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How to invest to support Indigenous communities

Observe Indigenous People’s Day and Indigenous People’s Month by affecting real change

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Indigenous People’s Day is in October, and November is Indigenous People’s Month — which makes this an ideal time to discuss how you can invest to support indigenous people. Many people are interested in giving back to Native communities, who endure some of the highest poverty rates of any group in America.

Luckily, there are many ways to use your resources to help — although not everybody knows where to begin.

That’s why we asked Dr. Kortney Ziegler, founder and CEO of WellMoney, how you can best use your money to support Indigenous people. Options include investing in socially responsible index funds, shopping locally or seeking out businesses with Indigenous leadership.

In addition to founding a money-sharing resource designed to serve and empower marginalized communities, Dr. Ziegler is a Stanford University Humanities Fellow at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. There, he hopes to change the world by creating technology that improves the lives of vulnerable individuals.

If you’re also interested in improving lives, here’s how you can do your part to help Indigenous communities — not only in October and November, but all year long.

In this article:

What are some of the best ways to invest to support Indigenous people?

If you’re interested in investing your money in a way that supports Indigenous communities, it’s important to choose socially responsible investments that align with these values and goals. But it’s equally important to put your money directly into local businesses and community-based ventures.

“People should invest in ESG funds as well as finding local communities that need funding and are led by Indigenous people themselves,” says Ziegler.

Environmental, social and governance funds, commonly known as ESG funds, allow you to invest your money — including your retirement savings — in companies that have been proved to have a net positive effect on the environment, social justice and equitable governance. Many people who are interested in using their investments to reduce the impact of climate change, for example, choose ESG funds that invest in green companies.

However, many Indigenous-owned businesses are not necessarily part of the larger stock market. This means that buying directly from these businesses could have a greater impact. Sometimes the best way to use your money to support Indigenous people is by asking the Native communities in your area what they need — and how you can help.

“Meeting people where they are by listening to their lived experiences and valuing their community-based work is the best way to understand how to financially and socially invest in Indigenous communities,” Ziegler explains.

Where can you find ESG funds that support Indigenous people?

If you’re looking for ESG funds designed to support Indigenous people, you may have to do a little extra research.

This isn’t always the case for socially responsible investing. People who are interested in supporting LGBTQ+ communities through their investments, for example, can access the LGBTQ+ 100, an index fund that tracks the top 100 companies with a focus on LGBTQ+ advancement and equality. Likewise, people interested in investing for racial justice have numerous options available to them. These include the Morningstar Minority Empowerment Index Fund, which tracks companies with a focus on diversity and opportunity.

However, as of this writing there isn’t a specific index fund that tracks companies that uniquely support Indigenous communities. Nor is there an easily accessible database of companies with a focus on Indigenous advancement. “There are a number of folks working on research and data to help develop such a database,” Ziegler explains.

Until then, individual investors may want to consider ESG funds with an overall focus on racial equality or minority empowerment, such as the index funds and ETFs offered through social justice investment firms like Adasina. Investors may also want to look into social-justice oriented ESG funds offered by major investment brokerages, including Vanguard and Charles Schwab. And if you’re working with a roboadvisor such as Wealthfront or Betterment, you’ll have plenty of ESG options.

In addition to investing, how else can people support Indigenous communities?

Investing in the stock market isn’t the only way to use your financial resources to support Indigenous communities. Consider buying more goods and services from local retailers, especially businesses that are owned or staffed by Native Americans.

Look for opportunities to make online purchases from small businesses run by Indigenous people. Trickster Company, for example, is an Indigenous-owned small business that sells everything from clothing to kitchen goods. Sweetgrass Trading Company offers a variety of foods and gifts produced by smaller Native American retailers such as Ioway Bee Farm and Sakari Farms.

“Whether you are buying from Indigenous-owned small businesses locally or online, or doing research to better understand the indigenous land you exist upon, all of those options demonstrate an investment in supporting and honoring Indigenous communities,” Ziegler explains.

If you invest wisely, you can benefit from a diversified retirement portfolio, a strengthened community, or just a delicious jar of raw honey from a farm operated by the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. Remember, the ultimate goal of investing is to support people and businesses so that we can share in their successes and growth in the short and long term. And when you take the time to learn how you can best support Indigenous communities, everyone benefits.

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About Nicole Dieker

Nicole Dieker has been a full-time freelance writer since 2012, with a focus on personal finance and habit formation. In addition to Haven Life, her work regularly appears at Lifehacker, Bankrate, CreditCards.com, and Vox. Dieker spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog where people had honest conversations about money, and is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales.

Read more by Nicole Dieker

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Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

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