ON GOING PROJECTS
Buffalo in Their Purest Form
In 2009, Apache Indigenous Defenders, Inc. purchased 28 buffalo from the Crow Nation of Montana. All but 14 buffalo were sold or donated to the Community members. The 14 remaining were tested for cow genes to determine if the buffalo are a genetically pure species. Two showed they had the gene trait and were subsequently slaughtered and used as food for the community.
Presently, the herd is being fed grass hay by AID, Inc. in a 19 acre pasture located in Dulce, New Mexico on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. The elders of the Culture Committee strongly support bringing back the buffalo. "Buffalo is sacred to the Apache and provides everything we need: food, shelter, tools, medicines, and clothing," stated an elder. "It also is used in ceremony and respected for helping the people survive."
AID, Inc. is looking for interested parties to partner in growing genetically pure herds. Please call Bryan F. Vigil at 575-759-1343 or email: email@example.com if you have ideas for this project.
2009 Projects Funded
Abaachi Naabain Training Camp
February 14 – 18, 2009
Dr. Richard Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, confirmed Native American youth commit suicide, or attempt to, at extremely high rates. The rate among Native youth ages 15-24 is more than three times higher than the national average, he said. In some parts of the Indian Country, particularly the Great Plains, it is even much higher.
In December 2009, the community of Dulce, NM was again saddened with the announcement of two suicides: one on Christmas Eve and the other Christmas Day. Alarmed by this news, the Cultural Affairs Office with the support of Jicarilla elders have taken a step to develop a program focused on the population of young people considered at risk. These youth have a history of getting into trouble which is presently handled by the judicial system.
A different kind of culture camp was envisioned by staff of the Cultural Affairs Office that would target the juvenile delinquents in the court systems. The objective is to instill pride in the Jicarilla Apache youth through cultural immersion by way of a Jicarilla Apache Camp entitled: Abaachi Naabain Training Camp (Apache Warrior Training Camp).
February 17, 2009 marked the 100 th year of Apache warrior and leader Geronimo’s passing. The San Carlos Apache is erecting a statue near Old San Carlos on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. The intent is to bring a healing to the Apache people for the wrongdoings of centuries of oppression, aggression and attempts of genocide. The Jicarilla Apache Cultural Affairs Office desires to use this memorial dedication as a means to bring pride to the Jicarilla Apache young men.
In January 2009, Bryan F. Vigil, Jay Vigil and Lorene Willis of the Cultural Affairs Office met with Judge Shawn Perry of the Tribal Courts to discuss the concept of an immersion camp and solicit his support in addition his support for “court ordered” participation of the at risk youth if necessary. He gave his unconditional support of the project and vowed to help in any way he could.
On February 4, 2009, Lorene Willis, Bryan F. Vigil, Jeffrey Blythe, Jay Vigil, Gibson Amarilla, and Cherisse Quintana of the Cultural Affairs Office and including Judge Perry, Stanley Montoya and Jason Tecube of the Judicial system and finally Tim Anderson of the Department of Youth met at the Culture Center to further discuss the Culture Camp which was scheduled for February 14 – 18, 2009 to begin two days prior to the Geronimo event in San Carlos. An overview was provided by Bryan F. Vigil, overwhelming support was given by the Courts and decision was made to move forward.
The Jicarilla Apache Cultural Affairs believe that “The Way of the Apache (Abaachi daa na gonnt’i’ye’) will:
An Jicarilla Apache camp was arranged for two days prior to the Memorial Dedication on the 17 th of February, 2009. Ten young men between the ages of 14 – 18 was identified by the Jicarilla Apache Tribal Courts. Nine participated, finally, and two were incarcerated. These young men have a history of being in and out of the courts.
During the planning meeting, the Cultural Affairs Office laid out several guidelines for establishing a camp that has been experienced to work.
In 2003, the elders of the Jicarilla Apache Culture Committee compiled a list of 34 important learnings a young person should possess by the age of 12. Four themes are identified throughout: 1) Environment, 2) Ceremony (passages), 3) Family, and 4) Survival and Beliefs. With this in mind, the activities will cover all areas, and including issues of historic trauma. The camp will culminate in attending the “Geronimo Memorial Dedication” on the 17 th.
