First Kids 1st Blog

National Child Abuse Prevention Month 2017 – Building Community, Building Hope

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families. In its 34th year, this year’s theme is, “Building Community, Building Hope.”

Child abuse and neglect affects all communities, regardless of social, cultural, or racial differences. In 2012, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children made up a slightly higher percentage of substantiated reports of abuse or neglect (1.2 percent) than their percentage of the general population (1 percent of the total child population in the United States).

“The removal of generations of children over time has disrupted once well-established and venerable parenting practices. To this day, historical trauma continues to intensify contemporary traumatic experiences for Native children and families. Contemporary society creates numerous contexts for exposure to violence by AI/AN children including those who witness domestic violence, those who are victims of child abuse and neglect, and those whose caregivers are debilitated by substance abuse and addiction while living in households that struggle with multigenerational and pervasive poverty.”

Because historical trauma is experienced by so many tribal communities, this month is important to build awareness about abuse, promote prevention, and connect people to essential services which, in turn, support healing and well-being in our children and families.

Many tribal communities hold family and community events during the month of April to share information about the services available to reduce child abuse and neglect; reduce the stigma of poverty; and encourage keeping kids safe, reporting abuse, and reaching out for help for victims of abuse:

  • Community days: Encourage families to come out together, spend time together, and have fun in a safe family-friendly environment and restore connections between the younger generations and our elders.
  • Open houses: For family centers or other community services/facilities.
  • Community walk/jog/run events: To promote healthy lifestyles/family activity.
  • Pinwheel garden dedications: Community members can dedicate a pinwheel, a national symbol for child abuse prevention, and “plant” it to be displayed for the month of April.
  • Family game nights: Share some time together in a healthy fun environment.
  • Family powwow Fitness events: Live fitness instructors or “Powwow Sweat” or other powwow fitness videos are played to promote fun and fitness and help people learn some new dance moves!
  • “Prevent Abuse Door-To-Door Campaigns:” Family services department staff go door-to-door in their neighborhoods to distribute prevention materials. They:
    • Promote community members to take an active part in preventing child abuse by becoming our “brother’s keeper” and reporting any suspected abuse or neglect to the proper authorities, and
    • Ask community members to become a mentor to a child or family who is having difficulty and work together to improve their life.

As we head into Child Abuse Prevention Month, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, and our partners in the First Kids 1st initiative urge you to find out about the events and initiatives happening in your communities. If there isn’t an event already planned for your community, consider holding an event, getting involved with a local prevention or support group, or print some resources about child abuse prevention and ask to display them in your community center, health service office, daycare, or workplace. These events are a great way to share successful initiatives for keeping kids free from abuse and neglect. Every child is sacred.

Some resources for finding local events are included here. Get involved! Contact your tribe to find out about events this month, and head out to one or create one!



First Kids 1st – Native American Heritage Month 2016

By National Indian Education Association (NIEA)

November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to pay tribute and acknowledge the many contributions that Native people have made to America. The first inhabitants of these lands contributed to modern day society through foods, medicine, literature, arts, common names of states and counties, and our modern day governmental structure. However, Native American’s most common connection to many is Thanksgiving. A story that most American’s hear only from one perspective and may not realize the tribe in attendance – the Wampanoag – is still a flourishing sovereign tribal nation.

When colonist arrived, the Wampanoag people provided them with the knowledge and skills they needed to survive, enabling them to produce the harvest they celebrated with at the first Thanksgiving feast. The Pilgrims had their first successful harvest in September/October 1621, so they sent Pilgrim men out hunting for fowl to complete the feast. According to tribal historical accounts, the Wampanoag warriors went to the Pilgrim’s village when continual gun fire was heard out of fear the tribe was being attacked. When the Wampanoag warriors arrived, they were invited to join the feast. However there was not enough food to feed the chief and warriors so the Wampanoag warriors were sent out to hunt; returning with deer which they presented to the English leader. This act of gift giving created the ceremonial process of giving thanks during the modern Thanksgiving holiday.

Today, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe continues to preserve their traditional ways of life through language restoration programs. Mukayuhsak Weekuw: The Children’s House, is a language nest preschool and Kindergarten. Founded in 1993, the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project serves four tribal governments of the Wampanoag Nation (Mashpee, Aquinnah, Assonet & Herring Pond), and provides free community language-based instruction and teacher training for tribal household members throughout the Cape and Islands region in Massachusetts.

As educators’ plan for Native American Heritage Month activities and sharing of the Thanksgiving story, the National Indian Education Association and our partners in the First Kids 1st Initiative urge you to celebrate not only the rich history of Native peoples but also the vibrant futures of our tribes and Native communities. Through telling the Thanksgiving narrative from the Wampanoag’s perspective, by introducing Native foods, language, and song, this time of year allows us all the opportunity to celebrate our shared history and futures.

