Of the many distinctive values held by America’s Federally and State-recognized Indian tribes, respect for elders remains one of the most common—and critical. In traditional Indian cultures, elders are viewed as possessors of knowledge, history, and spirituality. Throughout Indian country, elders and the values they embody are recognized as both a valuable resource and a legacy to be honored.
Elders have always served Indian country heroically—as veterans, tribal and community leaders, memory keepers, holders, and messengers of our traditional values, and as living examples of courage, perseverance, and modesty.
The challenges they face are daunting. Sub-standard economic, health, and social conditions exist in many of the nation’s AI/AN communities, and access to critical services is limited–especially for most urban Native elders.
In spite of these disadvantages, elders—wherever they may live–continue to exhibit courage and good will, honoring traditional Native values. We continue to look to them for inspiration, guidance, and wisdom.
Couched in this worldview since its inception, IA2 continues to hold elder health and well-being as its highest value. Elders are at the center of IA2’s initiatives and projects, with their health and well-being as our ultimate goal..