In 2002, Albert M. Pooley, MSW, MPA, Hopi, Navajo, and Founder and President of Native American Fatherhood and Families Association (NAFFA) created a unique program focused on fathers, Fatherhood is Sacred (FIS). NAFFA’s mission is “to strengthen families by responsibly involving fathers in the lives of their children, families, communities, and partnering with mothers to provide happy and safe families.” As time passed, the fathers in Mr. Pooley’s group asked about mothers and expressed their thoughts of how this course would greatly benefit mothers as well. So he created Motherhood is Sacred (MIS).
The Nnee Bich’o Nii Program began offering Fatherhood is Sacred classes in July of 2018. The classes are 2-hour sessions over a course of 12 weeks. Jonathan Duncan, Outreach Coordinator and FIS Facilitator, started their 5th group in February 2021. The results of Fatherhood is Sacred classes have been extraordinary.
The concept of Fatherhood and Motherhood classes might be difficult for some to understand; why would people need a class to learn how to be a mom or dad? The sad truth is so many people did not grow up in a loving, stable home with both parents. Many have grown up in broken homes; alcoholism, drug abuse, neglect and domestic violence becomes a norm for them. The program is helping fathers and mothers to change, to break that cycle, to be better fathers and mothers for their children, to communicate with each other and to make healthier choices. It opens their minds, their eyes and their hearts to realize that they can make a difference for their families and community. Mr. Pooley advises his students to “Quit praying for a miracle; you are the miracle.” The changes in the parents after taking this course are a miracle.
The Nnee Bich’o Nii participants that took advantage of the Fatherhood is Sacred class began to ask the same question: What about the mothers? One dad jokingly said, “What about my wife? She needs to learn this stuff, too.” Natives love to laugh.
Randee Kitcheyan, Family Services Coordinator/MIS Facilitator, started the first Motherhood is Sacred class in January 2021. Randee stated, “MIS approach is based on a culturally rich model that inspires and motivates fathers and mothers to devote their best efforts in teaching and raising children to develop their potential and the attributes needed for success in life.”
As with any pilot program, they did come upon a few obstacles. Due to the gathering restrictions placed by the San Carlos Apache Tribe because of the Coronavirus pandemic, only six participants were selected for the class. Transportation and childcare were among the other obstacles. To combat these obstacles, the Nnee Bich’o Nii Program was able to provide the participants with laptops to attend classes online from their homes. There were a few that were able to attend the classes in person. Randee stated, “We are receiving positive feedback from our clients regarding the content of the material and how it has improved their relationships with their children in the home.”
Motherhood is Sacred held their first graduation ceremony on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, with three participants that successfully completed the course. Muriel Stanley, Jazmine Stewart and Anabel Logan received their Certificate of Completion with their families in attendance. Muriel stated that she enjoyed working with Randee and the class has helped her make better choices in life.
The Nee Bich’o Nii Team looks forward to continuing to provide Fatherhood is Sacred and Motherhood is Sacred classes for their participants. It is truly an amazing course that has brought about incredible changes in the mothers and fathers that have completed the course. One dad shared that he was never able to tell his kids that he loved them, but because of what he has learned through FIS he does it every day now.
For more information about the Nnee Bich’o Nii Program, you may contact their offices at (928) 475-5011 in San Carlos or (928) 475-5023 in Bylas.
As always, we give thanks to our Creator.