Skye’s Legacy

The Importance of Belonging

Native Wisdom on Belonging, Dr. Martin Brokenleg (1998)

Dr. Martin Brokenleg is a co-author of the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk:  Our Hope for the Future and co-developer of the Circle of Courage model that had a profound influence on the RCY team that worked on Skye’s Legacy: A Focus on Belonging. His influence continued as a member of the Advisory Circle that reviewed Skye’s story and helped RCY make sense of the findings. In this 1998 article on belonging, Dr. Brokenleg laid out a way of thinking about the importance of belonging in Indigenous cultures, My aunt, Ella Deloria, was a teacher and anthropolo­gist who described the spirit of belonging in Native American culture in this manner: ‘Be related, somehow, to everyone you know’ (Deloria, 1943, p. 46). The ultimate test of kinship was not genetic but behavioral: You belonged as a relative if you acted like you belonged. Treating others as kin forged powerful hu­man bonds that drew everyone into a network of relation­ships based on mutual respect.” While some of the language in use in 1998 is different than what is in use in Canada in 2022, this remains an important early articulation of the significance of belonging for every child.

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