Friday, November 12, 2010

A Message From the Director

I am happy to report that the vision and mission of the Native American Center for Wellness Research (NACWR) has continued to develop and evolve since its beginning in 2007. With the help and direction from NACWR’s board of advisors, the center now has three distinct focus areas. The best way to explain these is to tell the story behind NACWR’s logo.  Although all the teachings connected with the symbols and symbolisms in the logo would best be told over a longer period of time by our wise community of elders, I hope to explain enough of the story to provide you with an understanding of our vision and mission.

Our logo represents the Three Sisters. We have been taught that all things are related and connected to each other. Our individual health and well-being is connected with the health of our environment. Whether we live in an extremely toxic environment or one that lacks nutritious elements, either impacts our overall health. Health requires a healthy environmental companion. This fundamental idea of connectiveness has been with us since there was an us!

According to the teachings of the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora), also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse,” Corn, Beans, and Squash are inseparable Sisters who only grow and thrive together. Not only do the Sisters sustain each other, but they work together with the soil to provide us with healthy nutrients for generations.

All three Sisters are planted together in the same mound of soil. The Corn is the first out of the mound. It provides a natural pole for the Bean vines to climb. Beans have nitrogen on their roots which improve the mound’s fertility. The Bean’s vines also provide stability to Corn, making it less susceptible to blowing over during heavy winds. The Squash’s vines become a living mulch with leaves that shade and discourage emerging weeds to overtake the mound. Squash’s large leaves prevent moisture evaporation thus improving the Sister’s chances of survival during dry times. The Squash are also spiny and prevent many predators from getting to the other Sisters.  

Once the season has cycled, the Sisters provide greats amounts of organic residue which is incorporated back into the mound improving soil structure for next season. Nutritionally, the Three Sisters significantly complement each other. Corn offers carbohydrates.  Beans are gorgeous in protein, harmonizing the lack of amino acids found in corn. As a final enhancement Squash produces both vitamins from the fruit and oil from Her seeds.

The Native American Center for Wellness Research hopes to learn from and follow the Three Sisters’ design for healthy collaboration and growth. The center has an updated vision and mission statement and three related focus areas.

Our Vision Statement reflects our desire to be a responsive, sustainable community wellness center. Through cooperative efforts, a broad focus on wellness promotion, and shared leadership and accountability, the center is positioned to respond to current and future wellness challenges and protect and promote the well-being of all Native American communities, particularly the most disadvantaged.

Our Mission states that the Native American Center for Wellness Research is already an active participant in Native American communities. Through the center we are following the idea of The Three Sisters and are building programs to:

  • Promote and enhance the educational experiences of Native American students so they can have a positive impact in their communities;

·  Through scientific evaluation and research, evaluate and promote the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness of Native Americans;

·  Actively participate in community peace and social justice ceremonies.

Our website will be updated soon to reflect the continuous growth of our initiatives. Please feel free to visit to learn more about new activities such as the Wolf-Fire Scholarship.

Thank you very much. DAP

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