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Gedakina Inc.

 PO Box 2363
 Amherst, MA 01004
[P] (413) 5491320
[F] --
Rick Pouliot
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 33-1075692

LAST UPDATED: 01/16/2019
Organization DBA Gedakina
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes



Mission StatementMORE »

Gedakina is a multigenerational endeavor to strengthen and revitalize the cultural knowledge and identity of Native American youth and families from across New England, and to conserve our traditional homelands and places of historical, ecological and spiritual significance.

Mission Statement

Gedakina is a multigenerational endeavor to strengthen and revitalize the cultural knowledge and identity of Native American youth and families from across New England, and to conserve our traditional homelands and places of historical, ecological and spiritual significance.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2017 to Dec 31, 2017
Projected Income $495,000.00
Projected Expense $485,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Natamhatine - Let's Go Fishing!
  • Nd'ôtlokawôganawal – Our Stories: Enhancing Children’s Reading, Imagination and Creativity

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Gedakina is a multigenerational endeavor to strengthen and revitalize the cultural knowledge and identity of Native American youth and families from across New England, and to conserve our traditional homelands and places of historical, ecological and spiritual significance.

Background Statement

GEDAKINA (pronounced /g' dah keen nah/ and meaning, "Our world, a way of life" in the Abenaki language) founded in 2002, is a multigenerational endeavor to strengthen and revitalize the cultural knowledge and identity of Native American youth, women and families from across New England, and to conserve our traditional homelands and places of historical, ecological and spiritual significance. We nurture and prioritize community-led strategies that address racial and social inequities and encourage self-determination and collective regeneration. Our founding and current leadership includes tribal members and allies with long histories of social justice and equity building experience; and youth and women bringing their voices, passion and desire to see progressive change in their communities and across the region.

Impact Statement

Impact #1) In the last 12 months we successfully launched our Braiding Sweetgrass initiative for women and girls, that is currently taking place in 10 rural, urban and reservation tribal community locations across New England.

Impact#2) Nature's Gardens - The Recovery of Women Led Traditional Indigenous Food Systems has grown tremendously with over a dozen new community gardens and inter-family food exchange networks in Massachusetts alone; and the development of several major planting fields in Maine.
Impact #3)  Bringing Back Our Songs - that revitalizes traditional indigenous language use and social and ceremonial songs has taken place in eight community locations across the region including youth substance prevention groups, womens DV/SV survivor groups, and tribal schools. Over 250 hand drums have been made by participants in the last 12 months alone!!
Impact #4)  Thanks to several major multi-year grants received from the NOVO Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation we have grown our operating budget by 100% from FY2015 to FY2017
1) Our priority as we have grown in financial resources, and in staffing and programs, is to begin building a reserve fund and an endowment as we are looking toward long term sustainable growth and access to resources that can sustain the organization as it continues to grow within Massachusetts and New England.
2) Our second goal is to acquire traditional lands of ecological, spiritual and historical significance so that New England's indigenous people can have longterm access to these important place that they have been dispossessed from. 
3) Our third goal is to continue reaching youth and young adults supporting their aspirations and providing opportunities that will enable them to navigate challenges, and opportunities, that they encounter throughout their lifetime. 

Needs Statement

1) To transition 2 part-time staff to full time $60,000 is required to accomplish this.

2) To hire 2 additional part time staff to focus on young men and boys programs: $30,000 is required to accomplish this need.
 3) To develop an Indigenous Land Trust generating sufficient funds to acquire several parcels of land in Maine and Massachusetts for sustainable indigenous agriculture that would be used to address chronic food insecurity in tribal communities.

CEO Statement

Youth are a community’s greatest asset, and they hold the future of a community in their hands. When youth grow up strong, healthy, empowered and confident the community in turn will thrive and be able to negotiate challenges that arise. We work with young people (primarily ages 12-20) to help them develop coping skills, confidence and self-esteem. We want youth to be able to see themselves as participants and leaders in their communities, on both a local and regional scale. Through our activities, youth strengthen their abilities to acquire and retain knowledge, while developing team- building and conflict resolution skills.


We are also unique in that our approach emphasizes interconnected programs to reach Native American youth and families, with clear recognition that the challenges they encounter on a daily basis are also interconnected, one could say we provide a holistic/wrap-around approach. Many of our programs and activities are region-based and tribal community-specific, allowing the community to develop activities that are driven by the needs and request of the local constituency.


