In December of 2003 the Lummi Nation was one of 3 tribes selected by the
Northwest Area Foundation of St. Paul, Minnesota, to participate in a
program to address the root causes of poverty in the Lummi community.
Over the next 24 months the Lummi Nation conducted community-wide
meetings, focus groups, seminars, and surveys to develop a
community-based poverty reduction plan. In December of 2005 the Lummi Nation
submitted its plan and, in March of 2006, signed a MOA with the NWAF to
implement the plan. Under the terms of the MOA the Lummi Nation
received $6 million to implement its ten-year poverty reduction plan,
focusing on three interrelated strategic areas: Families and Wellness,
Economic Development, and Education.
Strengthening families is the keystone element of Partnership. While
there are many ways to strengthen families, and address the root causes
of poverty, the arts provide an important link to the past and promise
for the future. The importance of the arts is demonstrated by the
formation of the Lummi Cultural Arts Association under the banner of
the Lummi Ventures Partnership. The LCAA was formed in 2005 and
organized the first Lummi Cultural and Performing Arts program in
Eastsound, on Orcas Island. The San Juan Islands, including San Juan
and Orcas Island, are the original homeland of the Lummi Indians who
occupied them until they were removed by force of the Point Elliott
Treaty in the late-eighteenth century. The return of the artists to the
islands represents an important step forward and back, and in the
continuing effort to preserve traditional arts and knowledge.