Reflections from Great Plains regional representative, Justice Fox of the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara nation:
I attended the first Healing Circle training in Oklahoma, along with the celebration of UNITY’s founder J.R Cook. One new thing I learned about another culture was how many different styles of dancing there are within Indian Country. Our Female Co-President Chenoa introduced me to her tribes’ way of pueblo dancing and the customs that come with it. I was very intrigued and just in awe as I learned how long they have to do their dance and the endurance you need. I am grateful for the knowledge. UNITY’s cultural sharing is important in building our leaders and I’m in awe to see it firsthand in my fellow Executive Committee members. To do community work takes the same endurance we learn from ceremonies and dances. It’s about the lasting impact we can make, not just now at the moment, but for endurance to be in service of our communities.
The first of several Healing Circles was a group activity consisting of youth from Oklahoma, I was planning on attending this event on my own but thankfully with generous sponsors, I was given per diem to assist me with getting there. I am grateful for all those who invest in Native youth and give them opportunities to gather and learn from each other. The Healing Circle was held at the First Americans Museum as a partnership for us to experience the Museum and bring UNITY teachings to their learning center.
Everything about the Healing Circle training, from the idea; to the execution, is exactly what I believe can be the start of getting more youth involved and prepared for the real world. It was important to me because of the topic we were being trained on, asset mapping, and how to hold difficult community conversations to identify what challenges we want to overcome. I learned how to ask the right questions at the right time and to be able to allow myself to be more empathetic and sympathetic. It helped me become a better leader and listener to my community.
The Healing Circle training can be adapted to fit the needs of the youth councils who request them. It can cover the community readiness model, asset mapping, and building youth council support systems in 12 identified sectors. These Peer-to-peer trainings can be tailored to fit the needs of each youth council in 4 hours, one-day or two-day training sessions. It will prepare youth councils on how to host difficult community conversations and the importance of service leadership in building relationships with their tribal community.