“Fatherhood is Sacred” is a 12-week course offered to the participants of the Nnee Bich’o Nii Program.
Albert M. Pooley, founder and president of Native American Fatherhood and Families Association, created the coursed in 2002 when he realized that there were very few social services offered to fathers.
Poole began by teaching one father from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community which caused a ripple effect.
NAFFA Executive Director Amy Faatoafe stated that the course is now taught in 240 tribes and agencies in the U.S. and Canada.
Representatives from NAFFA have gone before the United Nations the past three years, which has gained interest from Indigenous groups around the world. The Aborigines in Australia, the Maori in New Zealand and South African tribes, just to mention a few. Their interest stems from the similarities between the Native American culture and that of their own.
The course is San Carlos is taught by Jonathan Duncan, outreach coordinator and Jerry Harmon, co-facilitator. They began teaching the course in July of 2018 and are currently teaching their third group.
They meet every Tuesday at the Tribal Social Services building from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The participants are learning that fathers are the co-creators of life and there is no greater responsibility than being a service to your family.
The mission statement of NAFFA 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.”
Much like the Nnee Bich’o Nii’s Education Program, “Fatherhood is Sacred” connects with the participants through culture and heritage — a familiar territory.
The fathers in the current group are very open and honest about their experiences growing up without a father or with an abusive father.
The program is helping them to change, to break that cycle, to be a better father for their children and helping them to make healthier choices.
They share their stories and give advice to each other on methods that have worked for them; for example, telling their kids no.
They all agreed that the class has given them someone to talk to about their struggles as a father.
The class teaches about the Creator, faith and spirituality, but does not force religion on any of the participants.
Jerry Harmon interpreted the five building blocks of the course as, “you need to have a solid foundation with the Creator, which gives you choice, to become teachable, to gain wisdom, then you become a service to others.”
The participants are half way through the program and have already made incredible progress with creating a more solid relationship with their children.
Being able to say “I love you” to their child is a major accomplishment when one was never told that as a child.
One father stated, “I never knew about TANF. I drove by it all the time. They help you a lot and I learned a lot in a little while.”
With that statement in mind, the Nnee Bich’o Nii staff strongly encourages community members in San Carlos and Bylas to submit an application to become a participant. Transportation to and from the “Fatherhood is Sacred” and the education classes are provided. For more information, please contact the Nnee Bich’o Nii office in Peridot at 928-475-5011 or in Bylas at 928-475-5032.