Included are suggested educational resources to help support our educators across the Country as they help to shape the lives of all our young people.

The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving

Click here to read story.

American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving

A resource for educators to use to begin the conversation around Thanksgiving from an American Indian perspective. The document provides ideas for classroom discussions and activities for 4th – 8th grades. Click here.

Our Mother Tongues

A website that offers an introduction to 14 Native American language programs across the U.S. This site provides a glimpse of tribal languages, histories, and cultures from their perspective. Click here.

Reading is Fundamental: Celebrating Native American Heritage

Webpage providing titles and descriptions of informative books sharing the rich stories and traditions of many Native American tribes. Click here.

Native American Children’s Literature Recommended Reading List

Recommended reading list and resources for Head Start/Preschool through 12th grade learning. Click here.


The First Kids 1st national initiative is led by four Native American organizations, focused on creating conditions in which Native American children can thrive. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) are working to cultivate and nurture strategies and policies that build and strengthen support for Native children in their communities. To learn more about the initiative, visit

National Native Organizations Receive Funding to Pursue First Kids 1st: Every Native Child is Sacred Initiative

Washington, DC – This week, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded a generous grant to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) to support a nationwide campaign to lift up and support Native youth.

This initiative – called First Kids 1st: Every Native Child is Sacred – aims to galvanize systems changes in education, health, welfare, and governance to better support Native children and youth. In each of these areas, community-determined and community-driven changes will improve the systems that impact Native youth, allowing them more and better opportunities to achieve their full potential.

The collaboration began in 2008 with the creation of the original National Children’s Agenda, crafted by these four partner organizations and also funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Agenda was updated in 2015 as the Native Children’s Policy Agenda: Putting First Kids 1st , with tribal strategies and policy objectives to implement its principles. The partners look forward to engaging with tribal leaders, community leaders, tribal citizens, and Native youth across Indian Country and the nation to realize the vision of First Kids 1st .

“First Kids 1st asks for all of us to make our Native children and youth our first priority. In whatever position we hold, we all have the opportunity to ensure our youth will thrive and prosper. Through love, responsibility, and focus we can take opportunities for our children and youth to the next level,” shared NCAI Executive Director Jaqueline Pata.

The First Kids 1st initiative comes at a pivotal time, with Native youth making up 39 percent of the American Indian and Alaska Native population. These demographic trends bring unique opportunities to address some of the longstanding disparities seen in Indian Country and Native communities. Through multi-media communications, community engagement, data development, policy analysis, and capacity building, the First Kids 1st Campaign will offer a range of strategies, activities and tools so that communities can design and implement the solutions that best address their needs.

NICWA Executive Director Sarah Kastelic stated, “Our First Kids 1st team looks forward to working alongside all of our community partners. No one organization can do this work alone; we need each other to address the needs of children and youth holistically. Collaboration makes our vision clearer, our efforts stronger, and our success more certain.”

With the new funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, First Kids 1st will reinforce outreach efforts and ramp up capacity building trainings beginning this summer and fall. “We know that targeted, sustained, and smart investments can make all the difference in our tribal communities. This is an exciting time and we are honored to have a role in that investment in our Native children and youth.” shared Stacy Bohlen, NIHB Executive Director.

Campaign partners also look forward to sharing the updated 2015 Native Children’s Policy Agenda: Putting First Kids 1st, and providing youth data and policy recommendations. “Decision makers at every level need real-time, accurate information about our children and youth. Part of our charge will be to drill down on that data, and share it broadly so that policies and programs designed for our youth bring the benefits they promise,” stated NIEA Executive Director Ahniwake Rose.

“This campaign is about caring communities creating capable and confident kids. It’s as simple as that,” said Pata. The First Kids 1st partner organizations invite all who care about Native children and youth to join the initiative and help spread the word. Please contact Carolyn Hornbuckle with NCAI at


About The National Congress of American Indians

Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit

About The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)

NICWA works to support the safety, health, and spiritual strength of Native children along the broad continuum of their lives. The organization promotes building tribal capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect through positive systems change at the state, federal, and tribal level. For more information visit

About The National Indian Education Association (NIEA)

NIEA is the Nation’s most inclusive advocacy organization advancing comprehensive culture-based educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Formed by Native educators in 1969 to encourage a national discourse on education, NIEA adheres to the organization’s founding principles- to convene educators to explore ways to improve schools and the educational systems serving Native children; to promote the maintenance and continued development of language and cultural programs; and to develop and implement strategies for influencing local, state, and federal policy and decision makers. For more information visit

About The National Indian Health Board

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) advocates on behalf of all Tribal Governments and American Indians/Alaska Natives in their efforts to provide quality health care. Visit for more information.