The Tracking Project’s Community Mentor Program
Year 3-June 2014
Nurturing the Roots, The Tracking Project’s Community Mentor Program continued to grow as we expanded our global mentor network with the completion of NTR / New Mexico. From June 7 – 14 our community mentor staff and students gathered at the Circle A Ranch Hostel in New Mexico for the third and final year of the TTP/NM mentor program. This particular mentor program was a good opportunity to bring several of our current staff members who have been with us for years into the global network and for others who had taken part in a portion of a prior program to complete their training. The program graduated 21 new practitioners of the Arts of Life from many parts of the United States, the Hawaiian Islands and Canada, including members from the Iroquois Confederacy and our webweaver Geejay Williams who comes from Mindanao, the Philippines, but has been living for some years in Florida.
Evolution and Description of the Project
Originating from the vision of a traditional Hawaiian elder, Nurturing the Roots (NTR) began in 1996 as an effort to bring together artists/educators, activists and indigenous leaders from around the globe to share with one another their cultures, stories, arts, and successful teaching strategies, with the goal of creating a global network that would train trainers in indigenous knowledge and community revival.
The name Nurturing the Roots was chosen for the program to convey the idea that the roots of any community are its elders, culture, language, art and history. The ability to transmit this information to a community’s youth is paramount. By energizing these roots, we hope to stimulate the growth of ever more beautiful “flowers,” helping communities regenerate themselves while giving the roots well-deserved support and reinforcement. Programs which bring youth and elders together are key components of helping a community to harmonize itself culturally and ecologically.
During the three-year program (one week per year for three years), NTR participants are immersed in the key areas of our curriculum: Thanksgiving, Traditional Tracking & Survival Skills, Nature Awareness, Peacemaking, Cultural Awareness, The Arts of Life, Personal Development, Community Education, Ceremony, Leadership, International Community and Renewal. Each day follows a traditional learning model offered to us by our mentors from the Iroquois Confederacy.
Our days in camp at the Circle A Ranch followed the standard mentor pattern with our Opening Words, a dream circle, a natural movement workout, morning teaching sessions, afternoon practical experience with archery, fire making, martial arts, traditional tracking and survival skills and an evening of music, stories and the Arts of Life.
In the first year of the program, participants are asked to look at the teachings on a personal level and how they can utilize the information and experience for personal development. In the second year, they apply the teachings to the organization, community or groups that they work with. And in the third year, the focus is on how the teachings apply to the participant and their group within the international community.
There have now been eight NTR programs, including: the first training (1996–98); NTR Reunion (2000) which united new participants from Sweden with the original group; Panday Buhat in the Philippines (2000); the Alaka‘i Project in Hawai‘i (2002–2004); Nutrindo as Raizes in Brazil (2003–2005); Cottonwood Montessori NTR in New Mexico (2005–2007); TTPHI/NTR (The Tracking Project / Hawaiian Inside) in Hawai‘i (2008–2010); NTR / NM (2012 – 2014). This past September we began the second of our Nutrindo as Raízes trainings in Florianopolis, Brazil; this program will run from 2014 – 2016.
Central to our philosophy, symbolized by the 13 plates of the turtle’s shell, is the idea that no one cultural group “has it all,” that everyone was given a piece of the whole, and that we must bring the pieces back together to complete the picture of who we are as people on the Earth.
This is reflected in the cultural composition of our global network, which now includes: Mohawks, Senecas, Miccosukees, Diné, Puyallups, Aztecs and other Native Americans; Anglos, Chicanos, Hawaiians, Filipinos, Burmese, Swedes, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Brazilians; and Aboriginal Australians from three southern language groups—the Kaurna, Narranga and Ngarrindjeri—as well as Brazilian Indians from the Kurá-Bakarí and Yawanawa tribes.
These programs, when completed, will have graduated over 250 trainers and educators, many of whom have already gone on to create their own mentorship circles, programs and/or curricula based on NTR teachings.
Here are the staff and the graduates of Nurturing the Roots / New Mexico: