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

Learning the Foundation World Lingo

Learning the Foundation World Lingo

More From Rebecca

In this video

Adamson explains how she first got funded for the First Nations Development Institute.

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

Suzanne Braun Levine
Suzanne Braun Levine
First Editor of Ms. Magazine & Author

Suzanne Braun Levine was the first editor of "Ms." magazine (1972-1988), and the first woman editor of the prestigious "Columbia Journalism Review". Suzanne...

Shelly Lazarus
Shelly Lazarus
Pioneering Advertising Executive

In her 40-plus years at Ogilvy & Mather, Shelly Lazarus went from frequently being the only woman in the room, to being the woman running the show at the global advertising gia...

Pat Eng
Pat Eng
Founder, New York Asian Women's Center

Patrica Eng is a social worker and activist devoted to women’s issues. She is Vice President for Grants and Capacity Building at the Ms. Foundation. Earlier in her career, sh...

Brandon Holley
Brandon Holley
Fashion Editor-in-Chief

Brandon Holley is the former Editor-in-Chief for Lucky, the award-winning magazine about shopping and style. She began her magazine career as a writer for Paper, which eventually l...