Native Community Organizer Training Participant Q&A
For the Native Organizers Alliance National Native Community Organizer Training in May, 19 participants were brought together in Federal Way, WA for a week of sharpening grassroots organizing skills using traditional Indigenous values. The curriculum is designed to create a foundation for Native power building for social change and strengthening sovereignty.
We’ve asked April Fournier (Navajo), Program Manager at Advance Native Political Leadership, to share her reflections and learnings from the week with us.
NOA: What was your level of understanding of organizing prior to the training? How familiar were you with grassroots organizing prior?
AF: Going into the training I would say that I was fairly informed, but didn’t have a lot of depth in my knowledge of organizing theory and strategy. I had been involved with different movements, but not enough to have deep knowledge. I would say a little more than a surface understanding.
NOA: What were your key takeaways from the training that you feel can be applied to your work?
AF: SO MUCH! Being able to put into words the way in which we operate from an Indigenous Model of Teaching and Organizing. We operate knowing all things work in relation. We have to recognize where power and influence exist in order to understand where power can be shifted. We also have to be strategic and engaging with our communities and come at this work in a good way. When we come into this work with our ancestors on our shoulders, our community in our heart, and the generations who come after us in our minds we change the game.
NOA: What tools or resources do you feel were most beneficial to you and your work?
AF: The Power Mapping activity was so powerful, being able to understand who we should spend our time on when we’re engaging with decision-makers was a really important exercise. It shapes the whole campaign and how we think about energy investment. If someone is a low-impact non-decision maker, why spend time and energy engaging them. We have finite resources, invest them accordingly. Bringing it all together in a group to develop a strategy was also really great, we have to do that regularly so flexing those muscles and putting the learning into action really helped cement what we spent the week learning.
NOA: What was your overall experience of the training? Any particular aspect you enjoyed the most?
AF: I’ve not ever had the chance to sit in community with so many Native leaders. Spending a week in this space, connecting, learning from and teaching, laughing and feeling. It was incredible. It also allowed us to really focus on the work and the content. So often we don’t have the time or space to remove distractions and really sit with information or each other. Taking the time and honoring this space felt really special.
NOA will be holding an additional National Training from November 13-19 along with several state-based trainings later this year. Watch our website for application announcements.
2022 Native Community Organizing Training
November 13 – 18, 2022
Federal Way, Washington
Native Organizers Alliance is excited to announce that applications are open for the second 2022 National Native Community Organizing Training in November!
Our national training is rooted in Indigenous values and traditional knowledge, framed in a way that will help to sharpen the skills needed in create effective grassroots movements today.
Applicants will join Native leaders and organizers from across Indian Country for a week of skill-building, connection, and learning.
The seven-day (five full days, two half/travel days) agenda includes:
- Practices and history of Native community organizing
- Spiritually directed Native power building for social change
- Designing Native community grassroots campaigns
Who should apply?
We encourage the following to apply:
- Native leaders from reservations, rural, or urban communities;
- Native community organizers
- The staff of Native nonprofits and Tribal entities.
Applications are due by 11:59 PM EST on October 27, 2022.
The cost of housing, transportation, and most meals are covered by the Native Organizers Alliance. Participants are responsible for additional costs. Organizations, tribal governments, groups, or individuals who can contribute to defraying the costs of this training will provide the opportunity to go beyond 25 participants.
Space is limited and unfortunately, not all applicants will be accepted.
2021 October Training Reflections
In October, Native Organizers Alliance (NOA) brought together 23 amazing Native community organizers from 14 different tribes, working in 9 different states and 10 organizations. NOA selected the 23 organizers from over 200 nationwide applicants to attend our National Training held in Dumas Bay, WA.
Over the course of seven days, our training focused on sharpening the grassroots organizing skills of our participants with a curriculum that is rooted in traditional cultures and practices. Using Indigenous history as a guide for action today, we focused on the crucial struggles for sovereignty and environmental justice. We took deep dives into:
- The practices and history of Native community organizing,
- Spiritually directed Native power building for social change, and
- Designing Native community grassroots campaigns.
Through this training, our participants have been given the tools necessary for increasing the power of Native communities to take on the issues that impact them and build a movement for long-term transformational change.
This year we had one of the largest number of applications in the 10 years that we have held this training. Every year we continue to add to our training circle cohorts, made up of grassroots Native activists, tribal leaders, and community organizers from across Indian Country. We have come away from the week together inspired and energized by the passion and drive of our participants. We look forward to continuing our work with them by bringing them into our growing circle of cohorts and future partnerships.
