News Archive - The Notah Begay III Foundation

Ideas, Examples to Reduce Sugary Drinks Among Native American Children at First Healthy Beverage Summit (February 8, 2017)


Ideas, Examples to Reduce Sugary Drinks Among Native American Children at First Healthy Beverage Summit

From a junk food tax, to traditional teas, to changing shopping habits, participants in the first summit discussed ideas, challenges and current local and national progress in reducing consumption of sugary drinks by Native American children.

“Water is sacred. Sodas have become part of our tradition. It’s time to decolonize your drink,” said Andrea Pepin, Zuni Youth Enrichment Project nutrition education coordinator, quoting a fellow colleague.

Pepin was among 125 people who attended Notah Begay III Foundation’s Healthy Beverage Summit to find ways to reduce the consumption of soda, sports, fruit drinks and other sugared beverages among Native youth. The sold out February 8th gathering at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, N.M., was the first of three for grant recipients, health advocates and others interested in promoting water and breastfeeding as a first choice in Native communities.

The event was part of the Water First! project, a 2 ½ year NB3 Foundation initiative partnering with nine Native communities across New Mexico and the Navajo Nation to combat sugared drinks. Click here for a full listing of the grantees and a summary of their projects.

The work becomes more eminent as sweetened drinks now represent the biggest source of added sugar in American diets. The beverages have been linked to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, and liver and heart disease.

“We are having a serious epidemic of both obesity and diabetes,” said Keynote Speaker Dr. Jim Krieger, Executive Director of Health Food America, a national nonprofit that uses science to drive change in policy and industry practice.

He said obesity in America has been growing since the 1980s, with an increase in diabetes in the 90s. “We’re seeing it level off a bit but we’ve never seen anything like this grow so big so fast,” Krieger said.

Native Americans have been disproportionately affected. In New Mexico alone, 50 percent or one out of two Native American third-graders are either overweight or obese, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

What’s causing the epidemic is that Americans simply are consuming too much sugar, according to Krieger. Forty-six percent of sugars and added calories in American diets come from sweetened beverages, which have no nutritional benefit. In one study of Navajo students, 86 percent of girls and 93 percent of boys were drinking at least one soda daily.

Read about how one of our grant recipients is reducing sugary drinks

 One way to reduce consumption is through education, such as the warning labels put on tobacco products, or decreasing the availability of sugary drinks through policy, such as requiring supermarkets to put healthier beverages near the cashier isles.

Another way to diminish sugary drinks, Krieger said, is an added tax on the beverages, something Berkeley and Mexico have done. Berkeley, Calif., the first U.S. city to implement such a tax, saw a 21 percent decrease in consumption in low-income communities only after five months. Mexico, the first country in the world to pass a tax, saw overall consumption decline 12 percent and a 17 percent reduction in low-income communities.

The Navajo Nation, the first tribe in the country to pass a 2 percent tax on “junk food,” food with no nutritional value, projects $2 million annually from its tax, which will go to each of the 34 chapter houses, local governing districts, for community wellness projects, such as farming and community trails.

Closing Keynote Navajo Vice President Jonathan Nez, a leading example of how Native people can live a healthy lifestyle after dropping 300 pounds and becoming an avid runner, said the Diné and others need to remind themselves about the traditional ways of overcoming adversity, fighting what he called the “monsters” of the 21st century—diabetes and heart disease.

The Diné used to get up early, heard sheep or farm in the scorching desert sun, and survived the Long Walk, a 300-mile trek Navajos made from their homelands to an internment camp. These traditions or events provide a great teaching of overcoming and resilience, Nez said.

“You have the ability to change your life for good,” Nez said, sharing his story as an obese Shonto Chapter community leader who would try to encourage young people to live healthier lives until a teenager’s words tore into him, “Every time we see you, you get bigger and bigger.” The comment was the impetus for Nez to start walking, which turned into a love of running. He recently started training for an ultra marathon at 100k.

