Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 24, 2024

Millions Sinking into the Rabbit Hole of Indian Country Non-Profits: Update

(Photo: Italian fraud Iron Eyes Cody, with Roy Rogers, in North of the Great Divide, 1950.) Iron Eyes Cody and Princess Pale Moon, both frauds, were part of the non-profit American Indian Heritage Foundation television commercials. The non-profit was shut down, but it had already solicited both cash and land donations with its "Give the land back to the Indians" campaign.

Millions Sinking into the Rabbit Hole of Indian Country Non-Profits

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News, Update Feb. 25, 2024

Non-profits in Indian country are stashing millions in their bank accounts, buildings and salaries, and not distributing it to those it was intended for, those in need, and those on the frontline of struggle.

Censored News ongoing investigation reveals:

-- The non-Indian daughters of the sculptor at Crazy Horse Memorial had a combined salary of a half million dollars

-- The First Nations Development Institute in Longmont, Colorado, has $44 million stashed in investments
-- NDN Collective ended the last tax year with $100 million in its bank accounts and assets

Don't fall for the social media hype, most of the non profits in Indian country are tossing out peanuts and stashing the rest. The heads of non-profits receive $100,000 to $300,000 in salaries, even the small non-profits.

Klee Benally, Dine', exposed the exploitation and failed colonial logic of the non-profit industry in his book, published shortly before he passed in December.

Klee writes, "soon enough there won't be any more battles left to lose."

Klee reveals the non-profit profiteers who provided a safe haven for predators, made money off the struggles, and languished in their money making machines.

The Zapatistas recently severed all connections with NGOs and non-profits. This comes after non-profits using the names of the Zapatistas and EZLN received hundreds of thousands of dollars from non-profits in the U.S.

Marcos said from the beginning that the names of the Zapatistas and EZLN are not to be used in connection with non-profits, fundraising or begging for money, in the struggle for autonomy, self-reliance and dignity.

The exploitation of victims is part of the non-profit industry's money making machine.

Here's how the scam works: A non-profit asks the family of a victim if they would like support. Once the family agrees, without telling the family, the non-profit writes a grant using the information. The grants are often for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions. The funds then sink into the non-profits own salaries and expense accounts.

Honoring the words of the Zapatistas, Klee's book is a blast of this 'dignified rage,' fired by injustices, and it is brilliant. Order's Klee Benally's book, No Spiritual Surrender: Indigenous Anarchy in Defense of the Sacred' at

NDN Collective

The top recipient of grants in Indian country include NDN Collective. It received $191 million, after being created five years ago.

NDN received $70 million in 2022. Of this $70 million, it paid out $20 million in grants, and more than $6 million in staff salaries. At the end of the year, NDN Collective had $100 million in its cash bank accounts and assets. 

Tax document at ProPublica Explorer

NDN's CEO received a salary of a quarter million dollars in 2022. The NDN staff salaries totaled more than $6 million.

The tax documents for non-profits in Indian country are online. Here's what they reveal:

1. Millions stashed in bank accounts, real estate and huge salaries for the benefit of the non-profit staff.

2. The widespread flow of money to the children and family members of executives.

3. Grants to frauds. Non-Indians suddenly become 'Indians,' usually claiming to be Yaqui, Cherokee or Apache, and either take over, or create, non-profits. 

One person claimed being Indigenous, Latina, Dine', Choctaw, changing those often  during years of interviews. She accepted a large award claiming to be a San Carlos Apache, while purchasing land with non-profit funds.

Another person claimed to be on the frontline of the border struggle in Texas, during a year of interviews with reporters, but she was actually working in Canada the entire time, and operating a non-profit.

4. Executives receive multiple salaries by forming multiple organizations with similar names or issues. Winona LaDuke, while head of Honor the Earth, had a series of non-profits and businesses that the public was not aware of. (1)

5. Millions are stashed in real estate purchases under a different organization, or an LLC. NDN Collective purchased real estate in Rapid City and placed it under the name of NDN LLC, and CEO Nick Tilsen. NDN properties can be viewed at

6. Foreign investments. 

7. The grant money often comes in from some of the worst offenders in Indian country, including revenues from coal mining on the Navajo Nation. The Christensen Fund revenues are from coal mining on the Navajo Nation, and mining on Indigenous lands around the world.

The funding from foundations also comes in from the construction of railroads in the northwest, where the land theft resulted in massacres, including the Sand Creek Massacre.