NOA partners for the “Promise to Protect” Training Tour
The Native Organizers Alliance is honored to stand in unity with all those who are making a commitment to Mother Earth by pledging a “Promise to Protect”. Guided by on the ground leadership and vision, NOA has been helping to create the training program for the upcoming “Promise to Protect Training Tour”
“Today, a coalition of Indigenous leaders, farmers and ranchers, and their allies announced a training tour to prepare for creative resistance against the Keystone XL pipeline and other fossil fuel projects. The “Promise to Protect” Tour, named for the commitment made by more than 25,000 people to mobilize against the Keystone XL pipeline, will stop in 10 cities across the U.S. and several reservations along the pipeline route.” https://nokxlpromise.org/training-tour/
Judith Le Blanc (Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma), Director, Native Organizers Alliance: “NOA is honored to be a part of the circle of the Promise to Protect Tour. No power is greater than unity in action to protect Mother Earth. Our power grows from building community grounded in the traditional values of relationality and reciprocity. Native peoples coming together in alliance with all who put the natural world and humanity before fossil fuel corporate projects is the only path to ending the threat of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Promise to Protect Training Tour will grow the grassroots power to ensure the sovereign right of the Oceti Shakowin tribes to decide, NoKXL!”
NOA will be posting updates throughout the “Promise to Protect” training tour.
Native Organizers Training 2016
The Native Organizers Alliance will hold our 5th annual Native Organizers Training in August 2016.
APPLICATIONS ARE CLOSED FOR 2016!
Signup for updates so you don’t miss upcoming training opportunities
The training is geared to Natives organizing in Indian Country, in rural, reservation or urban communities. It is a four-day intensive workshop that covers building people-power, campaign planning, community led policy change, and how to use our stories to win struggles, all through the lens of our Native cultural traditions. This training is an opportunity to strengthen Indian Country’s organizing infrastructure through relationship building, peer support and coordination with other Natives who are doing community organizing. This workshop prepares organizers for leading a community-driven campaign on the issues and concerns that are relevant to Indian Country.
This workshop is for Native people involved in social justice efforts in Indian Country — tribal leaders, community organizers and staff of native-led nonprofits — folks who want to work to make transformational change in Indian country.
The training is free for participants. Cost of housing, transportation and most meals are covered by the program. Participants are responsible for additional costs. Space is limited to 20 participants. Unfortunately, not all who apply will be accepted.
Participants in the 2015 Native Organizer Training
Thanks to the financial support of the Communities Creating Healthy Environments, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
October 2015 Alaska Native Organizers Training
Sponsored by Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), the Indigenous Leadership Institute (ILI) and the Native Organizers Alliance (NOA).
Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Indigenous Leadership Institute (ILI), and Native Organizers Alliance (NOA) will host the first ever Alaska Native Organizers Training this fall in Anchorage! This is a four day intensive workshop on community organizing that covers building and leveraging people-power, campaign planning, community led policy change, direct action and how to use our stories to win battles.
This workshop focuses on skill building while recognizing the particular aspects of organizing in Alaska. Community organizing is needed more than ever here in Alaska. This training is an opportunity to bolster community organizing efforts through relationship building, peer support and coordination with other Natives who are doing community organizing.
This workshop prepares organizers for leading a community driven campaign on the issues and concerns that are relevant to Alaska.
When: October 12- 15, 2015
Where: Anchorage, Alaska
Who: This workshop is for people involved in social and environmental justice efforts in Alaska – such as community volunteers, Policy Directors, Executive Directors, Community Engagement Coordinators, Community Organizers, folks who want to work to make change for and with their people!
How to participate: Space is limited. Those interested should complete the short (& simple) application form http://goo.gl/forms/5e7ff41KDv by October 1.
Cost: Free to all selected to participate! Travel, housing and some meals are included.
For More Information: Contact: Enei Begay (Indigenous Leadership Institute) at email@example.com or call (907) 374-5950
The training is sponsored by REDOIL https://www.facebook.com/redoilalaska, ILI www.indigenousleadership.org and NOA http://www.nativeorganizing.org/
Thanks to the Chorus Foundation for its generous support.
2015 Native Organizers Training a Big Success!
Thirty organizers and activists from across Indian Country came together in Seattle in June for a special training opportunity hosted by the Native Organizers Alliance: the annual intensive four-day Native Organizing Training.
Grassroots organizing is both an art and a science. In Indian Country, the art of organizing is reflected in the Native-led action against oil drilling in the Arctic by the ‘Kayaktivists’ in the “Paddle in Seattle”, and the round dance flash mobs of Idle No More.
