In the Community

Ignite Newsletter - December 2023

December 19, 2023

December 2023

Dear Friends,

In this month’s guest blog, we are excited to highlight the work of WFM grantee Yellow Bird LifeWays Center in Lame Deer. Under the leadership of Lynette Two-Bulls, Yellow Bird Life Ways is helping young people, especially young women, heal from generational trauma through empowerment and leadership. Yellow Bird is preparing for the 28th annual Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run, where young women will carry the Northern Cheyenne Flag in a 400-mile relay-style run. The run has spiritual significance for the Northern Cheyenne people and is a special example of how Yellow Bird weaves the important role of women and girls into all their programs.

WFM is funding impactful organizations throughout Montana, and we are working to center the needs of Indigenous women and women in rural MT. We invite you to join us in supporting the work and leadership of women like Lynette and organizations such as Yellow Bird LifeWays Center. You can donate to Yellow Bird LifeWays, spread the word about their work, and follow their journey on the Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run.


Kylie Gursky
WFM Program Officer

Women are the Backbone of our Communities

Written by Lynette Two-Bulls, Executive Director of Yellow Bird LifeWays

Yellow Bird LifeWays Center is a space of reconnection, reclamation, and a reminder of shared culture, language, and tradition. It is a place of mercy and restorative justice for generational trauma. It is a place for healing, ceremony, and prayer. Yellow Bird Lifeways is primarily women-led and is intergenerational as we lean on the matriarchs and young women in our community to guide and show us the way. We know that as we center women, our communities grow well and strong again. They are woven into the fabric of all our programs and remain to make up the majority of our participants.

As we draw closer to the winter solstice, Yellow Bird prepares for our 28th annual Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run. The run commemorates the 1879 Cheyenne Outbreak from Fort Robinson and remembers the history of forced relocation and attempted genocide of the Cheyenne people. In 1877 the United States forcibly removed hundreds of Cheyenne to a reservation in Oklahoma, where, beset by illness and starvation, they escaped with the intention to return home to Montana. The group split into two bands, one led by Chief Little Wolf who made it to Montana, and the other by Chief Dull Knife who took a route through Nebraska. The US Army caught and imprisoned Chief Dull Knife's band of 150 at the barracks at Fort Robinson, near Crawford, Nebraska. For weeks they were held without food, water, and heat in subzero temperatures, because they longed to return to the North and to escape the dire conditions they broke out on January 9th, 1879, and ran for their homelands in Montana. The soldiers immediately killed many Cheyenne and chased others for weeks, but Chief Dull Knife, his family, and a few survivors made it to Montana. This led to the creation of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

The 400-mile relay-style run commemorates the breakout and honors the sacrifice of ancestors who died so that Northern Cheyenne people could continue to live. For our youth and especially for our young women, the run signifies healing from generational trauma through empowerment and leadership, running in prayer, and stepping into unique gifts and internal light. Generational trauma deeply impacts our communities, and the run represents the generations past, present, and future. Our young women carry the Northern Cheyenne Flag adorned with the Eagle Plume and run lifting the flag to the sky as living proof that our women will survive, heal, and be well. The young men carry the Eagle Staff representing the prayers of the people.

Read more here.

Guest blogs are written by WFM grantees.

How do you measure hope? Yellow Bird LifeWays

WFM Grantee News and Opportunities

  • Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana has filed to propose a constitutional amendment to secure abortion access in MT. Read more from Montana Free Press here.
  • WFM is proud to sponsor Montana Women Vote’s 2024 Policy Leadership Institute (PLI)
    • February 9-10th, Helena, MT
    • PLI is a two-day, hands-on conference that centers issues that impact low-income and Indigenous women and families, LGBTQ2S+ folks, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in Montana. It is an opportunity for folks of all backgrounds and levels of experience to build community, discuss policy issues, and hone their skills. Full and partial scholarships including food and lodging are available and are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Montana Women Vote will help arrange carpools for folks needing a ride to Helena, and child care will be available. Register here.

WFM grantees are paving the way for a better quality of life for women, children, and families in Montana. The Women's Foundation of Montana is proud to support them. Because of your support, WFM is a powerful force for philanthropy in our state.

We make the greatest impact for women and girls when we act together. Make a year-end gift to WFM today to advance the economic security of women and create and brighter future for girls.

Learn more about WFM grantees here and see our 2023 funding summary.

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