Native American Youth Symbolic “Rites of Passage”“The Vision Quest, or perceiving quest, is the way we must begin this sea...
Native American Youth Symbolic “Rites of Passage”The rites of passage program director’s task is not one of seeking to imp...
Native American Youth Symbolic “Rites of Passage”The bottom line in reducing staff burnout is to let staff know that you a...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

Native american youth


Published on

Published in: Education
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Native american youth

  1. 1. Native American Youth Symbolic “Rites of Passage”“The Vision Quest, or perceiving quest, is the way we must begin this search. We must all follow our Vision Quest todiscover ourselves, to learn how we perceive of ourselves, and to find our relationship with the world around us”. ~ Hyemeyohsts Storm’s “Seven Arrows” (1972) ~IntroductionResearch indicates mentoring and “rites of passage” type programs can change the course of a youngpersons life. Offering positive, consistent, and long-term relationships with mentors or “youth guides” canincrease a variety of protective factors (i.e. self esteem, meaning, and problem solving and healthydecision making) and decrease corresponding risk factors for youth (i.e. substance use, school drop-out,gang violence, suicide etc (Grossman and Rhodes, 2002).”Include local tribal leaders.When working with Native American communities the program director must invite tribal leaders to takepart on the advisory or mentor recruitment team. If these leaders become part of the decision makingprocess, they will more fully understand the benefits of youth mentoring and support the overall missionfor the youth of their community.If just one well respected tribal leader champions the program—spreads the word to others within thecommunity--it can be a tremendous boon to the rites of passage initiative. In the mentoring profession, theterm “champion” refers to a person of power and influence who makes a wholehearted commitment tosupport a mentoring program. This is can be accomplished by helping to recruit prospective mentors orguides, by seeking financial and other key resources, or by making the connections that help forgecollaborative partnerships.Construct a total system of symbols with deep meaning.Hold rites of passage meetings within the tribal community—not at school-based sites—but in naturalworld, private or sacred settings. Once the initiative has begun, the mentors/guides should meet on amonthly basis to build relationships, ensure strong communication, and participate in practice-basedrituals led by experienced Guides. The rationale for coming together at culturally important places ispurposeful, intentional, and constitutes a total systems approach that includes; words, ideas, rituals,pictures, gestures, sounds, social groupings - that evoke the deepest feelings and most importantmeaning within the historically lived experience of the tribal community, their ancestors, and MotherNature. In addition, by holding meetings at comfortable, familiar and sacred settings, the programemphasis is on the importance in finding community-based solutions for caring for and connecting withyouth.The various symbols are parameters that situate an individual within their community while also providinga comprehensive and persuasive outlook on life.Map out a path of ultimate transformation.Tribal rites of passage embody a way of life, a praxis designed to restore wholeness and ultimatemeaning to human existence by involvement with the source of life, the sacred (Burke, 2004). The focusis on this is what and how it is to be who I am being in this tribal community.Written by Jon Dunnemann Page 1
  2. 2. Native American Youth Symbolic “Rites of Passage”The rites of passage program director’s task is not one of seeking to impose a directive change, to fix orto ameliorate the lived inter-relational world of the youth, but, rather, to attempt to clarify it so that itsexplicit, implicit, and long-held assumptions, values, and beliefs can be examined and thoroughlyunderstood.Provide a menu of volunteer opportunities.As it is a huge commitment for individuals to commit to mentor/guide a young person for an extendedtime, there are also other ways to volunteer. Other possibilities are to dance, pray or sing for youth andtheir matches on a consistent basis. This can also help the tribal community to maintain an awareness ofthe mentoring/rites of passage program, and its needs. In addition to sacred rituals, possibilities forengaging others include: • Helping obtain food for an event • Offering bus transportation to a field trip and providing chaperones • Donating space for trainings • Securing financial resources • Developing a collaborative community service event • Suggesting additional venues for recruiting pitches on an ongoing basis • Nominating mentor/guide candidates or suggesting groups who would be valuable community partners.Offer to serve.Do not come empty handed. When you are approaching a tribal community to seek mentors/guides orother resources bring something of value to give them. For example, provide the tribe with information onother resources available in the community (e.g., other children’s programs, referrals to mentoringprograms that might be a better fit for their children than yours, daycare services, or health and mentalhealth resources). An additional example is that a tribal community might be looking for volunteers toparticipate in their important events, or to help at a food drive. Be prepared to provide this assistance.Provide no-cost trainings.Another way to collaborate with tribal communications is to offer staff and even men’s and women’sgroups training on how to interact with young people. Put together a brief workshop using the strategiesand philosophies from your mentoring/rites of passage program, and during this training, provideeducation along with fun and interactive exercises that will show individuals how to have greater impacton their youth. After covering subjects such as, what a mentor/guide is and is not, the benefits ofdeveloping relationships of trust and respect, and tools for communication it would be good to mention thetribe’s rites of passage program. Inform them that if they are committed to grasping a betterunderstanding of youth and if they are really set on improving their own skills that they should considerjoining to assist with the rites of passage program for just one year.Replicate the program.Written by Jon Dunnemann Page 2
  3. 3. Native American Youth Symbolic “Rites of Passage”The bottom line in reducing staff burnout is to let staff know that you appreciate them. Praising,recognizing, and supporting the staff is key, but it is also critical to make them feel a real and importantpart of the community. Solicit staff feedback regularly, and use what you learn to make programimprovements. Ask staff to think creatively about what they do and make suggestions to help the program—then, as much as possible, use their suggestions. Include staff in planning meetings and in decision-making whenever possible, and create an atmosphere where everyone in the program feels that they arepart of the mission of the organization and tribal community.Build partnerships. • Assess local tribal communities for the likelihood of collaborations. • Look at their history of working with other youth-serving entities and other characteristics, such as the age group, and socio-economic background of their members. • To gain an audience with the targeted community, determine if anyone in your organization knows its leaders or members. • Spend the time needed to develop trusting relationships. • Attend their ceremonies and events, and eat meals with them, if possible. • Sell your effort to the tribe’s leader. Whether a healer or medicine man and encourage them to develop messages to their members that highlight mentoring relationships in a spiritual context. Ask if you can follow up by providing a recruiting pitch. • Give presentations to the tribal men and women’s groups. • Invite elder leaders to become part of the decision-making (and recruiting) process by asking them participate on the advisory team. • Offer your organization’s assistance. • Consider ideas such as providing resource information to members, volunteers to staff their activities, and no-cost trainings to staff and men and women’s groups.Written by Jon Dunnemann Page 3