McLellan Hall

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One of the most powerful words in the language of my Cherokee tradition is gadugi, a call to bring people together to help one another - much as the early European settlers came together for barn raisings. In the Pueblos Keres language, the term si-yudze translates as "everybody's work," referring to communal service, where all join to plant crops, prepare for ceremonies, and so forth. The Zuni words, yanse' lihanna, have similar meaning. Underlying this ethic of service which is common to Native cultures across North America, is the celebration of kinship and mutual interdependence - in the Lakota words. mitakuya owasin, "we are all as relatives." The National Indian Youth Leadership Project (NIYLP) draws upon this rich cultural heritage to address problems of alienation, school dropout, delinquency, and substance abuse, which are prevalent among our Native American youth.