We are a constituency driven organization and value the “Voices” of those we work with. We understand that the many challenges and obstacles facing Native American youth and families have taken decades and generations to take root and impact/cause damage to people and communities; likewise there are no band-aids or short-term fixes that can make a serious impact, so our efforts are centered on providing long-term change and solutions. Building and strengthening community is hard work, that takes passion, dedication and recognizing where success is often measured and realized in small increments.

Board Chair Statement

Rather than write out a statement, we would rather invite potential, and even current, donors to contact us so we could meet and talk in person. We live in a world of texting, tweeting, messaging and emailing and are less and less talking to one another. This lack of personal interaction does not allow for shared learning and understanding.

Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
Massachusetts-All Regions

Primary: New England region with focus on Native American rural, urban and reservation communities in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont
Secondary: National - select regions 

Organization Categories

  1. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs
  2. Food, Agriculture & Nutrition - Food, Agriculture & Nutrition NEC
  3. Community Improvement, Capacity Building -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Natamhatine - Let's Go Fishing!

Natamhatine - Let's Go Fishing! gets youth outdoors, and fishing where they learn about the "honorable harvest" taking no more then what one needs, and to provide fresh fish for their families. From a place of cultural survival and continuity Natamhatine revitalizes the indigenous subsistence practice of fishing as youth will learn how to not just fish using modern fishing rod and reels but through traditional fish weirs and traps. Since 2014 over 500 youth from around New England will participate in this exciting and important project!!

Budget  $5,000.00
Category  Food, Agriculture & Nutrition, General/Other Sustainable Agriculture
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) At-Risk Populations Native Americans
Program Short-Term Success  Since we began this project we have provided fishing rod, reel and basic tackle sets to over 350 youth from around New England....this essentially means that a good number of youth are helping to provide fresh, protein rich foods for themselves and their families. Anyone who works in food security/hunger relief knows that access to fresh foods, especially protein rich foods is scarce. Fish, especially cold water fish are rich in Omega 3, high protein and low in empty calories!!!
Program Long-Term Success 

Food sovereignty is having the ability to provide food for ones-self, their family and community. Natamhatine offers one element of the equation that can lead to a recovery of traditional and sustainable food resources for indigenous and non-indigenous people.

Through fresh and salt water fishing practiced in traditional reciprocity principles, not only do people sustain themselves, but fisheries themselves will recover and become more sustainable.
Program Success Monitored By  We monitor success through personal interactions with youth and their families from the communities we are working within.
Examples of Program Success  Youth constantly tell us about their fishing exploits, and how they are helping out their families

Nd'ôtlokawôganawal – Our Stories: Enhancing Children’s Reading, Imagination and Creativity

Nd'ôtlokawôganawal – Our Stories: Enhancing Children’s Reading, Imagination and Creativity promotes literacy among young readers preschool through 8th grade, through reading and storytelling activities that help them develop an understanding and enjoyment of reading, and of traditional and contemporary stories relevant to their lives, family and community history, as well as the world around them.

Our Stories offers a safe environment during in-school, after-school and in community place-based programs where children learn about inclusion, identity and diversity while developing skills and strategies to deconstruct and challenge racism, bullying and violence though interconnected literacy, experiential outdoor, and art projects.

Since we began "Our Stories" we have distributed over 4,500 books to children, tribal and public schools and after-school programs at no cost to children, families or schools.

Budget  $5,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Literacy
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Native Americans Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 

* Participating children will strengthen their reading, investigative and critical thinking skills. During 2016 our goal is to have Our Stories reach 1,000 Native American and 3,000 non-native youth from tribal and public schools around New England and beyond.

* Our goal is to for each child that participants in an Our Storie activity to receive a book written by a Native American author from their community, state or region at No Cost to themselves or their families. Having a book to take home and read with family also strengthens children’s reading skills, and promotes family engagement.

Program Long-Term Success 

* Discussion on the books children read and discuss at school, and at home, enhance the families understanding of issues facing their children, families and communities today including inclusion, identity, diversity, racism, bullying and violence.

*Teacher trainings (workshops) also increase understanding of the issues facing children, families and marginalized / under-represented communities; and further the impact and reach of Our Stories across the state reaching thousands of children, for years to come.

Program Success Monitored By 

*From a quantitative perspective – we track the number of school, afterschool and community based activities we conduct; the number of youth participants, as well as adult family and community members engaged, and the number of books we distribute. We also will be tracking the number of teacher workshops we conduct as well as the number of teachers that participant.

