Our Micro Grants Support Native Women Whose Work Focuses On Health and Healing Within Their Communities
Meet the 2022 – 2023 Helper and Healers Grant Partners
Red Cliff Band Chippewa
Helping and Healing in the Milwaukee area, Sarah has helped facilitate traditional ceremonies for over 15 years. She has a passion to connect Native women of all ages by re-establishing elder women at the core of community healing ceremonies. She is working to fill the need for childcare to enable mothers to reclaim traditional healing practices.
“…a return to traditional healing practices is imperative to the mental, spiritual, and physical health of our communities. One group that has the most difficult time accessing that form of healing and learning are urban indigenous women.” – Sarah A.
Connecting to our Wisdom Keepers
Manley Hot Springs Tribe
Helping and Healing in the Kenai peninsula borough, Jennifer is preserving plant medicine, tribal doctoring, ethnoherbalism, and ethnomedicine by recording ecological knowledge from local elders/wisdom keepers.
The recordings will be archived at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (Project Jukebox.) Her efforts are part of climate change resiliency, adaptation, and mitigation as Alaska faces extreme and rapid changes to its natural environment.
“My vision is for Native Communities to have access to traditional healing, tribal doctors, and medicine people.” – Jennifer A.
De-stressing Through the Trenches of Academia
Helping and Healing in central New Mexico, Shereena has facilitated beading classes at the University of New Mexico, the University of Kansas, and Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute. She strives to create safe and sober spaces for Native Americans pursuing post-secondary education.
“Often these students leave their families and homelands that they have ties to. Going from a reservation to an Urban city can feel lonely at times. Developing cultural-focused and non-academic workshops or gatherings helps fill the void they have been missing from being away from home. Some may not have homes or families that they can learn from.” – Shereena B.
Planting and Harvesting Traditional Foods
Helping and Healing in the Navajo Nation Shiprock community, Gervana is determined to recover from the 2015 Gold King Mine waste spill which released millions of gallons of toxic waste into waterways in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and the Navajo Nation. She sees the youth in her community reclaiming local food sovereignty and is ready to start planting seeds for future generations.
“My vision is to re-establish our traditional food systems by planting native white/blue corn, squash, and watermelons, and using the youth to maintain the fields with harvesting and sharing healthy goods.” – Gervana B.
Skybird Woman Black Owl
Hesapa Birth Circle Womb Sovereignty Gathering
Sicangu Lakota/Rosebud Sioux
Helping and Healing around the Sicangu “Rosebud” reservation area, Skybird Woman is using Traditional Birth work for Womb Sovereignty. She helps women access medicinal salves, teas, steams, and traditional herbs with her practices focused on women’s reproductive journeys. She places emphasis on food as medicine and also assembles reproductive womb care kits for Native women.
“My vision is healing our relationship with our bodies and the knowledge that is carried in them; honoring our connection with the land through our relationship with her and all she offers us; and being in relationship with each other to cultivate experiences to remember our medicine.” – Skybird Woman B.O.
Women’s Sweat Lodge
Helping and Healing in the Gila River Indian Community, Arnalda is working alongside Andrea Ruiz and Carri Thin Elk to help Native women and girls in their area access traditional sweat lodge ceremonies and provide nurturing meals as a part of the cultural togetherness. She is caregiving and investing in the maintenance and upkeep of the ceremonial sweat lodge and plans to instruct a sewing class for women and girls to empower them to make personal sweat lodge dresses.
“…the women’s sweat lodge is a healing ceremony for all of the women and girls. It promotes healing from trauma, substance abuse, & other areas.” – Arnalda C.
Kena Chavez Hinojos
Turn the Nights Teal
Helping and Healing in the Albuquerque area, Kena is focused on bringing awareness to sexual violence in Native communities. She is driven by her desire to protect the youth from the deeply rooted effects of historical trauma. “Turn the Nights Teal” is an event she created with her daughter to raise awareness about sexual violence.
“…as we acknowledge our trauma, we are releasing our ancestors and those victims/survivors silenced. Our youth are our future leaders. We need to listen, support, and guide them.” – Kena C. H.