The Bush Foundation in Minnesota, which made its money from mining and chemical manufacturing, donated $50 million to NDN Collective. 

8. There are also non-Indians heading up 'Native American' non-profits by packing the board with Natives and then giving them no power or financial information.

9. There are many takeovers by executive directors or board members who throw out the traditional Natives who founded the movement. The tactics include taking over control of the funds, bullying and threatening.

10. Non-profits at the United Nations are representing tribes and victims without permission from the tribes, or families of victims. Professors who are quoted in U.N. reports have plagiarized Native people living on the land, even after being told to stop. 

This was the case when a non-Indian professor was quoted at the U.N. Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva. The professor is quoted on the violations of Tohono O'odham ceremonies at the border, in the final report. (2)

Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, told Censored News that this professor in California was told she did not have permission to use Ofelia's words for this book. 

Huge Salaries and Media Indulges

The average executive salary at Indian country non-profits is $100,000 to $300,000, and soar to $1.2 million.

Don't expect the news media in Indian country to investigate, most are now part of the non-profit industry. There is a new money pipeline of Las Vegas casino money flowing through tribes to non-profit media. 

Some of the popular media in Indian country are diving down into the rabbit hole of deception. While laced with non-profit dollars, the reporters remain in their easy chairs for the most part, and rely on plagiarism, rewrites and phone calls. It is aimed at deceiving their readers into believing that they are out covering the news. They are receiving grants ranging from $100,000 to $1 million -- and still do not have reporters out covering the news.

Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation

The daughters of the sculptor of the Crazy Horse Memorial, non-Indians, had combined salaries previously that totaled a half million dollars.

The latest tax document shows the family members of the sculptor, Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, continue to profit with salaries.

                                                                                                        Compensation                Other compensation

The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation received $23 million in donations, and another $5 million in program services in 2022.

How Non-Profits Deceive and Disappear Money

Conferences in resort hotels average $300,000 using money that was intended for those in need, or on the front line of struggle. That's for conference travel, rooms, meals, speakers, etc.

As for attorney non-profits, the millions aren't being used to provide attorneys for some of the most important cases.

The Paiute Shoshone arrested for defending Peehee Mu'huh, Thacker Pass, from the lithium mining now tearing into the Paiute massacre site, have constantly asked for attorneys to help.

In another case, the excessive force by law enforcement at Backwater Bridge at Standing Rock case, it proceeded but needed more attorneys on their legal team. (At this point, the federal court has ruled in favor of law enforcement, regardless of the critical injuries to water protectors. In similar cases nationwide, those injured by police have received large sums of compensation.)

Here are some of the non-profit scams being used:

1. Tossing out peanuts, that's tossing out minimal funding for projects or used clothes and expired donated foods.

2. Playing poor so they can use your research and life work for grants, or for their books, without paying for it.

3. Using people's names and struggles for grant funding without telling them.

4. Deceiving the public with press releases and social media self-promotion. This type of cheerleading is enabling fraud.

5. Church Poverty Porn -- St. Labre Catholic Mission was sued by Northern Cheyenne for collecting funds for children, and then funneling millions to the Catholic Church. Since churches do not have to file tax returns, they are often involved in what is called "poverty porn," using photos and videos of Native children in publicity for fundraising, without telling the public how the funds are really being spent. In the case of St. Labre, Northern Cheyenne children were left desperate while millions were sent to the Catholic Church.

6. Individual fellowships of $100,000 for those in hard working collectives are often divisive, and benefit a chosen few.

First Nations Development Institute, Longmont, Colorado

The First Nations Development Institute in Longmont, Colorado, has one of the largest revenues in Indian country. It ended the year with $68 million in its bank accounts and assets. It spent only a small portion of what it received on grants, and paid President Michael Roberts a quarter of a million dollars, that's $237,053.

It says its purpose is to promote American Indian economies, health and youths.

It has $44 million stashed in investments.

First Nations Development Institute has received $111 million in the past five years.

Virginia Non-Profit Among Top Recipients of Non-profit Dollars

The Native American Heritage Association in Front Royal, Virginia has one of largest bank accounts in the industry in Indian country. It received $371 million in grants and donations between 2017 -- 2021.

Lakotas said they are bringing in expired, donated foods, and the clothing is used,  while the non-profit is receiving millions. NAHA claims on its website that it is delivering daily to Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and Rosebud Reservations."

(Below) The Native American Heritage Association in Virginia had $23 million in its bank accounts and assets that was not distributed, in 2022.

