A Bit About Us
Working Towards a Better Tomorrow
Indigenous youth experience PTSD at the same rate as combat veterans returning from Iraq & Afghanistan (Dorgan et al, 2014). Suicide is the second leading cause of death for indigenous youth, alcohol related death for Indigenous youth is 17x the national average and their arrest rate is 3xs the national average (Fast Facts. n.d.) Indigenous youth have the lowest educational outcomes of all other races in the United States (National Center for Education Statistics and Washington State Report Card).
Studies show that mental health issues are linked to poor educational outcomes and mental health is a predictor of educational achievement (Murphy et. al, 2014) Educational outcomes are only a symptom of a larger mental health crisis that has been ongoing for indigenous youth since the boarding school era. The Meriam Report from the 1930s (which called Indian Education grossly inadequate), the Kennedy Report from the 1960s (which called Indian Education a National Tragedy), and current educational data has been consistent across time that native students are struggling the most. We are connecting the dots in that mental health creates a barrier to education, education creates a barrier to socioeconomic success, and low socioeconomic success creates a barrier to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Not only are indigenous children and communities being failed, “There is clear evidence that cultural values and experiences shape neurocognitive processes and influence patterns of neural activation and may even effect neural structures. The study of the “cultural brain” is a critically important topic that demonstrates how fundamental cultural values and practices are at influencing thought.” (Park and Huang, 2019). This means that western education systems are physically wiring our children's brains to operate in a Eurocentric way while our languages and cultures die as a result of colonization.
To colonize means to have legal/political control over a land or people. If Native families remove their children from public school, they would face legal action if they did not report to the state. We are in active colonization and our children are still being systemically failed by the state and federal government.
Lastly, indigenous language(s) and culture(s) are proven, in various studies, to improve mental health and wellbeing and even labeled as a "protective factor". According to the national Center for Disease Control, "For American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and communities, cultural and traditional teachings and practices are important protective factors that provide their people with strength and resilience to lead healthful lives." (Andrade et. al, 2019). We believe that the answer lies within language and authentic cultural revitalization. Fortunately there is a movement to open immersion schools and a huge push to revitalize our languages. There is still a gap in that most immersion schools translate western public school systems and add some surface level cultural activities.
At kʷu cnxiʔ (We Join In), • We aim to seek the knowledge and wisdom of our elders to reconstruct how our children would be raised in traditional systems and what values, skills, knowledge, and practices children would engage in at each stage of development. •We anticipate the day that tribes will regain full control of indigenous education and want to be prepared with educational curriculums, resources, guides, that are steeped in thousands of years of ancestral wisdom and knowledge guided by our Elder Speakers. •We will also consult with behavioral health specialists to articulate how cultural practices influence neurobiology for increased mental health. • We aim to reverse the current trajectories by improving the mental health of our communities through implementing rigorous language and cultural programs under the guidance of our Elders and support from mental health professionals resulting in increased educational outcomes and socioeconomic success.
Andrade NS, Jones M, Frazier SM, Percy C, Flores M Jr, Bauer UE. Tribal Practices for Wellness in Indian Country. Prev Chronic Dis 2019;16:180660. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd16.180660external icon
Brockie, T. N., Heinzelmann, M., & Gill, J. (2013). A Framework to Examine the Role of Epigenetics in Health Disparities among Native Americans. Nursing Research and Practice, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/410395
Dorgan, B., Shenandoah, J., Bigfoot, D., Broderick, E., Brown, E., Davidson, V., Fineday, A., Fletcher, M., Keel, J., Whitener, R., & Bruguier Zimmerman, M. (2014, November). Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence: Ending Violence So Children Can Thrive. The United States Department of Justice; Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/defendingchildhood/pages/attachments/2015/03/23/ending_violence_so_children_can_thrive.pdf
Fast Facts. (n.d.). Center for Native American Youth. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from www.cnay.org/resource-hub/fast-facts/.
Henson, M., Sabo, S., Trujillo, A., & Teufel-Shone, N. (2017). Identifying Protective Factors to Promote Health in American Indian and Alaska Native Adolescents: A Literature Review. The journal of primary prevention, 38(1-2), 5–26. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-016-0455-2
Kennedy Report; Education Resources, National Indian Law Library (NILL). (n.d.). Narf.org. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://narf.org/nill/resources/education/reports/kennedy/toc.html
Meriam Report: The Problem of Indian Administration; National Indian Law Library, Native American Rights Fund (NARF). (n.d.). Narf.org. https://narf.org/nill/resources/meriam.html
Murphy, J. M., Guzmán, J., McCarthy, A. E., Squicciarini, A. M., George, M., Canenguez, K. M., Dunn, E. C., Baer, L., Simonsohn, A., Smoller, J. W., & Jellinek, M. S. (2014). Mental Health Predicts Better Academic Outcomes: A Longitudinal Study of Elementary School Students in Chile. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 2, 245–256. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-014-0464-4
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a part of the U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://nces.ed.gov/
Park, D. C., & Huang, C.-M. (2010). Culture Wires the Brain. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 391–400. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691610374591
Pharris, M. D., Resnick, M. D., & Blum, R. W. (1997). Protecting against hopelessness and suicidality in sexually abused American Indian adolescents. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 21(6), 400–406. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1054-139X(97)00166-3
Report Card - Washington State Report Card. (n.d.-b). Home - Washington State Report Card. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://washingtonstatereportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/ReportCard/ViewSchoolOrDistrict/103300?fbclid=IwAR00Y_Q-LWEWLo688clIReWeq3y7vI5KWYhKkyKySfKT_0Y6Ts4lEAw9HqQ
Winters, R. (2014, June 23). The Quiet Crisis in Native American Juvenile Justice. Corrections.com. http://corrections.com/news/article/36513-the-quiet-crisis-in-native-american-juvenile-justice