Helping and Healing in the Albuquerque area, Nichole uses a spirited wellness curriculum that promotes physical movement centered around indigenous powwow culture, ancestral knowledge of foods, and traditional medicines. She is a talented member of the Pow-wow community and uses her gifts to empower her people.
“My vision for healing is teaching relatives to reconnect with the kinds of teachings and movement that have always been a part of who we are. Helping our bodies and minds remember ancestral memory.” – Nichole D.D.
Protect the Sacred
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Helping and Healing around the Sioux City area, Trisha uplifts Native women and girls as they build healthy self-esteem and learn to protect themselves. She recognizes the hardships associated with existing in dangerous and often hostile urban environments. She serves the “Protect the Sacred” workshop which focuses on healing justice, building power in communities, self-defense courses, and human trafficking prevention.
“It is important to support Native women and girls because we are often left behind. We easily fall through the cracks and are susceptible to all forms of violence. It is important because traditionally, they were the decision-makers, the ones who will make nations strong. We need to uplift them.” – Trisha E.
Kaylene “Iñuraaq” Evans
Indigenous Doula/Birthworking Healing Journal
Helping and Healing around Noem, Alaska, Iñuraaq provides ongoing emotional and spiritual support to expecting families in her community. She is a certified full-spectrum Indigenous doula that serves Native families with pre-natal, pregnancy, and postpartum care.
“…feeling worthy of a beautiful life is the first step in advocating and working towards one. It is hard work to process and release trauma, yet we are completely deserving and capable of that hard work. We are deserving of the joy, freedom, and pleasure that come out of creating a life aligned with our values and traditions as Indigenous Peoples. We must feel that sense of worthiness to seek out the resources and embody the practices that bring us closer to our truest, healthiest selves. As we are seeking to heal ourselves, we bravely give permission and inspiration to others to seek that healing too…” – Iñuraaq E.
Morning Star Gali
Ihacammu uyuma – We choose health/we choose to heal
Pit River Tribe
Helping and Healing in the Sacramento area, Morning Star is a passionate advocate for Missing and Murder Indigenous Persons (MMIP) and provides emotional support to her community to cope and heal from trauma. She helps coordinate trauma-informed, survivor-centered talking circles that provide traditional foods and a safe space for families in need of healing.
“My vision is to end mass criminalization, end state violence, and heal the community in order to achieve Indigenous justice.”– Morning Star G.
Native Nutrition Now
Pit River Nation – Ajumawi Band
Helping and Healing in central California, Lisa is passionate about organic, indigenous, and locally-grown foods as medicine. She is working to gather indigenous women to engage with local indigenous food systems in a hands-on approach taught by Native women who hold the traditional cultural knowledge.
“My vision is to see our people return to cultural ways and traditions through indigenous food pathways and plant medicines. We see so much diabetes and health issues due to lack of healthy food access and lack of nutritional training.” – Lisa G.
Sober is Sacred “Empowering Youth in Self-Identity”
The Tulalip Tribes
Helping and Healing around the Tulalip Indian Reservation, Natosha is investing in local fishermen, harvesters, and hunters to gather traditional materials. These materials will be available to high school students in a classroom setting, promoting interactive learning and walking the Red Road (sober living).
“My vision is empowering our youth to gain the tools for healing through self-identity. Through teaching our language, history, genealogy, traditional teachings, and ways of life, we will give our youth the tools to heal generational trauma. Providing access to cultural materials and promotional items that empower identity, our youth will feel sacred in their walk at a younger age than some of us were able to.” – Natosha G.
ABQ Women’s Healing Lodge
Helping and Healing within the Navajo Nation, Sheila works to provide healing services to women that are dealing with many deep issues in all aspects of their lives. She helps Native Women with cleansing and purification of mind, body, and spirit, healing, protection, blessings, and restoring positive balanced overall well-being.
“My vision is to empower urban Native women to heal and know themselves through traditional healing practices. I will provide those without access to ceremonial support with a safe, inclusive female space to build confidence in self, their identities, and capacity for resilience.”– Sheila G.
