“Native Like Water", is a new initiative launched in 2015 by Intertribalyouth.org and aims to begin at the root of maritime culture. February 2015, on an invitation by the Polynesian Voyage Society’s Na Kama Kai Youth water mentorship program, 7 tribal youth, 4 mentors and 1 Elder from Southern California embarked on a visit with Native Hawaii. Youth and elders brought back lessons of Culture and Science to California Native Youth. 

Example of traditional indigenous ways of life along the water's edge.Halasii e'ha topit at Sycuan Reservation. PHOto by Jill Richardson; Traditional Kumeyaay houses ('ewaa) and two tule boats. The one in the foreground is completed, and the one on the platform in the background still needs more work. August 12, 2013.

Years ago, many Indigenous people were removed from their coastal homes and way of life. Loss of habitat, for any species, is the largest cause for extinction. ITY Founder and Director, Marc Chavez states “I strongly believe a re-introduction to ocean recreation, earth sciences, biology, and cultural research can benefit the youth and contribute, intellectually, to the university’s context on diversity”.

Native Like Water's aim is to investigate and present the story of the maritime culture of Indigenous Southern California. Ocean culture has an ancient relationship to current Kumeyaay, Luiseno, Diegeno, Acjachemen, Tongva, Chumash, Cahuilla and Yuman Cultures. Native Like Water aims to acknowledge this story, and the natural birth privilege of ocean culture. "Many ancient villages are still here, nearby under the water and on islands. Instead of museum stories, this is a living legacy of knowledge that needs to be shared with the human family." states Chavez.

Some world leaders are now looking for answers during this state of emergency and natural resource completion. Global climate change and dry wells stimulate educators and researchers to bring Indigenous Education to the forefront. Many agree that western science must break free from a limited level of understanding and include Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).

Old ways in modern Days. Cahuilla and desert tribes would traditionally visit the coast during summer. At UCSD-SIO Birch aquarium, traditional Kumeyaay Territory, with  L to R:  Jenna Donayre (Barona Kumeyaaay), Miguel Hernandez (Pauma/Rincon Kumeyaay-Luiseno) with Timmy Siva (Agua-Caliente Cahuilla) 

Old ways in modern Days. Cahuilla and desert tribes would traditionally visit the coast during summer. At UCSD-SIO Birch aquarium, traditional Kumeyaay Territory, with  L to R:  Jenna Donayre (Barona Kumeyaaay), Miguel Hernandez (Pauma/Rincon Kumeyaay-Luiseno) with Timmy Siva (Agua-Caliente Cahuilla) 

 “As educators, we must look to an organized, disciplined, ancient way of life that sustained itself 20,000 years or more of what our current modern society can claim.”, says Chavez.  The Southern California delegation to Hawaii and visit with Na Kama Kai, and study of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), helped to illustrate solid curriculum and provide an example to youth and elders that there is a need to bring home coastal culture programs to San Diego.

Like Hawaii’s Na Kama Kai, the Native Science academic community is aligning to re-establish leadership in caring for Mother Earth. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is found in many doctoral dissertation papers, and world news.

Concerned with their future, youth find ways to be pro-active and team up with ITY and SIO to help resolve our immediate local environmental issues. New 2017 Intertribal Youth  internship Nominees,  Harmony and Shuluuk  from the Kumeyaay Nation. 

Concerned with their future, youth find ways to be pro-active and team up with ITY and SIO to help resolve our immediate local environmental issues. New 2017 Intertribal Youth  internship Nominees,  Harmony and Shuluuk  from the Kumeyaay Nation. 

“We are one human family on the same ship”, Chavez says. “We must humble to the knowledge of our elders and ancestors. Researchers at top universities now desperately need the knowledge of the traditional ways of living with our Mother Earth to help with global climate catastrophy”, Chavez points out.

Native Like Water provides program youth access to the best cultural and science resources. ITY’s long-standing relationship with local Elders, UC San Diego, SDSU, Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) and Birch Aquarium will assist ITY and Native Like Water again during Summer 2016. This summer the program hopes to springboard outreach efforts to local and state-wide reservation communities year-round. Academic and Community partnerships like this inspire youth to join-in on science; provide a culturally balanced curriculum, and direct youth along the path to college. 

Native Like Water has the goal of developing leaders in health, culture, and science. Southern California – Hawaii Delegate “Honored Elder”, Larry Banegas (Barona) proclaimed: “We have been removed from the coast and ocean. We are now coming back and we are here as family . . . as an example to our oceanic relationship. We are one, connected.”

Chavez believes Including a "Paddle Society" in the program will combat health disparities for local and non-local youth hosted. Many Native American tribes are returning to their traditional water journeys. InterTribal Youth has open invitations to join these paddle journey's across the nation and with Indigenous people internationally.  These are great opportunities and we want to ride a wave of health and cultural sharing.

One of program’s lessons is that food is medicine and that each have the power to rewrite our genetic history and combat the disease of our recent fore fathers. The program is based on the belief that with access to correct information, recreational opportunities, and connection to water, to the aina (land) and organic native foods, life will improve.

Barona Kumeyaay Youth, Tenay Bangegas, paddles out to the surf as part of the InteRtribal Youth Coastal Culture and Science Clinic during the San Diego Summer Enrichment Residential Program at UCSD.

Barona Kumeyaay Youth, Tenay Bangegas, paddles out to the surf as part of the InteRtribal Youth Coastal Culture and Science Clinic during the San Diego Summer Enrichment Residential Program at UCSD.

Erin LaChappa (Sycuan), ITY youth delegate and 2015 high school graduate participated in Hawaii and Panama, Central America programs. Miss La Chappa is currently charting her university education in marine studies. The program aims to inspire youth like Erin to chart many aspects of the Pacific and bring back traditional stories and water routes.  

Chavez points out that its not just about the beach. Local San Diego Mountains, lakes, rivers and deserts are directly connected and part of the coastal environment.

A fundraising effort to fortify the program is co-currently seeking and reviewing potential local business partners and donors interested in Native Like Water Program’s spirit.

Be on the look out for us at the beach and developing  "Native Like Water"  youth curriculum and art exhibit. This summer the Native Like Water Program resides in La Jolla, San Diego, Northern California Coast, Oahu, Molokai, Jamaica.

Native Like Water and InterTribal Youth are deeply grateful for the support of SIO, Sambazon, Diamond Supply Co, Patagonia Cardiff, Fulcrum Surf School, Sycuan Institute for Tribal Gaming, Firewire Surfboards, Mama T's Ital Kitchen, SDSU Center for Surf Research and Kumeyaay Community College. Are you interested in collaborating, sponsoring or donations? Please Contact Us.
 

A lot can be learned from our Indigenous pacific relations. These Native Peruvian reed boats are still in use for fishing and surfing, catching waves. Surfing origins began with Hawaii and on the American continent, Peru surfing culture is well documented.

A lot can be learned from our Indigenous pacific relations. These Native Peruvian reed boats are still in use for fishing and surfing, catching waves. Surfing origins began with Hawaii and on the American continent, Peru surfing culture is well documented.