*From a qualitative perspective - we solicit and receive feedback from children, teachers, and family members about the experiences of children, and adult participants, and of the impact that the activities have on children. We also constantly evaluating the need(s) for this program, in its current structure, as well as adapting the initiative to reach more children and communities.

*The overall anticipated / expected impact is for youth to become stronger readers and critical thinkers, be more inclusive and accepting of people that may be different then they are; and to learn how to find common ground and ways to work, live and play together in a way that insures balance in the health and wellbeing of all children & families.
Examples of Program Success  To date we have distributed over 3,500 books to children, and families, and to tribal and public school through this program. 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

GEDAKINA single greatest challenge is funding....nationally less then 0.03% of all foundation funding goes to Native American organizations. This presents a major challenge when we are working in numerous communities and on numerous interconnected issues and challenges facing North America's most marginalized, vulnerable, underserved and disenfranchised population. 
We ask that potential funders that view our profile, remember that Native Americans are the indigenous people of North America, and yet....still largely live in severely impoverished conditions, and are often only thought of when someone visits an Indian casino or at Thanksgiving.  
We ask that potential funders/donors give us a call so we can meet and talk about our peoples needs, and learn about what we do, and why. 


CEO/Executive Director Mr Rick Pouliot
CEO Term Start Jan 2005
CEO Email
CEO Experience

Rick has over thirty years of management experience in business management and development. Over the past eighteen years Rick has consulted for Native American/First Nations businesses and non-profit organizations from across New England and southern Quebec. Rick also worked for four years in public schools as a Behavioral Specialist/Interventionist, with youth from elementary through high school developing specialized individual and small group alternative education programs. 

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Natalie Dana Braiding Sweetgrass Director --
Ms Judy Dow Coordinator Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Community Mapping programs

Winooski Abenaki, has degrees in Education and American Indian Studies. Judy is a Board member and past president of the Native American Scouting Association and a Board member for OYATE. The founder of SABA, she is a life-long educator who specializes in sharing indigenous knowledge with children. Judy actively assists Gedakina by advising and co-leading environmental and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) activities and is coordinating a joint project with the Chittenden County Correctional Facility in Vermont, working with incarcerated young women on life skill development, and preparation for their GED's, in an effort to reduce repeat offenders, and enable these women to successfully return and re-enter their families and communities.

Mr Kyle Lolar Maine Youth & Outreach Coordinator

10 years in administrating experience, including current role as Maine Coordinator for Gedakina, Inc. - Maine Non-profit. Promoted to this role from volunteering after a successful internship in the Summer of 2010. Area of focus: Introducing educational techniques and developing self strengthening programs that revolve around self sustainability, morality building, and youth empowerment through outdoor and community activities.

Mr Mark Ranco Coordinator, Outdoor Adventure Education Mark a MSW, LCSW is a member of the Penobscot Nation in Maine. Mark holds a Master of Social Work Degree (clinical) and a Bachelor's of Social Work from the University of Maine, Orono. Mark has been involved for over 20 years promoting healthy life skills to Penobscot and Passamaquoddy youth through canoeing, running, X-C skiing, hiking, introductory rock climbing, and ropes course. Mark provides guidance and program coordination for ECO activities and is leading the move towards our development of a Wilderness Counseling program.


Ms. Susan Soctomah WOmen & Girls Outdoor Adventure Education (OE) Coordinator --
Ms. Kristen Wyman Massachusetts Youth & Community Outreach Coordinator

A versatile and results-driven community advocate and conservationist with over 10 years of consulting experience in program administration and project management for nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, tribal governments and federal and state agencies.


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


Gedakina collaborates with federal, state and non-recognized Native American tribes across New England. We also collaborate with Wabanaki Health & Wellness, Tribal Boys & Girls Clubs, Sexual & Domestic Violence Centers, college and universities across New England

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 5
Number of Part Time Staff 7
Number of Volunteers 20
Number of Contract Staff 15
Staff Retention Rate % 90%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 0
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 12
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 9
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 1
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan Yes
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Yes

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Mr Rick Pouliot
Board Chair Company Affiliation Gedakina
Board Chair Term Jan 2002 - Dec 2018
Board Co-Chair Judy Dow
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term Jan 2016 - Dec 2018

