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November is Native American Heritage Month dedicated to celebrating rich and diverse cultures, traditions and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.
At Running Strong for American Indian Youth® we support cultural programs to preserve languages, cultures and traditions throughout Indian Country.
Among them is the Yuchi Language Project which is striving to preserve the tribe’s incredibly unique language. Experts describe it as an “isolated language,” meaning that it did not derive from any other language or cultural group.
Today there are very few native Yuchi language speakers and by working with the organization they are passing on their knowledge to the children so that when Yuchi children are able to praise their ancestors in their traditional tongue, the future is looking brighter for the Yuchi language.
Another organization dedicated to reviving the cultural traditions of Nakota, Dakota and Lakota Sioux girls is the Brave Heart Society on the Yankton Reservation in Lake Andes, South Dakota.
Among its greatest accomplishment is the Isnati Awica Dowanpi a coming of age ceremony for girls that was once forbidden and nearly lost. As one of the seven sacred rites of the Lakota, the purpose of the Isnati is to teach young women to respect themselves and their bodies as developing women through the instruction of elder women.
Running Strong for American Indian Youth® has been a partner of the Brave Heart Society for more than 20 years supporting the grandmothers who have been focused on “calling home the spirit of the culture.”
Running Strong also supports the Little White Buffalo Project which works with Lakota elders and uses language immersion to teach people in the Native language in South Dakota and Nebraska.
There are few Lakota language programs outside of short-term programs in schools and the Little White Buffalo Project seeks to fill some of the gaps, and teach people of all ages and help them understand why Lakota language preservation is important for the community.
And then there are our Dreamstarters such as Freddy Gipp whose dream is to establish the first international powwow circuit, Hope Gamble whose dream is to educate her peers about their Navajo creation stories through comic strips, and Carl Petersen who is working to create video games to ensure the survival of the Lakota language.
Needless to say, none of this would be possible without the generosity of our loyal supporters.
Native American Heritage Month provides the opportunity for us to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present.
We hope you will support us in our mission to assist tribal citizens as we work together to address and conquer these challenges by giving what you can today.