The United States has a shameful history of displacing its original inhabitants from their homelands and attempting to wipe out their cultures. Such actions had a devastating effect on the Miami people, who, by the 1990s, became scattered across the country, resulting in an ongoing struggle to maintain their cultural identity. In response, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma created the Myaamiaki Eemamwiciki (the Miami Awakening) program. Rooted in strengthening their kinship ties to one another within a strategic educational framework, Myaamiaki Eemamwiciki helps citizens reconnect to their Indigenous knowledge and value system. And, as tribal citizens reconnect with the knowledge of their ancestors, they are creating a new understanding of what it means to be Myaamia.
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.
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.
Proud of the increasing number of citizens pursuing college degrees, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) leaders became concerned that their talented students were not getting enough education in what it means to be Citizen Potawatomi. To nurture the nations’ future political leadership, the tribe launched the Potawatomi Leadership Program, which gives students an unforgettable “crash course” in CPN government, economy, and culture. In doing so, program graduates are armed with the cultural and political knowledge they need to become the leaders they were born to be.
Founded in 1997, the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School aims to create a dynamic learning environment in which community members not only learn and teach, but are able to actively contribute to the success of their nations. Four themes guide the Institute’s work: leadership, community service, public policy, and critical thinking. These themes are realized through the Institute’s four programs: Community Institutes, a Summer Policy Academy, High School Symposia, and Enrichment Opportunities.
Today, the leaders of the Oneida Nation Trust Advocacy Department are leaders in the Socially Responsible Investing (or SRI) movement. Oneida is now positioned as an activist and is having a positive impact of environmental concerns, human rights, corporate culture, Indigenous issues, and the entire SRI community—all the while earning a market return on its portfolio. To expand their impact, SRI leaders at Oneida have provided education and training to committed Oneida citizens who are, with newly raised awareness, more actively managing their own investments. To expand the impact of SRI across Indian Country, the Oneida developed a guidebook focused on ways other tribes can integrate socially responsible investing in their portfolios.
Books about Native nations and their people are usually written by outsiders. By contrast, the Chickasaw Nation created the Chickasaw Press to spread home-grown knowledge about their Nation’s history and culture. The Press publishes books written by Chickasaw citizens, using the highest standards of professional editing and production. In doing so, it gives new life to an ancient storytelling tradition.
“It is not cool to hit or be hit” is the straightforward motto of Project Falvmmichi, a school-based program of the Choctaw Nation designed to tackle the problem of domestic violence. The program teaches elementary school students positive ways to deal with anger and resolve conflicts. Today, more than 300 teen mentors work with second graders in over thirty public schools. Violent behavior harms the Choctaw Nation’s citizens, families, and future — but through Project Falvmmichi, the Nation is building intolerance for violent behavior from the ground up.
The Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways is the caretaker of cultural heritage for the Saginaw Chippewa. The Center educates the Tribe’s citizens and the general public through its permanent and rotating exhibits, research center, repatriation efforts, art market, workshops, and language programs. By sharing its story in many ways, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan is reclaiming its past and celebrating its vibrant present as Anishinabe people.
A revolution is underway among the Indigenous nations of North America. It is a quiet revolution, largely unnoticed in society at large. But it is profoundly important. From High Plains states and Prairie Provinces to southwestern deserts, from Mississippi and Oklahoma to the northwest coast of the continent, Native peoples are reclaiming their right to govern themselves and to shape their future in their own ways. Challenging more than a century of colonial controls, they are addressing severe social problems, building sustainable economies, and reinvigorating Indigenous cultures. In effect, they are rebuilding their nations according to their own diverse and often innovative designs. Produced by the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy at the University of Arizona and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, this book traces the contours of that revolution as Native nations turn the dream of self-determination into a practical reality. Part report, part analysis, part how-to manual for Native leaders, it discusses strategies for governance and community and economic development being employed by American Indian nations and First Nations in Canada as they move to assert greater control over their own affairs. Rebuilding Native Nations provides guidelines for creating new governance structures, rewriting constitutions, building justice systems, launching nation-owned enterprises, encouraging citizen entrepreneurs, developing new relationships with non-Native governments, and confronting the crippling legacies of colonialism. For nations that wish to join that revolution or for those who simply want to understand the transformation now underway across Indigenous North America, this book is a critical resource.
Developed in 1997, the Two Plus Two Plus Two college transition program is a partnership between Hopi Junior/Senior High School, Northland Pioneer College, and Northern Arizona University. The program recruits junior and senior high school students to enroll in classes (including distance learning courses) that offer concurrent 20 college level credits. Upon graduation, students enrolled in Two Plus Two Plus Two can earn up to thirty transferable credits to any state or out-of-state accredited community college or university. The Program has led to a growing demand for math and science courses by students within the school and to increased college enrollment (forty-five percent of this year’s graduating class will attend two or four year institutions of higher education). Two Plus Two Plus Two is helping Hopi students attain advanced educational degrees and, in so doing, is empowering them with technological and academic skills that they can bring back to the rural reservation.
