The Wellness Circle

A Message of Hope and Inspiration from NIWRC’s Executive Director

by Lucy Rain Simpson, NIWRC Executive Director

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From my heart to yours, I extend a warm handshake to each and everyone reading this message.  As we embark on this new journey, this undiscovered country, I call on each one of us to stand strong and to continue the important work we have before us, the work that was started by those who have gone before us and the work we will pass on to those who come behind us, the work to end violence in our communities.

As Indigenous people of this great Turtle Island, we honor our sacred connections to this planet, knowing that we are guardians and protectors and bear a tremendous responsibility to protect all life on this planet.  Our great leaders have said that “The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.”

During this time of thanksgiving and giving thanks, we are thankful for the countless gifts and blessings we receive.  We are thankful for the survival of our people, and for the wisdom and spiritual strength of our ancestors.  We know that our presence here today is a direct result of the prayers of our ancestors.  Our lives have meaning and purpose, we each have a gift. We each have a voice, a song to sing.

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center is extremely thankful that we have been selected to once again serve as the National Indian Resource Center to End Violence Against Native Women and to continue our leadership in providing culturally grounded, grassroots advocacy to end gender-based violence in Indigenous communities and to support tribal sovereignty.

We believe and base our work on traditional values, remembering that we are all related to one another, to the plants and animals, to the lakes and rivers, to the rocks and earth, to the sun and moon, to the wind and the fire.

We would like to take a moment to reflect on the Grandmothers of our movement such as Tillie Black Bear and her prolific knowledge and spiritually rooted teachings that guide our path in prayer, hope and belief that tomorrow will bring changed hearts and minds of peace, tolerance, respect and love for one another as good relatives.

I thank each and everyone of you for helping to make the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center the valuable organization it is today, and look forward to our continued journey together.

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Native Women in Need Offer Variety of Healing Services

by Norine Hill, Executive Director, Native Women in Need

WATCH:  Ellena’s Story-A Video in collaboration with Native Women in Need and Seattle Goodwill. Ellena’s voice was full of regret, guilt, and grief as she recalled the events of “that night.”As Ellena began the difficult work of re-entering society, she joined a support home for Native American women. With healing and affirmation at home, Ellena was looking for a way to do something positive. That’s when she found Seattle Goodwill. “I was walking by Goodwill one day and thought maybe they could help me get back into a career.”

 

Native Women In Need is a grassroots Native women’s organization offering cultural services, advocacy and mentorship supporting the success of Native women in pursuit of healing from historical and intergenerational trauma.  Custom designed culturally informed healing services fill in the gaps of mainstream services to underserviced populations of Native women.  We collaborate with local Tribes and off-reserve native and non-native agencies.  Services are custom designed with Tribal Program Directors to support specific social service programs including problem gambling, shelters, and women’s groups.

The goal of our services is to inspire participants to reclaim their cultural identify, overcome obstacles to a life free from violence and trauma.  By acknowledging the past to re-learning who we are as an Indigenous People, participants transform their path to a journey of natural leadership and wisdom built on the strength of our ancestors.  Changing the dynamics of historical and intergenerational trauma portrays the beauty, strength and sacredness of Native Women.  Our cultural services includes over 20 cultural healing workshops with teachings, Gathering of Women sweats, Native Chemical Dependency Groups, including building sweats and young warrior sweats.  In addition we offer training to front-line staff, advocates and Tribal Leadership in areas of grief and loss, historical trauma, sexual abuse and the impacts of violence against women on survivors, family and community.

The mentorship program consists of 10 mentees per year consisting of former participants interested in joining the NWIN family mentored by Elders sharing their legacy in teachings, workshops, Talking Circles, and Advocacy to continue to grow the vision of the organization and support Mentees to further their healing beyond trauma.

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Wellness, Self Care and the Meaning of Treating Each Other As Relatives

By Rebecca Balog, NIWRC Grants Compliance Manager

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Violence. Fear. Bullying. Lateral Oppression. Politics. Environmental Crisis. Treaty Rights. Racism.

What is the right answer?  Is there only one right answer? How will we make it through these challenges?

This may be the answer:

#WWMAD or #WhatWouldMyAncestorsDo

In many cultural teachings, the ultimate action plan was to support each other within the community with selflessness, earning respect by leadership, working hard to help, giving of available resources, food, kindness in supporting healing practices, respect and the most valuable–prayer.

Returning to the action plans of our ancestors may be an answer to the challenges we face today. Treating each other as relatives is a way to self care and wellness, a way to be united with the old-ways.  The old-ways that are consistently represented at Standing Rock and the various camps in the Water Is Life movement. They are protecting (not protesting). They are collectively praying (not engaging in war).

Decolonizing is a way to work with these natural cycles. The seasons dictated how our ancestors mapped the day. Taking shelter from the weather, gathering stores, and making sure all were provided for. These days it is easy to act as if the seasonal changes (or political changes) are irrelevant to our reactions in a modernized life.  But we are not helpless, we can act.  Act like our ancestors did.  If tomorrow is a challenge our strength feels low, maybe we could decide on how to manage by asking, “What would our ancestors do?”