Who is this internship for?

This program is designed specifically for men and women ages 16 to 30 whose ancestral lineage connects to Native California, the Americas, the Pacific, and other native lands.

Important Dates:

  • Application Deadline: June 5
  • Selection of Participants by: June 13th
  • Program Starts: July 8th. 

About Native Youth Guardians of the Waters:
The Native Youth Guardians of the Waters Program (GOTW) is an innovative program that provides an immersive indigenous-based educational experience to indigenous young adults (16 to 30 years old) in the San Francisco Bay Area. In existence since 2013, GOTW facilitates cultural, spiritual, and emotional healing through the revitalization of personal and inter-personal relationships to native lifeways, arts and traditions.  

In this internship a group of 15-20 participants will (see detail program below):

  • Get to know four distinct places around the greater SF Bay Area: Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Sonoma County; Allemany Farms and El Polin Springs urban watershed in San Francisco; Indian Valley Organic Farm & Garden in Marin County; and our home base, an urban farm in Oakland.
  •  Learn about Traditional Ecological Knowledge and eco-cultural restoration
  • Connect with local Native California people, waters and lands 
  • Learn Hawaiian traditional navigation, song, dance, and star knowledge from a Hawaiian voyager and navigator
  • Grow native seeds, cook ancestral foods and learn native foodways traditions
  • Explore identity and heritage through creative expression and talking circles
  • Enjoy good people and have fun in Oakland and the greater Bay Area in beautiful natural setting

Program Dates:

We will be meeting three weekends in July, for a total of 9 days. These are the dates:

  • Summer Weekend One: July 8 to July 10th (3 day retreat at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center)
  • Summer Weekend Two: July 15 to July 18th (Oakland and San Francisco Locations)
  • Summer Weekend Three: July 22 to July 24th (Oakland and Novato)

Transportation: We will be traveling to sites throughout the Bay Area. Transportation to these sites will be provided. Participants will get reimbursed for public transportation (Bart and buses) to local sites. 

Delicious (& often times Native) meals and snacks will be provided.

With the completion of the program, participants will receive a stipend and a TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) certificate. 

For questions contact Nicola Wagenberg, Project Director at nicola@nativeland.org or 415-561-6594

I am very grateful for guardians of the waters for allowing me to connect to other folks in my community who struggle and love, for giving me the time to think deeply about myself, for connecting me to other leaders and healers, for holding sacred space.
— GOTW Youth Participant 2015

DETAIL PROGRAM & ACTIVITIES                           

Summer Weekend One: Connect through the Stars. Weekend immersion at Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC). Participants get to know each other and connect to a place. Dr. Melissa Nelson (Anishinaabe)—TCC’s president and SFSU American Indian Studies Professor—will teach about native water consciousness, indigenous creation stories, and indigenous ways of knowing and learning. Hawaiian traditional navigator and cultural educator Kaimana Barcarse will teach traditional navigation, the star compass, Hawaiian chant and hula dance and lead a water ceremony by the ocean. Participants take part in a guided tour of OAEC’s organic gardens, and enjoy swimming and canoeing in a lake.

Summer Weekend Two: Share Seeds.  Participants will visit Allemany farms in San Francisco for a urban youth gathering and work day at the farm. There will be an opportunity to connect and share with other young adults who are engaged in food justice work throughout the Bay Area. During this weekend participants will visit El Polin Springs in the Presidio National Park in San Francisco, the only undisturbed, natural spring in the city. They will connect and learn about the local Ohlone lands, waters and people. 

Summer Weekend Three: Feast and Appreciate. In collaboration with the College of Marin and renown organic farmer and lay Zen teacher Wendy Johnson, for the past four years TCC has been managing a teaching garden by growing and tending to the Three Sisters of Native American Agriculture: Seneca white corn, Blue Hubbard and Navajo Squash, Tepary and Scarlet Runner beans. At the garden participants will get their hands in the earth by weeding and planting and learn about indigenous crops from around the world. We will learn from Kaylena Bray (Seneca) about the significance and traditions of corn, the sacred food that connects indigenous peoples throughout the Americas. TCC’s youth intern and upcoming native chef Quinton Cabellon (Yokut) will teach a cooking class integrating the foods we harvest and the participants’ ancestral foods. We will feast! We will close the program with an evaluation of the program and appreciations for each other. 

Program Staff:

Guardians of the Waters has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life thus far
— GOWT Youth Participant 2013
I feel better equipped with the knowledge of what I can do to change the cultural and ecological status quo.
— GOTW Youth Participant 2014

This video was created by Quinton Cabellon, our Foodways Intern. Check out his blog here: http://mynativegarden.tumblr.com

Photo credits: Melissa K. Nelson, Nícola Wagenberg