Melody Lewis on the community perspective of Indian Nations

Thought leaders share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at Presented by JFF Horizons – See Beyond 2022

Workforce and educational organizations must be more inclusive of the Indigenous perspective, according to Melody Lewis, founder and principal consultant, Indigenous Community Collaborative (IndigenousCC).

WorkingNation sat down with Lewis at Presented by JFF Horizons – See Beyond 2022 in New Orleans.

Explaining IndigenousCC, Lewis says, “What we do is create Indigenous inclusive workforce and educational strategies for Indian country. And simply, how do we utilize our lived experiences to inform the work that is being done within our own communities and share that with the outside communities?”

Noting there are 574 Indian Nations, Lewis says serving the population must be based in a community perspective. “All of our decisions and everything that we do within our lives is all made on our communities and all made on our families. Those are the first two priorities.”

“For example, when I went to college, the very first thing that I encountered was what degree can I get that will help me go back and take this back to my community? That’s how I chose to make my decisions.”

Lewis says it’s crucial to teach the historical impact of Indigenous communities to younger people. “Indigenous people have a direct and innate investment to cultivate the next generation. What can we do presently to help our generations to come?”

As the founder of a women-owned enterprise, Lewis says, “My community, specifically, and a majority of tribal communities are matriarchal. The women are the head of the households. There are so many women in my life that have allowed me to do what I’m doing today. Essentially, we are the caretakers of our communities and future generations.”

Referencing DEI, Lewis notes change is often slow. “Basically, you’re asking somebody to change the worldview that they’ve been experiencing their entire life. It’s progress, it’s work. It’s something that we’re going to have to continue to do and evolve. I hope that this whole thought of planting the seed and hope it grows, I hope that’s the case.”

Learn more about Indigenous Community Collaborative (IndigenousCC).