The Coalition to Stop Violence against Native Women held it’s first visionary strategic meeting with it’s new staff! It was an important marker for the Coalition, Board and our valued community members. As this session marked importance of a new direction for the upcoming year and how our coalition can strategically move forward with vision.
On a cold cloudy friday afternoon, I settled down in my chair, unbundling myself, not knowing what to expect for the first night. I just knew the exercise was, Mapping the History. It turned out to be an engaging and highly interactive effort to get every important Native event on the wall to map our history. To make each event known and to give it justice by saying it out loud. We traveled back to the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Navajo Long walk of 1864, to current issues like VAWA, the rejection of Keystone Pipeline, and the Dollar General case! Most importantly, we were able to give our Native Women a voice in eras where they may not have had one.
Kena is our wonderful CSVANW Board Officer, who showed up the first night during the “Mapping of the History.” She brought a bag of piñons and shared it with everyone! We all grabbed a handful of piñons and filled the room with our crackling. She completely indigenized the space with a energetic feeling. She planted a seed that grew into ideas, sharing and understanding.
After two hours of mapping, we created a long historical timeline of important events. The wall was full of our ancestors’ lived experiences , which served as an important reminder for us to carry on the “fight”. Kelly Willie, our membership and outreach coordinator, boldly said, “Looking at this timeline, it shows we are here to stay.” There was a profound pride and amazement from the team looking at a wall covered with our Peoples’ history.
On second day we worked extensively writing down the Federal, State and Tribal issues the Coalition faces . We have many barriers, but the creativeness and dedication of the team reflects how we work together to overcome these barriers.
Finally, on the third day, strategic actions and specific implantation ideas was opened up a wide channel of hope. Consensus building empowered us to collaborate, resolve, and negotiate the barriers facing our Coalition. Seeing our staff work with CSVANW’s board was exciting. Within moments, we became a fierce a united front working together to address the challenges of our Tribal communities in a good way.
As we wrapped up the meeting, I stared at my favorite action plan, “Plan blessing for staff and workspace in January 2016”. This shows the importance of our staff’s spiritual beliefs and traditional perspective of wanting good things or our Coalition. In the following statement, Devona Bradford, CSVANW’s Sexual Assault project coordinator, shares her insights about the last day. “I enjoyed creating realistic strategies with like-minded passionate people! This part of the strategic planning meeting was the most exciting! Exciting to see all of our ideas turn into action steps and jotted down on a timeline.”
I was personally impressed by the Indigenous Collaboration Inc.’s methods and organization procedures. They have a keen sense of fostering a highly productive dialogue for Indigenous minded organizations and their staff. The strategic planning meeting develop a more cohesive team.
Cheyenne Antonio, our CSVANW’s Program Assistance, shared her insights about the overall experience. “The strategic planning session was an amazing experience for me, it was an honor to be in a room with respected women/men leaders who care tremendously about their communities and to hear everyone’s input on how to focus on our future goals with the tools we gain from the past. We have resources to move forward together, now it’s how to implement our plans with the path we’ve created. It’s exciting.”
Strategic visionary planning is needed for every Native organization! For our Tribal communities to safe, every level of interaction with Native peoples must be strategically effective based on foundational indigenous principles and planning.
As we stand here, getting ready to welcome a new year, we have a strong vision in our hearts, a strategic plan in our hands and a passionate team of professionals to get the work done.