As the westernmost Indian reservation in the lower 48 states, the Makah Reservation was established by the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay. Historically, the Makah lived in large, extended family longhouses organized in coastal villages and drew their sustenance in large part from the sea. First contact between Makah people and non-natives began in the 1790s with devastating and long-lasting effects. The Makah were not only besieged by disease and epidemics that resulted in great population loss, but eventually their language fluency and culture were greatly diminished by the establishment of Bureau of Indian Affairs' schools. But in the 1970s, the nation turned a potential crisis to its advantage through the establishment of the Makah Cultural Education and Revitalization Program. It serves as a hub of the community, as well as steward of a world-class museum collection. By claiming and caring for the treasures of its ancestors, the Makah Nation ensures the cultural viability of its people.
Recognizing the links between promoting a strong economy, maintaining positive cultural connections, and having the ability to own a home, the Umatilla Housing Authority promotes the Wapayatat Homeownership: Financial, Credit & Consumer Protection Program. The seven-week course provides asset building and saving strategies, while generating awareness about predatory lending practices. The Program also assists citizens in developing financial literacy skills using culturally grounded curriculum, bringing the dream of homeownership closer to reality. Under the Umatilla Individual Development Account (IDA) program, the Confederated Tribes provide a savings-match incentive, giving tribal citizens up to 3 years to successfully close a home loan. As citizens build and own homes on tribal land, wealth is accumulated and the community, economy, and the Tribes are strengthened.
The Hopi Child Care Program facilitates parents' access to high quality child care when demands of work or educational pursuits require them to be away from home. Understanding the importance of early childhood development coupled with the need for culturally appropriate care, Hopi citizens now have the ability to better provide for their families. The Program gives parents the security of knowing their children are safe, while providing affordable and accessible channels to ensure their wellbeing. As the Hopi Tribe affirms, “Children are our greatest resource. How they are treated as young children impacts the future of the Hopi Tribe.”
Located in the Banning Pass between San Bernardino and Palm Springs in southern California, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians has worked to address low academic achievement and high dropout rates among its high school students since the early 1990s. Despite the Band's economic successes, few citizens finished high school or attended college. In 1991, with concern among elders and parents mounting, the Band began to offer tutoring services on a small scale. Today, the program has grown beyond offering tutoring services only; it now works in partnership with the local school district and is a complete life skills program that helps students grow as learners, giving them the tools necessary to achieve the academic success they want. Absenteeism is down, graduation rates are up, more people are enrolling in college, and students are testing at or above district levels in all grades. The Morongo Band has transformed the educational experience for its children, creating lasting benefits for the Band and its people.
A unique partnership between an urban Indian center and a tribal government, the tribally funded Community Center serves nearly 500 Menominee tribal citizens living in the greater Chicago area. The Center and the tribal government work together to ensure that all of its citizens are actively involved in tribal affairs by organizing trips to the reservation, providing full electoral rights for off-reservation citizens, and by holding official tribal legislature meetings at the Center.
In the fight for sovereignty, the citizens of the Mohawk Nation recognized that self-determination was critical in education. The Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS) was created as a place for wholly Mohawk education. Grounding learning and teaching in Mohawk lifeways, the School has survived political, financial, and institutional challenges to become a respected and supported institution of the Mohawk community. Through the ongoing efforts of parents, families and the larger Mohawk Nation community, AFS has played a critical role in the formation of Mohawk identity, citizenship, and nationhood for the past twenty-five years, extending even beyond those who attend the school and into the next generations of Mohawk leadership.
In 2002, the Cherokee Nation carried out a survey of its population and found no fluent Cherokee speakers under the age of 40. The Cherokee Principal Chief declared a state of emergency, and the Nation acted accordingly. With great focus and determination, it launched a multi-faceted initiative designed to revitalize the Cherokee language. Using state- of-the-art knowledge and techniques of language acquisition, the Project includes a language immersion program for pre-school children, a university partnership degree program for certifying Cherokee language teachers, and a set of community language activities. The Project brings together elders, young adults, and children in an effort to preserve not just a language but a people who see in their language the foundation of their own survival.
Dedicated to giving community youth the skills necessary for functioning in a modern world while retaining and facilitating traditional knowledge and practices, the Ya Ne Dah Ah is Alaska’s only tribally owned and operated full-time primary school and day care facility. Located in a one-room schoolhouse that receives no federal or state funding, the School’s 20 students – whose CAT scores are higher than their national counterparts – learn Ahtna Athabascan history, language, music, and art from elders, and science and math from tribal foresters, environmentalists, and computer technicians. The School’s board also encourages intensive parental involvement and aggressively monitors student progress.