Heart of Her Nation
Nicolle Gonzales (Navajo): Heart of Her Nation
Helping and Healing in the Albuquerque area, Nicolle is uplifting the next generation of Native women leaders by offering support, knowledge, coaching, and wisdom of becoming. She knows that Native/Indigenous women are at the frontlines of creating systems of change and healing their communities. She emphasizes the importance of having self-aware leaders working towards collective healing.
“My vision is supporting up-and-coming female leaders through coaching, counseling, and mentoring to support their innovation and healing through it. As those women are the heart of their nations.” – Nicolle G.
Creating to the Beat of the Drum – Indigenous Arts are Healing
Helping and Healing along the Columbia River in Oregon, Rebecca is a singer, songwriter, designer, and founder of Resting Warrior Face apparel and accessories. She is organizing a social healing circle that incorporates the sounds of traditional music into creating original pieces of wearable art.
“I wholeheartedly believe that meaningful, positive, and culturally relevant mentorship to our young people is highly impactful and necessary towards the efforts of healing in our indigenous communities. Singing, composing traditional drum songs, bead working, and designing original jewelry creations have been essential in my own healing journey and that’s exactly how I intend to be a part of creating a ripple effect that will bring healing to the younger indigenous women in my urban Native community setting.”– Rebecca K.
Hozho Total Wellness – Indigenous Yoga Empowerment
Helping and Healing near the Lone Peak Wilderness in Utah, Haley is weaving breath work and movement from her yoga practice with traditional knowledge to create a conscious state of being. She uses yoga as a path to overall wellness and an introduction to a lifestyle that is consistent with balance and harmony.
“Yoga has been proven to decrease stress, high blood pressure, and help with depression, anxiety, and improve overall lifestyle. Yoga gives you purpose and helps you identify the inner strength and fortitude to want more for yourself, affecting the generations to come. There are so many benefits to yoga and I want to share them with our Native female population to shift the consciousness to self-love and care. Change begins from within and expands throughout communities.”– Haley L.
Healing Horses Program
Pueblo of Acoma
Helping and Healing in the Acoma Pueblo area, Tonya aims to cultivate a space for the relatives to heal alongside our horse relatives. She is using the healing support of horse relatives in the therapeutic process for Native women and girls to be supported in a culturally therapeutic environment and share pandemic-related experiences and trauma.
“Women connect us to all that is sacred, we are grounded in Mother Earth. Elevating our Indigenous women and girls in spaces of reverence, honor, and beauty is vital to our overall well-being. When healthy and supportive spaces are cultivated for us, we continue to thrive, persevere, and preserve the sacred life-giving love which we carry within each of us.” – Tonya L.
Understanding Fuel for the Body from the Inside Out
Helping and Healing within the Navajo Nation, Dawn is hosting a series of courses focused on historical food trauma, understanding gut health/digestive system, and how to apply this knowledge to daily practices to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
“This will help heal our communities by giving the knowledge and hands-on experience in healthy meal preparations along with literature and materials as resources to help with a successful outcome of healthier lifestyles. This can help develop skills to share at home with families and also help reduce the high rates of health issues in our Native and Indigenous communities. Starting at the grassroots and teaching this knowledge empowers our people to reclaim their wellness.”– Dawn M.
Aspen Song Kids
Helping and Healing in the Taos Pueblo area, Lorna is teaching children from Taos Pueblo how to identify traditional plants used for healing and how to harvest herbs respectfully. The children who are practicing and preserving these Pueblo traditions are referred to as Aspen Song Kids.
“As a mother of nine children, I want to teach the youth traditional ways of healing with sage and cedar. Our children now are going to be the future leaders, we as parents need to make sure the youth stay on the right path to help the community heal.”– Lorna M.
Community Healing through Indigenous Childbirth Education
Helping and Healing in the Taos Pueblo area, Aspen is hosting a series of educational opportunities regarding indigenous childbirth that will be available to tribal members of her community. She offers locally harvested herbs to support self-care rituals during pregnancy and postpartum.
“My vision is to support the healing of birthing people through education. That we are able to heal from the internalized obstetrical violence that we have endured as native women. One way I can support this is by guiding individuals to fully ground and feel empowered when it comes to creating and having a baby.”– Aspen M.