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ms. Merritt Baer J.D. a leader in Internet policy, an entrepreneur and a technology company expert. Voting
Ms Judy Dow Executive Director of SABA Voting
Dr. Kahente Horn-Miller PhD. Assistant Professor of Canadian History at Carlton University. Voting
Mr Richard Pouliot Gedakina, Inc Voting
Mr Mark Ranco MSW., LCSW. LCSW with the Veterans Administration at Togus. (ME) Voting
Ms Susan Soctomah MSW., LCSW. Community Health Counseling Services, Maine Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr Steven Abbott Coordinator of Outreach and Student Services at the American Indian Graduate Center. NonVoting
Ms Nicole Bowman-Farrell President/Owner of Bowman Performance Consulting LLC (BPC). NonVoting
Ms Cassandra Brooks Science Writer NonVoting
Dr Lisa Brooks Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University NonVoting
Dr Amy Den Ouden Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Boston NonVoting
Dr Elizabeth Goldstein Director of Mental Health Services at the Veteran's Administration Community-based Outpatient Clinic in Colchester, VT; Instructor of Psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School NonVoting
Ms Jennifer McLaughlin Esq., JD, LLM legal/political consultant to Native American tribes NonVoting
Dr Darren Ranco Prof. Native American & Environmental Studies at University of Maine, Orono. Coordinator of Native American Research Center . NonVoting
Ms Cheryl Savageau Award winning poet, author and textile artist NonVoting
Ms Ashley Smith PhD Candidate, Cornell University NonVoting
Ms Lisa Sockabasin Director of the Office of Minority Health at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Maine Department of Health and Human Services – Director, Four Directions, Boston Mass. NonVoting
Dr Gabrielle Tayac Staff Historian, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian NonVoting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 1
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 4
Other: 0
Other (if specified): MIXED RACE (Native American decendants)
Gender Female: 3
Male: 2
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 10
Board Meeting Attendance % 90%
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 75%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The biggest challenge we face as an organization, like many nonprofits, is developing a long-term sustainable base of funding. Our areas of focus, the elimination of poverty, sexual and domestic violence, risk-taking behavior, hunger and unemployment among Native American youth, women and families requires longterm approaches as these are not easy or quick issues to remedy. Band-aid approaches don't work and short-term accomplishments aren't big, flashy numbers. These issues take serious hard work, on the ground approaches working with individual and small groups, and a lot of passion and dedication from staff, boards and volunteers. We focus on interconnected issues, and use interconnected programs and activities to address the issues and that offer multiple pathways for our constituency to realize success. So if you, as a potential funder, want to support a visionary organization that will, and is making a significant difference in young peoples lives, look no farther than Gedakina.

Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2017 to Dec 31, 2017
Projected Income $495,000.00
Projected Expense $485,000.00
Form 990s

2016 990

2015 990

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

2010 990

2009 990

2008 990

Audit Documents

2016 Reviewed Financial Statements

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $439,859 $249,824 $172,877
Total Expenses $291,085 $220,447 $201,458

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $436,711 $249,105 $169,544
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- --
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $3,148 $719 $3,333

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $237,515 $165,170 $175,889
Administration Expense $14,129 $13,129 $25,569
Fundraising Expense $39,441 $42,148 --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.51 1.13 0.86
Program Expense/Total Expenses 82% 75% 87%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 9% 17% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $216,492 $70,487 $48,341
Current Assets $216,492 $70,487 $48,341
Long-Term Liabilities $0 -- $0
Current Liabilities $0 $2,769 $0
Total Net Assets $216,492 $67,718 $48,341

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value $0.00
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 3.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates Jan - Dec
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount $0.00
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities inf 25.46 inf

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Gedakina is a growing organization making significant impact, positive change and providing opportunities and resources for Native American youth, women and families from across New England. Our challenge is developing a solid donor base of foundation funding and individual contributions in a struggling economy. Less than 1% of all foundation funding in the United States goes to support Native American organizations and initiatives, so we have a challenge ahead of us as we work to increase our increased annual income and expenses, develop an endowment and conduct a successful capital campaign for our Outdoor Education and Adventure Counseling Center. The good news is that despite the struggling economy we have continually grown our received income and budgets since receiving our 501c3 states in 2007. Our growth, expanding the good work we do is dependent upon our ability to develop relationships with funders that will provide single and more importunely multiple years of funding support.

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals as the breakdown was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

GEDAKINA’S long-term goal is for indigenous youth, women and families to succeed in life and be empowered and enabled to follow and achieve their dreams and goals, overcoming the socio-economic and other challenges they face on a daily basis.

