Danielle Forward a a Native American (Pomo) tribal member is the CEO and founder of Natives Rising. Natives Rising highlights positive Native American role models in tech. She was recently featured on elpha
I’m Danielle Forward and I’m the CEO & Founder of Natives Rising. Our mission is to economically empower Indigenous communities through careers in Silicon Valley’s tech industry. We’re also working on providing an incubator for Native founders, who are incredibly underrepresented and lack the network and resources that other Silicon Valley founders often have.
Before Natives Rising, I spent about 5 years as a Product Designer at Meta. It was and still is rare for an indigenous person to be working in big tech at all. At first, I just wanted to find out if there was anyone else like me. Most people around me came from Ivy League schools and had a lot of parental support. I started in junior college and paid for everything on my own. It took me ten years to earn my bachelors degree, taking classes part-time while working full-time along the way.
For context, indigenous folks are the most impoverished group in the US. There are over 9.7 million of us in the US alone. We have the lowest high school and college graduation rates. This has nothing to do with merit, but everything to do with intergenerational trauma from colonization, lack of role models, broken familial and social support networks, and exclusion from privileged institutions and networks due to financial means. Over 70% of indigenous people live in urban areas, but for the ones that live in rural areas, these statistics are even worse, and the list goes on.
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