Aug 8, 2022
Every great organization has a compelling origin story. In the case of Native American Youth and Family (NAYA) Center, parents and elders came together in the 1970s, concerned about the low graduation rate, only 24%, of Native students in the Portland, Oregon school system. Their organizing generated after-school programming and eventually, in 1994, led to the nonprofit incorporation of the NAYA Center, which now serves the entire community from infancy to elders. And the needs are profound, from housing to hunger, a legacy of broken treaties and the displacement of 381 tribes from their land starting in the late 1800s. Paul Lumley (Yakama), executive director of the Naya Center, is proud that its Many Nations Academy for 9th to 12th graders, embraces all students and supports them in seeing the value in themselves. Many of the students are homeless, some because they identity as Two Spirit, the indigenous term for LGBTQ, and have been rejected by their families. Paul’s next step is to build a residential hall for homeless students, a welcoming gateway to defining the future of their dreams.