Gedakina, an Wabanaki Native American term meaning "Our World - Our Way of Living," was incorporated in the fall of 2002, after several years of discussions involving educators, human services providers, traditional elders, and business minded people.
Our goal was and is to find new ways of reaching native youth, which are rooted in the traditional cultural teachings from our nations (tribes), families and communities, that will provide our young people with the skills and resources to better navigate the challenges they will face in a changing landscape.
The foundation of our organization is based on our traditional cultural values therefore our primary focus is on our children and communities. We are an international and multi-racial alliance of people who have come together to make a better future for all children.
Gedakina works within Native American rural, urban and reservation communities from across northern New England and southern Quebec. We are a multigenerational endeavor to strengthen and revitalize the cultural identity and knowledge of Native American women, children and men from our region, and to conserve our traditional homelands and sacred places.
³Building A Network of Relations² is a term that best describes our efforts and vision and we seek to reconnect native people from across our region, from family bands to tribal nations.
Being advocates, educators and community minded people, we have a responsibility to develop community programs that positively impact our people and address the socioeconomic challenges that face them every day. Gedakina has been fluid, evolving and growing since it's conception in 2002. Much like a white pine tree, one of our symbols (The Tree of Peace), Gedakina has grown from a seed to a sapling, and has branched out in several directions. We collaborate with organizations and individuals across the region to develop and implement programs that will make our communities healthier, safer and stronger.
Key areas of interest include:
Community Building: Gedakina seeks to strengthen and expand the concept of "Community," working to dismantle the constructs and stereotypes that present barriers of inclusion on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference, economic status, disenfranchisement, ability, language, and education, while striving to address the lateral oppression that can divide communities from within.
Community Wellness: Gedakina supports new and existing community based programs, including those focused on general health and wellbeing, child abuse prevention, youth at risk, physical fitness, economic development, hunger relief and women's programs.
Domestic and Sexual Violence Against Women, Children and Men: Gedakina sponsors educational and prevention programs including the new Circles of Strength Initiative. We believe that if we all work together to educate our young men and women that we can put an end to violence in our individual lives, as well as in our families and communities. In 2002 Gedakina founded the Healing Fire Initiative for Survivors of Sexual Violence. The purpose of the Healing Fire Initiative is to offer survivors of sexual violence a welcoming and comforting place to break the isolation they may feel, build community with other survivors, advocates, and supporters, and begin or continue their healing process. This program is now a regional initiative with organizations and colleges/universities across the United States adopting this award-winning program.
Educational Resource Programs: Gedakina provides teacher training and direct instruction for schools and organizations in the region on diversity issues and appropriate curriculum for teaching Native American history and culture. Gedakina works to dispel cultural stereotypes and eliminate the misrepresentation and misappropriation of Native American culture through direct collaboration with regional educators.
Cultural Educational Programs for Families of First Nations Heritage: Gedakina supports, sponsors, and organizes community, rural and urban-based programs designed to help strengthen and revitalize cultural identity, knowledge and integrity. These include language revitalization and outdoor education programs that are geared toward cultural continuity and renewal, such as snowshoeing, canoeing, and hiking trips in historically and culturally significant places, hands-on workshops with community elders and educators, and gatherings designed to restore and strengthen relationships amongst multiple communities. Programs in this area include the Annual Norridgewock Memorial; History, Language and Environmental Justice; Native American Poetry, Music and Oral Tradition Series; and a planned Voices from Our Lands Series.
Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) Gedakina provides experiential community programs on environmental justice, natural resource conservation and education.
Our Success: What makes Gedakina successful is an approach that emphasizes interconnected programs and initiatives to reach Native American youth and families, with clear recognition that the challenges our people encounter on a daily basis are also interconnected. We use a multigenerational teaching approach, involving Community Elders, youth, and volunteers with a wide range of experience; we believe that everyone has something to share and that we can always learn something new and useful from each other.
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