Native American Emergence

The Emergence Program takes its name in honor of the many Native and Pueblo communities’ creation stories — stories about the way their people came into the world. Emergence has worked with nineteen Pueblos and two tribal nations since its inception in 1993. Through its youth organizing work, it assists and supports Native communities in reconnecting with the rich traditions and values of their heritage while engendering the skills and knowledge necessary for economic and social justice/development. It uses a variety of culturally relevant experiential methods and traditional practices, including community mobilization, youth organizing, drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse prevention and intervention, as well as cultural immersion. Emergence, led by Native American staff, is designed to assist Native youth and communities in dealing openly with historical trauma and reclaiming a sense of pride in their identity. Our program goal is to assist and support youth, adults and their communities in reconnecting with the rich traditions and values of their heritage while engendering the skills and knowledge necessary for effecting change around economic, environmental and social justice issues.

For additional information on the Emergence Program, please contact:

Misty Blakesley
Program Manager
983-6158 x28

Our Vision for the Future
The Emergence Program’s Community Mobilization Project seeks to support the revitalization and empowerment of Native and Indigenous communities by interrupting the cycle of colonization, intergenerational trauma and internalized oppression through a culturally appropriate integration of Experiential Education and Youth Organizing. By virtue of the depth and breadth of this vision, we are consciously contributing to a 500-year-old movement. Rather than simply addressing specific Native youth-driven agendas, we seek to empower Native youth and communities to help build the world they want to inhabit. We seek to generate this agency for social change through a process of education, transformation, reclamation and liberation.

We use education in its many forms as a means to uncover and explore the abuses of power that have traumatized Native and Indigenous peoples in the wake of colonialism, and connect tribal members to a vision that includes historical knowledge, language, traditional ecological practices, sensitivity to current social, environmental and cultural realities, and political empowerment. We further this education by providing the skills that allow for the transformation of shame, fear and anger into resiliency, strength and empowerment. This, in turn, awakens passion and an ability to act upon and redress imbalances within the self, family, community and world. We are particularly interested in dismantling the mechanisms of internalized oppression that were constructed by the powers of colonialism and continue to operate in Native communities in the form of violence, drug/alcohol addiction, spiritual disconnection and cultural and community dissolution. When Native youth and other community members are able to recognize this transformative power within them, they are brought to a place where they are truly able to reclaim their traditional languages, worldviews, cultural practices and pride in their identity. If we can transform our feelings into something that creates positive action that comes from forgiveness and not blame, and develop the ability to stand in the power of our identity, we will effectively liberate ourselves from the numbing and grossly destructive effects of colonization and intergenerational trauma.

Given the numerous differences in cultural, social, linguistic and political structures in the over 720 Indigenous Nations of North America, there is no “cookie-cutter” model for achieving this vision. We hold to certain aspects of our work that we believe have universal applicability, but the means by which these aspects are disseminated and actualized are situational and must be open, varied, adaptable and organic; mirroring the dynamic and very non-linear thought processes of most Native and Indigenous peoples.

It is also important to remember that in order to think in a truly sustainable manner, we must look at the potential impacts of our work not in terms of years, but in terms of generations. Just as it took centuries for Native people to be brought to the current level of disenfranchisement, so we anticipate that it will take generations of devoted struggle to fully heal ourselves from the effects of colonization. We need to be comfortable in the fact that none of us involved in this process in the present will be alive at the time of the full manifestation of this vision, and we must also trust that real, lasting, positive change does and will occur from our efforts.

We are planting seeds, as is appropriate to beginnings — and within these seeds lie our heritage and our blueprints for the future.

Emerging Leaders Training Program
Launched in October 2004, the purpose of EMERGING LEADERS is to train and support Native American youth, adults and allies to be able to implement culturally relevant Experiential Education, Youth and Community Organizing and Movement Building philosophies and methodologies in their own communities and organizations. Beginning in 2006, we will be able to provide trainings in the following areas: