Partnerships for Success Youth GONA Highlights Report April 2022
Eastern Shoshone Recovery continues to lead wellness activities on the Wind River Reservation. One of our favorite activities to be involved with and evaluate is the Gathering of Native Americans (GONA). GONA is a culture-based planning process that brings the community together with a focus on belonging, interdependence, mastery, and generosity. Eastern Shoshone Recovery’s April 2022 GONA focused on strengthening resilience and uplifting culture. The evaluation sought to tell the story of what happened during the GONA, and what difference it made. We used an Indigenous-focused evaluation framework to design the evaluation. Marcus Red Thunder, the GONA facilitator, narrated each day’s activities. These stories were then added to the overall evaluation for context and meaning. Beginning with a trip to a Buffalo Camp on the first day, youth learned how to make dream catchers. They practiced archery, participated in ceremonies, and made hand drums. The goal of the GONA is to build skills in youth that they take with them on their journey through life. Because of the GONA, youth will reach out to elders in their community, feel more hopeful about the future, and they feel like they belong in their community. And 100% will use what they learned about healthy relationships in their personal life and 100% understand more about their life’s purpose. GONA teaches youth about doing things differently. In a healthy way. This evaluation tells the story of GONA and the journey of youth participants.