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Posted on: May 6th 2016


Alternatives Counseling’s Project Venture and the Shinnecock Youth Council are gearing up for and exciting program year.  Culture is the strength and resiliency of the Shinnecock people and the hope for a positive future.  This year we will be focusing on the “Lessons from the Land and Sea”.  We have begun a project with the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center/Museum and the Watershed to plant an indigenous medicinal plants rain garden. Over the spring break the youth helped to prepare the soil for planting by removing the invasive species. While tilling the soil the youth began to create a sense of community with each other and the land. Working cooperatively, they took turns shoveling, weeding, and transporting debris. The goal is to help beautify the space at the Shinnecock Museum by planning and designing the landscape with native plants. Historically, the ability to plan and design were taken away from Native Peoples during the colonization period. This resulted in community disorganization, a risk factor for substance abuse. By working with the land and sea the youth are able re-learn how to prepare and create an attractive environment decreasing this risk.


The second project that youth are involved is Canoe Journeys. The Shinnecock People have a long history of whaling. They helped teach the first American settlers how to whale and began the country’s fuel economy with the production of whale oil. The Shinnecock ancestors braved the ocean waters on a courageous hunt for the whale in canoes and later whale boats. The lessons of the sea will include learning about the canoe journey, a metaphor for the journey of life. The goal of this project is to start new Shinnecock Traditions and life skills for the future leaders and develop a cultural understanding of who the Shinnecock People are in contemporary society. This project will help to shift the community norms to one that supports a drug and violence free community. This journey will include the development of canoe families and address the risk factors of family conflict, problem behavior, family management, historical trauma, and termination. We will be working to create healthy bonds and connections between program participants and there extended families and communities. The youth have begun this journey over the weekend by learning about water safety, communication, and navigation. On June 5th the Youth will be receiving a delegation of paddlers from Hawaii on Shinnecock Shores in honor of reconnecting to the original teachings of the natural world. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting event.