Protect Our Pueblos from Nuclear Colonialism
Santa Clara Pueblo
Helping and Healing in the Santa Fe area, Marian is advocating on behalf of Mother Earth and her people. She gathers and disseminates information to help educate communities about contaminated sites and illnesses that are caused by exposure to radioactive materials and toxic chemicals. She also networks with stakeholders to emphasize the need for accountability and responsibility for the cleanup of contaminated sites, renewable energy, and climate change.
“My vision is to honor our Pueblo Existence and embrace the Pueblo teachings of love, respect, and care. We are working together to improve the lifeways of our people in order to provide an enhanced and sustainable environment for generations to come.”– Marian N.
Founder of Lakota Children’s House
Oglala Sioux Tribe
Helping and Healing on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Dusty is the founder of Lakota Children’s House which is a home-based Montessori that provides access to quality childcare and early childhood education through Lakota Language, culture immersion, and nature based learning. She uses her life experiences to empower youth who may have difficulty navigating life’s challenges and is passionate about creating talking circles for young women in her community to provide a safe space to share, connect and receive support.
“I use my life experience, personal resources, and time to learn in context what it truly means to be a good relative and restore intergenerational transmission of traditional knowledge within my tiospaye and further.”– Dusty N.
Indigenous Women’s Healing Retreats
Yuki/Wylacki/Little Lake of the Round Valley Indian Tribes
Helping and Healing on the Westcoast, Otaka is working with Xa Kako Dile which is an Indigenous women-led and directed non-profit organization on ancestral Pomo land in Northern California. Her efforts include coordinating Intergenerational training by and for Pomo women to revive their traditional ecological knowledge, create Native Women Peer Trainers, and revitalize the roots of Pomo women’s customary stewardship and cultural healing.
“We see women in our native community struggling with intergenerational cycles of trauma that manifest into mental, physical, and spiritual illnesses. These traumas are based on colonial systems that have taken away our traditional food, medicine, and healing practices. To heal the fabric of the land or world we have to start with healing the women of this world because WE bring in life. The farm Xa Kako Dile: is a healing place, growing herbal medicines, walking trails and across the beach of the ocean which traditionally were we would go to heal and it is what connects us all. ”– Otaka R.
Breathing Oceans in the Desert- A Gathering of Pueblo Women & Medicinal Plant Relatives
Pueblo of Acoma
Helping and Healing in the Acoma Pueblo area, Chasity shares her knowledge of harvesting and preparing traditional plant relatives in a respectful and meaningful way. She is passionate about inspiring members of her community to grow their personal medicinal gardens and advocates for each individual to acknowledge the healer that exists within them.
“I believe that we heal together with the revitalization of medicine within our plant elders, each other, and the land in which we all so love and are held by. This knowledge is deep within the crevasses of our inner knowingness that of which is our families’ stories, guidance, and love that comes from living in this land for hundreds of years. Embrace these plant relatives that grow alongside us.” – Chasity S.
Indigenous Auntie and Niece Empowerment Project
Helping and Healing in central New York State, Michelle is the founder of Rematriation and Rematriation Magazine. She has decades of experience in building direct support and mentorship opportunities at a grassroots level to provide effective long-lasting, positive changes that will uplift Indigenous women and girls to their rightful place of honor, value, and respect.
“By uplifting Indigenous women, we ultimately uplift the men, boys, humans, and all living beings in our communities.” – Michelle S.
Together We’re Better
Tulalip Tribes of Washington
Helping and Healing around the Tulalip Indian Reservation, Malory is creating Community Culture Night. She provides a safe space for members of her community to share a cultural meal, and practice traditional arts such as weaving, traditional singing, drumming, traditional dancing, and coastal jam.
“My vision is bringing the community together like we used to do in the old days. Providing a space for members to be together and share a meal, meet their relatives, do some crafts, and learn about canning, harvesting, processing medicines, etc. By gathering together we learn what a community is, we learn who our community is, and that is healing as you learn what a support system is.” – Malory S.
Love on the Land
Helping and Healing in Diné Nation and surrounding communities, “Love on the Land” project is about developing, organizing and hosting community sustainable housing development workshops.