“When you change and when your family changes, you have the ability to change your community. You cannot help somebody if you cannot take care of yourself,” he said.

One big step in taking care of ourselves and our children is to look at how often and how much we consume sugary drinks, said Justin Kii Huenemann, NB3 President and CEO.

“It is our hope that this summit and the ongoing work of the nine grantees are not only building education and awareness across a broad mix of stakeholders, but will in fact inspire individual, family and community-led changes,” he said.

Thanks to funding from the WK Kellogg Foundation, the NB3 Foundation plans to host the 2nd Healthy Beverage Summit in 2018 building on participant and grantee discussions and ideas, and will continue to provide knowledge, resources and strengthen relationships needed to drive innovative ways to reduce the consumption of sweetened beverages among our Native American children.


NB3FIT Day Brings Good Health and Good Feelings (November 23, 2016)


From running to kickball to swimming to snake dancing, about 10,000 Native American youth across the country got moving on November 15 for the inaugural NB3FIT Day.

 Encouraging healthy lifestyles among Native children, the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation launched NB3FIT this month, a national campaign to help promote physical activity in Native communities. One hundred fifteen tribes and Native American organizations across 26 states sponsored physical activities for a minimum of one hour on one day.

 From the tundra to the desert, youth learned yoga, biked, hiked or played basketball, among several activities. Youth in the Village of Barrow, Alaska, participated in traditional Eskimo games, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation held the Mvskoke Youth Games, and the Ho-Chunk Nation had double ball, lacrosse, and snake and green corn traditional dances in Black River Falls, WI. Youth and their families were treated to a 9-hole golf scramble tournament in Cochiti Pueblo, N.M.

 “Tribes and Native organizations heeded the call and displayed a commitment to improve the health and fitness of Native youth,” said Justin Kii Huenemann, NB3 Foundation President and CEO. “The number of events taking place across Indian Country on one day was amazing and inspiring. Any effort to improve and strengthen the health of our children rests in our hands as parents, families, communities and tribal nations. No one is going to do it for us.”

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that young people ages 6–17 participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily for the best health benefits, which is crucial in Native communities where an estimated one-third of Native youth are overweight and one out of two Native children will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.

 In the Pueblo of Zuni, N.M., more than seven dozen youth and their families participated in a 2-mile walk and run, dodge ball, soccer, flag football and Zumba at the Zuni Fairgrounds sponsored by the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP), a nonprofit providing youth activities. Youth and their families also participated in a community clean up. 

 The outdoor music and chatter at the fairgrounds prompted residents of all ages to partake in the day’s events, including some adults who didn’t have children with them. They walked and danced, said Andrea Pepin, ZYEP nutrition education coordinator.

“An elderly woman came out when she heard the music. I said, ‘You’re welcomed to join us.’ She jumped right in and started to Zumba,” Pepin said. “That totally spoke to what NB3 Foundation’s goal was — get as many kids and people out moving for one hour that day. We had kids from 2 years old to that individual that came out from her home, which was really special to us.”

Consistent physical activity can improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according to the Health and Human Services Department. Regular physical activity among youth helps control weight, improve strength and endurance, build healthy bones and muscles, reduce anxiety and stress, and increase self-esteem.

 In Akwesasne, N.Y., more than 150 members of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe walked or ran while learning about their clanship in the event sponsored by Project Good Mind, a new nonprofit dedicated to the Mohawk teachings of using a good mind in every day interactions with yourself, others and the earth. Participants where given a white tree seedling to plant as a reminder to be mindful and take care of the earth.

 “It’s important for all of us adults and leaders of our communities to set the tone and pave the way for our youth to understand how important our physical self is and we do that by showing them,” Project Good Mind Co-Founder Shannon Hall said. “It’s getting them to understand that physical activity affects you emotionally, spiritually and mentally, which makes us whole.”

