Richard Twiss Education Fund

Support the Richard Twiss Education Fund

Richard Twiss, a member of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, was a founding member of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community.

Richard didn’t set out to revolutionize higher education. He simply believed one could be authentically Indigenous and authentically follow the Jesus Way. He shared this message not only with NAIITS, but also as a respected spiritual leader in the Native community in Portland, Oregon; in countless speaking engagements around the world; and in his books “One Church, Many Tribes” and “Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys” before his death at age 58 in 2013. As NAIITS Director Emeritus Terry LeBlanc put it, Richard dedicated his life to helping Indigenous and non-Indigenous people learn to relate well together and follow Jesus together.

As he pursued his own theological degree, Richard experienced education as a space to expand his imagination and sharpen his thinking about what it could look like to be both Indigenous and a follower of the Jesus Way — even when church was a space that felt restrictive.

“We must genuinely appreciate all cultures as being capable of reflecting biblical faith. We must move away from ‘American Christian mythology,’ which undergirds colonialism and its resulting paternalism in Indigenous communities. We must embrace new theological perspectives emerging from Native leaders as being ‘equal,’” Richard wrote.

NAIITS continues to lift up Indigenous theological perspectives as the only Indigenous designed, developed, delivered and governed graduate and postgraduate theological school in Canada, the United States and Australia. But many Indigenous students still face barriers to education.

In 2024, NAIITS established the Richard Twiss Education Fund with the approval of the Twiss family to honor Richard and remove barriers for Indigenous students wishing to study with NAIITS. The fund supports Indigenous students in the United States with grants awarded by a committee of NAIITS Elders, board members and staff.

To qualify, students must have completed two semesters of their degree and shown an ongoing commitment to academia. Become part of the Richard Twiss Education Fund and help us remove barriers for Indigenous students by making your donation today.