Legacy Leaders are found among the Elder women who have stood up for generations of our peoples by living and creating effective practices that braid the symbolic dimensions of Indigenous ancestral wisdom and cultures into the contemporary life of our families, communities, and nations. We seek to honor and empower the authentic character, knowledge, and trajectory of our living Elder women—sources of leadership and strategy for our future generations.Katsi Cook, Director
The Spirit Aligned Leadership Program (SALP) exists to elevate the lives, voices, and dreams of Indigenous elder women who heal, strengthen, and restore the balance of Indigenous communities.
Two circles totaling sixteen Legacy Leaders to date have been engaged in the Spirit Aligned Leadership Program. Our goal is to honor and support elder indigenous women who desire to intentionally transfer their knowledge and experience to younger women. Together, we identify collective wisdom and integrate solutions to help address the challenges of our times.
Legacy Leaders are connected knowers, co-creators empowered to identify their values, inherent purpose, and experiences in self-determined ways for the sake of their people, their communities, and the sustainability of the worlds they hold up.
Given the scale of experience we are living, the Legacy Leaders identified the need to “partner up” with one younger woman to accomplish their goals. We named the younger indigenous women, Future Legacy Leaders.
The younger woman will share her own considerable knowledge and “know-how” with her elder Legacy Leader. Working closely together, we will figure out new paths to transition the Legacy Leader’s knowledge towards contemporary solutions and increase leadership capacity.
The life experiences and stories that the Legacy Leaders share are examples of “truth-telling”. This is what we term “collective knowledge”.
We are part of an emerging global movement to share our stories to gain understanding and balanced perspectives. For example, the stories told by the Legacy Leaders of their grandparents who were shot and hunted by the US military…so that the Legacy Leaders could be here today.
These are real stories of the “founding” of America and integral to understanding why Indian Tribes are the only human beings within the US Department of Interior today.
Along with fish & wildlife, national parks, and federal public lands, the US federal government manages the affairs of Indian Tribes and our homelands within the Department of the Interior and no Indian person has served as Secretary of the Interior.
We are re-building and healing from historical trauma and oppression and in the process, evaluating the power dynamic that enabled this to happen. We are in need of systemic solutions that center indigenous values and voices.
The pandemic has created awareness and urgency as our beloved elders take their next journey. We believe in the clarity of our thinking and life experiences of indigenous peoples who continue to live on their homelands.
Legacy Leaders are encouraged to take “the big picture look” in this unique fellowship. They are supported with strategic resources to inspire and impact a larger public audience across interrelated focus areas: Positioning of Indigenous peoples and knowledge; Leadership of Indigenous women and girls; Elevating Indigenous cultures; Addressing the violence against girls, women and our mother earth.
Please note that SALP is not a grant program and we do not transfer any funding to non-profit organizations. This is an individual leadership program that operates on a contract basis, with clearly defined responsibilities that the Legacy Leaders carry out and with funding that they pay taxes on.