 At the NB3 Foundation headquarters in New Mexico, the organization sponsored the first NB3FIT National Cross Country Race for youth and adults at the Santa Ana Golf Club. The event included an open 5k and 3k, and a 1k for ages 1-10. The day also included an All-Native American high school race that also was an official qualifying race for Wings of America’s National Team. With over 200 runners, the day was enjoyed by young and old alike who participated and cheered on the runners.

 “National NB3FIT Day was a monumental event that created awareness and activity for Native communities across the country,” Foundation founder Notah Begay III said. “The sooner that tribal communities realize the urgency of the health epidemic facing our people, the sooner programs can be mobilized to level off the devastating impact type 2 diabetes is having on our children.”

 To view images from events around the country, please visit the NB3FIT Day Photo Gallery.

For more tips on staying healthy, nutritional information and physical activity, check out our recent NB3 Foundation Fall Newsletter

More than 10,000 Native American Youth To Get Fit During NB3FIT Day November 13 (November 10, 2017)

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. _ November 10, 2016 _ Encouraging healthy lifestyles among Native American youth, the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation launches NB3FIT DAY, a campaign to help promote physical activity in Native American communities across the country.

More than 10,000 young people from 110 tribes and Native American communities will promote health and fitness on Sunday, November 13. Engaging in physical activity for a minimum of one hour on this one day, youth will play volleyball, basketball, traditional games, lacrosse, bike, swim, dance and have family fun runs, to name a few activities. A list of events can be seen here (

This national initiative is important considering that more than one-third of Native American youth are overweight and one out of two Native children will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. Regular physical activity among youth helps control weight, improve strength and endurance, build healthy bones and muscles, reduce anxiety and stress, and increase self-esteem. Consistent physical activity can also improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The HHS recommends that young people ages 6–17 participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily for the best health benefits.

“NB3FIT DAY is designed to encourage and let all our children know that physical activity and healthy lifestyles are important to a high-quality of life,” said Justin Kii Huenemann, NB3 Foundation President and CEO. “The reality is so many of our young people are not moving much these days and consuming unhealthy, low nutrient foods, resulting in increased obesity. This is quickly contributing to a life filled with significant health challenges, including type 2 diabetes, but the good news is: we can prevent it!”

The NB3 Foundation will also host its inaugural NB3FIT National Cross Country Race for youth and adults of all ages at the Santa Ana Golf Club. The event will include a 5k, 3k, 1k for ages 10 and under, and an All-Native American high school race. Registration and more information about the meet can be found here (

While NB3FIT Day focuses on youth activities, all individuals and families can join in by making a commitment to living a healthier lifestyle by taking a walk or hike, riding a bike or some other physical activity and preparing healthier meals using fresh fruits and vegetables. To view some health tips, click here

“It is up to us to ensure that our Native children grow up at a healthy weight, eat right and stay active,” Huenemann said. “No one is going to do it for us. It is up to us to ensure that all kids have the opportunity to live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.”

For more information about NB3FIT Day, go to Participants are encouraged to share their activities on NB3 Foundation’s social media channels using the #NB3FIT, including the organization’s Facebook (, Twitter ( and Instagram (

What is the NB3F team up to this beautiful Fall season? Read the latest e-newsletter to find out (October 17, 2016)

Dear Relatives,

Fall is my favorite time of year. Temperatures cool down, fresh green chili is abundant, vibrant colors emerge, and kids are back in school. For our family, this also means getting back into a routine (to ensure some level of sanity). Perhaps this sounds familiar to some of you. As you develop your personal and family routines, I offer the following four steps to help you build a healthy routine:

The time to start is now!

CLICK HERE to read more

NB3 Foundation Kicks Off Water First! Learning Community Cohort, $900,000 in Grants (October 12, 2016)

Check out the Water First! Learning Community webpage here. 

