WORKSHOP: NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITY ORGANIZING [HUNTER GRAY]  POSTED 1/23/04

INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS BY HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR:

I am sorting things of mine -- and writing many new things as well -- for
inclusion in our large Lair of Hunterbear website  www.hunterbear.org and for possible inclusion into a kind of autobiography.  I'm doing this with all deliberate speed.

In the winter/spring of 1973, a good number of us developed the all Indian and quite effective Native American Community Organizational Training Center at Chicago.  I was privileged to serve as its Chair for a number of years -- most of which were spent by me at Iowa City where I taught in the Graduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa.  I got to Chicago with frequent regularity -- the commute is not much more than 200
miles -- for Training Center board and related meetings [and for other
social justice doings.]  Early on, I began to do a regular workshop -- about
two full days -- for  each cycle of our trainees.  It was called "Native
American Community Organization."  Later, I also taught it regularly as a
full fledged course in basic community organizing --at University of Iowa,
Navajo Community College [now Dine' College] at Navajo Nation, and the
University of North Dakota.  It drew substantial numbers of Native people in all those settings --and also, at Iowa and North Dakota, many many others as well from a wide variety of ethnicities.  We have some Training Center material on our website via http://www.hunterbear.org/training%20center.htm

Our fundamental presumption is that the basic tribal form of organization
[though not utopian] -- is ancient, time-tested, living and vital -- and
obviously the ideal form of community organization for Native people and at least for many non-Natives.

Although our primary focus began within urban/industrial settings, it has
not been exclusively so.

Reference is made to these recent posts of mine:

My "Community Organizing Principles"
http://www.hunterbear.org/communityorganizing.htm  [Revised and posted on
December 25 2003]

My "Just What Makes A Damn Good Community Organizer ?"
http://www.hunterbear.org/just_what_makes_a_damn_good_comm.htm  [Posted on
December 30 2003]

My combined community organizing pieces, expanded and updated [2008] http://hunterbear.org/my_combined_community_organizing.htm

 

Here is my original workshop/course outline --  virtually verbatim:

WORKSHOP PRESENTATION BY JOHN R SALTER, JR  [NOW HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR]
NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION

ORGANIZATION FOR SURVIVAL AND ACTION
GETTING PEOPLE TOGETHER AND KEEPING PEOPLE TOGETHER FOR SURVIVAL AND
ACTION -- A PROCESS AND A PRODUCT


1]  Basic determinisms -- All people:

     Liberty.
     Material well-being.
     Spiritual rapport.

2]  Two kinds of living:

      a] tribal way.
      b] the other way - Chicago.

 3]  Tribe:

       a] land-based with strong communalistic dimensions.
       b] cohesive.
       c] blood and family ties.
       d] people know each other well and deeply.
       e] cooperation -- also autonomy [individual and family.]
       f] democratic.
       g ] deeply religious.
       h] tribal responsibility [individual has obligation to tribe; and
           tribe to individual.]

 4]   Europeans -- cities -- industry:

      Their tribes
      Their towns
       Shifting into this:

       a]  nature is something to be owned and conquered.
       b]  so often trying to "measure" something.
       c]  competition and conflict for money and power [Watergate.]
       d]  alienation.
       e]  authoritarian.
       f]  poverty and near-poverty.
       g]  fear - apathetic futility.

                                                  ***

  1]  Tribe -- most basic form of community organization.

       a]  survival examples:  NE  coast -- South.
       b]  destruction of tribe is genocide.
       c]  Black [Negro] experience.

  2]  But, in the city, it's tough -- long history of urban Indians.

       a]  discrimination.
       b]  poverty.
       c]  urban/industrial values run counter to all Indian cultural
            values.
       d]  Indian people remain tribal members -- remain Indian in mind and
            souls -- but can get lost -- alienation -- apathetic futility.

  3]  Community organization in the cities is the only answer  [unless
        people are able to leave] -- but it's certainly key in other
        settings as well.

       a]  Community organization -- has to be relevant -- mean something             to people.
       b]  It can be an organization arising out of a service
            organization -- but, if it is going to be a real community
            organization, it has to be effective.
       c]  Sometimes quick drama -- always continuing groundwork --
            organization -- if it's going to keep going.
       d]  Single-issue or multi-issue.
       e]  Usually the "ideal" and a few people -- to larger
            meetings -- board -- may be incorporated --  funding --  may be
            hiring staff and special experts.


