

Dusty Nelson (Oglala Sioux)
Lakota Children’s House

Jacqueline Alcantar (Oglala Sioux)
Sewing for Healing

Janelle Hummingbird (Pueblo of Acoma)
Healing Horses Program 

Jessica Stago (Navajo)
Elect Nihi’zaahni

Keesha Nanalook (Manokotak Village)
Prevention Grant 

Kimberly Smith (Diné)
Love on the Land

Lauren Small Rodriquez (Northern Cheyenne)
Northern Cheyenne Women & Girls Cultural Wellness Workshop

Lorna Martinez (Taos Pueblo)
Aspen Song Kids 

Malory Simpson (Tulalip Tribes of Washington)
Together, We’re Better

Marian Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo)
Our Pueblos from Nuclear Colonialism

Marlene Marion (Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone)
Sweat Bath Ceremony 

Meek Watchman (Diné)
Diné Aerial Arts 

Michelle Scenandoah (Oneida)
Indigenous Auntie & Niece Empowerment Project

Otaka Redhawk (Yuki/Wylacki/Little Lake of the Round Valley Indian Tribes)
Indigenous Women’s Healing Retreats 

Rebecca Cesspooch (Uta White River Band, Uintah & Ouray)
Resilience, It Comes in Phases

Theresa Stevens (Menominee)
Healing Thru Tradition

Torah Zamora (Ketchikan)
Adaawx Sessions

Viola Waln (Sicangu Lakota)
Sicangu Strong- Gardening For Health 

Misti Toineeta (Crow)
Blessed Beginnings

Marissa Naranjo (Kewa Pueblo)
Traditional Tewa Buwah Making 

Lestina Saul-Merdassi (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate)
MMIR Grassroots Formation Omaha Chapter

Veronica Yepez (Shoshone)
YAHAW- Yoga & Healing Arts Wellness 

Deanne Morris (Blackfeet)
Traditional Leader Blackfeet Beaver Bundle Holder

Buffie Schmidt (Northern Pomo)
Northern Pomo Language Book 

Veronica Yepez (Shoshone)
YAHAW- Yoga & Healing Arts Wellness

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About The Author
Kaili Berg
Author: Kaili BergEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Reporter
Kaili Berg (Aleut) is a member of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Nation, and a shareholder of Koniag, Inc. She is a staff reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Berg, who is based in Wisconsin, previously reported for the Ho-Chunk Nation newspaper, Hocak Worak. She went to school originally for nursing, but changed her major after finding her passion in communications at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.