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Sierra Native Alliance Empowers Indigenous Youth in the Sierra Nevada

By Emma Pratt




The Sierra Native Alliance (SNA) has been helping to empower Indigenous youth and their families in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Founded in 2007, this group consists of Native community members who dedicate themselves to the preservation of their families, cultures and environments. The SNA is a nonprofit organization offering a variety of youth and community programs featuring community empowerment, cross-cultural awareness, intergenerational sharing and activity-based learning.


The SNA further offers a wide range of culture-based services to better meet the needs of developing youth and their families. The SNA youth peer support program offers opportunities for youth to connect with their peers through cultural activities that promote cultural traditions and practices. This program additionally encourages youth leaders to become positive role models in their communities and provide mentoring to the younger members. Using curriculum from the Native Wellness Institute’s Native Youth Leadership, SNA provides wellness education for youth groups while promoting healthy lifestyles that prepare them for a healthy and successful adulthood.


SNA also supports youth in regards to making healthy social connections through activities that preserve their culture. Throughout the year, SNA hosts a number of cultural events and educational projects, including field trips, to directly support youth connections to the Native community. At-risk youth who are experiencing family conflict, emotional trauma, or bullying are offered counseling and peer support. SNA provides trained Peer Support and Advocates to youth that have been affected by, or are involved in the child welfare system, juvenile justice system, and/or special education services to help them understand their rights and resources that may be available to them. SNA’s peer education and outreach programs use peer advocates to provide sexual education, prevent teen pregnancy, and reduce the transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among teens, and young adults, from ages 16-24.


For families, the SNA offers a family wellness program to include family preservation, education, case management, counseling, and advocacy to support these families in their wellness goals. This includes providing advocacy services to assist families in understanding the legal process and their rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) as well as resources that are available to Native families. SNA sponsors a family night where participants of all ages get together to participate in cultural education activities, storytelling, and making art. The Road to Resilience perinatal health project supports the wellness of mothers and infants throughout pregnancy, birth, and the first year of the infant’s life.



Not only does SNA provide youth and family programs, but the organization also offers family, group and individual counseling services and recovery programs for individuals struggling with addiction as a certified Outpatient Substance Use provider. The SNA White Bison Program (WBP) supports sober lifestyles in the form of culturally appropriate and responsive counseling, education, and family support services. SNA provides a number of outreach and early intervention, outpatient, intensive outpatient, and recovery support services.


There’s little doubt that SNA has a wide-reaching, positive impact on youth and their families in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. In collaboration with community partners, SNA supports numerous cultural events and environmental projects all throughout the area. SNA has been responsible for bringing together thousands of people through their events. Their next big event is their Auburn Big Time Pow Wow on October 17th from 10am to 9pm for those in the Auburn, California area. More information about SNA and their many programs, including this event, can be found at their website at https://www.sierranativealliance.org/


Here at Nonviolence International New York, we are proud to announce that SNA will be collaborating with us to produce a video focused on Orange Shirt Day, an annual day of awareness and remembrance of the harm inflicted upon Indigenous children and their families through federal government and church controlled residential school systems.


To find out more information and read about Orange Shirt Day and topics impacting Indigenous communities, visit https://www.nonviolenceny.org/mmiw


Sources

Sierra Native Alliance


Sierra Native Alliance Facebook Page


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