Indigenizing leadership, advocacy, and education

Throughout Native American Heritage Month, the Native American Leadership Council in partnership with the Office of Equity and Social Justice are bringing you videos in employee news featuring Indigenous and Native community members, King County employees, youth and elders on the movement to increase awareness of the diverse experiences, culture, stories of struggle and resilience within the Native community.

In this video, we feature the youth and elders participating in the Urban Native Education Alliance’s (UNEA) Clear Sky program. UNEA represents an organization founded and maintained by the Native community in King County. Their Clear Sky program provides intergenerational opportunities for Native youth and families to strengthen Native identity using cultural knowledge, tools of empowerment and change strategies that prioritize Native voice.

King County’s Best Starts for Kids (BSK) funding supported UNEA’s project, to launch Clear Sky Academy, an introductory course on The American Indian Historical and Contemporary Experience. Courses use a variety of instructional methods that support Indigenous perspectives, world view, and cultural values. Students have explored the areas of resistance, colonization and decolonization in a way that recognizes and builds on students’ strengths, and abilities. UNEA also provides high school academic course credits in American Indian Art and Culture (Fine Arts).

UNEA works to validate and uplift Native presence and identity for current and future generations. Intergenerational programming and activities designed for Native youth with thoughtful attention to cultural relevancy and cultural responsiveness are so important because they provide opportunities for young people to learn about their culture and traditions from elders in a meaningful and healing way. By building relationships with older generations, Native youth can develop a strong sense of identity and connection to their community, which is essential for positive future outcomes.