News Release

Contact: Cyanne Lujan, (505) 867-0775 or

NB3 Foundation Kicks Off Learning Action Cohort to Reduce Sugary-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Native Children

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. _ October 7, 2016 _ The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation launches new initiative encouraging Native children to drink more water and reduce their consumption of sugary-sweetened beverages (SSB) and promote breastfeeding. To support this work, NB3 Foundation has awarded $900,000 to nine tribes and Native-led organizations in the Southwest. Thanks to an investment from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, NB3 Foundation continues to address Native childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes through health and physical activity investments and strategies throughout Indian Country.

Working with community partners from the Mescalero Apache Tribe, Navajo Nation and Pueblos in New Mexico, the NB3 Foundation is focused on better understanding and supporting culturally appropriate methods that increase water consumption and decreases SSB consumption among Native youth. Grant recipients will work together for 2½ years, conducting community assessments of sugary-beverage consumption, access to safe drinking water, and breastfeeding. Each community-led process will help grantees identify and implement a policy or system change effort in their communities.

Grantees, as part of a learning network, will convene together eight times over the course of the project to share, learn and strategize with each other. In addition, grantees will provide guidance to the NB3 Foundation on the launch of a national campaign to educate, inform and reduce the consumption of sugary beverages and promote the consumption of safe drinking water throughout Indian Country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the consumption of SSBs have increased 500% in the past fifty years and is now the single largest category of caloric intake in children, surpassing milk in the late 1990s. Sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened milk or milk alternatives, now represent the biggest source of added sugar in children’s diets. These drinks are the one of the biggest contributors to calories in the U.S. diet, and have been linked to obesity, nutrition-related diseases and tooth decay. In New Mexico alone, 50% of Native American third-graders were either overweight or obese, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

“We have an incredible group of Native communities that have demonstrated their commitment to children’s health and are ready to build a collaborative and culturally effective approach within their communities and as part of a learning network.” said Olivia Roanhorse, Director of NB3 Foundation’s Native Strong Program.

“Obesity has become a devastating epidemic among Native American children, impacting the quality and length of their lives,” said Kara Carlisle, director of New Mexico programs for the Kellogg Foundation. “Through the work of the NB3 Foundation and its partners, we are striving for better health outcomes for our Native children so they can reach their full potential in life.”

The nine recipients include (a summary and grantee community profiles are available by clicking here):

• COPE Project – Gallup, NM

The Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE) Project, a nonprofit collaboration between the Navajo Nation, Indian Health Services, and Harvard University and health care resources, seeks to eliminate health disparities and improve the well-being of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

• Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos, Inc. – Zia, Sandia, Santa Ana, Cochiti and Jemez Pueblos

The Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos’ goal is to decrease prevalence of sugary beverages in the WIC community in favor of water, plain milk, herbal and traditional teas, and enhance breastfeeding acceptance by employers in the community.
• Jemez Pueblo – Jemez Pueblo, NM

The Indigenous Action: Policies and Practice Project will focus on applying indigenous knowledge to policy and practice to shift the paradigm to community-based systems, environmental changes and intervention in Jemez Pueblo.

• Mescalero Apache Tribe (DRMP Youth Development) – Mescalero, NM

The tribe’s youth program will partner with IHS and other youth programs to conduct educational outreach to inform youth about the health implications of sugary drinks, and provide healthy activities and beverage alternatives. They also plan to support policy and possible legislation to regulate, reduce or eliminate sugary beverages in their community.

• Ramah Navajo School Board – Ramah, NM

The nonprofit organization that oversees Pine Hill Schools plans to develop and implement policies that eliminate student exposure to sweetened beverages during school, and incorporate a health curriculum taught by a youth educator, emphasizing the link to obesity and nutritionally related diseases.

• Santo Domingo Pueblo – Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM

The Supporting the Promotion of Lifelong Achievements for Sustaining Health or S.P.L.A.S.H project will aim to promote a holistic, community-based approach to ensure children and the community have access to safe drinking water and healthy food at tribal meetings, community events, local schools and all public places. The Pueblo also plans to promote breastfeeding.

