Pathkeepers for Indigenous Knowledge is an I.R.S. 501(c)(3) founded to build the next generation of Native American youth leaders, self-directed thinkers and social entrepreneurs by combining alternative education approaches with traditional Native lifeways to solve the educational, economic, political and social issues facing Indian Country in the 21st century. 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. We began hosting our annual Pathkeepers Native Youth Leadership Camp. The Camp provides Native youth with opportunities to experience traditional and cultural activities, identify healthy and sustainable food and life choices, and explore their personal interests, educational aspirations, 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 began in late 2013 and early 2014, to revitalize and strengthen the presence of Native foods in the everyday life and diet of Indian people.