About

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SNAG provides Native youth the opportunity to achieve balance and harmony, address historical and modern grievances, and explore and develop leadership and community skills through arts and cultural expression. Through a holistic approach that combines spirituality, tradition and multi-media skills, we aim to shape the next generation of Native leaders.

As a Native organization, we embrace traditional beliefs grounded in the interconnectedness of life and the understanding that illness stems from spiritual imbalance and unhealthy lifestyles. We utilize skits, films, field trips, tours, music, art and culture to engage learning about shared tribal journeys and struggles. With the overarching goal of healing, our youth are taught about the Native boarding schools and tribal relocation their grandparents and parents faced, current land struggles, and how to peacefully take action against the continued racial injustice of Native people though public education, arts creation, dance, video and writing. Our philosophy of the “seventh generation” is based on a Native prophecy of the rising up of Native people to demand their right of stewardship to mend their wounds from the devastation wreaked upon Mother Earth and her people.

Projects: We publish a magazine with art, essays, poetry, photos from young Natives across the Americas; a music CD featuring Native musicians from across the country; public events that draw hundreds of people to see traditional and modern Native culture and art; and three types of multimedia workshops: Seventh Generation Rising for youth 11-18 where they learn history, healing, spirituality, current events and multimedia skills including video filming and editing, music production, photography, writing, screen-printing and design; Audio Media for the youth 19-25 who learn how to make audio collages with the Freedom Archives Alcatraz project; and Rez Eyez, a collaboration with Robinson Rancheria that teaches youth on the reservation photography. We continue to expand our programming to meet demand.

History

SNAG was founded by Ross Cunningham and Shadi Rahimi in 2002. At the time, Ross was working in the youth services department of the Native American Health Center in Oakland. Shadi was attending college and working as a journalist for a few publications. They had been holding workshops for youth through a program they started, Youth Power Project, and discovered many were interested in performance and sharing their thoughts with a larger audience. Through a brainstorming session with a room of young people, SNAG was born.

Ross and Shadi began holding workshops with youth at the Oakland NAHC, and were invited to also in schools and on reservations from Northern California to Arizona to South Dakota. They also began working with the American Indian Friendship House in San Francisco. Since its inception, SNAG has been generously supported by the community and funders including NAHC, the Friendship House, Honor the Earth, the San Francisco Arts Commission, Tides, Galeria de la Raza and the Vanguard Foundation. We continue to expand our network to collaborate with other organizations including People Organizing in Defense of the Earth and her Resources (PODER).

Mission

SNAG's mission provides Native youth the opportunity to achieve balance and harmony, address historical and modern grievances, and explore and develop leadership and community skills through arts and cultural expression. Through a holistic approach that combines spirituality, tradition and multi-media skills, we aim to shape the next generation of Native leaders. Our name has two meanings that most people in Indian Country get right away. Our acronym SNAG is slang, referring to the “snagging” of a romantic partner at a gathering like a powwow; and our full name refers to the prophecy of the Seventh Generation that says this generation must leave the world a better place for the next seven generations. This is explained further by the Mohawk:

“According to the prophecy, after seven generations of living in close contact with the Europeans, the Onkwehonwe would see the day when the elm trees would die. The prophecy said that animals would be born strange and deformed, their limbs twisted out of shape. Huge stone monsters would tear open the face of the earth. The rivers would burn aflame. The air would burn the eyes of man. According to the prophecy of the Seventh Generation the Onkwehonwe would see the day when birds would fall from the sky, the fish would die in the water, and man would grow ashamed of the way that he had treated his mother and provider, the Earth.

Finally, according to this prophecy, after seven generations of living in close contact with the Europeans, the Onkwehonwe would rise up and demand that their rights and stewardship over the Earth be respected and restored.

According to the wisdom of this prophecy, men and women would one day turn to the Onkwehonwe, and particularly to the eastern door of the Confederacy, for both guidance and direction. It is up to the present generation of youth of the Kanien'kehake to provide leadership and example to all who have failed. The children of the Kanien'kehake are the seventh generation.”

Our Timeline of Success

2002 - SNAG was founded by Ross Cunningham and Shadi Rahimi after the success of their program the Youth Power Project (YPP), which through visiting instructors and workshop leaders taught youth about current events, arts, and culture. The youth organized a youth collaborative event and mini-zine which was the start of SNAG.