Over the past 2 years, NKB has planned and completed the first three phases of our Love on the Land pilot structure, including landfill cleanup, soil bioremediation, renewable energy sourcing, watershed planning, and hosting strawbale building workshops all alongside our community and allies. The next 2 years will see the completion of our pilot.
“Healing the land & healing our bodies. I am a firm believer that how we treat the land is how we treat ourselves. When we heal the land, we heal ourselves. We yearn for that healing and continue to create innovative ways to heal for the ones before us and future generations.”– Kimberly S.
Helping and Healing in the Southwest, Jessica is organizing her community members to elect more Dine (Navajo) women into leadership positions. She is helping break barriers that prevent Native women from being elected officials in public office. Her efforts include adapting the patriarchal and colonial norms of modern government systems to include cultural and traditional thinking. She knows matriarchs provide the skills and ability to provide government services effectively and efficiently that can help heal our families.
“I want to restore the power of traditional matrilineal societies by increasing the number of Dine women who serve our communities in an official capacity.”– Jessica S.
Daughters of Tradition
Thresa Stevens (Menominee): Daughters of Tradition
Helping and Healing in the Wisconsin area, Thresa is a mentor for young women in her community and understands the importance of sober living. Through her project “Daughters of Tradition” she works on traditional arts with Native girls ranging from ages 5 -18. She provides guidance, art supplies, and food to program participants.
“I teach beading and other traditional crafting as a form of healing. So many teachings that go along with the crafting of how to feel and be sober. What you create has a piece of you in it and you pass that on.”– Thresa S.
Shawna Shandiin Sunrise
Drink Our Ancestor’s Wealth to Heal Our Hearts
Helping and Healing in New Mexico, Shawana’s work focuses on sharing the importance of Ch’ił Dééh / Diné Tea to heal our communities. During COVID many people reached out to her for traditional tea to help them recover from the effects of the illness. Her project will educate youth about traditional Dine tea, its healing properties, how to properly harvest it, and how to process each bundle they collect for their own families. She is working with a group of young women to collect this vital medicine.
“We are reconnecting across the world to all our Indigenous sisters and brothers that are survivors of colonialism and its damage on all our communities. It is a time of healing. Time to help each other move forward with a healthy mind, body, and spirit that our ancestors have prayed for us to be. My role in this is teaching/sharing my way of healing through the collection of medicinal herbs that I was taught at home through generations of Spiderwoman. Showing the ways our ancestors cultivated and processed these medicines for us all to become healthy for our communities’ hearts to heal for all our future!” – Shawna S.
YAKANAL-Mother Moon Project
Pueblo of Laguna
Helping and Healing in Pueblo Indigenous communities as well as across the American Southwest, California, Mesoamerica, and South America. Shelly’s goal is to create a shift in the foods we access and eat, towards reigniting local traditional farming practices that will begin impacting levels of health disparities, due to the consumption of processed foods and sedentary lifestyles.
“Our vision for this project is to reignite the relationship of the Pueblo females and our Mother Moon, through engaging in relationships with our local medicinal plants. It is our hope that the Pueblo females involved in this project will gain a deeper understanding of the medicine plants, utilize them more within their cooking activities and for holistic healing.”– Shelly V.
Monica “Meek” Watchman
Helping and Healing in Arizona and New Mexico, Monica had the unique opportunity to work at ART123 in downtown Gallup, New Mexico as the Creative-in-Residence for Gallup Arts through the residency she developed a youth-focused Indigenous Social Circus curriculum that brings together aerial dance, creative writing and the principles of K’e (family) to help pre-teens and teens build self-esteem, develop trust, and establish a sense of belonging through learning body sovereignty.
“I believe this can be accomplished through teaching body sovereignty to our Native youth. To achieve this fully, we must first provide the tools for spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being rooted in our Native philosophies. By providing these tools and a safe outlet for dance and self-expression, we allow our Native youth to embrace their uniqueness, identity, and healing through our bodies. When we heal our bodies we welcome our inherent strengths, allowing future generations to prosper and thrive.”– Monica W.