• The STAR School – Flagstaff, AZ

The Service To All Relations or STAR School plans to make clean water readily available to all youth in the three Navajo communities it serves. And after assessing the attitudes toward sugary beverages, they also plan to develop and implement an educational program to decrease the consumption of sugary drinks and increase the desirability of water, traditional tea or berry-infused water among youth.

• Tamaya Wellness Center – Santa Ana Pueblo, NM

With the understanding that sugary beverages contribute to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the Pueblo, the Wellness Center’s project aims to change community attitudes and societal norms that there has to be Kool-Aid on the table and sugary beverages aren’t harmless through education, marketing and policy.

• Zuni Youth Enrichment Project – Zuni, NM

The Zuni Youth Enrichment Project’s Hydration for Health or H4H will, first, understand barriers to water consumption and community feelings toward sugary drinks. Second, H4H will promote and increase access to water on the reservation and provide all youth sports participants with water bottles, as well as provide drinking and filling stations at the future youth community park, creating access of safe drinking water to all community members.

# # #

About the NB3 Foundation
The NB3 Foundation is the only national, Native American nonprofit organization solely dedicated to reversing Native American childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes. NB3 Foundation sets a national standard for investing in evidence-based, community-driven and culturally-relevant programs that prevent childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes, ensuring healthy futures for Native American children and their communities.

Since its launch in 2005, the NB3 Foundation has grown its reputation and track record in Indian Country in the areas of grant-making, research, evaluation, direct programming and policy advocacy. NB3 Foundation invests in and works closely with grassroots, Native-led organizations across the country that are exploring promising new practices, expanding proven methods, conducting community-based research and evaluating impact. For more information, go to



Gen-I Challenge: NB3FIT Day with Generation Indigenous & NB3 Foundation (August 24, 2016)

Healthy Kids! Healthy Futures! Generation Indigenous and Notah Begay III Foundation team up for NB3FIT Day.

nb3logo-1GEN-I Logo_New


August 24, 2016- The Notah Begay III Foundation is proud to announce a new partnership with the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) and Generation Indigenous (Gen-I). Both CNAY and the NB3 Foundation have teamed up for a Gen-I Youth Challenge Initiative promoting youth-led physical fitness efforts across Indian Country. The Challenge, “NB3FIT DAY”, will be held on Sunday, November 13, 2016!

 NB3FIT Day is a national day of inspiration, learning, and physical movement to support the health and fitness of Native American youth. CNAY and NB3F are encouraging tribes, Native communities, Gen-I Ambassadors, Gen-I Challenge takers, and other Native youth to organize and host activities that will inspire youth to participate in physical activity. The goal for NB3FIT Day is to engage 10,000 Native youth in physical activity for a minimum of one hour on November 13.

For more information about NB3FIT Day, visit

For Native Youth: To register your youth-led Gen-I Challenge Event for this national day of health and fitness in Indian Country, please fill out the following form:

Gen-I Youth Challenge Event Registration

Others: To register your community organized event, please fill out the Event Registration form.


Notah Begay III Foundation Awards $50,000 in “Strengthening Community Knowledge” Mini-Grants (August 1, 2016)

The Notah Begay III Foundation’s (NB3F) is pleased to announce its 2016 Strengthening Community Knowledge Mini-Grantees. Thanks to the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the NB3 Foundation is awarding 10 mini-grants to its community partners (past and current grantees) to strengthen their staff/teams’ programmatic and organizational capacity to improve the health of Native American children. These grants are supporting consultation, trainings, and/or skill building to help organizations do their work more effectively by adding a “tool” to their organizational toolbox.

The Strengthening Community Knowledge Grantees are:

Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc. – Qaqamiigux Nutritional Curriculum Cultural Specialist Technical Assistance, Alaska, $5,000: The mini-grant will support the team/staff’s development of and training in a culturally relevant nutritional curriculum and digital storytelling.