2003 - After a year of workshops with youth at the American Indian Friendship House in San Francisco, the first issue of SNAG magazine was published through a partnership with the POOR News Network presses in San Francisco, called "Indigenous Survival in the Information Age." The issue featured the youth's experiences at events like the American Indian Film Festival and interviewing a "frybread" vendor at the San Francisco Giants game, among other reporting experiences, and was released with a community event that featured young Native dancers, artists and poets.

2004 - After a year of workshops with youth at the Native Health Center in Oakland, the second issue of SNAG magazine was published, called "Life in the O-A-K." with stories about the struggles urban Native youth were facing in the East Bay Area and featuring photographs taken during workshops in the youth department. As part of that series of workshops, youth participated in exchanges with the Point Arena Pomo reservation. The magazine was sold at local powwows including De Anza and Stanford, increasing SNAG's presence in the Bay Area community as a forum for young Native people. An idea was born for a music CD for the next issue.

2005 - After a year of workshops with youth at the American Indian Friendship House in San Francisco and the Native Health Center in Oakland, the third issue of SNAG was published, featuring a music compilation CD of young Native hip-hop and rock artists from across the country. Demand for workshops and precense at non-Native community events including the Urban Youth Art Festival increased while Native funders such as Honor the Earth began funding the organization. By this time, SNAG staff members were being asked to appear on Native Voice TV and SNAG writers were being paid to be published in outside publications, promoting Native voices.

2006 - After a year of workshops with youth at the American Indian Friendship House in San Francisco and the Native Health Center in Oakland, the fourth issue of SNAG magazine was published, called "Walking With Our Ancestors." It was known as the "men's issue," because of it's focus on young men, who made up the majority of the workshop participants. At this point SNAG had solidified its relationship with other Bay Area organizations including Youth Outlook, which helped to publish its youth's work in other media outlets and fund its website, which is currently being revamped.

2007 - Because of the men's focus in the previous issue, it was decided that the next issue of SNAG magazine should focus on the contribution that "Wombyn" make in all our lives - our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, etc. So we asked even the young men to focus on how women and Mother Earth impact their lives in workshops, and incorporated straw-bale building projects into our projects as Ross Cunningham helped to build a home in Northern California, on the Hoopa reservation. Our staff continued to be involved in the Peace and Dignity Journey and hold workshops locally, in northern California reservations, and outreach to AZ, NM, WA and beyond. Our fundraiser raised more than $2,000 and drew hundreds of people.

2008 - By the time the sixth issue of SNAG magazine with the coinciding workshops came around, SNAG as an organization was fully established. Demand for our staff as visiting professors in schools and colleges, speakers at events, and workshop instructors reached beyond our staff capacity, and demand for our magazines resulted in us being sold out of every issue to date (we have a few archival copies of each). This issue, called "Urban Rez," was the result of a year of workshops with youth at the American Indian Friendship House in San Francisco and Galeria de la Raza that was funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission. The cover reflects a mural the youth painted in our workshops. Our culminating event drew 300+ people.

2009 - We continued our work with four workshop series: Seventh Generation Rising for youth 11-18 where they learned history, healing, spirituality, current events and multimedia skills including video filming and editing, music production, photography, writing, screen-printing and design; Innovative Partnership with PODER (People Organizing in Defense of the Earth and her Resources) where our youth learn about the environment and organizing and provide PODER youth with media materials; Audio Media for the youth 19-25 who learn how to make audio collages with the Freedom Archives Alcatraz project; and Rez Eyez, a collaboration with Robinson Rancheria that teaches youth on the reservation photography. We held a successful "College Day," that resulted in one longtime staff member, Obasi Turrentine, enrolling in the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and returned from a trip overseas to Palestine where we worked with youth in refugee camps. We published another issue of the magazine with funding from the Friendship House, "Roots of Resistance," and held a collaborative event in San Francisco with PODER and in Oakland at the Intertribal Friendship House.

2010 - 2012 We are continuing our Seventh Generation Rising workshops for youth 11-18 and continuing our Innovative Partnership with PODER (People Organizing in Defense of the Earth and her Resources) where our youth are learning about the environment and organizing and providing PODER youth with media training. This program was begun with funding by the San Francisco Arts Commission. In 2010 we also began working on an Urban/Rez Native Foods Exchange (Funding for Traditional Food Economies) program, where youth learned to grow edible plants and vegetables at the Secret Garden, an urban community garden in the Mission District of San Francisco. The program was funded by Honor the Earth's Resilience in Indigenous Communities Initiative and we conducted it in partnership with the Friendship House and PODER. As part of the past new innovations of our programming, we took the youth up north to Ya-Ka-Ama in Forestville for a camping/gardening/cultural trip, held taught them Skateboard Design.