Leadership: Who We Are
We are a committed group of Native American/First Nations people and allies comprised of community organizers, traditional leaders, young people, scholars, artists, social workers, human services providers, and elders. We come from all environments, including reservations, urban, and rural settings. We are Abenaki, Lumbee, Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Mohawk, Nipmuc, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Seneca, and Wampanoag. We offer many diverse perspectives, experiences, and skills to this organization. Our individual accomplishments include enhancing scholarship, working with at-risk Native American and non-Native American youth, and creating positive change for our people. Our core beliefs and values include being caretakers of the land and caring for our elders and youth. We are all committed to making the world a better place for our Peoples.
Our Constituency & Communities
Our constituency is composed of Native American/First Nations people, their families, and allies, including people of all abilities, ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations from across New England. As a coalition of Native American/First Nations Peoples, we are grassroots, regional, and multinational. Our communities are defined by our respective tribal nations, our physical location, and our related experiences. Our Indigenous communities are predominantly rural and reservation-based. However, a significant number of Native American people live in urban communities and non-reservation residential communities. Regardless of location and type of community, all our communities remain invisible, marginalized, and underserved. Our respective communities are multifaceted, and the issues facing them are complex.
Our rural, reservation-based communities face high unemployment, lack of economic development opportunities, violence, and substance abuse. (Many of our rural and reservation communities have high unemployment, some as high as 50%. In some communities, 40% of their population live at or below the national poverty level, and an estimated 70% of the population requires food assistance through food stamps, WIC, and/or food pantries.) Although these difficult issues are a challenge for our communities to address, our reservations are not without cultural identity and traditional values, which create a strong sense of community. We often host gatherings to celebrate our culture and honor our traditional ways. Despite our limited access to resources, we still manage to survive and take care of our community members. Sometimes this means providing food for Elders or raising an extended family member’s child.
Other communities exist in urban areas without a reservation’s fixed boundary but still are organized as communities. Due to the lack of economic development and educational opportunities, many people must leave their reservation communities and live in urban areas to provide for themselves and their families. Our urban-based communities lack the cohesion of reservation communities in some sense because access to one’s community and cultural ways is limited. However, despite some cultural disconnect, our peoples still come together to create a community in urban areas, often organizing gatherings, building community, and supporting each other.
Another community type for Northeastern Native Americans is the rural, non-reservation residential community. These communities are the most invisible and often the most unrecognized to mainstream society. Although a sense of cultural identity and community exists, these communities have perhaps experienced the greatest loss of traditional culture and are isolated and disconnected from the broader movement to create solidarity between Northeastern Native Americans.