Planning for the seventh generation what does it take to raise a healthy anishinaabe child
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Planning for the Seventh Generation: What does it take to raise a healthy Anishinaabe child?. Creating Connections to Enhance Tribal Child Welfare Systems: Regional Tribal Child Welfare Gathering March 18, 2009 Lac du Flambeau, WI Priscilla Day, MSW, Ed.D. University of Minnesota Duluth

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Planning for the Seventh Generation: What does it take to raise a healthy Anishinaabe child?

Creating Connections to Enhance Tribal Child Welfare Systems: Regional Tribal Child Welfare Gathering

March 18, 2009

Lac du Flambeau, WI

Priscilla Day, MSW, Ed.D.

University of Minnesota Duluth

Department of Social Work


The importance of identity

  • My Spirit name

  • My Clan

  • Where I am from

  • Tells you if we are related

  • Provides instant connections

  • Accesses helping systems

Historical Context

  • Missions, boarding schools and out of home placement that targeted Indian children and families through removal of children from our families and communities = destruction of our cultures

  • Impact on identity and culture: individual, family and community levels

Leech Lake

“They are American Pagans whose degradation and helplessness must appeal to every Christian heart. From their past history they have peculiar claims upon the benevolence and protection of a Christian nation. The only hope for the Indians is in civilization and Christianization.” –Right Rev. Henry Whipple (Missionary at Leech Lake)

Photographs are courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection ca. 1900

My Family History

  • Maternal Great, Great, Great, Great Grandmother: Tay-Dah-Quah-Be-Kwe (early 1800’s)

    Spotted Feathers Woman Sitting

  • Maternal Great, Great, Great Grandmother: Nay-Anah-Kwe-Oke-Kwe Pointed Cloud Woman (1830)

  • Maternal Great, Great Grandmother: O-Maa-Maa-Ge-Gwon Thunderbirds Moving Their Feathers Woman (1850’s)

  • Great Grandmother: O-Bim-Way-We-Dum-Oke-Kwe

    Roaring Thunderbird Woman (1882)

  • Grandmother: Sha-Won-O-Sa-Kwe Lady Going South (1904-2003)

  • Mother: Waaboos Rabbit (1927-2002)

Leech Lake Reservation

Background and Methodology

  • Topic-What does it take to raise a healthy Anishinaabe child?

  • Focus on N. Minnesota Anishinaabeg

  • Conducted focus groups with elders Interviewed key informants

  • Summarized data to develop an adapted version of Search Institute’s Developmental Assets

Search Institute Developmental Assets:

  • External Assets: Things that surround children to help them feel positive about themselves (mediating factors)

  • Internal Assets: Values, behaviors, and beliefs children develop that assist them in making life choices (resistance and resiliency skills)

  • Domains: Areas in a child’s life that impact their interaction with their world

    For more information:

Assets are:

“key building blocks in children’s lives that help them grow up strong, capable and caring. Like a dream catcher, assets are the supporting threads in a young person’s life that can keep away harm and invite goodness”

(AlaskaICE, 2002)

Definitions of a healthy Anishinaabe child

Elders spoke about both what a healthy Anishinaabe child “looked like” and what kind of parenting and support is needed to raise a healthy child.

A healthy child is:

  • “One that makes good decisions on his/her own and applies values to their life”

  • “Has a positive self identification”

  • “Is comfortable with who they are”

  • “Has spiritual connectedness”

  • “Part of a family unit/extended family, cultural community”

Extended Family and Community Connections

External Assets:



Boundaries and expectations

Constructive use

of time

Internal Assets:

Commitment to learning

Positive values

Social competencies

Positive identity

Adapted Domains for Anishinaabeg Families

Adapted Domains for Anishinaabeg Families External Assets:


  • Family, extended family, other adults

  • Positive communication

  • Caring community/school

  • Parents/adults involved with education

Extended Family Support

External Assets:


  • Child feels important and safe in community

  • Child learns importance of service to others

  • Child is involved in cultural activities

Cultural Activities

Adapted Domains for Anishinaabeg Families External Assets:

Boundaries and Expectations:

  • Family, school, and community expectations clear

  • Has positive adult role models

  • Has high expectations for self

Boundaries and Expectations

Adapted Domains for Anishinaabeg Families External Assets:

Constructive Use of Time:

  • Engages in creative and useful activities (cultural, organized youth activities, school)

  • Engages in spiritual/religious activities

  • Has roles at home/family/community

Use of Time

Adapted Domains for Anishinaabeg Families Internal Assets:

