November is Native American Heritage Month, so we wanted to highlight one of our giving circles dedicated to helping Indigenous peoples, 7Gen. Members of the 7Gen Giving Circle are committed to creating a better world for future generations and recognize that revitalizing and spreading Indigenous wisdom is essential to doing so. 7Gen is led by Siċaŋġu Co, the economic engine of the Siċaŋġu Lak̇ota nation. Siċaŋġu Co is working towards Wicozani, or “the good way of life” for the Siċaŋġu Oyate – holistic health, economic self-sufficiency, cultural revitalization, sustainable housing, food sovereignty, climate resilience, and shared, lasting prosperity.
We were able to speak with Aaron Epps in Development and Communications at Siċaŋġu Co, who shared some insight into 7Gen, their mission, and what the future holds.
What's your first memory of being a part of a giving circle and the idea of communal-decision making?
My first introduction to a giving circle was actually working for an organization that was on the receiving end of a gift. I love that giving circles provide a place for friends, organizers, co-workers, or any value-aligned group of people to talk about and support the great work that so many organizations are doing. We share so much of our lives with friends and family, why not share the organizations that inspire us?
Tell us more about how your giving circle helps to support the Mission community.
The 7Gen Giving Circle supports cultural and economic revitalization for the Siċaŋġu Oyate of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Specifically, our giving circle supports Siċaŋġu Co, whose work includes launching and growing a Lak̇ota immersion elementary school that prioritizes the holistic well-being of Lak̇ota students and the regeneration of the Lak̇ota language and way of life. It also includes a food sovereignty initiative that increases access to healthy, locally-grown produce through small-scale regenerative agriculture, training programs, and farmers’ markets. All of this work takes place in one of the lowest income counties in the United States and a place where the life expectancy is 10 years lower than the national average.
What's something you wish you knew when you first launched 7Gen Giving Circle?
When we first launched the 7Gen Giving Circle, I wish I would have scheduled time into my calendar each week to provide an update to our supporters. I have done that recently, and it has helped ensure that we are getting timely (and exciting!) updates out to our members about the work that they are a part of through their generous donations.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for 7Gen in 2023?
Siċaŋġu Co has a lot planned for 2023 and the 7Gen Giving Circle will continue to support that work. First, we will be adding an additional grade level to the elementary school to expand our services to include pre-K to 3rd grade. Additionally, we’re very excited to expand on two health-related initiatives we piloted this year. First, is the “Food As Good Medicine” program, which started as a food prescription program and is growing into a complete wraparound health and wellness coaching program. Additionally, we will expand our summer camp offerings this year, which focus on strengthening the connection of youth with Lak̇ota culture and traditional wellness practices. Folks can learn more about Siċaŋġu Co at www.Siċaŋġu.co.
A huge thanks to Aaron for sharing some insight into Siċaŋġu Co and 7Gen! If you’d like to get involved and help 7Gen with their mission, you can check out their giving circle page here.
Other Giving Circles to check out: