The Village, a building in the Mission that will offer resources and cultural activities for the local American Indian community, is continuing its planning stage and shifting to fundraising efforts.
The planned 74-foot tall, six-story building at 80 Julian Ave. will provide access to more than half a dozen American Indian social services and will be a more visible testament to the original native history in both the Mission and San Francisco, project leaders said. It will be a few hundred feet south of the Friendship House at 56 Julian Ave, an 80-bed residential facility for American Indians recovering from addiction.
Plans for the Village come a year after sections of the Mission were officially designated as the American Indian Cultural District, which American Indian community leaders said makes it the “first established cultural district of its size in the United States … dedicated to American Indian legacy.”
Although most local Native Americans are dispersed around the Bay Area, the Mission has special significance. The document creating the district refers to known and documented Ohlone cultural resources and sacred sites within the District, including the home of a once-thriving Ohlone village called “ChutchuiE-la-muh,” which was located in the area currently known as Mission Dolores Park.”
And Mission Dolores remains “a reminder of the painful history of the Mission Era, which lasted from 1769 to 1833.”
Though the Village isn’t expected to be complete until 2025, the project partners have already divvied up the space: a floor each for elders and youth, medical and dental clinics, a roof garden, a floor for community-based organizations dealing with issues like housing, and 12 units of transitional housing slated for those recovering from addiction.
The community will have to raise $80 million. In total, the project raised $355,000 in donations and grants and $2 million in pledges. Some of that money comes from a philanthropist, Kat Taylor, who committed a $100,000 grant and a $1 million “pledge to collateralize a nonprofit bond.”
Peter Bratt, a San Francisco native, filmmaker, and of Quechua descent, called the Village a “new vision” and restorative community.
“It’s a physical space where Native people can gather, have a home base, and support one another,” Bratt said. “We all want to feel like we have a home. We don’t really have that here in San Francisco.”
The $80 million price tag is worth it, he said. “We know that we’re not just building for now; that will be here for generations after us.”
A resource hub
The Village will be launched by the Friendship House, which remains one of the most prominent indigenous organizations in San Francisco and the country, along with other inter-tribal and native organizations. About nine women who are enrolled in the Friendship House’s recovery program will be able to live at the Village.
Dauwila Harrison, the who oversees the contracts and compliance, the Women’s Lodge, and youth programs at Friendship House, and was the former youth coordinator, said the Women’s Lodge enabled mothers to relearn parenting as they received support for their addictions. The extra addition of a daycare, proximity to counselors at Friendship House, and other cultural and social resources within the Village’s building will further benefit clients, Harrison said.
“Here, we can show them that they can still do this on their own and become wonderful parents, community members, and thrive,” Harrison said.
And that impact may affect the youth running around in the same building, said April McGill, the director of the American Indian Cultural Center.
In 2013, about “38.7 percent of Native adolescents aged 12 to 17 years had a lifetime prevalence of illicit drug use” and used drugs at the highest rates compared to national averages, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
McGill said her 14-year-old son, T.K. Halsey-McGill, watched other American Indians embrace sobriety.
“He’s already learning — if you drink and use, this is what could happen. You can’t be using if you go to ceremony. That’s not a part of our lifestyle,” McGill said.
The Native American Health Center will provide medical services, and other organizations like the American Indian Cultural District will continue to give grassroots support in the Village.
The disproportionate impact Covid-19 has on American Indians in San Francisco only emphasized this need, said Sharaya Souza, the executive director of the American Indian Cultural District.
The American Indian Cultural District has been shuttling elders to clinics for Covid-19 tests, assembling food boxes for families, and educating the community about the disease.
The Village says “we are here,” Souza said. “We do have this demand for these resources.”
Plus, the Village will offer cultural programming for all tribes and generations, like pow-wows and regalia making. But parents are especially looking forward to the youth programs and gatherings. McGill’s son has attended youth events held by Friendship House since he was 5. That “built him into a leader.”
Harrison shares that value. “I didn’t really fit into a category, and there wasn’t really a space to gather,” Harrison said of growing up in the East Bay. “I have a 12-year-old daughter. To have her be able to grow up in a community setting and feel the belonging in one physical space — it’s all we wish for as parents.”
This story was updated March 4, 2021, with more recent information about plans.
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