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A Native Family Workshop

I would like thank Shelley Macy1 for her loving support and her courage to lead us in family work,2 and Alison Ehara-Brown3 and the Dream Team for making a commitment to Native family work and getting in close with our children.

When I arrived at the Native Family Workshop—held in Yakama Nation (in Washington, USA) in September 2013—I was tired but my children were ready to play and engage. When the last parent came, we all met together then Shelley and Alison let us go to sleep. Yes, sleep is important! We were all exhausted. We will travel to the ends of the earth if it means something better for our children, and we did.

The workshop was relaxed. Saturday was my birthday, so I had planned to have a great day playing with my children and having fun. I was not disappointed.

Toward the end of Saturday, my discouragement was coming up. It showed in my not being supportive of creativity time. I didn’t ask my children what they would like to do for creativity. My thoughts were, “Just give up, Shelley, and let everybody go to bed, because nobody wants to do creativity.” I actually said to her, “I don’t think anyone is going to do creativity.” She replied, “Well, let’s just see. I think a couple of people want to do something.” What a contradiction4 it was to have Shelley not give up!

A young family friend, A—, and my youngest daughter, Liliana, were the first ones up there for creativity—giggling and laughing and being totally embarrassed. They wanted to do “the cup song.”5 A— was going to sing and Liliana was going to play the cups, but A— could not stop laughing and decided not to do it. Liliana still wanted to do it, so she asked her sister, Minsoss, to sing the song. I was so proud of my youngest daughter for not giving up and asking her sister if she could do it. And I was so proud of my oldest daughter, Minsoss, for backing6 her sister, getting up in front of everyone, and singing the song so that Liliana could play her tune with the cups. To my amazement, every single child, along with some allies and parents, went up there and showed themselves to the group with creativity.

I was impressed and happy that people were able show themselves and share with the group. Shelley demonstrated her patience, love, and encouragement by scanning the room with her pleasant smile as if to say, “Go ahead, it’s okay; we want to see you shine.”

I was pleased that this workshop happened. I know it was not perfect and that we have a way to go with Native family work, but what a great start in the right direction. It brought hope to our Native RC Communities to have the first Native leaders’ family workshop in RC history. It sent the message that we are moving forward with Native liberation, and what an accomplishment!

Minquansis Sapiel
Old Town, Maine, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders of Native Americans


1 Shelley Macy is the Regional Reference Person for Idaho, Montana, and part of Washington, USA.
2 Family work is the application of Re-evaluation Counseling to the particular situations of young people, and families with young children. It entails young people and adults (both parents and allies) interacting in ways that allow young people to show and be themselves, and not be dominated by the adults.
3. Alison Ehara-Brown is the editor of Heritage, the RC journal about Native liberation, and an RC leader in Richmond, California, USA.
4 Contradiction to distress
5 “The cup song” is a song popularized by U.S. actress Anna Kendrick in the film Pitch Perfect. The original song, “When I’m Gone,” was a bluegrass tune written by A.P. Carter and recorded in 1931 by the Carter Family.
6 “Backing” means supporting.


Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00