The Partnership with Native Americans in Texas

The Partnership with Native Americans in Addison, Texas, says it collects money for disaster relief in Indian country -- but it has $27 million stashed in its own assets -- bank accounts and property.

It pays its top execs salaries of $100,000 to $200,000. It claims to serve Navajos and Lakotas. In the past five years, it has received $150 million in grants and donations.

There are many people in desperate need of food, water and fuel -- but non-profit funds seldom reach them, except with minimal donations to gain publicity. The tax documents are at ProPublica Explorer.

Partnership with Native Americans in Texas, 2022 tax return, shows salaries for top executives.

All of this information can be found in the tax documents on ProPublica Explorer, along with the websites of the non-profits, and on public statements about the donations from the foundations.

Previous article by Censored News

Non-Profits in Indian Country: Fraud, Secrecy and Deep Deception (2022)

Censored News in-depth article on fraud in non-profits in Indian country in 2022. Among the worst situations, the Ajo, Arizona, food bank, whose CEO is non-Indian,  gave food boxes to Tohono O'odham grandparents while the food pantry was overrun with rats, according to a report from the health department.

Funds for traditional agriculture are often used for conferences in resort hotels, averaging $300,000, and lavish salaries, travel and expense accounts for non-profit staff, instead of actually growing food.

Native seeds are being sold by non-profits without Indigenous Peoples permission.

Native Seeds Search in Tucson was created by a non-Indian. Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, said the non-profit does not have permission of traditional O'odham living on the land to sell their seeds. Ofelia said the seeds should be returned and Native Seeds Search should stop selling their ancestral seeds.

ProPublica Explorer, free search for tax documents


(1) Honor the Earth

Winona LaDuke: State of Minnesota order: Minneapolis Star

Details of nonprofit fraud

Harboring a sexual predator lawsuit

(2) UN Final Report: Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Copyright by Brenda Norrell, Censored News. May not be used without written permission. Censored News content may not be used in any manner that results in revenues, which includes books, dissertations, films, media, or any other means for revenues.


Lloyd Vivola said...

Not surprisingly, the non-profit industry, as targeted by your article and investigation, has grown to become a hefty branch of the military-media-entertainment-surveillance-industrial complex.

Alerting potential contributors to scams and controversial financial schemes cannot be encouraged enough. Allow me to cite two associated aspects that are just as pernicious.

1) Many small, authentic, grassroots non-profits with established records for front-line work sometimes draw on the "peanuts" dispersed by these large non-profit "benefactors" in order to help sustain responsible levels of paid-staff and the material means that support programs which, at times, includes the work of dedicated volunteers. One would hope that these small non-profits research diligently the "benefactors" from whom they solicit such support. Still, it is easy enough to see how the larger picture resembles a "trickle down" model that bears greatest fruit for those at the top and farthest removed from the "good" they claim to be doing.

2) Short-sighted and even cruelly in some cases, local and state governments have been keen on dumping more and more responsibility on small non-profits to do front-line work regarding public health, social services, maintaining environmental sanity, etc., under a pretext of maintaining lower taxes and effectively managing government expenditures. This policy only leads to greater competition in the quest to obtain big benefactor monies, something that diverts the time, energy, and resources of front-line non-profits from their best-intended hands-on efforts while compelling them to increase fundraising activity. Or as one elected official recently reminded while critiquing the sometimes dire circumstances born of this formula: "Some of our non-profit, front-line workers are sleeping in their cars!"

Thanks for staying on the case.

Anonymous said...

1934 indian Reorganization Act colonial govt.s seem to be involved in this scam as they have the non profit status. It's a form of RICO scams involving only certain families who enrich themselves at the expense of the US American taxpayer. Most entities of 34 Ira are entrenched with non Indians who've achieved sovereign immunity protection from the federal judicial system, thus the US fed govt maybe an accomplice to these schemes.

Censored News, publisher Brenda Norrell said...

From Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham "Thank you Brenda for the total picture in your report. People in the occupied Turtle Island must have a clear understanding to build solidarity and strength to stand with the people facing
the atrocity experienced by all original people of Turtle Island."

Lloyd Vivola said...

Regarding part of my previous comment, excerpted below. I forgot to include "real estate" or "land development" as part of a now globalized "military-media...-industrial complex.

"Not surprisingly, the non-profit industry, as targeted by your article and investigation, has grown to become a hefty branch of the military-media-entertainment-surveillance-industrial complex."