In four days our aim was to study the science of organizing – Native style, in keeping with our traditions and with our history.
In our jam-packed, daylong sessions, we explored ways to build Native organizers’ skills to meet the unique challenges of organizing in Native communities, on reservations, and in urban and rural centers. We shared lessons, best practices and examined the techniques for building a stronger grassroots movement for social change in Indian Country.
In the end some participants said we needed another day, and most agreed we needed more breaks and time to digest the information. Good advice for next year’s Native Organizing Training!
While exploring the nuts and bolts of outreach, leadership development, strategy and tactics, the participants worked to find the unique, yet critical elements of community engagement that flow from Indian Country’s history and traditions.
After four intensive days together, it is clear that here is so much more to learn about how to deepen our understanding of Native community organizing.
This is just the beginning! The future of Indian Country rests on growing a broad infrastructure of Native organizers and activists who facilitate campaigns that get at the root causes of the lack of jobs, healthy communities and protect treaty rights, sovereignty and Mother Earth from destruction.
The training provided an opportunity to share stories of the tremendous challenges our communities face and our vision and passion for bringing about structural change that will help Native communities not only survive, but also thrive.
The participants were hungry for more opportunity to go deeper into the challenges they face on the ground. Next year’s sessions will need to provide that opportunity in various ways.
Some participants asked that we now consider regional trainings that go beyond Native Organizing 101, to tackle more real life, complicated strategic challenges in Indian Country.
Some suggested segments focused on political empowerment related to advocacy, voter engagement and lobbying. In their written evaluations most said that the most important part of the experience was getting together with others who share a common outlook on movement building in Indian Country.
Especially impressive were the younger participants,coming from cutting edge Indian Country experiences. For instance, one of the activists is a part of the occupation to protect sacred Apache land from uranium mining in Oak Flat, AZ. Another was a Native radio talk show host, and one young man will be headed to the White House for the Native youth gathering in the next week.
One woman representing the “AIM generation” (radicalized in the 1970s) is a traditional Dine organizer. She has been fighting for decades for compensation from the coal and uranium mining companies for the contamination of Navajo land, water and air. She felt uplifted by the energy of the young organizers in the room, who are just beginning the fight for justice in their communities.
One of the most popular sessions of the training was on power mapping. David Bender, the community organizer for the American Indian Center of Chicago, said learning how to map the potential allies and likely opponents in an organizing campaign will help him prepare both his leaders and grassroots members to think and engage more strategically in their work.
At the end of fast-paced week, participants – whether they work in small villages in Alaska, on the Navajo or Hopi Reservations, or in the heart of Chicago, Portland or Billings – went home inspired by the knowledge that they are a part of something bigger. Our hope is that the participants will continue to work together with support from the Native Organizers Alliance to amplify a stronger Native voice on key issues at the national level.
One young participant said, “Nothing is more important for organizers than having a collective with so many common experiences. I see myself working closely with my fellow students and the trainers as we go forward.”
The sheer demand for this training says something powerful about the groundswell of the grassroots upsurge in Indian Country: in a few short weeks, more than 130 people submitted applications for the 30 available slots.
Now the work will continue at home and at the Native Organizers Alliance. Some of the participants will help organize local Native trainings in Alaska, Montana, and South Dakota. One participant even volunteered to become a Native Organizers Alliance trainer.
On the national level, we are organizing a national advisory board and growing a circle of partner organizations that we will provide with trainings, and technical support such as research and joint fundraising to keep grassroots organizing moving in Indian Country.
Personally, it was inspiring to hear the journeys so many have taken to carry on and preserve – despite many difficulties – our history, cultures, and future. It is extremely important in our communities to widen the circle of those who can take action that will in many ways help our people to heal with pride and commitment to our common struggle.
I was also struck by the heightened awareness of the need for unity in Indian Country. There is so much more that unites us than divides us. The unity that exists between those who organize on the Rez, in rural areas or urban centers, and those who continue the struggle for tribal recognition, serves as the key to building alliances with the vast cross section of people in the U.S. – those who can and must be a part of the movement for justice in Indian Country.
The curriculum, preparation, and training, was a collaborative effort and would not have been possible without Ozawa Bineshi Albert (former organizer for the Center for Community Change and Native American Voters Alliance in New Mexico) and Donavon Hawk (activist and leader from Montana), my co-facilitators.
With much love and respect to all who participated in the 2015 Native Organizing Training. A new circle of movement building in Indian Country has begun, thank you!