Pathkeepers for Indigenous Knowledge is an I.R.S. 501(c)(3) recently founded to strengthen, maintain and continually evolve American Indian governmental, economic, educational, health and sustainable community practices based on traditional and indigenous knowledge. One of the primary impediments to our mission is disruption in the passing of traditional and indigenous knowledge from Native elders and community leaders to younger generations. Without this flow of knowledge, the existence of Native peoples as unique and distinct communities is threatened.
We have observed the growing crises of identity, substance abuse, suicide and mental and physical health challenges disproportionately affecting our Native youth with deep concern. While these are great community and national challenges, we are determined to do something to reach out in hope to Native youth. To begin, we are planning an annual Pathkeepers Native Youth Culture Camp beginning in the summer of 2013. The Camp will provide Native youth with opportunities to experience traditional and cultural activities, identify healthy and sustainable food and life choices, and explore their personal interests and tribal identity. By providing these opportunities, it is our hope to build Native youth in self-esteem, leadership skills, health and wellness.
Other projects that Pathkeepers is working on include “Native Foods for Life,” which will begin in late 2013 and early 2014, to revitalize and strengthen the presence of Native foods in the everyday life and diet of Indian people. Beginning in 2014, we will open the Pathkeepers Institute, which will offer 4-8 week courses (in-person and on-line) to provide participants with opportunities to increase and strengthen their knowledge and understanding of Native traditional knowledge, technologies and lifeways.