                                                  ***

  1]  European way is often elite-oriented -- IAF [Alinsky.]
  2]  Native American way -- is another, much healthier way -- grassroots
       oriented -- people oriented.

       a]  has to focus on people "with fewest alternatives" -- low income
            Indian people.
       b]  has to be led by these people -- may not be enough just to be
            Indian-controlled.


                                                  ***

1]  The Organizer:

       a]  bright --  committed -- real commitment.
       b]  ethical -- not tempted by money and power -- and publicity.
       c]  controllable ego:  has to believe in himself/herself and his/her
            abilities -- but not to the point of
            thinking he/she is superhuman and beyond mistakes.
       d]  has to believe in people -- their potentialities.

                                                   ***

1]   Community Organization:

        a] Has to be democratic  -- formal rules of procedure are
            established and followed;  widespread
            grassroots participation and decision-making power in the
            affairs of the community
            organization is a continuing fact; and there is an
            ever-developing local leadership.

        b] Executive and public meetings should be well attended.

        c]  Atmosphere should exist in which the individual at the
             grassroots feels that he/she is
             important by virtue of the fact that he/she is an individual.


              -- that his/her active participation is needed and welcomed.
              -- that he/she can make their voice and presence felt within
                  the organization.
              -- that, as the group advances, he/she is developing the power
                  to affect those forces affecting
                  them.

         d]  Youth must be involved -- either within the community
               organization -- or in a parallel  and cooperative
               organization of their own.

         e]   If a multi-tribal situation, no tribal discrimination --
               integrated leadership.

         f]    Multi-issue.

         g]   Leadership should insure that, prior to reaching a decision on
               a particular way of doing
               something, the community organization is aware of all
               relevant tactical approaches and
               the various effects of each.

         h]   Should be able to effectively handle publicity -- PR man?

         i]    Leadership of the community organization should be able to
               effectively handle the raising
               and administration of funds -- including, eventually at
               least, the preparation and negotiation
               of funding proposals.

         j]    When it's desirable, the community organization should become
                involved with various
                relevant public and private agencies -- and be able to
                negotiate and secure the necessary
                services from those agencies without surrendering its
                autonomy or compromising its
                basic principles.

         k]    Politics? -- But, if so, autonomy and principles cannot be
                compromised.

         l]    The community organization should be able to utilize the
                services of professionals without
                becoming dominated by them.

        m]    Community organization should be able to enter into functional
                alliances with other groups
                without surrendering autonomy or compromising basic
                principles.

         n]     Community organization should be aware of the use of
                 effective and sensible protest
                 demonstrations.

         o]     Community organization should be aware of effective legal
                 action approaches and aware of
                 public and private legal resources.



                                                  ***

1]  Has to be effective on a day-to-day basis -- but there also has to be
     long-range vision [a better
     time]:  one eye on here-and-now; one eye on the vision.

2]  Have to go out to the people -- storefronts, leaflets, telephoning,
     speaking to groups:  mostly
     house-to-house and family-to-family.

3]  Tribal responsibility -- the community organization has an obligation       to the individual; the individual
     has an obligation to the community organization -- mutual
     responsibility.

4]  Commitment to people -- grinding and tedious work -- big talk not
     enough.


                                                  ***

Developing the tribal feeling [on a multi-tribal basis, if applicable]
wherever needed and most certainly in the urban/industrial concrete swamps.


         John R Salter, Jr  [Hunter Gray / Hunter Bear]



HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR] Wabanaki [Micmac/St Francis Abenaki] and Iroquois  
[St Regis Mohawk]
www.hunterbear.org

When you cut to the bone  and cut away the college degrees, academic and
other titles, published books and articles, ours is essentially a working
class and Indian family.  We consistently join unions  -- and we always
support them with the greatest vigor.

It's critical to always keep fighting -- and to always remember that, if one
lives with grace, he/she should be prepared to die with grace.

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