The 7th Generation National Tribal Mentoring Program uses culturally specific mentoring strategies for court-involved and at-risk American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 10-17 to guide them toward healthy lifestyle choices.
Our vision is to:
- build lasting relationships between tribal youth and caring adult mentors by connecting them through group cultural activities and one-on-one mentoring
- enhance the cultural identities of tribal youth by integrating cultural values and practices into all group mentoring activities
- decrease youth involvement with law enforcement and the courts by guiding them toward healthy lifestyle choices
The 7th Generation Program combines two successful best practice approaches developed in Indian Country:
- Strong Circle of Relatives is a one-on-one mentoring program that employs the traditional kinship system of each community to foster relationships between mentors and youth that are based on the natural and historical tribal relationships between families.
- Strong Circle of Relatives Kinship Curriculum is based on traditional kinship values and teachings. Each of the thirteen sessions guide and support youth in developing a positive sense of cultural identity and positive life choices.
Youth participating in the program are given the opportunity to choose a mentor from family, extended family, or community members. This feature, aptly called “Strong Circle of Relatives,” is unique from other mentoring programs, in which youth don’t know their mentors in advance and are not involved in selecting them. The Strong Circle of Relatives builds upon the Native American cultural tradition of extended family, in which all members treat each other as family and have a duty to care for the children of their tribe.
Once chosen, mentors are then extensively trained to build relationships with these youth and incorporate tribal history, culture, and value systems into their one-on-one and group mentoring time together. Research and evidence shows that developing a strong sense of cultural identity and pride for their heritage can motivate tribal youth to make positive life choices.