National Native American Heritage Month

The American Indian and Alaskan Native communities in Oregon are a reflection of strength, character and resiliency.  There are many community activists and Native-lead community based organizations who are contributing to the holistic healing and wellbeing of our local Native communities. In recognition of National Native American Heritage Month, CareOregon highlights the work of three local organizations.

A Model of Strength and Partnership

The Future Generations Collaborative (FGC) started in 2011 as a coalition among American Indian and Alaska Native community members, Native –serving organizations, and government agencies to increase healthy pregnancies, healthy births and strengthen families in Native and Alaskan Native communities. The culturally specific efforts of FGC aim to reduce serious health inequities, and especially birth outcomes related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).


FGC acknowledges the historical trauma experienced by Native people and the present day social determinants of equity influencing birth outcomes and associated long-term health outcomes.  The Collaborative also acknowledges the history of hindered partnerships between government agencies and Native communities. 

The Collaborative taps into the strength and resilience of the Native community, through the use of a community-led Trauma-Informed Collaborative Model to shape and guide the partnership.  Native voice is emphasized and throughout the four areas of the model: Social (Native values), Body (honoring Native community structures), Spiritual (American Indian/Alaska Native culture is a primary prevention strategy), and Mind (Relationships of trust are restored and strengthen among Native people and organizations by allowing space to listen to the experiences and memories of Native communities).

FGC Successes

FGC has been accepted in the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health, a training academy funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It has hosted the three-day Gathering Of Native Americans (GONA) and Youth GONA with respective attendees of 200 and 85 individuals.  The GONAs served to inform, motive and activate the larger Native community on the work of FGS.  The Collaborative has worked with the Multnomah County Community Capacitation Center to train 26 Community Health Workers, who are actively engaged in the health promotion and healing of their communities.  In addition, FGC hosts weekly men and women healing circles facilitated by Natural Helpers and partners, and “Poetry Slam!”

The Collaborative continues to work with physical and behavioral health providers to create and model respectful integration of professional, community members and volunteers.  A list of community specific resources inclusive of natural helpers, elders and providers has been developed. FGC has also engaged State, county and tribal systems to address issues that have hindered the cultivation of positive collaborative relationships with Native families.

The future work of FGC

FGC is a trusted resource, advocate and cultural steward within the Native community.  Their work is far from being completed.  The collaborative will continue to provide FASD education to the community and providers, facilitate community health worker trainings, promote and utilize trauma-informed community participatory planning processes and continue to be engaged in the healing of its community through Wellness activities lead by Elders and Natural Healers. 

Follow them on Facebook: Future Generations Collaborative

Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA)

The Native American Youth and Family Center was founded by parent and Elder volunteers in 1974, and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1994. NAYA is built on the belief that traditional cultural values are integral to regaining sovereignty and building self-esteem. NAYA Family Center values respect for the environment, places the larger community before the individual, and involves elders. We promote healthy living through positive alternatives to high-risk behaviors, and we promote the values of sobriety, family stability, culture, active lifestyles, and education.

NAYA Family Center offers a holistic set of wraparound services designed to create stability in the lives of self-identified Native Americans, infant to Elder, from across the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area. Their services include education, cultural arts programming, and direct support to reduce poverty within the Native American community.

The Portland region is home to more than 40,000 Native American, Alaska Native and First Nations people. NAYA also serves as a cultural hub that supports the Native community with resources that assist in setting people on paths of personally-defined success to achieve self-sufficiency.   

Using the traditions of the past to address today’s issues: NAYA’s Generations Project

Generations will be an intergenerational community of stable housing for foster children, parents wishing to adopt, and community Elders. In partnership with Portland Public Schools, an on-site Early Learning Academy will provide education opportunity for youth age 0-5. A community center styled after a Northwest Native American Long House will provide supportive services in education, family workforce readiness, and a community health clinic.

Generations will feature:

• 40 units of housing, the Early Learning Academy and the Long House in Portland’s southeast Lents neighborhood, at the 3.5 acre site of a former public elementary school. The site is near transit, shopping and public parks.

•Native American youth and their siblings in foster care will be connected to adoptive parents in stable, affordable housing.

•Community Elders become adopted grandparents and mentors who can “age in place” with a renewed sense of purpose, helping with child care and providing wisdom.

•The Early Learning Academy and Long House will create a center of community. A community like this can reduce poverty, improve health and wellness, and rebuild the cultural fabric of the Native community.

See NAYA’s website for more information about their services


Native American Rehabilitation Association

The Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest, Inc. is an Indian- owned, Indian-operated, non-profit agency. NARA began as an outpatient substance abuse treatment center; it services now include the operation of a residential family treatment center, an outpatient treatment center, a child and family services center, a primary health care clinic, several adult mental health locations, a wellness center, and transitional housing for Native women and children. All services are centered on the family as it is NARA’s philosophy that, without the family circle there will be no future.

NARA offers culturally responsive healthcare through its Integrated Health Clinics.  Health services are available from family medicine to women’s exams, diabetes testing to tobacco cessation. The NARA Indian Health Clinic and the NARA Wellness Center serves all the Native community, from infants to elders.

NARA is committed to increasing access to quality dental care for the whole family as a step toward improving the oral health of the Native community. It has the only Native American dental clinic in the Portland metro area, offering family and child friendly dentists, dental education programs, and preventative and restorative care.

Supporting the Family Circle

Intergenerational programming is a core value reflected in NARA’s projects.  From the core belief that the future of the Native community is dependent on Elders and Youth, NARA strives to encourage and strengthen the community’s value of the elders and the resilience of the youth through services tailored to the needs of Native families and community.

•The NARA Elders Program holds regular lunches and partners with and hosts the Portland Indian Elders Support Group (PIES-G).

•The NARA Youth Program is prevention oriented and family focused. This program empowers youth to have a positive identity by teaching Native American/Alaska Native culture and values.

Learn more about NARA’s programs and services at