The Cultural Affairs Office established a flexible agenda that included involvement by the San Carlos Apaches. Several principles were identified and approved by the elders:
A pre- and post- evaluation survey was conducted on February 14 th and February 18 th. Four questions were asked on the 14 th to assess the youths desire to learn about their culture, the importance of it, and what they knew. Prior to the camp the youth participants expressed a great deal of pride about their American Indian heritage and culture; however, they also expressed that they know little about their culture. They also felt that Indian culture and White culture were very different from each other and that they were interested in learning more about their culture and felt that their cultural identity was important.
Staff observations during the trip to San Carlos consisted of the young men arguing with each other, one individual commented that he did not want to be there and was on the verge of exploding with anger. Non participation by the youth was observed by all. Staff revealed that these nine young men were members of rival gangs in the community.
On February 18, 2009, the post evaluations showed a remarkable change in the youths attitudes. Following the camp, the majority of the youth reported that they had learned many valuable concepts including: Tribal history, cultural ceremonies and proper techniques for cultural ceremonies and camps, the importance of their culture, and the importance of spiritual practices such as prayer. It is clear that some of the youth gained a great deal from the camp. Multiple youth described how the experiences they had during the camp had resulted in significant changes in their lives. In fact multiple participants described how they had learned to be “peaceable, good” and “a better person.” They described how learning about their culture and cultural practices allowed them to learn about themselves and their history and how this helped them feel like they could improve their lives.
After the camp, the majority of the participants described how the experiences they had during the camp could help them in the future. The youth described how they had learned to pray, learned how to become more involved with their culture and ceremonies, cope with angry feelings, changed their attitudes toward the judicial system, allow them to avoid fighting or disagreements and cooperate with each other, improved their communication skills, helped them feel more validated and able to be true to themselves, optimism and a sense that continued work would allow them to accomplish their goals, and with a sense of the importance of their culture and the need to work to preserve their culture in the future.
Finally, when the youth were asked about how the community and others interested in helping them succeed in the future could help them stay peaceable, the majority of the youth identified the need for continued camps in the future for youth. They also identified a need for continued contact by cultural, spiritual, and adult mentors. One participant also described how what would be most helpful to him would be just the ability to have someone to talk to and he described how when he is able to talk with someone about his experiences he feels good. Another participant described the need for honest role models. In general, the youth seemed to be asking for continued support in the form of both continued camps and individual attention in the form of mentors and supportive and caring individuals from the community.
Staff and community observations: Staff noticed an improved participation by the young men. The individual who was angry and did not want to be there commented that he wished the camp would last three more days. People from the community have observed improved attitudes. One grandfather of one young man said “What did you do to my grandson? He always comes to see me for money. Now he wants to sit with me and learn.” He stated that he is all for the Culture Center’s camps. The Prosecutor described a “transformation that was awesome” and was very impressed. All comments received from the community were positive.
The Cultural Affairs Office will provide a report to the tribal leaders and departments who work with youth.
A tipi cutting camp is scheduled for the end of May in the Colorado Isabel National Forest. The nine youth as well as others will be invited to participate.
A Girls Camp planning is underway utilizing the same concepts.
Within six months, an assessment with be conducted on these nine young men to ascertain where they are in terms of delinquencies.
Immense thanks goes to the following individuals for their support and expertise and especially AID, Inc. for providing the funding:
Bryan F. Vigil, Heritage Specialist, Jicarilla Cultural Affairs Office
Ty Vicenti, Vice President, Jicarilla Apache
Ernest Petago, Councilman, Jicarilla Apache
Wainwright Velarde, Councilman, Jicarilla Apache
Tim Anderson, Counselor, Jicarilla Apache Department of Youth
Manual Cooley, Medicine man, San Carlos Apache
Anthony Hoffman, Spiritual Advisor and Medicine man, White Mountain Apache
Wendsler Nozie, Chairman San Carlos Apache
Honorable Shawn Perry, Judge Jicarilla Tribal Courts
Stanley Montoya, Prosecutor Jicarilla Tribal Courts
Annie Belcourt, Ph.D.,Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health
Connie O'Marra Goodluck, LCSW Community Coordinator, Kauffman and Associates, Native Aspirations