VIDEO Report: Crystal Echo Hawk announces new nonprofit initiative IllumiNative

ICT editorial team

IllumiNative is designed to increase the visibility and challenge the negative narrative regarding Native Nations

Video by Mark Trahant

Video editing and story by Vincent Schilling

At the NCAI 75th Annual Conference, Crystal Echo Hawk, President of Echo Hawk Consulting, took a few minutes to discuss her company’s new non-profit initiative, IllumiNative. According to Echo Hawk, IllumiNative is designed to increase the visibility and challenge the negative narrative regarding Native Nations and peoples in American society.

In this video interview, Echo Hawk talked about how, for decades, the lack of representation and information about Native peoples has perpetuated damaging myths and stereotypes.

As described on the IllumiNative site:

Native peoples rank at or near the bottom of most socio-economic indicators – such as educational attainment, domestic violence, and poverty – and are often portrayed in popular entertainment, the news media, educational curricula and other influential sources as ‘noble savages’ of days gone by. But research shows that a more powerful, more accurate, and more inspiring narrative about the contemporary Native experience – one of innovation, creativity, resilience and community – is being overlooked and obscured the negative one.

During the video, Echo Hawk discusses such issues as education of Native allies, the damage of Native mascots, ICWA, Elizabeth Warren and how we as Native people can “take back our story.”

She asked people visit the IllumiNative site page:

“We have big things coming in 2019,” says Echo Hawk.

About IllumiNative

IllumiNative was founded by Crystal Echo Hawk, President of Echo Hawk Consulting, and a group of respected Native artists, thought leaders and allies, to capitalize on the findings of Reclaiming Native Truth – the largest public opinion research and strategy setting initiative ever conducted for, and about, Native Americans. The data presented in Reclaiming Truth project concluded that pop culture, media and K-12 education drive and perpetuate the negative stereotypes and myths and has led to the erasure of Native peoples.

By honing IllumiNative’s focus on these drivers, this initiative will provide opportunities to not only substantially increase accurate and positive representations of Native peoples, but also positively impact policy and end the continued discrimination and disparities faced by Native communities.

By supporting and illuminating contemporary Native voices, stories, issues and ideas in popular culture and influential social institutions – including the entertainment industry, media, K-12 education, philanthropy, and government – IllumiNative advances an important and powerful new narrative about Native peoples through the following:

• Messaging: Developing and sharing fact-based messaging and materials that advance a more positive, inspiring and accurate narrative about Native peoples and Native communities.

• Amplifying: Developing a national campaign in partnership with a broad coalition of tribes, Native organizations, youth and allies to amplify the new narrative and strategies to move hearts and minds within strategic demographics.

• Training: Fostering understanding and building capacity with media companies, philanthropic institutions, academic institutions, and government about contemporary Native experiences through educational workshops, meetings and trainings.

• Advocating: Advocating with – and on behalf of – Native talent for greater representation and accurate portrayals in the entertainment industry, media and K-12 education.

• Connecting: Connecting and supporting Native young people and Native talent (e.g., writers, producers, directors, actors, etc.) with specific opportunities in the entertainment industry as well as building relationships and networks with allies and influencers to create opportunities for narrative change and impact.

IllumiNative is a fiscally-sponsored project of New Venture Fund (NVF), a 501(c)(3) public charity, supports innovative and effective public interest projects. It executes a range of donor-driven public interest projects in conservation, global health, public policy, international development, education, disaster recovery, and the arts. More than half of the 50 largest US grant-making foundations have funded projects hosted at NVF, including 8 of the top 10.

For more information, please email

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

This campaign sounds great! Especially for the youth. We can't lose sight of the disease that created these negatives & invisibility. Or why these strategies were created & practices in the first place. And as long as that disease is not identified & cured and is allowed to continue to cause the same sicknesses, it will continue in an even greater capacity & also begin its own campaigns. It has the power & money to prolong whatever progress is made & can actually cause enough damage until it gains whatever it seeks to obtain. This is a good program sort of a passive offensive. The times require an aggressive offensive program along with this one. Why? because the fuel for the negatives against indigenous peoples is still a temptation to the greed. The invisibility, the slander, the negatives were not created by the indigenous nor are those things accidental, they required tremendous effort. And they are not specific to just natives of these north American areas - the tactics & strategies were used on all indigenous of the western hemisphere & by the same humanity. We have to identify, weaken/destroy, and monitor so there are no relapses with this disease. We need allies to assist us in this endeavor - or we can just go on as usual, in denial, & allow in slow but certain plans & progress of strategies for the little our children have left to be consumed by the greed.