This fall, thanks to people like you, hundreds of children have received education in their traditions and language so that their culture will not be lost to the ages.

For example, in New York Running Strong for American Indian Youth® supports the Ohero:kon “Under the Husk” rites of passage ceremony where for the past 15 years, starting at puberty, more than 1,000 Onkwehonwe (Indigenous) youth have registered for Under the Husk – a four-year Haudenodaunee rites of passage ceremony guided by tribal Aunties, Uncles and elders.

basket weaving

Under the Husk empowers youth seeking holistic development, and the program accomplishes this by engaging their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual selves.

“This rites of passage ceremony is rooted in youth wellness, founded in land based learning, and motivated by ancestral knowledge,” says founder Clan Mother Wakerahkates:teh Louise Herne. “It gives them voice to use their experience, abilities, talents and motivations to identify how they can become skilled at who they want to become.”

In Oklahoma, Running Strong supports the Yuchi Language Program which is down to its last native fluent Yuchi speaker. The mission of the Yuchi Language Project is “to keep alive the rich heritage of the Yuchi people by creating new young speakers of the unique language through breath-to-breath immersion methods with fluent elders and children.”

While all Native languages should be preserved, Yuchi is an incredibly unique language. Linguistic experts consider it to be an “isolate” language, meaning that it did not derive from any other language or cultural group.

“For more than 100 years, under immense oppression, our Yuchi people have been counting down the number of Yuchi speakers with fewer speakers each year,” said project administrator Halay Turning Heart. “The decline of the language has been from about 24 native speakers 20 years ago, to 6 speakers five years ago, to now only 1 fully fluent elder speaker.

preschool group

“But for the first time in the long history of overcoming oppression, including the so-called Trail of Tears, government boarding schools, and English-only legislation, we are finally counting forward and adding first language speakers to the list.”

In addition, during the past five years, several of our Dreamstarters have used their $10,000 grants to promote language programs, make regalia and participate in powwows and create children’s books recounting their tribes’ creation stories.

On behalf of all of these children who are gaining a great appreciation of their tribal heritage that they will continue to pass down to the generations to follow.

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