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StrongHearts Celebrates Seven Years of Advocacy

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Seven years of culturally appropriate support and advocacy has been reached at StrongHearts Native Helpline, where advocates were brought to fruition through the hard work and sacrifice of survivors and grassroots advocates.

“March 6, 2024 marks the seventh anniversary of StrongHearts advocacy,” said CEO Lori Jump, StrongHearts Native Helpline. “It is not our way to boast or brag, but it is our way to teach what we have learned. As an organization steeped in Native American and Alaska Native culture and tradition, we use seven principles as a guide and seven generations to measure how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.”

To date, Stronghearts advocates have helped more than 50,000 contacts and tallied more than half a million visitors to its website. The main need being met by advocates is peer support and that requires the lived experience of being Native American.

“Native people need to be able to trust the assisting advocate,” explained Jump. “Our advocates are Native and provide a service that no other agency can simply due to the historical distrust of non-Natives.”

As a testament to the unique challenge of being Native, three StrongHearts advocates shared their stories about the importance of culturally appropriate support and advocacy.

Addressing Colonization

Advocate 1: “When assessing cultural abuse and using traditional methods for self-care, I connect what colonization did and how it ties into abuse and the mistreatment of Native women throughout history. Reclaiming and reinforcing our indigenous culture can make us stronger as a community.”

Addressing A Form Cultural Abuse

Advocate 2: “I actually spoke to someone on the phone who was from my Tribe. She was white presenting and all her life was told that she was white and she should not be allowed to access Tribal resources or even refer to herself as a Native woman. We talked a lot about colonization, blood quantum, and I offered her a lot of validation and a little bit of information about our Tribe and available domestic violence resources.

[We also talked about] how she could begin to reconnect with heritage, reclaim her language, and how that could be really validating and healing for her as well. When she called in she was feeling hopeless, crying or on the verge of tears. By the end of our call she was laughing and excited to grow her knowledge about our culture. She felt a sense of community and knew that she was not alone on her healing journey and she had not only a resource, but relatives, that she could rely on.”

Addressing Lived Experience

Advocate 3: “I draw from my upbringing. Of course, there is the training, but if a contact inquires about where I'm from or what I know about being Native I tell them. Nine times out of ten, they are seeing if I "get it," and it takes nothing for me to simply speak to them in a way they are used to or share with them like their relatives do.”

Guiding Principles

Not only does StrongHearts as an organization see through the lens of seven generations, it also uses seven guiding principles to navigate culturally appropriate support and advocacy. In brief, those guiding principles include:

  1. Culture is the heart of our existence connecting and honoring diversity.
  2. Balance is rooted in traditional lifeways and the equality of mind, body and spirit.
  3. Interrelatedness to honor each other, our ancestors and the earth.
  4. Humility to learn from all lessons with empathy - even those that are difficult and non-traditional.
  5. Bravery to face unique challenges and prejudices with mental and moral strength and courage.
  6. Resilience enough to adapt in the face of adversity in our work as Indigenous peoples.
  7. Trust is the duty to our ancestors and to future generations to honor our commitments.

“Our ancestors have taught us these principles and so we shall continue in that tradition,” concluded Jump. “We’ve known all along that our relatives need: to trust, to speak and to heal. It's a reciprocal exchange between our advocates and their contacts where we feel a sense of hope and find a mutual path toward healing.”

Resources Resources

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