News Release

Spirit Aligned Leadership Program

Spirit Aligned Leadership Program, a Native-run nonprofit, announced its selections today for a unique leadership program that partners Indigenous women elders with younger Indigenous women.

Together, they will work on cultural projects in their communities, including intergenerational knowledge transfer; healing and wellness; climate change; solutions to contemporary challenges; Indigenous women’s roles and leadership; homeland recovery; language and ceremony renewal; Indigenous food sovereignty; and sky world knowledge—an Indigenous practice of mapping stars that informs traditional birthing knowledge and ceremonies, as well as agricultural and environmental practices.

Spirit Aligned Leadership Program is the only elder Indigenous women-led organization in the United States and Canada that focuses solely on the passing of knowledge between Indigenous women.

Twenty-one women were selected for this Intergenerational Indigenous Women's Leadership Fellowship, representing Tribes, Indigenous Peoples, and First Nations from throughout Canada and the United States. The Spirit Aligned Leadership Program is entering its fourth year, and this is their third cohort.

We are excited and honored to create an avenue for some of the most dedicated cultural leaders to share their knowledge with one another,” said Katsi Cook, executive director of Spirit Aligned Leadership Program and citizen of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. “These women hold within them some of the most creative solutions to the world’s most complex problems.”

Responding to the loss of tribal elders from COVID-19, the Spirit Aligned Leadership Program more than doubled the number of selections for this year’s fellowship to ramp up knowledge transfer to younger Indigenous women.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to share my knowledge with my younger relative, Jessie Taken Alive-Rencountre from Standing Rock,” states Norma Rendon, Oglala Sioux. “Both of Jessie’s parents died from COVID-19, and I worked closely with them. I am carrying out my responsibilities to teach Jessie, and she will teach her daughters and other young women. This intergenerational leadership fellowship is exactly what we need.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of how important it is to intentionally create these opportunities within Indigenous communities,” said Gail Small, program director and citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. “We would like to see more investment into Indigenous knowledge holders to ensure that our traditions as first peoples of this continent are elevated world-wide.”

Selected Legacy Leaders and Future Legacy Leaders:

  • Abby Abinanti (Yurok), Blythe George (Yurok), and Jessica Carter (Yurok)
  • Levina Wilkins (Yakama Nation) and Leslie Swan (Yakama Nation)
  • Lorna Williams (Lil’wat Nation) and chuutsqa L. Rorick (Hesquiaht)
  • Mary Mabel Joseph (Wet’suwet’en) and Molly Ann Wickham (Wet’suwet’en)
  • Mililani Trask (Native Hawaiian) and Lihau Enriquez Rosehill (Native Hawaiian)
  • Norma Rendon (Oglala Lakota) and Jessie Taken Alive-Rencountre (Hunkpapa Lakota)
  • Olive Elm (Oneida Nation of the Thames) and Erica Elijah (Oneida Nation of the Thames)
  • Pauline Waterfall (Heiltsuk) and Kylie Gladstone (Heiltsuk)
  • Serena Francis (Mi’kmaq) and Susan Bernard (Mi’kmaq)
  • Virginia Gregoire (Okanagan) and Ashley Gregoire (Okanagan)

For more information about the Spirit Aligned Leadership Program visit https://spiritaligned.org.

For more information about the Intergenerational Indigenous Women's Fellowship: Circle Three visit https://spiritaligned.org/cultural-atlas-circle-3/.

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