Tosa Two Heart is a chagemaker herself who works alongside powerful changemakers every day. In her role at First Peoples Fund—located in Rapid City, South Dakota—Tosa supports the work and development of Native artists and culture bearers. Tosa shared about the inspiring breadth of First Peoples Fund’s support of indigenous communities, particularly through the profound influence of arts and culture. She also shared her vision for a better world, core to which is greater representation of Native people in all aspects of culture and society. We are honored to have Tosa joining us in Los Angeles in two weeks. Get to know her little before then with this Q&A.
Q: Who are you, what drives you, what are you working on, and why are you inspired to make the world a better place?
TTH: My name is Tosa Two Heart. I am an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. I identify as Lakota and I grew up in the Pine Ridge Reservation. I am the program manager of community development at First Peoples Fund and my work is to support Native artists and culture bearers through professional development and supporting Native led organizations that support Native artists in their tribal communities across the United States. I was inspired to become an agent of change ten years ago when I was mentored by strong Native professionals who pushed me off the ledge to invest in and advocate for Native equity and social justice, especially in access to higher education.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about the physical space you work in?
TTH: The physical space I work in is in the homelands of the Lakota people, whom I belong to. We are a Native women led national organization. Our number of staff is small but our support reaches from Hawaii to Alaska, and as far south as Oklahoma within the contiguous U.S.
Q: If there were one social issue you could solve today, what would it be – and why?
TTH: The ignorance a majority of the United States population has of federally recognized tribes as sovereign nations, treaty rights, and the demonization and erasure of Native peoples in almost every facet of primary and higher education. If this social issue was solved, then justice, respect, and understanding of Native people would lead to a strong representation of Native people in all prominent areas of decision-making and visibility in the United States.
Q: If you could invite any group or individual to Upswell, who would it be – and why?
TTH: I would invite all of the Native artists and culture bearers that lead and are supported by our organization. They are all changemakers in their communities, whether they recognize it or not. Sometimes being a changemaker is also a means of survival. The innovation that Native artists and culture bearers exhibit to foster the restoration and continuation of their art and culture is something to behold.