Intertribal Friendship House
Living Native: Reconnecting with Our Mother Earth

Seva’s grant and technical assistance will support enhancing and integrating existing garden, nutrition, cooking, and fitness activities to promote health and wellness among urban Native families.

With a Native American population of more than 100,000, the Bay Area is home to one of the country’s largest Native American communities. The high incidence of diabetes and long term diabetes related problems such as eye and kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and lower extremity amputations are dramatic realities in need of urgent change. Addressing these health issues is all the more challenging in a setting where more than 67% of Native families live below the federal poverty line.

Seva has taken a firm step in nurturing wellness activities at Intertribal Friendship House (IFH), a local community center that since 1955 has been at the heart of advancement in the quality of public life and provision of vital social services to the urban multi-tribal community—IFH is often affectionately referred to as the “Urban Reservation” of the Bay Area.

Currently at IFH’s Mother Earth Garden there grows traditional medicine such as soaproot and sage, with room for vegetables and fruits. Families come together to work in the garden each week, where the purple gem reflection of a rhubarb stalk mixes with the fragrance of mint and pines.

Just feet away, the garden borders busy International Blvd. and a diverse stretch of East Oakland ethnic enclaves and stores. This dichotomy in traditional garden plants and herbs to corner liquor stores and fast food chains characterizes the confusion of innercity living among Native people in the Bay Area.

However, the Living Native project will work to draw from tradition as a powerful mechanism to address the issue of diabetes and promote healing:

“Our teachings tell us that traditional foods are medicines: they provide both nourishment and healing for our people.”

The immediate goals of this project is that food for Intertribal Friendship House events be sourced from the IFH garden, that the community be educated on traditional seed saving and the GMO threat to traditional seed heritage, and that nutritional cooking classes take place to educate the community. The healthy teachings from food activities will also be integrated with fitness and pow-wow dance classes.

Assistance from Seva in developing healthier communities is another step forward in supporting the urban Bay Area Native Population.

Profile prepared by Daniel Rodriguez, Seva Foundation Program Intern

“Community healing will happen as more people are involved; and as the land heals the community heals too.” 

Community Leader
Intertribal Friendship House




Visit the website for  Intertribal Friendship House

Learn more about this wonderful Oakand based Native American community center
Gifts of Service
You can support the Native American Community Health Program and projects like this by giving a Gift of Service today!

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Seva and Alaska's Ilinniagvik Attautchikun bring traditional foods back to Native communities along the Kobuk River.


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