Songs of My People: The Healing Power of Indigenous Education

Meet Maȟpíya Black Elk, Director of Hiyupo Alliance Boys and Young Men of Color Programs at the Native American Community Academy (NACA). In this video, he shares his emotional journey of healing from the internalized negative feelings created by the historical dehumanization of Indigenous peoples when they were colonized. Maȟpíya’s experience with his loss of identity and cultural knowledge is something many Indigenous boys and young men can relate to, but his story is also one that speaks to the reclamation that is possible. His unique experience of being led back to his culture by youth in his community is a testament to the power youth possess to act as leaders, teachers and healers in their own communities.

NACA’s Hiyupo Alliance serves Indigenous boys and young men in a school setting through mentoring and weekly peer groups. The Alliance focuses on building skills of academia, leadership and service by building a sense of community and re-connecting students with their cultural identities.

While all schools may not be an immersive cultural experience like NACA, all schools can work on adopting culturally-responsive practices and curricula that help boys and young men of color feel safe, seen and valued. It is important for local communities and school systems to support programs like NACA. We are proud to have them as a grantee and partner in our efforts to create a culture of health where boys and young men of color can heal, grow and thrive!