Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Rebelling as a Teen

Rebelling as a Teen

More From Rebecca

In this video

Adamson remembers how even as a teen she pushed the boundaries and was a voice for different paths.

Rebecca's Biography

Cause of Choice: First Peoples Worldwide
Childhood Dream: To become a veterinarian, or a professional hitchhiker.
First Paying Job: Working in a record store.
Grandfather’s Advice: “Being able to live in a moment with total presence, surrounded with silence is beautiful.”

Rebecca Adamson is an economist and advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. She is the founder of First Peoples Worldwide and the founder and former director of the First Nations Development Institute.
 
Adamson was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1949 to a Cherokee mother and a Swedish-American father. After dropping out of college in 1970, she began working with Indian tribes in the Northwestern United States. At age 22, she was hired by the Coalition of Indian Controlled School boards and became deeply involved in the Indian-controlled school movement, which at that time was agitating for Native Americans to have increased control over their children’s education. She has been fighting for the rights of indigenous people ever since.
 
After recognizing the vital importance of economic self-sufficiency to self-determination, Adamson founded the First Nations Development Institute in 1980, where she spearheaded the creation of the first microloan fund in the U.S. In 1997, she took her advocacy global with the founding of First People Worldwide. Since then she has led initiatives everywhere from Botswana to Australia promoting values-based investment, environmental stewardship, and self-determination for native peoples everywhere.
 
Adamson is active in many non-profit organizations and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for The Bay and Paul Foundations, the Calvert Social Investment Fund (the largest socially responsible mutual fund), the Calvert Group Governance Committee, and Co-chairs the Calvert Social Investment Fund Audit Committee. She served as an advisor to the United Nations on Rural Development and as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations' International Labor Organization for International Indigenous Rights. She worked with the World Bank to create the Indigenous Peoples Climate Action Fund in 2009, to address Indigenous Peoples’ climate change issues. Adamson’s decades-long work has established a new field of culturally appropriate, values-driven development.

Related Videos

Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren
United States Senator, Massachusetts

As young mother to two children, Elizabeth Warren went to class at Rutgers Law School while her husband worked at IBM. In 1978, the family relocated to Houston, where Warren starte...

Jennifer Hyman
Jennifer Hyman
Co-Founder and CEO, Rent the Runway

Before starting Rent the Runway, Hyman was Director of Business Development at IMG, worked in ad sales at WeddingChannel.com, and served as an in-house entrepreneur for Starwood Ho...

Mira Sorvino
Mira Sorvino
Activist & Actor

Mira Sorvino is an award winning actor, mother and an advocate against human trafficking. She was the official ambassador for Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Wo...

Mia Herndon
Mia Herndon
Feminist Organizer

Mia Herndon is the former Executive Director at Third Wave Foundation, a national feminist fund dedicated to supporting the social justice vision of young women, transgender and ge...