October News from Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Shawls, A Dreamstarter update, and more!

When a shawl is much more than just a shawl

The Little White Buffalo Project’s “Circle of Shawls” program in Lincoln, Nebraska provides a safe and inter-generational activity that fosters cultural strength and growth for participants as they learn more about and create native shawls.

Shawls have become a feminine cultural symbol of nurturing and represent strength, beauty and solidarity.

Thanks to our supporters, this past year, girls and their mothers were able to learn this contemporary adaptation of the traditional women’s blanket, including a mother who grew up on Pine Ridge and her daughter. Says Susana, the project director “They have completed shawls and are both some of our most persistent and progressive language learners. The mother has become one of our biggest advocates in the community.”

Six Navajo homes connected to water

For weeks, our vendors backhoe has been digging, laying pipes, and installing a new septic system with a leach line or an outdoor water hydrant. They also installed indoor hot/cold water pipes into homes and replaced fixtures that enabled their team to connect homes to clean running water in the District 11 communities of Wheatfields, Tsaile and Lukachukai on the Navajo Nation located in Arizona, where 2,361 families today still haul water to their homes.

We started off with eight projects in the three communities and currently six projects are completed. One was for Bernice Chee, a grandmother and head of household to twelve family members, six of whom are children.

The letter her grandson sent us says it all.

Connecting STEM and First Foods – an update from Dreamstarter Kunu Bearchum

Year 4 Dreamstarter Kunu Bearchum’s dream is to educate youth in his community about the health benefits and medicinal value of “First Foods” – pre-colonial foods. Wow, what a job he’s doing already!

Just a few weeks ago, Kunu took a group of young native American students to the First Foods Science Quest in Portland, as part of a collaborative effort with Portland State University and others to recruit, train and retain American Indians and Alaska natives into health professions. As he reported to us:

“…We arrived at our destination, a First Foods garden planted and maintained by Native medical students. At the garden we were introduced to the variety of first foods that were planted in the garden which included a variety of squash that was taken on the Trail of Tears and cared for through many seed keepers. There was also an ancient variety of potato that looked really cool. We were able to harvest some of the food medicine to prepare for our First Foods Feast at the end of the week.”

Kunu, and the students, learned how to care for the environment and about the health benefits of indigenous foods. And, Kunu is just getting started!

Repairs needed number in the hundreds, as winter nears.

As we reported weeks ago, the damage inflicted on Pine Ridge from two hail storms in late August was severe. The Federal Emergency Management Authority is not able to provide support. The need is greater than we anticipated, and at last count we have a daunting number of 261 houses all in one location that need siding, windows and roof repairs, with winter well on its way. To meet the critical need, we will be contracting help and hope to complete the necessary repairs to 5 or 6 homes a day.

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