Haseya Advocate Program offers healing for Native domestic violence victims

click to enlarge Haseya's staff members represent four different Native American tribes. - COURTESY HASEYA ADVOCATE PROGRAM

  • Courtesy Haseya Advocate Program
  • Haseya’s staff members represent four different Native American tribes.

At Haseya Advocate Program, the staff believes healing can come through embracing one’s cultural traditions.

That philosophy is evident in the nonprofit’s indigenous healing garden, a project that came to fruition with the help of Colorado Springs Food Rescue — another nonprofit participating in this year’s Give! Campaign.

The garden provides a setting for Haseya’s full moon and solstice celebrations, as well as classes in Native American traditions. Haseya’s clients — Native survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault — can also use the private garden as an “extension of their backyard,” where they can host barbecues and bring children to play, says Haseya Advocate Monycka Snowbird.

“We really feel that connecting back to our roots is a pretty good foundation to help you heal from some of those traumas,” Snowbird says.

That means inviting cultural experts to teach Haseya’s clients about the traditions of the tribes they represent. Each member of the nonprofit’s four-person staff comes from a different tribe, Snowbird says, and dozens more tribes are represented among Colorado Springs’ population.

Group activities might include storytelling, moccasin-making, archery or lessons in medicinal plants.

But cultural healing isn’t all Haseya offers. The nonprofit works with other local agencies, such as TESSA, to connect survivors with legal aid, counseling and even furnishings for new apartments.

For clients looking to escape an abusive relationship, Haseya can help them make plans to do so safely: “If it’s getting extra copies of your birth certificate or your car registration or legal documents — that sort of thing — we can stash those here and talk about safety planning to get out, and how to budget in a way that maybe he won’t notice if you’re putting some funds away here and there,” Snowbird explains.

But the nonprofit works with a range of clients, she says, from those who “literally just got out” of an abusive relationship, to others who’ve “been out of the relationship for 16 years, but they still have anxiety and trauma.”

Haseya is a 2-year-old project of Red Wind Consulting, a nonprofit that provides training and technical assistance to organizations helping domestic violence survivors in Native American communities, on reservations and in urban communities like Colorado Springs.

The issue is critical: “Native women are victims of non-fatal intimate partner violence at rates of 18.2 per 1,000 compared to 6.3 for Caucasian women and 8.2 for women of African descent,” Red Wind’s website notes, citing Department of Justice statistics.

Until recently, Haseya offered a transitional housing program for its clients, Snowbird says, but grant funding for that initiative ran out.

Snowbird says she hopes to restart the nonprofit’s housing program soon. She adds, since administrative costs are still covered by grant funding, donations this season go directly to Haseya’s clients.

That means, Snowbird says, 100 percent of every donation “goes toward someone needing something — whether it’s legal costs or court fees or daycare or rental assistance … anything that could come up that would be a barrier for a woman as a survivor.”