Celebrating the Women of Running Strong: Rose Fraser and Katsi Cook

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At Running Strong for American Indian Youth® we acknowledge and revere the strength of power of all women, particularly those Native women we work closely with and depend on to be our eyes and ears throughout Indian Country,

It is these women through who we are able to help meet the needs of Native American children, families and elders by distributing food boxes to families struggling to pay their bills, overseeing operations at summer food feeding sites so children don’t go hungry just because school is out, providing opportunities for families to produce healthy, fresh vegetables and fruits through our organic gardening programs, and much more.

Among them are:

Rose Fraser, director of our partner the Oyate Teca Project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Rose, a member of the Running Strong field staff, is a jack-of-all trades. In addition to managing the community center where dozens of children show up each day all year long to participate in fun, educational activities, she also directs the Medicine Root Gardening Program which provide season-long gardening classes and assistance to families striving to provide a healthier diet for their children and themselves.

Rose was also one of the six inaugural Massachusetts Institute of Technology Oceti Sakowin Solve Fellows in 2018 for her work on the Medicine Root Gardening Program.

For Rose, “just being awarded my very first Fellowship is very humbling and makes for a very exciting time for the Medicine Root Garden Program.”

“We have worked very hard and tirelessly to have this program succeed,” she said. “My staff and I will do our best to continue educating families on food security and sustainability.

“This has been a passion of mine for a very long time, so to see it being recognized and succeed is very rewarding,” she added. “We are very excited to share our knowledge and experience with others.”

Katsi (Akwesasne Mohawk) is a former board member of Running Strong for American Indian Youth® who served as secretary and also as the Executive Director of the First Environmental Collaborative of Running Strong which supports community-based health projects that seek to empower Native women of all ages.

She is a midwife, environmentalist, Native American rights activist, and women’s health advocate who is best known for her environmental justice and reproductive health research in her home community of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne in upstate New York, notes her Wikipedia site.

“Woman is the first environment,” Katsi pointed out in a 2018 article in Rewire.News. “With our bodies we nourish, sustain and create connected relationships and interdependence. In this way the Earth is our mother, our ancestors said.

Today, Katsi continues to work tirelessly in her efforts to revitalize indigenous midwifery.

“Indigenous midwifery and healing practices are keystones in addressing reproductive health and longstanding problems in communities such as addition, disease, shame and trauma.”



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