Native American people, whether in Massachusetts, New England or nation-wide are one of the most if not the most - vulnerable, at-risk, and under-served population. We recognize that many indigenous people, both physically and spiritually, remain connected to their home communities, have strong kinship connections to their immediate and extended families, and have a deep integral relationship to the natural world (environment).
GEDAKINA’S vision/goals support these connections and relationships as we work to grow as an organization and increase our capacity to protect and conserve places of historic, spiritual and ecological significance; strengthen our communities’ long-term sustainability; reduce and eliminate hunger and food insecurity, provide resources, skills, and whatever is needed for youth, women and others to become effective, fair, just, and compassionate family and community members/leaders. We also take into consideration how our activities and decisions will impact the next seven generations of people and the long term well being of our environment. Our listed organizational goals include:

*To foster healthy relationships among youth and women in indigenous communities, building bridges between them that will lead to collaborative alliances in the future;

*To strengthen connections and build reciprocal relationships to ecological, spiritual and historical places of significance, fostering long-term sustainability;

*To empower youth and women as leaders in their home communities (and beyond) in the areas of environmental protection, community and land sustainability, and community wellness;

*To build leadership skills, confidence and wellbeing in youth and women, both as individuals and as responsible members of families and communities.

*To strengthen children’s literacy, critical thinking, comprehension, exploration and investigative skills.

*To re-establish traditional and sustainable food systems, reducing hunger and food insecurity.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Our strategies include specific programs and activities developed through collaboration and consultation with youth and women from rural, urban and reservation tribal communities in Massachusetts and across the region.

We adapt our signature programs to meet the needs of specific communities and involve many “Voices” from those communities, as the history of organizations helping Native people has always been one of outside experts, Indian agents etc., dictating how things need to be done; rather then promoting self-determination and empowering people to lift themselves up, and build up their communities from within.

Our website lists out our current signature programs, as well as some past programs and events.

Our interconnected activities focus on leadership development, early reader literacy, community health and wellness, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), sustainability practices, traditional food systems, healthy relationships and cultural revitalization. Participants acquire skills that will enable them to overcome challenges they will face throughout their lifetimes, and more practically, usable knowledge that will lead to greater opportunities for economic development, employment and continuing education.

A couple of recent and continuing programs include PATHFINDERS, our ecotourism/outdoor recreation, professional development project for youth and women.

Our specific outdoor adventure education (OAE) program for women & girls

Community gardening and wild gardening projects around the region as a long-term strategy to reduce dependency on government food assistance and increase access to fresh and healthy foods.

We Are All Connected - that offers a safe environment during in school and after-school programs for children to learn about inclusion, identity and diversity while challenging racism, bullying and violence though literacy, community mapping, history and art projects.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

GEDAKINA is the most engaged and collaborative cross-sector organization of any indigenous organization in Massachusetts and across New England. This collaborative philosophy is critically important as we work towards integrated health and wellbeing of people, community and the environment.

As a non-government native-led organization we have a unique ability to collaborate with, and to conduct activities in, all of Massachusetts indigenous rural, urban and reservation communities, negotiating the complexities of community organizing in tribal communities, and successfully building relationships that bring diverse people and groups together to work toward achieving common goals. Our focus has always been on doing the work, and not trying to get recognized for our efforts. This approach allows us to bring many people together and lessen inter-personal conflicts.

We collaborate with state and federally recognized tribal governments, urban inter-tribal community collectives, faculty and native student groups at colleges and universities, and native heath organizations.

These collaborations enable us to increase our outreach and program effectiveness, bring together people with amazing talent and knowledge, and strengthen our community building efforts. When working with underserved, and often under-funded, organizations, pooling/sharing resources enables us to accomplish our goals and provide much needed resources to tribal governments and health organizations serving indigenous people. In working with colleges and universities Gedakina brings a community presence and perspective to academic events, and these connections also enable us to connect perspective college students to area colleges and universities.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

While we employ quantitative methods to track participation, we realize that by simply having people attend activities doesn’t necessarily mean that they retain or use what they have learned. Feedback from participants, families, and other community members through surveys, one to one discussions and focus groups provide us with the most reliable information needed to evaluate our programs’ relevance and success. We do offer several programs where participants demonstrate their acquired skills and receive certificates; these include PathFinders and Wilderness Medicine courses.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?