Last Friday Running Strong program assistant Julia went on a site visit to the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB), where she was shown around by NAICOB’s project director Joanne Dunn.
NAICOB is unique among Running Strong partner organizations, as it is one of the few urban Indian centers we work with, and it serves American Indians in the North Eastern US—specifically Native people living in certain Massachusetts counties. Dunn explained that urban Indian centers serve Native people ranging from those who have just moved from a rural area and are living in a city for the first time to those who have lived in urban settings their entire lives. The North American Indian Center of Boston’s all-Native staff helps people to feel comfortable, Dunn said.
NAICOB’s facility is itself a sight to see. Housed in an old building that was once an institution for girls, the North American Indian Center of Boston has been using the space to help the local Indian community for the past forty years. The sizeable building includes a gymnasium, classroom workshop spaces, a computer lab, offices, and more.
While the building does offer space and history for the center, it has its issues. For one thing, it has large factory-style windows that need to be replaced for the center to continue to meet Head Start standards, which is necessary for the continuance of their Head Start pre-school program. The center will utilize a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for the replacements, which will Launch in May or June of this year, Dunn said.
The North American Indian Center of Boston runs a variety of programs ranging from the aforementioned Head Start pre-school program to a program to help Native grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, as well as programs to assist job seekers. Dunn explained that NAICOB programs have changed over time as the community’s needs have changed. NAICOB used to focus more on helping people complete high school and get their GEDs, but now their services have come to work more on what comes after that, with job search assistance.
The NAICOB Supporting Caregiver Grandparents is one of the Center’s newer programs. The program provides “on-going sustainable support services and resources to grandparents” in the area Native community who serve as primary caregivers. NAICOB worked with UMass Boston to put together a resource guide for these grandparents, to help enable them to provide for their grandchildren. A digital version of the guide is available.
You can follow the work NAICOB is doing on the NAICOB website and the NAICOB facebook group page.
To find an urban Indian center near you, there are many lists available online. This list of urban Indian Centers seems to be current.