Inter Tribal Sports, Inc – ITS Youth Empowerment Project, California, $5,000: The mini-grant will strengthen the knowledge and skills of the team/staff on motivational interviewing techniques, on-camera interviewing, and video production.

Dream of Wild Health – Infrastructure and Organizational Learning Tools, Minnesota, $5,000: The mini-grant will strengthen the knowledge and skills of the team/staff on a new data collection system and its applications resulting in enhance communications, evaluations, and outreach.

Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians – Strengthening our Healthy Foods Message, Minnesota, $5,000: The mini-grant will support building capacity of the team/staff in the basics of marketing to support consumer engagement in the local healthy foods initiative.

Community Outreach & Patient Empowerment (COPE) – Community-based Strategic Plan to Combat Childhood Obesity in Navajo Nation, New Mexico, $5,000: The mini-grant will support a facilitated strategic planning process to consolidate COPE’s portfolio of activities related to childhood obesity prevention.

Tamaya Youth Wellness and Recreation Program – Tamaya Positive Youth Development for Wellness, New Mexico, $5,000: The mini-grant will strengthen the knowledge and skills of the team/staff in the Positive Youth Development framework to better work with Teens/Tweens.

Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP) – ZYEP Staff Development and Team Building, New Mexico, $5,000: The mini-grant will strengthen organizational cohesion and communications, assess progress of their strategic plan, and explore the strengths and needs of each staff member to maximize their contributions to the mission.

Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe – Strengthening Akwesasne Knowledge, New York, $5,000: The mini-grant will strengthen the knowledge and skills of the team/staff in historical trauma, anxiety management and self-care to better understand and reach youth on childhood obesity.

Cheyenne River Youth Project– Lakota Youth Health and Wellness Impact Tracking Project, South Dakota, $5,000: The mini-grant will strengthen the team/staff’s ability to track, evaluate, and communicate the impact of programming on reducing diabetes and improving the health and wellness of reservation youth and their families.

Urban American Indian Alaskan Native Education Alliance – Strengthening UNEA Board and Community for Successful and Healthy Native Youth, Washington, $5,000: The mini-grant will strengthen the knowledge and skills of the board members on evaluation tools, communication tools, and volunteer management.

All of these projects reflect the importance of community-driven efforts in reducing childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes among Native American children and their families.

Are you curious about NB3F’s summer plans? Read the SUMMER e-newsletter (July 15, 2016)

Summer E-News

Happy Summer!
The NB3 Foundation would like to wish everyone a safe and fun-filled summer. This is a time for many ceremonies, powwows, family gatherings and vacations. Whatever you do to help rejuvenate yourself, take time to do so. Remember, you can’t take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself.
Also, remember to keep our children hydrated with plenty of water, make sure they use sunblock and keep an eye out for signs of heat exhaustion (dizziness, dark yellow urine, muscle cramps, headaches and nausea). The summer is already off to scorching temperatures in many parts of the country, and we need to make sure we are checking on each other to ensure everybody is okay.

CLICK HERE to read more

Nike N7 new collaborative partner for NB3FIT Day (July 15, 2016)


The NB3 Foundation is excited to announce Nike N7 as its new collaborative partner for NB3FIT Day.

 July 15, 2016: With N7’s support, we are looking forward to making NB3FIT Day the largest national Native youth fitness event, with a goal of engaging 10,000 Native American youth in physical activity for a minimum of one hour nationwide on November 13,2016.

N7 and GM Sam McCracken have been long-time partners and funders of the NB3 Foundation. Together, we have supported and engaged thousands of Native American youth and families to be active, healthy and fit. Further, Notah Begay III has been an active N7 Ambassador helping to promote N7’s mission and product line. The result has been a steadfast relationship rooted in shared and mutually reinforcing missions.

Thank you N7 for your ongoing support of Native American youth! For more information on the N7 fund, please visit

For more information on NB3FIT Day, please visit