Investing in Indianness to Ensure Our Future
The Investing in Indianness to Ensure Our Future project is better defined as an American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) mobile food vending operation pilot project. The project was initially designed to be a distinct response to the voiced needs and concerns of the local AI/AN community in Central Ohio and Ohio; thus, to sustain the positive steps that have already been made in behalf of the AI/AN youth and families at the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio (NAICCO).
The mobile food vending operation will be operated by local AI/AN community members (vending team). The vending operation itself will specialize in offering a one-of-a-kind menu, complete with a variety of traditional and contemporary intertribal AI/AN dishes. The vending aspect of the project will serve to stimulate a culturally rich, inviting, friendly atmosphere throughout various parts of Ohio and beyond, while delivering exceptional food and customer service.
AI/AN community-based and community-focused will be the pride and foundation of the Investing in Indianness to Ensure Our Future project. Not only will the mobile food vending operation pilot project be an opportunity for sharing AI/AN culture with numerous people in and around Ohio, but it will also provide the grounds needed for focusing on the Social Development, Economic Development, and Cultural Preservation of the AI/AN youth, adults, and elders involved with the project. Combined, the vending events and focus areas will: (1) provide opportunities to earn income, (2) increase AI/AN pride, (3) foster AI/AN community growth, (4) teach and enhance employability skillsets, and (5) strengthen the overall workforce capacity of the AI/AN community at NAICCO.
Embedded within the project will be the foundation of AI/AN traditional practices (i.e., values, principles, teachings, etc.); thus, to inspire the virtues of honor and respect, and to instill a strong sense of AI/AN pride and community ownership. Along with this, the project will promote and assist with the continued development of intergenerational relationships, mentorships, and peer-to-peer support systems. Through an array of practical experiences (cultural and contemporary) and access to customized development trainings, participants involved in the Investing in Indianness to Ensure Our Future project will realize their self-worth, their rightful place among their AI/AN community, and their full potential of becoming the next generation of influential AI/AN leaders at NAICCO, and in Ohio. In turn, this entire experience will create a sustainable pathway of success for future generations to follow.