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Deep Learning and Collaboration

Immersive educational experiences for groups and organizations.

The Co-founders of the Return to the Heart Foundation have more than 50 years of cumulative professional and lived experience in educating others, sharing the Indigenous worldview and knowledge that can transform thinking and actions to bring a more just world.

Exercise: Understanding the Indigenous Life Course Framework & Working with Native Organizations and Grantee Partners

Native American nations and families are confronting historical, cultural and social challenges threatening the wellness and survival of Native youth and future generations. In the current social service era, programs and services targeting the needs of Native Americans are necessary and useful; however there are structural barriers that must change to make a positive and sustainable impact on the optimal development of Native children and youth. An innovative and culturally relevant framework for Native Youth must consider the function of Native American protective factors, which can serve as cultural buffers that focus on strengthening the Protective Factor of Native Youth, families and communities.

In philanthropy, we have tools and ways of working with Native communities that are far more effective and a better fit than many traditional philanthropic practices. Knowing the cultural contexts, priorities, and values can help bridge cultural understanding and empower best practices in working together. In order to strengthen the way we work together it is important for organizations to reflect on their own practices and journey towards justice and equity in philanthropy and the people we serve.

The Blanket Exercise: 500 Years of History in 2 Hours.

A powerful activity that uses interactive teaching strategies that integrate Indigenous methodologies in a mind, body, and heart changing session which leads participants through 500+ years of Indigenous history some of which was not taught in the U.S. education system and/or many times glossed over. Through storytelling, gesture, and movement, Native facilitators highlight Indigenous peoples’ relationship with European explorers, colonial settlers, and the U.S. federal and state governments all around the context of land and the taking of the land.

The exercise is interactive and requires participants, as they are able, to stand and move throughout the first hour of the experience. The second hour then allows for the participants to process the experience through a talking circle sharing what they may have learned, and reflecting on what they will do differently now that they have knowledge and understanding shared from an Indigenous lens.

The version we have developed focuses on U.S. Tribes specifically. It has been adapted and used to educate general populations in many countries globally. The Exercise engages people intellectually, physically, and emotionally, and deepens participants' understanding of history and present realities that we face today. Ultimately it aims ultimately to foster dialog toward healing within and among ourselves and as a nation.

Education from our Co-Founder

Warrior Princesses Strike Back

Interspersing personal memoir with radical notions of self-help and collective recovery, Warrior Princesses Strike Back focuses how Indigenous activist strategies can be a crucial roadmap for contemporary truth and healing.

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is home to the original people of this land, yet it is also one of the poorest communities in America. Through intimate and vulnerable memoir, Lakota twin sisters Sarah Eagle Heart and Emma Eagle Heart-White recount growing up on the reservation and overcoming enormous odds, first as teenaged girls in a majority-white high school, and then battling bias in their professional careers. Woven throughout are self-help strategies centering women of color, that combine marginalized histories, psychological research on trauma, and perspectives on “decolonial therapy.” Through the lens of Indigenous activism, the Eagle Hearts explore the possibility of healing intergenerational and personal trauma by focusing traditional strategies of reciprocity, acknowledgement, and collectivism.

Get the Book

Lakota Nation vs. United States

Executive Produced by Sarah Eagle Heart.

The Lakota fight to protect their sacred land.

A provocative, visually stunning testament to a land and a people who have survived removal, exploitation and genocide – and whose best days are yet to come.

Watch the Movie

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