Commitment to Learning

  • Wants to achieve-believes in self

  • Engaged with school (activities, school work, sports, positive school relationship)

  • Enjoys reading

  • Cultural activities are integrated into life (language, ceremonies, crafts)

Engaged in School

Adapted Domains for Anishinaabeg Families Internal Assets:

Positive Values

  • Concern for others

  • Big picture (social justice, interconnectedness of all life)

  • Exhibits honesty, integrity, humility, humor, responsibility, respect, truth, love

Interconnectedness of Life

Adapted Domains for Anishinaabeg Families Internal Assets:

Social Competencies

  • Able to plan and make good decisions (resistance skills)

  • Gets along with others

  • Understands and appreciates culture (own and others)

  • Demonstrates leadership

  • Engages in and facilitates conflict resolution

Social Competencies

Adapted Domains for Anishinaabeg Families Internal Assets:

Positive Identity

  • Feels good about self

  • Has a positive view of future (hopeful)

  • Believes they can make a difference in the world (“When I grow up I want to be…”)

  • Feels connected to family/culture/tribe

Positive Identity


The basic tenants of what it takes to raise a healthy child are the same across cultures (food, shelter, security) the order of importance or prominence with native children is different.

For example, the importance of culture, spirituality, extended family and tribal connections play a central role.

The Importance of Extended Family

Elders say

  • Involve children in daily activities like house keeping, and take them along when hunting, fishing and berry picking.

  • Involve them in cultural activities, ceremonies, arts, pow-wows, which allows them to take pride in their culture by participating in it. Feeling a part of the group – “culture reinforces identity”

Involving Children in Daily Activities

Traditional beliefs

  • Respect for the autonomy, worth, and self-determination of each person - every person’s contribution is important to the well-being of the community. Healthy children mean a healthy community.

  • Individuals are expected to respect, understand and contribute to the well-being of their family, clan, band and tribe.

  • Consistent with seven traditional teachings: humility, love, honesty, wisdom, truth, bravery, and respect.

  • Raising healthy Indian children is planning for the seventh generation.

Wisdom of our Elders

  • The kinship unit is very powerful. I want my descendants to have a strong sense of who their ancestors were and to understand who they are in the larger Lakota cultural base. I want them to understand that they have a responsibility to be a conduit for our culture. That is the only hope we have of ensuring the essence of our culture will continue…

    -Beatrice Medicine, Lakota (2004)

Tribal Organizations: Promoting healthy tribal identities through culturally restorative practices

  • Two Case Studies

    -Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi (LOWO)

    Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

    -Weechi-it-te-win Family Service

    Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada


Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi, Inc. (LOWO) - Oglala Lakota Integrated Tribal Child and Family Services Agency is a tribally chartered child welfare agency on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota.

  • administers child and family services with an emphasis on abused and neglected children

  • services foster care placement, foster parent training and retention, support and maintenance, parenting education, family preservation and reunification services.

  • Developing a Lakota practice model.

Oglala Lakota Practice Model

Integration of Lakota based model of practice in service delivery.

  • Traditional Children's Rights

  • Traditional Family Rights

  • Lakota Code of Ethics

  • Medicine Wheels

  • Search for Relatives

Weechi-it-te-win Family Service

  • Work with the child, family, and community in a culturally sensitive and culturally appropriate manner using the strengths inherent in Anishinaabe culture.

  • Utilizing the wisdom of their chiefs and councils, elders, boards, staff, and community people, have incorporated Anishinaabe traditional laws into their practice model.

Weechi-it-te-win Practice Model

Cultural attachment: Defined by Weechi-it-te-win, it is how one bonds with the Anishinaabe culture through the use of the language, ceremonies, and teachings. Included is the commitment to securing the knowledge of family, extended family, community, nation, and our relationship to each other and the world (Simard, E., 2008).

Administrative harmonization: This is the process of bridging distinct yet equally important laws –Traditional Law and Federal, Provincial or State Laws (Simard, E., 2008).

Bi-Cultural practice: Ability to provide both mainstream services and cultural service options to clientele.

Traditional law: “Our ancestors governed themselves since time immemorial according to laws and a constitution given to them by the Creator. Traditional law for all matter Anishinaabe, especially the care and protection of the child, derives only from these sources” (Kelly, P., 2007).

Common Culturally Restorative Practices

  • Organizational adherence to traditional customs, practices, laws and ways of knowing

  • Understanding and connection to all levels: child, family, extended family, community, and tribal group

  • Use of traditional ways in organizational practice as well as client practice

  • Bi-cultural practice

  • Spirituality embedded

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