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Lummi: Youth-Adult Partnership Story
The Lummi reservation is located in the Northwest corner of Washington State. Roles for youth and adults had been strictly delineated according to Lummi tradition. The tribe found ways to build a strong and mutually respectful partnership among young people and tribal elders without violating this tradition.
The Lummi Cedar Project, a community-based agency, decided that a youth-adult partnership could make the community safer and expand options for young people. They saw youth-adult partnership as a way to ‘unite the wisdom of the elders with the dreams of the youth.’ Working together, the young people and adults started the first teen center on the reservation. The used a room in a local housing project. Over several meetings, Lummi members discussed the need for safe spaces, conducted a survey of over 80 teens, and developed a layout plan for the space. This project has begun to rejuvenate the spirit of the reservation.
“There were kids who didn’t have anyplace to go. Now, they have a place where they can hang out with their friends and feel safe. They want to be a part of it. There is a lot more fun here. It’s a lot better to be around, said Richard Cadiente, age 18 (CHECK THIS).
As a result, gang rivalry has declined. The Lummi Cedar Project provides new role models for local teens, who once looked up to gang leaders and drug dealers. “For a while we had to jump from being kids to being ‘the man’. Now kids are becoming kids again,” said Richard.
Juanita Jefferson, an elder in the community, has helped pave the way for the young people to work with the tribal council, the reservation’s governing body. “The tribal council sees Lummi Cedar Project as a support for them, so they are looking for ways to support us. They know that we really needed a teen center, and that the youth found a way to build one when the adults couldn’t find a way. They see that kids aren’t running around in the streets anymore. It has led to sense of respect and trust that wasn’t there before.” said Juanita.
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