Helping and Healing in Montana, Lea shares knowledge as a White Bison 12-step Medicine Wheel Facilitator, Warrior Down Recovery Re-Entry Coach, NAFFA’s Fatherhood is Sacred; Motherhood is Sacred Facilitator, Indigenous Vision’s Cultural Humility Instructor, and a certified behavioral health peer support specialist.
“There is power in education and lived experience. Our ways are prevention, and being able to offer a platform to connect and engage these relatives can give them the extra support they need and deserve to be productive. Transferring traditional knowledge allows healing and identity to those who may be disconnected from their ways or may have felt and endured disconnect due to their choices. Offering space for support and teaching can allow growth and healing.”– Lea W.
TRADITIONAL HEALERS AND HELPERS
I serve the Northeastern part of the United States. Our girls grow up to be the women who lead their families and their communities. It provides the tools to build a better sense of self.
My project, Ionkwanonhkwa, will be a medicine garden to help promote the use of our traditional plant medicines to empower our people to reclaim their health and ancestral knowledge.
Native Wellness Retreat
I am a member of the Manley Hot Springs Tribe and work on a Native wellness retreat project. Our Alaska Native advocates, activists, culture bearers, healers, midwives/birth workers, leaders, teachers and water/land protectors are exhausted. The battles continue in every area of development. The three wellness retreat recipients will receive support, encouragement, rejuvenation and transformation. They will learn techniques to use in their daily life to teach their family, friends, co-workers and tribal members. We call this contact transformation. When we work with leaders in these fields, they by their very nature spread healing and understanding.
We have identified three Alaska Native women who want to participate in a wellness retreat with a multigenerational Yupik Traditional Healing family. The wellness retreat is two and a half days and includes regenerative bodywork/traditional healing, sauna, regenerative traditional food menu, crafting with traditional plant medicine, beadwork and drumming/sound journey. We will follow up by phone or email for one year following the wellness retreat and continue to provide support to participants to learn beneficial techniques to cultivate awareness and nurture well-being and personal health. One participant is a tribal chief of a large Alaska Native federally recognized tribe. Another is a language revitalization expert working on a successful televised project. The final participant is a birth worker advocate who supports women and children through birth rite passage. The retreat will be held in the summer of 2021 when we can spend time outside together, no matter the COVID-19 situation.
TRADITIONAL HEALERS AND HELPERS
We are currently supporting the work of 23 Traditional Helpers and Healers Grantee Partners across the nation and several in Alaska. Meet Elise Garrish, Natalie Dana Lolar, and Helena Jacobs.
Indigenous Plant & Food Education Series
I am a member of the Muckleshoot and my project will increase Native people’s access to traditional plant and food education. Our traditional connection to the natural world has been compromised in the modern world, therefore this will be a form of healing for Native people. This will happen through an Indigenous Plant and Food Education Series.
Students will receive three meal kits to prepare a culturally relevant meal for their family. Each session, students will learn how to gather a traditional plant which will be included in their meal. Southern Lushootseed is integrated throughout this experience to offer another traditional way of connecting with the land. Each recipe will be included in the final publication. Recipes from other Native Action Network Legacy of Leadership Cohort members will be included, as well as photos, illustrations, relevant stories, quotes and Southern Lushootseed Language integration in classes, publication and land acknowledgement.
My project will promote wellness and healing through connection to the natural world and Indigenous teachings. We want to engage with family units so the cultural teachings can be absorbed through multiple generations. Traditional language revitalization will be woven in as well.
Natalie Dana Lolar:
My project would be to put as many drums into the homes of Wabanaki people as I can. During this time of Covid-19 and being forced to separate from family, it is important to remember the medicine the drum provides.
I am a drum maker and teacher. I want to offer free kits and a zoom class for Wabanaki members to learn to make their own drums. This can help people during this pandemic to feel connected to our people and culture.
This project serves the Wabanaki Tribes; Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Maliseet and Micmac in Maine.
Alaska Native Birthworkers Community
Our project will focus on developing and implementing a virtual workshop for Indigenous birthing families in Alaska.
Families will receive plant medicine kits in the mail for the virtual workshop to make medicine at home, such as an all-purpose healing salve safe for parent and baby, pregnancy-safe tea blend and soothing nipple cream.
This project serves Alaska Natives and/or Indigenous families living in Alaska.