Naa káani’s History
The AFSC NIP was a Quaker non-profit focused on supporting Indigenous peoples’ struggles for sovereignty and treaty rights, and for their cultural survival and flourishing in the Pacific Northwest. Deciding to end their Northwest Indian Program in 2017, AFSC supported the former staff and committee members in continuing their work. This led to the creation of a new nonprofit: Nakani Native Program.
Same Vision, New Strengths
The Nakani Native Program was formed in 2017 as an outgrowth of the AFSC NIP. The Program carried the same vision and passion of the Indian Program under AFSC, but now had greater autonomy to continue service regarding Paciﬁc Northwest Native issues. Nakani was now governed by a committee composed mostly of Tribal members, and prioritized the perceived needs of Native communities in the Pacific Northwest. They helped with programs like the Tribal Canoe Journey and Race Forward, a program aimed at helping people take effective actions toward racial equality.
In 2021, the Traditional Medicine Program was launched in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The goal of the program was to incorporate traditional knowledge into the healthcare system to positively transform the way Indigenous people access and experience healthcare. We did this by working to increase access to culturally relevant education, ancestral lands, and traditional natural resources that have sustained the health of Indigenous peoples since time immemorial. This led to its main three initiatives: The Traditional Medicine Internship, the Traditional Medicine Clerkship (through a partnership with UW’s School of Medicine Indian Health Pathway program), and community events. Through these programs, which still continue today, the organization has been able to teach interns, clerks, and community members about the land, culture, traditional crafting and medicinal knowledge, and more. We hope to increase access and knowledge of Indigenous traditional medicines, as well as increase Indigenous cultural representation in an educational format and create a sense of place and connection with the tribal community and land, and have worked hard in reaching this goal.
New Name and Program
In late 2023, the organization made another big change. They had been alerted by a Tlingit language specialist that their name was spelled phonetically, and therefore not accurate in the tlingit language. After learning this, the organization made the choice to decolonize their names’ spelling, thus becoming the Naa káani Native Program. Around this same time, the Naa káani Native Program started another program called the Cultural Connections Program, which aims at keeping Native children in foster care connected to their cultures through workshops and activities. Today, Naa káani continues to work with tribal nations and indigenous peoples to support their tribal sovereignty, natural resources, cultural heritage, sacred places and future generations.