The Center for Native Health receives $30,000 Stewarding Native Lands Grant

by Sep 22, 2023COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments

Center for Native Health release


The Center for Native Health recently received a $30,000.00 grant from the First Nations Development Institute of Longmont, Colorado. This award will support the efforts of The Center for Native Health’s ᎢᏯ ih ya: EBCI Youth River Cane Project.

River cane is a cultural keystone species for tribes of the southeastern United States, including the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), but is threatened by development, agriculture, and a lack of understanding of the importance of the species. In addition to the cultural significance, large patches of river cane, called canebrakes, provide significant wildlife habitat and make positive contributions to water quality and stream bank stability.

Johnathon “Dewi” Thompson, Choji Thompson, and Mary Thompson, all members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, gather river cane. (Photo courtesy of Center for Native Health)

“My mom, my sister and my daughter weave baskets using River cane,” said Mary Thompson, an EBCI tribal member and second-generation basket weaver.  “My entire family helps out with gathering and processing the cane. I have a picture of two of my grandsons carrying cane from the cane patch, the youngest was probably five years old. That’s how we learn to weave baskets by being around and with my mom as she did so.”

This project seeks to facilitate transfer of cultural knowledge from one generation of EBCI artisans to the next generation and teach EBCI youth about the benefits of river cane. UNC Asheville Associate Professor and Executive Director for The Center for Native Health, Trey Adcock, PhD, a Cherokee Native citizen, suggests, “This grant continues CNH’s deep commitment to developing programs and partnerships that hold meaning and value to Indigenous communities as they, themselves define. Working with community members to facilitate the transfer of cultural knowledge from one generation to the next exemplifies our mission to improve health outcomes for Native people through a cultural understanding of health and wellness. We couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of this project”.

Project partners include Levi West, Cherokee Youth Council leadership specialist at Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute; Adam Griffith, EBCI Cooperative Extension; and Desirae Kissell, Conservation outreach coordinator for EBCI Natural Resources.

As part of the project EBCI youth will help identify river cane patches for conservation, identify and remove invasive species threatening river cane proliferation and learn from EBCI Elders and artisans about the various uses of river cane. The grant activities also include engaging EBCI youth in the processes of government by having them advocate for land conservation dedicated to river cane sustainability.

The Center for Native Health 501(3)c was founded in 2009 with the vision of reducing health disparities for American Indian communities through the integration of community held knowledge into all facets of Native healthcare and education.

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