Grounded in the concept of “amuyich,” or generosity, the Santa Ynez Academic Readiness Effort tackles the Native nation’s once-major educational achievement gap head-on by providing comprehensive support for Santa Ynez Chumash students at every step of their educational journeys – from birth through adulthood. Last year, an incredible 97% of Chumash students graduated high school – and the tribe is poised to reach 100%. Graduates and students alike are role models for the next generation and are equipped to serve as leaders and key decision makers for the nation. By providing students with mentorship, tutoring, and assistance, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is creating a brighter tribal future.
Like many other Native nations, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska grapples with a lack of housing for its people, especially for the tribe’s rapidly growing middle class. In response, community leaders developed Ho-Chunk Village, a 40-acre master planned community that is transforming the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska by purposefully providing home-ownership opportunities, integrated rentals for elders, and space for businesses in a walkable community. In developing Ho-Chunk Village, the Winnebago Tribe is showcasing how a tribal government, nonprofit, and tribal enterprise can work together in creative ways.
Recognizing that creating and maintaining a justice system is vital to a strong society, the Kenaitze Indian Tribe of Alaska developed its own tribal court in 1986 – despite the fact that in Alaska, few if any tribes had taken this step before. Since then, the Kenaitze Tribal Court has worked diligently to expand its jurisdiction over a range of issues. Its leadership in child advocacy has been especially pioneering – in Alaska and beyond. By collaborating with state, tribal, local, and nonprofit agencies, the Court helps ensure that Native children are protected and kept safe – and reinforces the tribe’s assertion of jurisdiction over young tribal citizens. Today, nearly 100% of children in the tribal court system are placed with family or other tribal members. The Kenaitze Tribal Court gives tribes everywhere compelling proof that quality Native justice systems are foundational to effective governance and to the defense of sovereignty.
Disagreements between tribes and their neighbors over natural resource management are common throughout the US, and local misunderstandings and differences of opinion can lead to strained and even hostile relationships. The Nez Perce Tribe founded its Fisheries Department in exactly such an environment. Declining fish stocks led to resource competition and increased pressure on treaty rights. Today, the department works cooperatively with neighboring jurisdictions to monitor fish numbers, manage fish hatcheries, and promote habitat restoration throughout the Tribe’s traditional lands.
The teenage years are an exciting but challenging phase of life. For Native youth, racism and mixed messages about identity can make the transition to adulthood particularly fraught, and may even lead to risky or self-destructive behavior. Within the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a groundbreaking initiative to restore rites of passage for youth has engaged the entire community. The Ohero:kon ceremonial rite guides youth through Mohawk practices and teachings in the modern context, strengthening their cultural knowledge, self-confidence, and leadership skills.