Notah Begay III Foundation and Shakopee tribe team up to promote healthy beverage consumption in Native communities

$250,000 SMSC grant to expand foundation’s Water First! initiative

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) announced today a $250,000 grant to the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation to expand its Water First! healthy beverage initiative. Awarded through the SMSC’s Seeds of Native Health campaign, the new funding will expand the initiative, which focuses on reducing Native American children’s consumption of sugary beverages and increasing their access to and intake of safe drinking water. The SMSC’s contribution augments funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and other contributors.

“The Notah Begay III Foundation is a champion for Native youth and is doing impressive work to improve the health of our next generation through its Water First! cohort and other national campaigns,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “Our tribe’s Seeds of Native Health campaign is proud to join the NB3 Foundation in helping solve Indian Country’s dietary health crisis by addressing the overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

With this new funding, the NB3 Foundation will provide micro-grants to tribes and Native-led organizations in Minnesota and Washington to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increase water consumption in their communities. It will also help expand the Foundation’s Zero to 60 Challenge to encourage the switch from sugary drinks to water across Indian Country.

“We started the Water First! initiative several years ago, with the goal of connecting community partners with effective and efficient resources to support their meaningful work of encouraging Native youth and families to make healthier choices to improve their lives,” said NB3 Foundation President and CEO Justin Kii Huenemann. “We are thankful to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for their continued support, and with these resources we look forward to expanding our program so it reaches more Native children across the country.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sugar-sweetened beverages – including soft drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened milk or milk alternatives – are the most common source of added sugar in children’s diets. Frequent consumption is associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and tooth decay. Because more than 45% of Native American children ages two to five years old are obese, reducing the consumption of unhealthy, sugary beverages in Native communities is critical to reducing this obesity epidemic.

The SMSC’s contribution will also help build awareness and educate practitioners about model practices that support water consumption and healthy nutrition. In addition to developing informational resources for tribes, schools, and community organizations, the NB3 Foundation will host two Healthy Beverage Summits in fall 2018 and 2019. This conference series brings together community members, organizations, and agencies to advance knowledge, best practices, and partnerships. The Foundation will also add healthy beverage-related sessions to its national Healthy Kids! Healthy Futures! conferences in 2019.

The NB3 Foundation is one of the SMSC’s original strategic partners in the Seeds of Native Health campaign, re-granting $1.1 million in SMSC funds to 24 tribes and nonprofits across the country for projects relating to childhood nutrition. 

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Native American tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to Native American tribes and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise, and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County.

About Seeds of Native Health
Seeds of Native Health is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition and food access. Launched in 2015, the $10 million campaign has provided grants to local communities and funded research, education, and capacity-building efforts. Partners include the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Better Way Foundation, First Nations Development Institute, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the University of Arkansas School of Law’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the University of Minnesota. More information is available at:

About the Notah Begay III Foundation
The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation is a national, award-winning Native American nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing Native American childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. The NB3 Foundation invests in evidence-based, community-driven, and culturally relevant programs that promote health, physical activity and nutrition, ensuring healthy futures for Native American children and their communities. The foundation is committed to ensuring that all Native American youth live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. Learn more about the NB3 Foundation at: